Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Now Bikers Can Take Their Final Ride in Biker Style

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Now Bikers Can Take Their Final Ride in Biker Style

Article excerpt

Byline: Christy Whitehead, River City News correspondent

Bikers who want to take their passion to the grave have a new option.

Orange Park resident Lee Johnson has started Last Ride Inc., which allows bikers to take their final tour -- to the cemetery -- in a special hearse hitched to the back of his Harley-Davidson Electra Glide.

Johnson, 36, said that in the biker world, when someone dies, his or her friends often ride their bikes together in memory of that person, often behind a hearse. But Johnson didn't like the idea of a biker being brought to the cemetery in the back of a car.

"Not putting it down," he said. "A Cadillac is a nice ride, but going by bike is the best way to go."

For $250 to $350, Last Ride Inc. will tow the deceased in a special, Plexiglas-and-aluminum hearse called "The Iron Horse."

Johnson has ridden motorcycles all his life and said he created the pull-along hearse after pondering his own death. He started making it several years ago and went through several versions -- and about $8,000 -- before settling on the see-through version he uses now. He even made custom axles for the hearse so it could use Harley-Davidson tires.

Lydia McNeil, Johnson's girlfriend, said she plans to use the motorcycle hearse. She encouraged Johnson to build it and and let other bikers in the community know about it.

"At first I thought it was morbid," she said. "But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it."

The Iron Horse is embellished with black curtains drawn at each corner to expose Johnson's own casket in the center, for display purposes. He has also altered his Electra Glide to reflect the cargo: a silver skeleton foot replaces the typical kickstand found on a motorcycle. Even Johnson's clothing keeps the theme, his black leather top hat fastened under his chin with a small silver metal skull. The setup looks like a funeral in progress and has caught some family members off guard. Johnson's three young children from a previous marriage came down to visit recently, he said, but they hadn't been told their father keeps his own casket and hearse in the garage. …

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