AGAWAM, MA – The shiny black 1981 Harley-Davidson FXB Sturgis that Paul Murphy still rides was purchased new from what was then Easthampton Harley-Davidson for approximately $5,200. Some 36 years and maybe 150,000 miles later, it’s still on the road, although its motor has been rebuilt four times and many changes have been made.
Murphy, who lives in Southwick, has no plans to get rid of it. “Never. That’s my girl. It’s outlasted three wives,” said Murphy, who stopped along the roadside to chat after attending Indian Day at the Springfield Museums on Sunday.
Murphy has modified it over the years. “I had to hunt down at swap meets various chrome parts I wanted to put on the bike,” he said. As delivered from the factory, the Sturgis was blacked out with orange accents.
The front end was changed out with the front from a 1997 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy being added. It took some machining to get the Sturgis’ 16-inch front wheel to fit. The front end was located at a swap meet in Keene, NH. Murphy and a girl friend loaded it on the bike and transported it home.
The Sturgis also has a 3.1-gallon gas tank from an FX model. He still has all the original parts, though.
Murphy recalled that the Sturgis ran for 55,000 miles before the engine first needed to be overhauled. “I sent it to a guy, he looked at it and sent it back to me and said it wasn’t ready to be rebuilt yet. I made him do it,” Murphy said.
While the Sturgis lacks a speedometer and a tachometer, it does have rear turn signals. They’re chrome, tear-drop shaped and incorporated into the added hard saddle bags. It also has a vanity license plate.
The Sturgis was a groundbreaking model for Harley-Davidson as both the primary and secondary drives used a belt, hence the “B” in the FXB designation.
– By Bud Wilkinson