Icons and Legends The Walker's
The Icon and Legends feature was a way of giving back to those Blokes who make Australian Motorcycling what it is today and whilst we are flooded by pay TV with American Motorcycling society gets to be house hold names here in Aus. the humble Australian goes about what he does with no fan fair or recognition but you’ll find that it doesn’t matter where you look in the motorcycling world if it wasn’t an Aussie that did it he had a hand in it and one of those larrikins is Quick Fix Harley Davidson Mildura owner and motor cycling legend Gavin Walker. Gavin now in his Fifties shows no signs of slowing down and still races dirt bikes in the Fink and Hatter and loves selling motorcycling and motorcycling in general “I love it, the Harley customers do like to see my profile in magazines (did I say modest?), they can say yeah I know Gav I brought my bike off him. The amount of customers that are still friends is brilliant, 95% of people I sell motorcycles to are fantastic people and remain customers for years, not that’s a big deal (now that’s modesty)”
Gavin’s hometown of Mildura is a Motor head’s Mecca, with its abundance of room and situated on the Murray River on the door step of the Outback Mildura offers everything racing, be it on water, dirt or bitumen and Gavin has done it all but some of his favourite memories is tearing up the quarter mile on his Harley at the OZBike sponsored event back in 1988 through to 1991. The event was a must on the calendar for the serious petrol head and took place over a full weekend and had everything, bands, Speedway and the drags. Gavin took his drag racing serious and with the sport getting bigger and more competitive found himself getting sick of the “serious shit’’ as he put it and having to wait for hours just to get a ride and it was around that time the sand drags poked its head up and always one for a challenge decided to go run with the Sand Drag Boys. A couple of blokes named Ponty and Broadford had a couple of sand drag tracks one at Mildura and Swan Hill, which wasn’t actually sand it was clay. Gavin and the crew then went about converting his 10.5 sec ¼ Miler Harley Davidson into a sand dragger ‘’it was bloody fantastic!’’ he says ‘’best fun I had had in a while, go out to the back of the bush and the salt pans at home and it was there you could put the kids on it, let your mates ride it, it was never too serious and you got to share your fun! I don’t want to be the only one to feel a 120HP Harley, I want people to experience the feeling of how the Knobby (tyre) hooks up and twitches, slides and gets out of control. It’s good I want my mates to know it and its scary too. ‘’
Gavin was the force behind the Harley Davidson record jump and gives the credit for the idea to Seth Enslow. Gavin met Seth at a Fox sponsored event in Melbourne and they spoke at length about the idea. In that conversation Gavin showed a photo to Seth of the sand drags and his first reaction was that’s cool when can we do it? Gavin answered when he comes back on the upcoming crusty Demon tour. Crusty Demons, Chris Foreman recruited Gavin to help out and look after all the boys and utilise his knowledge of the local venues and he is to use his words not mine a reasonably good bike mechanic. It was actually on tour when Seth asked the question ‘’why don’t we have a jump Harley?’’ and the question was posed to several at the time, but it was Gavin who picked up the ball and ran with it and said ‘’yeah I love that shit, I’m happy to build one’’. Gavin reasoning was if you can jump a dirt bike why not a Harley, why Evil Knevel set the standard and took an old XR Harley that was meant to go around a round flat track and jumped it through the air, but you are always going to be criticised when you follow a legend and no comparison can be made because of difference and advances in tech knowledge in the past decades the comparisons couldn’t be made and the XR750 used by Evil and todays XR1200 are worlds, Gavin explains the comparison ‘’people say it’s more modern and you can’t compare the two bikes. I say to them go have a look at the statistics, there is as little as 4inches more travel in the front and 2inchs more in the rear end and the newer bike weighs almost double so when you weigh it up pound for pound it’s still pretty tough stuff!’’
