This year we, the world lost a great man. Larry Pierce was a person who made others around him better people, he made fast friends and left a lasting impression on all he met. When Larry was invited to be a Born-Free builder in 2013 (Born-Free 5) he was like a kid on Christmas morning, so stoked he was beside himself, his bike last year was mind-blowing. I knew he was a lock to get invited back for this year's Born-Free 6. I think the only person who was surprised by the invite was Larry - he was always humble. I know that Larry would not want people to bum out when they talk or write about him - I bet it would blow his mind to hear what an impact he had - he would want people to remember him with laughs and smiles and believe me there were plenty of laughs and smiles to go around when you were with him. I only say all of this so you see how heavy this bike and build are, this is the last bike that Larry built. This bike and Born-Free 6 were a pretty fitting way to end the career of a bike builder and AMAZING human being that was taken from us all way, way too early! Rest In Power Larry Pierce the world is a little shittier without you!
Words by Ashley Hardin Pierce
It’s taken me a few days to finally be able to write this article about Larry’s final bike. Knowing it will be the last one is such a difficult pill to swallow. I 100% talked him into doing BF6, I totally guilt-tripped him into it by calling him lazy, unmotivated and YES, probably fat too. (That always worked) After we funded his BF5 knucklehead, the deal was if he wanted another personal bike he had to sell one and he was not about to part with one of his bikes. We made a deal that he could keep all his bikes if he would just do Born Free 6. It’s not that he wasn’t honored to be an invited builder again to Born Free 6 because I can assure you he was extremely flattered. But he was horrible with time management, he really enjoyed sleeping/relaxing and he always stopped working at 6 pm, if not earlier, these things don’t generally lend themselves to someone who builds bikes for this show.
He didn’t own a flathead and he really really liked making the Born Free videos, so with a little nudging he was on board and I was bound and determined to be done with this bike way before the show.
This build was different from the moment he started it. It’s the only bike Larry was able to describe to me before starting that I could see finished. He was excited to do something different than what people were expecting from him. Also because he gave himself so much time, he got the chance to enjoy the entire process of building this bike…which in the past hasn’t always been the case. I feel lucky to have gotten to see him like this, doing what he loved, building this bike and enjoying it. Over the past few years Larry had really found himself as a builder and finally started to trust his gut creatively. He turned out some kickass bikes to prove it!!
“The Larry Special”, his BF6 bike, is based on bikes raced on the beach at the Daytona 200 in the 1940s. It has an art deco style and is by far the smallest bike he has ever built. He used a 1948 Harley 80 inch Flathead motor and built a wishbone full stainless looptail frame with 7/8 tubing and 1 1/4 tubing for the backbone. It is 3 inches shorter than stock with 26-degree rake. He narrowed panhead tanks & offset them, modified a fender that he molded to a dished oil tank, and made the pipes, bars, and foot controls from scratch. The Swazi gas caps were cast by our buddy Leo of Leo Speed Shop. Larry definitely loved this damn bike, he was proud of it. He was done with fab and had it torn down and out to chrome/paint and the motor to be polished by end of March. Which still blows my mind that he met his deadline. The only thing left was deciding on a paint job. He woke me up late one night and showed me a picture of what he wanted for paint. I am so thankful he did that… A week later Larry passed away.
With the unreal support from the motorcycle community, I was able to get the bike assembled and out to Born Free 6 where it belonged. Thank you to everyone who helped in any way, shape, or form. I can never repay y’all or explain how loved I felt. I am forever thankful for my chopper family and helping me finish MY NEW BIKE. After seeing it complete, I knew the bike was meant to be mine. I’ve never ridden with anyone other than Larry or my dad and I don’t intend on starting now. Larry didn’t know he was building it for me, but the man upstairs did. (And yep I am keeping everything the same…Jockey shift, foot clutch, kickstart only… I can’t disappoint Larry now!)
It is still unbelievable to me that Larry is gone. There are not enough words in the universe to describe how amazing he was, how thankful I am for every moment we had together and how much I love him. I miss him desperately. He was the type of person most people can only dream of being, he was fucking awesome!
Ashley Hardin Pierce
Fabricator - Larry Pierce (Lar-Bear)
Assembly - Chris Richardson LA Speed Shop
Year - 46
Model - Harley Davidson 80 inch Flathead
Time -9:58pm central
Rebuilder - Rod “Grimey” Davis from Stripped Down Cycles
Ignition - Kickstart
Air Cleaner - Robbed off of BF5 Bike, Larry totally lied when he said everything was done so we could go to Giddy Up in Austin. So very happy he lied though….
Pipes - One Off Chromed- (He was pretty pumped on the way he mounted them)
TRANSMISSION - Larry forgot to send the tranny he bought off to be polished, so we had to take the polished one out of his BF5 Knuckle and use it.
Molding - A tidge
Painter - Johnathan Goolsby and Josh Henning at Goolsby’s Customs
Color- Black with silver leaf
Wishbone All stainless looptail frame, its 3 inches shorter than stock with 7/8 tubing and 1 1/4 tubing for the backbone
Year - 2014?
Type - Looptail
Rake - 26 degrees
Stretch - ZERO
Bars - One off Chromed
Risers/front end - Ibeam springer
Fender - Modified stock with molded-in oil tank
Headlight - Old tractor spot lamp (thanks to Grimey)
Taillight - One Off molded to fender
Front pegs - One Off (Designed by ME, Ashley)
Rear pegs- Nope
Model - Miss Patsy Swine
Modifications - She’s ALL NATURAL…grass fed :)
Be sure to grab Show Class Magazine's Issue 20, which is decicated to Born-Free 6 and the People's Champ II. Buy yours here.
Photos by Justin Milwaukee