The Dick Allen Picture Pages
The man, the myth and the legend. It's hard to write about Dick Allen because he was several different things to different people. If he liked you then you had a friend for life. If he disliked you then you were pretty much up shit creek. If you were a biker and you needed something, even if he didn't like you, you'd probably get his help at no charge. That's just the way he was.
I originally started this page about two years ago, long before I met Dicks daughter Darcy, but took it down when I started receiving a significant amount of email from people who were challenging the 'content' of many pictures I had taken from the Internet. I found out the hard way that there are often radically conflicting 'stories' about almost anything and everything that Dick ever did. He had several 'groups' of friends and it has become fairly obvious that not everybody in these groups got along to well with folks in another group.
Much of this 'bad blood' between Dicks old cadre of friends comes about as the direct result of two incidents in Dicks life. The first occurred in the mid seventies when he went to prison for smuggling drugs in from Mexico. He lost his shop and sold off much of his tooling and inventory to cover legal expenses but the shop was also basically 'raided' and stripped by a lot of his old buddies who thought he was going away for a long five year stretch. The second event occurred after his motorcycle accident in 1981 when his second shop was again pretty much pillaged by folks looking to make some easy money from his enterprise.
Dick wasn't an 'upright citizen' by the norms of the judiciary but he was one of the most charitable, caring and ethical men I've ever met in my lifetime and I think that almost everybody who ever met him would say the say thing. He truly believed in a 'brotherhood' of bikers but sometimes that brotherhood let him down. Other times it didn't. Many of Dicks true friends had helped and supported him over the years so in the end maybe the good and bad things that occurred to him kind of balanced out. I think that in his mind it did since I never heard him utter a bad word about anybody, even some folks who had done some pretty bad stuff, excepting of course the cops and the courts which he had a major problem with all of his life.
Dick was an outlaw and he didn't try to hide this fact. He might have been the very first 'Libertarian' as his basic life philosophy was to let everybody live their lives as they saw fit and keep the man (government) out of everything. A lot of us can relate to this even today.
Many of the photographs that we'll be posting are scans of old Polaroid's that have a date stamp in the margin. This stamp is the 'expiration date' for the film and depending on where and when the film pack was purchased the actual photographs may have been made about two years prior to that stamp or even several years after the film date so these stamps are really much help in establishing a chronology of events in his life.
Other photographs are scans taken from peoples personal photo albums. Whenever possible we've noted anything marked on the reverse side of the snapshot and/or comments made by those who supplied the photo. I've found out the hard way that sometimes people aren't to good at writing stuff on the backs of pictures are sometimes the notations are made many years after the fact so to speak.
Many of the pictures we've just taken from the Internet primarily from the sites created by Irish Rich (Shamrock Fabrication) and Chris Kallas (MC-Art) which by the way is one of the very best sites to visit if you're interested in Chopper history. Darcy Allen has also supplied photographs from her own albums.
Over the past two years I've interviewed twenty-two of Dicks old friends, four in person and seventeen over the telephone and I've come to understand why, in many cases, I've heard 22 different versions of the same story. Everybody has a unique perspective on the events in their lives and it's not my place to interpret their observations or to challenge their personal view of the past. What we'll post here is 'raw' information right from the horse's mouth so to speak. Sometimes, after a span of time peoples memories fade, dates and events are hard to remember and for a lot of us back in the sixties we lived, some of the time at least, in some pretty 'altered' states of mind if you get my drift.
Ironically many of Dicks old friends actually want to be 'paid' to talk about him. For some strange reason some people believe that almost anything attached to the Dick Allen name is worth money. Well I guess that some stuff is, like some of his old original wheels, if you can prove that they are indeed his old products and not just some rip-off.
Well I don't have any spare cash laying around so some stuff I guess I'll never be able to post.
Some of Dicks old friends have been happy to share their stories with me but want to remain anonymous for a variety of reasons. Many of the women he knew don't want to be identified now that they have another life. Some of his friends have been 'reborn' and don't want to make their past lives public. Some folks are still off the grid for legal reasons.
I want to start out by posting some pictures and a short story that Marc Swislow sent me last year. I picked this one to be first as his experience with Dick is very akin to what my own first experience was like.
