Easy riders

Advertisement

When Delbert Knez needs a break, he hops on his motorcycle and just rides.

"Any time I get stressed, I can jump on it and ride 50 or 100 miles and I just forget about everything," he said.

He's been riding dirt bikes and motorcycles since he was 14 and owns three now.

His favorites are Harley Davidsons.

"It's kind of a prestige thing for me," Knez said. "I don't buy too much non-American stuff."

The draw of the motorcycle, he said, is the open road and the ability to see more than he would in a car.

"It's the biggest convertible in the world," Knez said.

Tony Fandel couldn't agree more. He likes the wind in his face and the heightened senses of smell and hearing.

He took his interest in motorcycles and turned it into a business, Black Dog Cycles, which he owns with Michele and Michael Toovey. The shop has been open for a year, and Fandel said he enjoys the time he spends in the shop.

"There was a need (for the business here), but we do it because it's fun," he said.

The owners focus on air-cooled systems, as opposed to motorcycles with radiators similar to ones used in cars.

"We're trying to stick to the Harley market," Fandel said.

He's noticed these are the most-popular makes here, though loyalty to the company has been fading.

Before, there was a distinction between people who rode Harleys and those who rode Japanese bikes. Now, Fandel thinks cyclists have united and are just happy to be riding together.

Unlike with people in cars, Fandel said, if a biker is stopped on the side of the road, other motorcycle riders will stop to make sure they're okay. And they all wave when they pass each other on the road.

"It's a really different culture," he said.

And the world of motorcycle riding can become an expensive one to live in. Fandel said with a little creativity, he could build a bike for less than $20,000, but he's seen enthusiasts spend more than $100,000 to customize their rides.

He thinks this is because people use cars for daily transportation and want something fun to take out on the road in their free time.

Some people buy motorcycles from dealers and leave them the way they are, while others accessorize to make their bikes unique. Still others want their bikes to be totally different.

Fandel said choppers are bikes that have some items removed to make them look different and perform better.

"Making it clean, making it simple, making it fast," he said.

Much of the renewed motorcycle craze is driven by television, he said. "Motorcycle Mania" on the Discovery Channel featured Jesse James, the owner of West Coast Choppers, a now well-known business. Orange County Choppers also has made a name for itself in the industry.

The motorcycle trend has come to Craig, too. Knez organizes the O.P. Bar & Grill poker run and hog roast, which is slated for July 23 this year.

The ninth annual fund-raising event usually attracts more than 300 classic car and motorcycle enthusiasts from the region. Moffat County Partners and Recreational After-school Doorway will benefit from the proceeds of this year's event.

But no matter how much publicity bikers get, they say it doesn't take away from what they love the most about riding.

"For me, it's definitely the freedom," Fandel said.

To contact Black Dog Cycles, 464 S. Ranney St., call 826-0293.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031 or mperry@craig-dailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.