1948 Indian Chief from Illinois

Discover a classic iron Indian's second life.

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by Henry Fajardo

Henry “Hank” Fajardo is as Chicago as they come. He still calls the Ukrainian Village neighborhood he was born in, home.

He recalls a typical Midwest childhood before modernist condos replaced workman’s cottages that dotted the 130-year old area. Before $1,000 strollers appeared on condo-lined streets, Henry and friends begged, borrowed and “liberated” dirt bikes to raise light hell on empty lots and alleys.

An early meeting with Chicago’s Finest made an impression. Jumping a single curb within sight of a CPD cruiser earned him a seat in the back with a call to his father to pick him up. Henry doesn’t remember the punishment, just the fear. But he kept throwing legs over bikes.

Youth became young manhood and new bikes meant a bigger playground. The late 80s were a golden era for sport bikes. Honda Hurricanes, GSXRs and FZRs ruled Lake Shore Drive and the expressways. Henry and friends beat their 600cc bikes into the ground, occasionally exploring the liter class. The famous Highland House in Highland Park was usually the destination, over-revving and pulling tasteful wheelies along the way.

Then adulthood arrived, along with careers, houses and families. Sport bikes were sold, swapped for cruisers or sometimes just put away for good. It’s hard to argue with new priorities that need diapers, formula and fathers with fully intact limbs. But the love of two wheels endured. He even became a certified state instructor for Ride Chicago, putting a responsibly ironic flourish to his younger years.

  • Updated on Oct 3, 2021
  • Originally Published on Sep 28, 2021
Tagged with: chicago, classic iron, motorcycle tribe
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