Marc recounts one of his memories as follows:
"When I built my Knucklehead I started with a legal but broken set of cases. The left front corner of the left case was missing, from the number block forward. I asked Dick what could be done to fix it. I told him I knew where I could get a broken left case. He said to bring it all to him. At the time Dick had a broken leg and wasn't supposed to be standing, he was in a wheelchair. He broke off the the part from the bad case and then fitted the bad piece to my good case. He would roll around the shop with my cases in his lap, the broken piece and a file and he hand fit everything. It took a long time but when he was done everything fit perfectly. He had me take it to Marshcraft Welding to get it welded up. When I asked him how much for the work he just said 'nothing'. He told me that he considered it therapy and that he needed it to keep busy. After the case was welded he and Chuckie built the motor".
That story, like my own, pretty much sums up what Dick was all about and that was helping bikers keep rolling down the road. He would have done the initial work for free even if he never got to do the final motor work. Dick was a real 'Biker' and unfortunately nowadays most people don't really know what that word even means.
Here's one of the the old photos from sometime around 1970-71 that Marc sent in.
From left to right there is Magoo, a pinstripe artist from my old stomping grounds in Vegas, Dick, Marc and Dave Weichmann from Alphabet Customs. For those who don't know, Alphabet Customs was one of the first shops that Dick licensed his 2 into 1 exhaust systems to. You'll actually see Dave in the background of many old snapshots of Dicks various shops as the two were pretty close over the years.
Below is another photo taken twenty years later, around 1990, and that's again Dave on the left, Cheri, Marc and Dicks lifelong friend and mechanic, Chuck Pilkington, on the right.
This is actually one of the few pictures we've got of Chuck (Outlaw Chuckie) so this one is special to me. Chuck was actually a very good photographer and many of the old pictures you see of Los Angeles area chopper clubs from the sixties were taken by him. Chuck was Dicks mechanic and right-hand man from around 1965 until 1983.
By the way here's a snapshot of Magoo still doing his thing. The years change all of us as far as our outward appearance goes but inside we all just keep getting better and better.
Marc sent in some more 'Chopper Goodness' last night and anybody interested in 'Chopper History' should enjoy these.
Here's a better shot of Dick, Marc and Dave. This time Dick has his eyes open but Marc and Dave look like They're pretty much out of it
These photos with the 'cut' edges came from a collage that marc had under glass for his living room coffee table.
This a shot of Marc, Outlaw Chuckie and Phil Ross (of SuperMax fame) taken in 1992 at Phil's place in Porterville.
Below is a snapshot of Chuckie and Marc taken in October of 2009 and I'm pretty sure Chuck passed away later that year.
This one below is simply almost unbelievable as it's a snapshot of Phil Ross, of 'Super Max' shaking hands with Nez of 'Phase 3'. Two of the giants in the belt drive industry back in the old days who were pretty fierce competitors. Ironically both outfits initially got started by just making copies of Dicks belt drives. This photo was taken in September of 2008 at Dave Weichmann's funeral.
Besides photographs many of Dicks projects found their way into Chopper artwork as seen in this image from the pen of Hal Robinson which depicts 'Wheeler-Dealer' back n the mid sixties.
Getting Ready for a Run. These scans from an individuals album have an attribution date on the back of the pictures of 1969 but I think that they are earlier than that as they might have been taken at Dicks old shop before the retaining wall was built out back in 1968 so they're probably from around 1967-68. They may even be earlier and have been taken out behind the old Trans-Way shop.
The only person I can identify is Dick but the guy in the foreground with the long hair is obviously sitting on a Trike wheel so somebody has to know when these were taken and who the people were. If that's Dicks bike he is loading up then it's what a lot of people call his 'Rat Bike' he started riding after he sold the 'Wheeler Dealer'. I'm just guessing here but from what I can see of the tank and handlebars then it looks pretty much like the Rat so that would put these pictures into the late 68 timeframe.
In this snapshot from the same series as above, I've been told that's Nez doing the heavy lifting in this shot. Angle Marc told me that's it's more likely 'Red Fred'. From the interior of the shop this looks it might have been taken at the Artesia Boulevard location. If anybody has any info about these photos please email or call me so I can provided the correct credits to the people involved.
A really good picture of Dick taken at the Artesia Boulevard shop in 1970 when he stood still for a few seconds.
This is the first time this picture has ever been posted but I'm sure it'll start spreading around the net pretty soon. The thing I like about this snapshot is that it looks like somebody just walked up and caught him off-guard when he was taking a break. When this was taken Dick was about 36-years old and just starting to finally make a break into the 'big-time' so to speak with respect to how builders like himself were portrayed in the Chopper rags.
