This is Our Family: The Hawkins Family Story
The Hawkins’ are an awesome family of three… They also happen to be Harley lovers, H.O.G. Members and great customers of Morgan & Wacker. Check out their story:
I only started riding back in 2009 when I did a Q-Ride course and got my licence. Before the course I had never even ridden a motorbike. I did 12 months on a 2008 Suzuki GS500 which was ok, but it wasn’t the bike I had always dreamed of riding or owning, my dream bike was a Harley-Davidson! I finally got to purchase my very first Harley which was a second hand 2008 Softail Custom back in 2011 and I mainly rode that on the weekends at the HOG Chapter rides. The Softail Custom was a great introduction for me into the world of Harley-Davidson and of course the HOG Chapters. A couple of years later I purchased my ultimate “dream” bike, being my 2014 CVO Breakout in Hard Candy Sedona Sand, Blaze Orange with Abyss Black graphics. What a machine!! I had added to the already extensive CVO list of extras by swapping out the contrast turbine wheels for full chrome ones, 14” ape handlebars with custom braided lines, a chrome swing arm, Vance and Hines Big Shot exhaust as part of my Stage One upgrade and then the ChopZ fender eliminator. And I honestly haven’t looked back with it, winning several awards at Show & Shine competitions such as best CVO at the 2015 Queensland State HOG Rally and a few other dealership awards. Then one day in late 2016 I decided to take a Road Glide for a test ride and even though I had heaps of mates saying ‘don’t do it or you will buy one’ I just didn’t get what they were all about. Well guess what, I now own a 2017 Road Glide Special with the new Milwaukee Eight engine, which just like every Harley-Davidson we have had we purchased from the wonderful staff at Morgan & Wacker. Of course, I had to get a few extras for my new Hard Candy Mystic Purple Road Glide Special being a colour matched top box, chrome front end, 15” Road Glide Fat Apes, Rinehart exhaust system as part of my Stage One upgrade, Sissy Bar, and a bunch of chrome trim pieces. Now I have these 2 awesome bikes which are so very different and yet so very awesome each with their own very unique riding experiences. I have now reluctantly sold my Softail Custom but I honestly just didn’t see when I would find the opportunity to ride her with this other two machines. Thankfully she went off to a good home with someone who I know will appreciate her like I did, it has also given me back some precious room in the garage, especially with my wife and son each owning Harleys too.
My wife Shelley and I belong to 3 HOG Chapters and the reason behind that is that really at the end of the day we are all part of the same family and that being HOG. I just love riding with my mates and especially even more so love the HOG Rallies and any overnighter where you can get to know your fellow hoggies a little more closely rather than just over lunch and a beer and then back on the road. My first chapter was BrisHOG and as I was studying at the time and couldn’t always get to the monthly chapter ride, so we decided to join some of the other chapters as we had mates there also. I like the idea of someone organising a ride and all I have to do is turn up at the allotted time. I am currently the Treasurer for BrisHOG and have previously been Treasurer for one of the other Chapters. I love being part of the well organised and fun group of Harley owners. It is very interesting to see the different dynamics in each of the chapters that we belong to but ultimately they all have the same goal and that is to ‘ride and have fun and make awesome memories’!
Memorable rides I have done have been to the 2014 National HOG Rally in Cairns, and the 2015 National HOG Rally in Tamworth, an Iron Butt Association registered ride that Shelley and I did in 2015 (being 1,600 kms in 24 hours). However, my most memorable ride was just recently, initially riding down to the first ever Australian Harley Days in Wollongong in October last year. This was just the start as Shelley and I then continued down around the East Coast of Australia, over to and around part of Tasmania, then down the Great Ocean Road onto Adelaide before heading back home to Brisbane through regional Australia. All up we travelled just over 9,000 kms in 4 and a half weeks on the road. It was really good to join in on a couple of well-timed HOG Chapter Rides on our trip being Brunswick Chapter in Melbourne and Bayside Chapter in Adelaide. As I had expected our interstate hoggies were very warm and welcoming to us. Honestly owning a Harley has given me and my family an amazing escape from the real world. Every now and then we even participate in the Harley drags events held at Willowbank Raceway, which are so well organised by Lola from Morgan & Wacker’s and it’s another great way to give your Harley a squirt down the quarter mile and not worry too much about any blue flashing lights behind you. The next few things we are looking forward to is celebrating Morgan & Wacker’s 100th birthday in just a few months’ time and then our next big adventure will be to hire some Harleys in the USA in 2018, celebrating Harley-Davidson’s 115th birthday and also exploring Route 66.
