Oxford (May 14, 2014) - It’s fact that Harley-Davidson® motorcycles are liked, owned and ridden by anyone and everyone. But, of course, when dressed in appropriate riding gear, it’s difficult to tell at first what that person’s family status is, what their chosen career involves or their age. All we can see is that they ride a Harley-Davidson and share the same passion for riding. This includes men of the cloth like Richard Jackson, the recently appointed Bishop of Lewes.
Richard Jackson, 53, is one of many members of the church who ride motorcycles – especially Harley-Davidson® machinery. From curates, vicars to the upper hierarchy of clergy, it seems the passion for Harley-Davidson is everywhere. For Richard, his biking days began at an early age, but owning a Harley-Davidson didn’t occur until much later.
“I’m a born again biker, really,” he says laughing. “I used to bike quite a lot when I was younger but sold my last bike a (Honda CB250) just before I went to university age 19. And I hadn’t ridden a bike since then until I bought the Harley-Davidson® Fat Boy® three years ago.
“When I turned 40, I mentioned that I’d like to get another bike by jokingly saying to my parish I had got to that age in life where I was ready for a Harley-Davidson. When I left, the parishioners bought me a gift to spend a day riding Harleys, so I went along and got to try various models.
“I chose Harley partly because of the image but primarily because of the aesthetics – there are no other bikes that look like them. The Japanese try to make similar; there are one or two Japanese pseudo cruisers that almost get there but they are not the same. Harleys really are bikes of great beauty.”
Richard also found that the big V-twin engine bikes of the Dyna® family really suited to him to the ground. Being a tall man, he liked the way the Dynas made his ride comfortable and the bike very easy to manage.
That Experience day demo ride then left Richard a problem to sort: finding the right bike. He knew what he wanted, but like most people it was getting the right bike to match his budget, or rather his wife’s! “It was the usual problem where the wife wasn’t enthusiastic about hubby owning a motorcycle and she set me a ludicrous budget, saying if I could find one for that figure I could have it,” Richard continues.
Richard’s budget figure meant he could have a new Sportster® but his heart was set on a Dyna or other big twin and this meant hunting high and low and would, hopefully, include the usual benefits of a select, pre-owned Harley-Davidson from an Originals stock found at all authorised Harley-Davidson dealerships. Sure enough, with perseverance, a Fat Boy was found. It wasn’t new, but even though it was registered in 1991 and with 68k miles on the speedo, it was the perfect bike for the money.
Three-and-half-years later, Richard and the Fat Boy are still running up the miles. With 76k miles now recorded, the Fat Boy is perfect example of resilience.
There is nothing unusual about the Fat Boy apart from a host of accessories that came with the Fat Boy at time of purchase. These include the non-standard Le Pera seat, ornate custom chromed engine cases and other eye-catching additions. In all, the usual detail changes found on most Harleys. The one change that Richard did instigate was the addition of genuine Road King® running lights for the added comfort of being more visible to other road users.
As a clergyman riding a Harley, more often than not with ‘dog collar’ in place, how do parishioners and other members of the clergy react when Richard roll ups astride his Fat Boy? “The funny thing is when I turn up to church to do things,” he laughs. “A few years ago, I turned up to a church event and this person said ‘oh you can’t park your bike here!’ I took off my riding gear to reveal the dog collar and he was like ‘oh, oh…’ I wasn’t quite what he expected.” As a rule, Richard is greeted with bemused smiles or indifference. “I went up to Lambeth Palace [official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury] the other day and the security guy was completely unphased and told me to park over there, as they do.”
Sat in his home office, or mission control as it’s known, surrounded by tools of his trade (shelves of religious books, church garments hanging from the door etc) it’s obvious that, despite his recent consecration to Bishop of Lewes (diocese of Chichester, one of 44 in the UK), Richard is just a normal guy doing a job he loves, but also happens to own a Harley, which he also loves.
Even though Richard Jackson is moving into such an important position within the Church of England, life with his Fat boy will not change. However, owning an Electra Glide® model is, admits Richard, very appealing. With his new role comes the need to carry more tools of his trade. But no matter what model Richard rides, it’s guaranteed to be a Harley-Davidson simply because the joy of Harley ownership knows no bounds.