It was the type of show where you wish motorcycles could talk, to share the lives they’ve lived, the roads they’ve ridden, and the people they’d met along the way. Luckily, there were plenty of leather-faced living historians on-hand at Warren Lane’s True Grit Antique and Chopper Gathering, from one-time owners to restorers, who were eager to share a story or two about the incredible old bikes in the show. From fading “Panheads Forever” stickers on weathered plexi-glass windscreens to a “Fat Heads Flat Heads” race plate on an old dirt demon, nostalgia ruled the day. While it’s only the second year of the True Grit show, the gathering Atomic Metalsmith Lane has put together is quickly gaining a devoted following at Daytona Beach Bike Week. Lane said originally 60 to 70 people had signed up but day-of the show you couldn’t squeeze any more old motorcycles into the middle of the Broken Spoke Saloon.

Ray Llanes from nearby Ormond Beach shared the story of how he rolled the dice and traded a Dyna for a true basket case. The hodge-podge of parts turned out to be from different eras, which was fine because Llanes had been wanting to build something that spanned generations, from the ‘50s to the ‘80s. From the kempt internally-wired bars to the art deco Harley logo on the tank to the skinny rear shocks, Llanes’ can be proud that the 1976 Shovelhead he literally built in his back yard is a real head-turner.

Another gentleman told the tale of how his buddy had willed him a 1984 Ironhead drag bike. Kitted with Zipper’s Performance go-fast goodies including heads and cams and an S&S E carb with a ThunderJet force-feeding it fuel, the motorcycle once competed in All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) events during the 1990’s. The current owner said he learned the hard way that police aren’t too fond of wheelie bars on the street. He’s been honoring his buddy “The Rock” by riding the bike around Daytona and by bringing it to the True Grit show to share with appreciative onlookers. He said his two sons are already chomping at the bit to get the bike once their father is ready to pass it down to them, and so the cycle established by his buddy continues.

And while rusty relics and patinaed metal ruled the day, the 2020 True Grit also saw the debut of new builds by both Xavier Muriel and host Lane himself. Warren said he finished the bike Thursday, just in time for the show. Narrow and tightly packaged, Lane’s build features a 1967 FLH Shovelhead engine, but only the H-D cases remain as everything else has been swapped for an S&S 98” Sidewinder stroker kit. The Springer front end is likewise a hybrid, the top half being a stock Harley set-up while the bottom half he made himself. With the big 23-inch wheel he ran up front, Lane ended up cutting 5/8” off the fork to level out the bike front-to-back. The modified Knuckle frame is a thing of beauty, as are the stainless steel spokes and Star hubs. The front is shod in a knobby Bridgestone originally made for a Honda XR 500 while the 18-inch rear also received a repurposed Bridgestone. Inspect the bike closely and you’ll find silver dollar-like medallions, the traditional Liberty face now skeletal, sprinkled about the build at the bend of the bars, on the backbone behind the tank, and on top of the tree.

Xavier Muriel also brought his latest build to the True Grit Gathering. 

Even a bit of Indian Larry crept into the show, the commemorative chopper featuring the unmistakable twisted downtube and the Rat Fink and silver flame paint job from “Question Everything.” Something tells me True Grit is the type of show Larry would have appreciated.