The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
Ed Mitchell on “Suicide Sadie” back in 1976 and today, right down to the shirt!
Rider: Ed Mitchell, New Gloucester, Maine
Rides: 1945 Harley-Davidson WL, 1991 Harley-Davidson FLHS Police Special
Ed’s story: “These pictures show me and my 1945 Harley-Davidson WL 45. The first is from the summer of 1976 in the Adirondacks and the second is in Maine, September 2012. This was my first motorcycle. The bike is rare in that few WLs were produced in 1945. Most were WLA army models. I had been wanting a Harley since the fall of 1973, but not having any real money and living in Utica, N.Y., I bought a partial basket case 45. At the time, I did not know I was buying the great-grandfather to the Sportster and actually thought I had a full-size Harley. I was green!
“It took me nearly two years, many paychecks and lots of experience and friends to complete the project. When I rolled my finished blue and chrome chopper out of my parents’ living room it started on the first — ignition on — kick! Wow! The assembled company was impressed! Cool as it was, I soon realized the inherent handling flaws of my jockey shift, stock rake 12-inch-over front end. That was a crazy way to learn to ride a motorcycle! I soon altered it to the stock fork/bobber-style you see here. Over the past 38 years ‘Suicide Sadie’ has lived in many different places and worn many different styles — all the way to full dress. Through it all she has remained fun, reliable and stout hearted. She is once again displaying her old bobber charm, a look and feel that seems to suit us best.”