I used to ride dirt bikes when I was younger, and really hadn’t done anything like that again until one day quite a few years into our marriage Brad mentioned he wanted to buy a motor bike. I never thought twice about it and just simply encouraged him to pursue his dream. I enjoyed watching him going through his stages of learning to ride and getting his first ever motorbike. Once successfully getting his R’s and then venturing around together to purchase his first Harley, things have not quite been the same on our weekends. And from there we have met some amazing friends throughout the HOG chapters that we belong to and I was quite happy to be just a pillion in the beginning. It was funny though; after my son Matthew decided he was going to get his motorcycle learners back in 2012 he suggested that I might like to get mine also. Well we did our initial Q-Ride course together and we have honestly never looked back. Matthew & I had planned to share a Honda CBF250 for a little while but it honestly wasn’t the best bike for me to learn on, considering my height issues (some might say I am vertically challenged but I simply believe that all good things come in small packages J). So anyway, Brad went out and bought me a little cruiser being a Suzuki Intruder 250CC. Once I got my R’s we went Harley shopping and I had really fallen in love with the Sportster 883 Superlow which was the only stock bike that I was able to sit on and could quite easily touch the ground flat footed. The advice that I was given was that over a relatively short period of time I would not be happy on the 883, trying to keep up with Brad, and I would more than likely spend additional money converting it into a 1200CC, so why not just go straight into one. After some further discussions I was advised by the guys at Morgan and Wacker that with a few adjustments being aftermarket lower rear shocks, reduced reach handle bars, the reduced reach seat and lowering the front forks a little bit on a Sportster 1200 Custom, I would get my feet flat on the ground, and I was sold. So, then I purchased “The Beast” in 2013 and my extras on her were initially all of the reduced reach items above with braided lines, chrome moustache engine guard, Vance and Hines Short Shot exhaust as part of my Stage One upgrade and a bunch of Willie G chrome trim pieces. In the back of my mine I wasn’t totally happy with just having a black bike (like everyone else) but unfortunately this was the only colour available at the time. Given I like to be a little different, and I am not your typical girlie girl, I decided I wanted to venture down the track of adding some art work on her to make her stand out a little more. This was when I was introduced to the very talented Damian Gormly from Zealous Air Brush studio. A work colleague & and I did a sketch of my idea that I wanted for the artwork on my tank, and so it began. “The Beast” has continued to evolve over several years with me working with Damian and adding more and more artwork on her. She is now covered on the front and rear fenders, side covers, top of the tank and also along the side of the tank where the tank badges have been replaced with flaming Harley-Davidson in script. I have won several awards with her at Show & Shine competitions and Brad and I have a little family fun competing against each other as well to see who can come home with a trophy. My initial win was at the Morgan & Wacker grand re-opening celebration back in 2014. Brad and I are currently even at the moment with 5 wins a piece, with my last win coming at the Australian Harley Days in Wollongong where I was very honoured to win the “Ladies of Harley (LOH)” category with her. This was probably my most satisfying win, given all of the very tough competition I was up against at this national event.
One of the most enjoyable parts of being involved with motorbikes is meeting all the people who share the same interest and have enormously generous hearts. What I actually mean by this is how the biking community pull together for charities and other biker families in need. Our family have participated in fund raising rides organised by the various HOG Chapters for many charity groups such as Muscular Dystrophy Queensland, Motor Neurone Disease Qld, MND and Me Foundation, and Care flight. There have also been many rides organised within the biker community which seem to grow each year for charities like the Starlight Foundation, the Black Dog Ride raising awareness for depression and suicide, the Pink Bra ride by Girl Torque on the Sunshine Coast, the Easter Egg delivery ride to several chosen aged care facilities sponsored by Traditional Funerals, the Anzac memorial ride which is also to an aged care facility. I do think the favourite is when I go on any of the aged care rides I am overwhelmed seeing the joy on these elderly faces and how they just want to hop on the bikes for a photo and some even going for a short ride bringing back wonderful memories of when they or their partners rode bikes.
