Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Boomerang Bagger by Celeste Culbertson


I have the most incredible story to share with you about Jeremy Tumblin’s Harley-Davidson Street Glide. But first, let me tell you about Jeremy. He is a native of Hickory Tavern in Laurens County, South Carolina. He graduated from Piedmont Technical College of Greenwood in 2006 with an associate degree in machine tool technology and welding. JT worked as a welder at Eaton in Greenwood for several years, then as a machinist at L&M Machine in Gray Court. Jeremy started a secondary business (his side hustle, as he called it) around 2014 at L&M, designing and milling big wheels (28-inch and 32-inch) for Harley motorcycles on a CNC machine. He found his niche in customizing wheels, modifying bikes and then perfecting his creative skills.

After a drunk driver turned in front of his dad while riding a motorcycle down Fairview Road in Simpsonville, Jeremy decided that he would powder coat his new 32-inch custom flip-six wheel on his personal bike a blinding safety green (neon yellow,) so people could “see me coming from a long distance away,” as he often articulated. JT included many other add-ons (mechanical and cosmetic) to that bagger, such as a two-tone custom purple paint overlayed with a grey lace pattern from a bridal veil, saddle bags with taillights from a Toyota Camry, air ride to extend the front forks and to raise and lower the bike. The bike was customized to the max, stereo and sound included.

As fate would have it, that big bright neon yellow wheel became Jeremy’s calling card and legacy, as it was very recognizable. It made him stand out. And he became well-known in the custom motorcycle industry and in the biker community across the U.S. He was even recognized by Orange County Choppers founder and reality television series, American Chopper, in May 2019. JT had to decline the opportunity to appear on the series due to a chronic illness, but gladly handed it off to a buddy in the industry. Unfortunately, Jeremy passed away a few months later in August 2019, after a fierce five-year battle with colorectal cancer.

JT's bike then exchanged hands (twice) and ended up in New Mexico. As his mom, I like to think that his bike continued to spread his legacy. The motorcycle was riding in territory that Jeremy’s eyes had never seen and somehow that represented freedom to me. But the strangest thing happened. I received a private Facebook message on June 26 of this year from a lady in Inman SC. I met this lady years ago in the Greenville H.O.G. chapter when I was employee of Harley-Davidson of Greenville and served as the liaison between the two entities. The lady wrote that her son and husband had driven out to New Mexico that weekend, bought a motorcycle and trailered it back home. They were told that it was a bike built out of Anderson. After asking around, they discovered it was a bike built out of Laurens County instead. And yes, as fate obviously arranged it, it was/is Jeremy Tumblin’s motorcycle! I can’t even begin to tell you how many gallons of joy and gratitude poured out of my eyes as I read that PM!

I recently visited the new owner of my son’s Street Glide. He’s a nice guy. I’m grateful the motorcycle is in the loving hands of a biker family. He and his wife are giving the bike a facelift and making some mechanical alterations. They have changed the paint scheme to raspberry (purple with pizzazz) and island boy, which is in the teal color spectrum. They are also adding many new parts, engine upgrades and a whole lot of TLC. I can't wait to see the final product, and maybe even write another post about it! 

The new owner said, “Out of respect for Jeremy and in memory of your son, I will keep the name of the bike the same.”  I quickly replied, “Her name is Defiance.”  And, she has defied the odds by traveling across a dozen states and over a thousand miles to make her way back home to Upstate South Carolina!  And I am convinced that one day, after she’s well-ridden and retired, she will make her way back home to Hickory Tavern, just like Jeremy did. Iykyk.

Jeremy's custom made urn

Pictured above:  Jeremy's custom-made gas tank urn. His crowning jewel, if you please. It passed through the hands of nine men (masters of their own skilled art) to make Jeremy's last wish happen.

Pictured below: A small variety of wheel designs by the late Jeremy Tumblin from blanks to finished products. 

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