From around early 67 to mid 71 Dick Allen was the 'Go-To' guy for almost anything having to do with building Choppers and good reliable motors but he got into a little jam-up with the law and ended up doing 6-months of a 5-year sentence for drug-running. As a result he lost his shop, almost all of his possessions except the Locomotion and his model-T and a lot of friends who ripped him off while he was in jail expecting him to be gone a long while.
When he got out of the joint, in typical Dick Allen fashion, he just regrouped and started all over again from scratch getting a new shop not to far from his old shop and in the process dumping a lot of his old friends who had proven themselves to be unworthy of his trust. Rumor is that some of these so-called 'old friends' had ratted him out to begin with.
Believe it or not I've talked with some of Dicks so-called 'close friends' from the Internet who claim that they had no idea he ever did any prison time and they have no idea what I'm talking about so I'm starting to wonder about a lot of folks from the net who now claim to have been his best buds back in the day.
Dick on 'release day'. This is only the second picture I've ever seen where he didn't have a beard and long hair. Thank God he got rehabilitated and we didn't have to worry about him being a threat to society anymore!!!! Who knows what evil influence he might have had on us youngsters at the time. At least the 'man' gave him a bus ticket and $40 to get a fresh start.
The look on his face in this snapshot is classic Dick Allen. It just says 'Well, Here we go again'.
Well it only took Dick a few months and then was right back at it doing all of that old evil Chopper stuff all over again but at the new shop on Normandie Avenue.
Here's a great snapshot of Dick After a typical run. This photo, taken around 1977, can be found all over the net but it's a great example of how Dick and his bike typically looked day in and day out.
This gives a good view of his 'auxiliary' fuel tank mounted to the sissy-bar. Some people say he invented the idea of the aux-tank but I think that a lot of long distance runners had the same idea and came up with their own unique ideas as he did. What most people don't know however is that Dicks tank had a 'false top' and a fairly large 'hidden compartment'.
Of course everybody knows that the only thing Dick would ever stash in the 'secret compartment' was his shaving kit, some fresh undie's and a spare set of sunglasses.
The proper credits for this photo, which everybody and their brother wants to take credit for, actually goes back to Steve Iorio also known as Dr. Pain and Steve Nelson among other aliases. I think it was first transferred to the net by Irish Rich who scanned it from an old issue of Super Cycle magazine and rest is just history as they say.
What's really interesting about this photo however is that if you look closely you can see that in this configuration the bike was running one of his old original style extended and narrowed stock Harley Springers with the 17-inch rim and not one of his tubular Springers. I've enlarged this old web photo on my computer and I can also see that the right front down-tube has a pretty big 'bend' in it so maybe the bike was involved in a little front-end accident shortly before this picture was taken.
Here's a photo of Dick behind one of his 'Blueprint' bikes. This shot was taken around 1974 at the Normandie shop. Once Dick recovered from some of his setbacks he drove forward with a vengeance and started to develop some really significant new ideas and refined his old ideas and inventions.
The bike above is just an example of this change in his direction from building what most of us call 'Riders' or 'Rat Bikes', which he was already famous for, towards building show-quality Choppers. It also shows that he was finally using some of his products on the bikes he built such as the collector system, oil bag and disc brake shown here.
If you look closely at the picture you'll also notice that Dick is on crutches. This wasn't all that uncommon with Dick as he had a tendency to break bones on his long runs and then ride all the way back to L.A. with a broken leg to get it set by his personal doctor. Nobody knows for sure whether these old repeated fractures had anything to do with him eventually loosing his lower leg in the 1981 crash.
Also note the hallmark 'cig' in his mouth. Dick used to smoke some weird-ass foreign hand-rolled cigarettes that look to an uneducated person a lot like a big fat 'joint'. This habit of his lead to a lot of the uneducated magazine writers of the day saying that he was 'high' all the time in the shop which isn't true at all. Dick had two 'modes'. The first was work mode and the second was party mode and he didn't often mix the two modes up.
Dick is probably as well remembered for his party mode as he is for his work mode. To party with Dick was an experience unlike anything that most of us could ever imagine. At around 6-6 tall and 280 pounds he could drink anybody under the table all night long and in almost every case I can remember he was always the last man standing. For Dick a party wasn't even worth starting unless it went non-stop for a couple of days at a minimum.
Here's a great picture taken from Bandit's site of Dick in typical party mode. Who wouldn't let their daughter date this lovable guy.
This snapshot was taken in 1974 at the Three Rivers Run which became almost legendary in it's own time as one of the wildest events ever for most California riders. Needless to say he broke his leg again on that run.
