"Here is a new feature we are doing with our friends at Roller Magazine in Japan. Once a month here on our blog we will be posting up a feature from Ken Nagahara / Roller Magazine and sharing it with all of you.
Past articles from the magazine or something completely new, no matter what it is, it will always have incredibly bitchin' motorcycles that will blow your mind. Whether they are from across the pond or right here in the good ol' US of A, Roller Magazine covers some of the coolest choppers in the world and we couldn't be more stoked to share with all of you some of their killer features. Let's get into it! " - Lowbrow Customs
Rick Najera with one of his Harley-Davidson Knuckleheads.
Love Affair With Vintage Motorcycles Began With A Kid Growing Up In San Francisco
Born and raised in San Fransisco’s Mission District, Rick Najera lives and breathes vintage motorcycles. His first Harley was a 1946G trike that he got when he was 15, that was in 1972. Rick used it to commute back and forth to his high school on it when he lived in a RV behind a bar with his older brother who came back from Vietnam. As you can imagine, he grew up watching choppers buzzing through the mission district.
Rick at a very young age of 20 with a 1955 Panhead motor.
Cruised the States With His Beloved Hollywood Green 1955 Harley Panhead
Vintage Motorcycle Community Involvement
As years passed a hobby grew into an obsession. He started going to AMCA swap meets and runs in the 1980’s, eventually starting SF’s Yerba Buena chapter and still is the president. Rick eventually became a AMCA’s board member, and during his tenure, he is responsible for reworking AMCA’s road runs to how they are present day. For that lifework, he was rewarded as an AMCA honorary member.
If you ride across the country or travel anywhere with Rick, you’ll notice immediately how much people recognize him. When I run into trouble on my bike anywhere in this continent, I call Rick. He always knows someone near by to lend me helping hand and or some resources.
Rick built this 1937 Harley-Davidson UL flathead chopper.
Rick's Indian inline 4 cylinder.
I have known Rick for over 10 years, he always rode the coolest bikes. I really couldn’t afford a Harley-Davidson for a long time and would always go over to his shop and drool all over his bikes. One day he calls me and says “you owe me money”. I would bring him cash, every $1000 at a time that I could save until the deal was done... He helped me find my first Harley and I am forever grateful for him and he's been a true mentor.
Helping me out with anything and everything motorcycle related. Along with connecting me to so many different people. He was the one that really opened up doors for me as well in helping me get / create articles for Roller Magazine and Ripper Magazine. Every time I get a chance to spend time with him I make a point to soak up any and all of his knowledge that he shares when it comes to vintage motorcycles.
Just a couple of Rick's Panheads
A Variety of Vintage Motorcycles Collected Over 5 Decades
As years passed a hobby grew into an obsession. Rick's collection grew rapidly over the years, and his garage filled to the brim with bikes, custom motorcycle parts and ongoing projects. His collection spans from Panheads, Knuckleheads, inline 4s to JDs.
From restoring knuckleheads to building a show choppers for the Born Free show, he hasn’t stopped collecting and building bikes for over 4 decades. Rick says his favorite form is the “Bob jobs”, in between stocker and a chopper. Any given day he has about 4 bikes on the lift and wrenching on them in his chaotically crowded San Fransisco garage.
Words and Photos by Ken Nagahara
Partially from Roller Magazine #12
Here are some more photos of Rick and his bikes over the years.
Chromed out Pahnead
Rick at TROG
Traveling with friends back in the day.
Off to Sturgis.
Just a great photo of Rick in his early years partying at a bike show.
1954 Bob job.
Rick with his 1954 Panhead.
1937 Harley-Davidson UL Chop for Born Free
Check out that air cleaner!
Rick with his 1937 Harley-Davidson UL Chopper
A small glimpse into the brilliant chaos that is Rick's Garage.