As you can see I am very proud of our motorbike life and I can honestly say the next proudest moment came even more recently when our son purchased his new V-Rod just before Christmas. I just love that our whole family is now on Harleys and we can continue on riding and having fun together even more now.
My passion for motorbike riding began after watching my step-dad start his motorbike licence process and realising how much he was enjoying it. That’s when I started riding sports bikes back in 2012, I hadn’t ever really ridden motorbikes before but I did compete in downhill mountain biking in my younger years, so I had some confidence on two wheels. My LAMS bike was a Honda CBF250 and then as soon as my 12 months was up I went and purchased a 2013 Triumph Street Triple R. After riding that for about a year I decided I wanted a Suzuki GSXR750. I didn’t seem to stay in-love with my bikes for too long, and was always looking for the next best thing to have some fun on. I also briefly had a Kawasaki Ninja 636CC track bike. I decided that it wasn’t for me. I sold my GSXR750 and briefly had a Husqvarna 450CC motard before getting back onto a sports bike and currently have a Yamaha FZ8N which I was using as my commuter.
BUT I do have to say the day I went for a test ride on the 2016 V-Rod Night Rod special I WAS IN LOVE! It really was a fluke that I finally got on to a Harley, only because a friend of mine was going to purchase a 2014 V-Rod from Morgan & Wackers and changed his mind, so I ended up test riding it and another one which was their 2016 demo model and it only had 3000 kms on it. I had previously test rode some V-Rod’s on Dealership Demo days, but this particular afternoon, I felt I was finally ready to take the next big step and purchase my own Harley. So I signed on the dotted line for my 2016 V-Rod Night Rod Special that afternoon. To start with I also wanted a few extras which were the Vance and Hines Competition Series 2-into-1 as part of my Stage One upgrade and I have since heat wrapped the exhaust, I have also changed my mirrors, grips and indicator covers with Harley accessories. I am now busy saving as I would like to upgrade the Cams, change my handle bars and add air ride suspension. Initially I had thought that this was only going to be a weekend ride and to keep her in pristine condition and low kms as 2017 will be the last year l that Harley will be making the V-Rods and this could be a good investment. But I picked it up just before Christmas and I honestly have not stopped riding her every day, even to work as well. While I had full intentions to ride the Yamaha FZ Monday to Friday, but it was impossible for me to just leave it in the garage every morning. It just gives me a feeling of great happiness, its sound, its look and its power. I feel so safe riding it knowing it will get me out of any situation in a hurry that I may inadvertently find myself in. Once upon a time I used to think my parents Harleys were just so loud that I actually preferred not to ride with them, well to their delight I am finally on a Harley and have had so much fun in competing with each other (yes my family is highly competitive) as to whom has the loudest bike now. I think my step-dad’s CVO Breakout wins that one hands down, to my mum’s disgust.
The people I have met from the HOG chapter lately, as I have been hanging out with my parents a little more, are all very friendly people and you can tell that they are just so very passionate about their Harleys. I just love listening to their stories and hearing all about their travels. Meeting these nice people has encouraged me to join BrisHOG and I am currently undertaking my provisional membership process. Most importantly though I do think if a family has the same passion whether it is another sport or hobby or riding together, you generally find they are very close and its great having parents that support me the way mine do. My next adventure is a 14-day guided off road motorcycle tour around North Vietnam in March with a good mate of mine as part of a larger tour group. This could be really interesting as I currently don’t know most of them but I am sure I will make some new friends just like I have done within BrisHOG. But upon my return I will be more than happy to continue riding my V-Rod to and from work in order to pay for all my goals and future dreams.
So for the love of Harley, go follow your dreams and participate in one of the important charity rides where you can be a pillion (all in the name of charity) or go get your license and/or purchase your own dream machine. Then you too can make amazing memories and let the thrill of owning a Harley-Davidson and being part of this incredible H-D family begin.
Stay happy, live life to the fullest as it can be cut way too short & if you are already riding, please be safe out there.
Brad, Shelley and Matthew