Homemade Heartbreaker – Pleasure Spiked With Pain
If, as they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining, then the opposite must also be true. That is to say, for every peak, there’s a valley; no good deed goes unpunished; and triumph is often entwined with tragedy. For Jamey Montey, this real-life manifestation of Newton’s Third Law of Motion hit home. Hard.
But that’s just one chapter in our story. A landscape designer who keeps busy during the long Great Plains winters by futzing around in his garage, Jamey’s first bike, a Honda Shadow, didn’t stay stock for long. “I started cutting it apart after about three months,” he tells RoadBike by phone from his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. “I’d never worked with metal before, but I became totally obsessed. Drove the wife crazy.”
Jamey enjoyed the Shadow, but the obsession was too great to ignore. He wanted to build his own ground-up custom motorcycle. To secure a project bike for the dream he’d already begun to build in his head, Jamey hooked up with a local vintage bike dealer, Don Adams of Lincoln Classic Cycles. Adams had purchased a dirty-but-clean 1974 Honda CB 750 from a farmer in Kansas City for $120, and as soon as Jamey let him in on the custom that was taking shape in his mind, Adams told him that he had the right power plant for the job.
With the help and advice of a few buddies, Jamey soon began his project. He rebuilt the motor in the garage, and obtained a built-to-spec frame from Cycle One, an independent manufacturer out of Oklahoma City. A Wide Glide front end was hooked up, and a Sportster fuel tank was mounted to the backbone. For a custom Honda CB build, the project was quickly taking on a distinctly American feel. And that’s just the way Jamey planned it.
“I made some of them, but the ones I didn’t make, I made them fit!” he laughs when talking about the components. “Seriously, this is an American bike. Period. Everything was bought here, most of it locally. I’m a local businessman, so I try to keep it local and help out as many people as I can. Other than some tips on welding and wiring from some pro guys, this bike was a learning experience that I did by myself,” Jamey insists.
Embracing that philosophy, Jamey enlisted his friend Brian “BB” Bye, an engineer by day who had access to a much wider variety of fabrication tools than could be found in Jamey’s home garage. BB contributed not only bungs and widgets, but advice and guidance, and without his knowledge of metals and motorcycles, Jamey swears he couldn’t have finished this bike before his target date, a premiere at last summer’s Sturgis Rally.
RoadBike spied the bike parked on a street in front of a church in Sturgis, and when Jamey returned to find Editor Steve’s business card perched on his bike, you can imagine the joy and satisfaction that enveloped him — as well as BB, who was right by his side. Phone calls were made, an appointment with ace lensman Fonzie Palaima was scheduled, and all was peachy in Jamey Land. Even when the CB broke down the night of the photo shoot, Jamey’s excitement couldn’t be kept in check. The rally was nearly over with anyway, so he and his wife simply drove their car to see a concert at the Full Throttle Saloon a few miles from their campground at the Broken Spoke, with BB on his bike following close behind.
After the concert, Jamey and his wife negotiated their way through the parking lot, while BB made for the preferred motorcycle parking near the venue’s gate. They waved and yelled that they’d see each other “back at the Spoke.” But Jamey never saw his pal again. An alleged drunk driver, traveling an estimated 80 miles per hour, rear-ended BB’s bike on the freeway, running him over and killing him. BB was three miles from the campground.
The next day, Jamey loaded his CB onto the trailer for the longest drive of his life. He never saw the accident; the final photos on BB’s camera indicate that he stopped to take some snapshots along the way, and he and Jamey must have passed each other in the night. But the pain and anguish return every time Jamey looks at the custom CB in his garage. He’s been able to bring himself to ride it only once since the accident, and will probably bequeath it to his son Jacob when the time is right. This winter, however, Jamey’s attention will be focused once again on the garage.
“The whole time we were out at Sturgis, BB and I talked about the kind of custom he wanted. He wanted a Knuckle. Well, I’m going to build it for him,” Jamey promises. With a pinch of his pal’s ashes mixed with the paint, Jamey Montey intends to spend his off-season creating a two-wheeled tribute to his friend and brother BB. It’ll be a painstaking endeavor; one that Jamey feels is his to see to fruition.
But right now, he’s got to hang up the phone: his father-in-law has hit a deer (again!) and needs to be rescued. Jamey doesn’t mind picking him up. “No big deal; it’s way easier than driving home from Sturgis without my buddy’s bike on my trailer,” he says.
By Jonny Langston, Photos by Alfonse Palaima
Originally printed in RoadBike Jan/Feb 2012