Here's an older photo from Sturgis (taken from Irish Rich) that shows a fairly typical Dick Allen get-together.
I've been told that Dick was going to chop down a tree by shooting it into submission since he didn't have an axe. 'Use the tools you have at hand' was always one of his mottos. He kind of looks like a Sasquatch doesn't he?
Apparently it worked as the guys got a campsite and bonfire made in time for further festivities.
Perhaps one of the best things about pictures like these is that they show what motivated Dick throughout his life and that was being able to live free and unencumbered by laws and regulations and the conventions of what was considered to be 'normal life' back then. If Dick had been born in an earlier century he'd no doubt have been just a regular old cowboy always living on the outskirts and always staying on the move.
Bikes, or the Iron Horse, gave Dick that freedom and he built them because to him they were simply easy cost effective transportation, a means to an end that involved being with other free spirited individuals. Dick was never really a 'biker' or a 'bike-builder'. He was just a guy who lived life to the fullest and lived by his own convictions and his own standards but it just so happened that he made his living by working on bikes. Ironically that might actually be part of the best description of a true 'biker'. Dick built bikes because he loved the 'craft' and I seriously doubt that he ever charged anybody shop rate for anything that he ever did.
Most of the parts that were what Dick considered to be his 'personal' projects he actually sold for less than what they cost to make. I think back in the day that he sold his original Springers at an advertised price $300 but he'd give a set of forks for $100 at the shop and the real cost of those forks even back then was around $400.
What people don't understand is that Dick ran a 'shop' and his shop did make money. In fact it made pretty good money but the income came from selling parts and mechanical service work. Personally Dick could afford to loose money on his 'projects' as he called them so long as the shop made a profit and could stay open. 'Dick Allen Products' as an entity, was never a part of the shop that Dick owned and operated which was a separate business endeavor.
The original sign at his first shop simply read 'Dick Allen Welding and Motorcycle Parts'. The bread and butter so to speak always came from the shop work that was Chuckie's domain and in selling parts. The parts business by itself was a fairly significant business operation and Dick used to sell parts made by anybody and everybody. In the early days Sugar Bear and others used to buy Dicks Springer parts for their own operations. I used to buy parts from him all the time as the prices were good and the quality was excellent. The only problem was that he preferred doing business in person and for cash money (or good checks) and the buyer was responsible for packing if necessary.
Many people I've talked with have told me that Dick didn't care one bit about 'Bikers' or 'Bike Clubs' and that to him the cycle was just a means of transportation that had nothing to do with his own personal lifestyle. To him the bike was just an easy to build ride to get somewhere fast and cheap.
A lot of folks I talk with have told me that Dick really didn't want to be 'identified' with the 'biker' lifestyle at all. He was quite happy building and working on cars but there was better money to be made working on bikes so he just went with the flow. Even though most of Dicks close friends were pretty hard core bikers and club members Dick largely stayed above that stuff for many years in his early career as a mechanic and fabricator.
In fact when I first met Dick he was the typical 'all-American straight-laced guy next door type of person'. He had no beard and had close-coped hair. I was the guy with the beard and shoulder length hair. In fact Dick didn't even have any tattoo's back in the old days, that stuff came later in his life, around 1970 when he started to make the transition into a lifestyle he tried to ignore for a long time.
Here's a nice picture that was taken in 2013 when JJ accidentally ran into Dick's daughter Darcy at a Kwik-Mart in Sturgis.
Sometimes it's a small world, and even though they had talked over the phone in the past about the special program JJ did for the discovery channel this was actually the first time they ever met face to face.
Just another picture with Dick and crutches for about the fourth time in his life.
Since we started this section of the site several people have called and emailed to find out who I am. Well, I'm just another one of Dicks old friends and business acquaintances. Most of my bio type info is outlined in other sections of this site but back in the day my 'street' name was 'Smiley', a nickname given to me by Ed Roth. I don't have any pictures from back in the day since I've never carried around much stuff but my ex wife dug up this old family photo from 71.
That's me, my wife Pam and our daughter Kelle. Pam might be able to find some other snapshots and if she does then I'll post them where they're relevant. Hopefully this photo might jog some memories for some folks. I'm pretty 'cleaned-up' here but most of the time I'd have a cig hanging out of my mouth and be covered in grease.
Here's a picture taken at our reception in 70 and even though it's pretty dark some readers might recognize me in my more 'native' mode.
She was an incredible woman and even today I'm still amazed that she put up with me for so long.
Nez and Dick around 1969-70 just chillin.
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