Born and bred Mildura boy the local businesses and the folk are a tight nit community and Gavin and the family receive a lot of respect in the community and his business Quick Fix Harley Davidson which he started from scratch after graduating with a Harley PHD 27 years ago and Gavin repays the community by using the vast resources of the local trades ‘’every person gets behind you, over the years we have been able to get this (XR 1200) built here, get this built here, that tweaked there, they will even give you the keys to the gate and the front end loader and leave you to your own vices such is the trust and support’’. It was only with the support that made the jump bike possible with the time put into the project as Gavin put it ridiculous and admits if he was paying someone to do it, it would have happened. Gavin didn’t count the hours he put into it only that it was fun and he found himself thinking about it 24/7 ‘’ You can’t concentrate on anything else when you’re doing something like that you just set a goal and get it done!’’. The whole experience with the record jump was to be a trip and Gavin was soon to realise the enormity and responsibility bestowed in what was about to attempt ‘’I found myself relying on new people and it wasn’t a team yet, not like staff who all know what they are doing, we were all green country boys in a strange city, spread over 5 different hotels and everyone had to get down to the site every day and battle the wind and rain’’. There were several setbacks over the days of testing at the harbour side location of Barangaroo, first the massive ramp was positioned in the wrong place and the riders where running the risk of landing in Sydney Harbour only because film makers wanted the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge in the background and then there was 3 straight days of rain and no practice, so the whole thing ended up a ‘nerve racking experience as they put it and unsung jump hero and Gavin’s son Jack didn’t really want to jump, but when push came to shove through the testing period Jack would get his father to push it back and back and dad Gavin offered support to Jack jumping up the 130 feet mark until he (Gavin) gave in and said he wasn’t doing anymore and pulled the pin which must have been shattering for dad knowing the rivalry between father and son. The crew didn’t bother measuring the distances Jack was jumping and just concentrating on getting the bike set up and when they finally did measure it they found he (Jack) was only about 12 foot short of Evils record and the actually moment when Jack said bugger just push it back and we will break it and go home was cemented in history caught on film in the clip. By this time the shock had leaked and was low on oil and Gavin was in a panic and didn’t think he would let Jack do it, if not only because mum would kill dad and it was Jack who said ‘’just wipe it and let me go, it will be done in 20 seconds and we can go!’’ Gavin still in a state of panic once again got the air meters out and measured the nitrogen left in the shocks and could see the shocks were going down, leaking oil and Gavin wasn’t comfortable with it and wasn’t happy with Jack attempting it, Jack turned to Gavin and said I’m doing it, hurry up I’m going and just did it, a unconfirmed world record. They often say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and jack has picked up his lack of fear from his old man, but Gavin was taught by another of Mildura’s favourite sons in Aussie legendary side car racer and stunt man Clary Jones, through his childhood growing up with Clary meant that everything that was really dangerous and somewhat mad was the norm, Gavin reminisces of a one particular party they had and Clary thought it would be a good idea to get the old Honda 750 four trike they had sitting round and put it on the roof of the house facing the back yard swimming pool. At the time the pool was empty so the party goers decided to fill it up. Hours had past and there was only about 3ft of water in the pool and the boys were blind drunk when Clary says I’ve had enough, clambered up to the roof and the trike, starts it and launch’s the trike off the roof and into the pool ‘’it all turned to shit and he wrecked everything, it was great! What everyone thinks is insane is just second nature’’ says Gavin. But Gavin gives the crown to probably the craziest of all to Jack, at a young age Jack was given a little Suzuki carry ute and the story goes he would fang the little ute and then hit the skids that hard the little ute would stand up on the roo bar (bull bar) on the front and it would just stay there balancing on its nose and would eventually tip on its roof or come back down and it wasn’t something he did for family and friends in the backyard Jack treated the whole of Mildura to his favourite trick at intersections ‘’how he ever got a license has me fucked’’ Gavin says. The so called problem child then graduated to an old XD Falcon Ute in which he would get up to speed and slide the car into the family’s driveway sideways in-between the house, a brick wall and a shed leaving just inch’s between the car and the structures. On one occasion Jack cut it so fine he had to use a floor jack under the cars diff to navigate the car around because he couldn’t drive out and then I left the best for last there was the Toyota Corolla, the family home had a twenty foot Bamboo fence and rows of plumb trees around the property and Gavin would often have the Highway Men and big bad bikies over for a few ales, Jack was 10-11 years old and Gavin would just let Jack drive around in it but would never jump in ‘’I’m not an idiot’’ he says, but he was quick to set up the unexpecting reveller and he would pick the biggest bloke and say ‘’take me kid out and teach him to drive a bit would ya?’’ and with that the big hard dude with the beard would jump in the little Corolla with the child driver and expect to share his wealth of knowledge his new protégé. Jack would give his instructor the ride of his life, jack would corner the little Corolla that hard that the car would end up on two wheels and the roof would actually run along the edge of the bamboo turning many a hard bikie to water.
Always looking for something different and another challenge Gavin remembered that Clary still had the Globe of Death that Clary’s son and good friend Stevie Butler use to ride in at shows and carnivals and it wasn’t being used any more only to be hired out every now and again but rarely and it was over a couple of cold beers at a short track meeting that a bloke was mouthing off about riding the Globe of Death and true to form Gavin put it out there and said to the bloke ‘’if you are so good come and ride a Harley in it’’ in which the bloke replied ‘’alright’’ and that was it, the first chance he got Gavin rang Harley and said ‘’I need a sportster in a hurry!’’ and then he rang Clary and said he wanted to hire the globe. The Sportster they were given had never been started and was a showpiece for the new range of wheels and spent most of its life as an ordinate in the HD boardroom, Gavin picked it up from Adelaide and it was there he put the first 3klms on it. The first to ride the Sporty in the Globe was young Phil Jones and Phil he went half a loop and fell, as Gavin put it ‘’he just ended up fucking the bike and how the bike didn’t fuck him or kill him, looked after by the gods for sure!’’. The sore and sorry Sporty was whisked into the workshop, the bars and levers changed and did a little panel beating and the Sporty was then wheeled out for Steve Butler’s attempt, Gavin passed the bike over and said ‘’here you go boy its either now or never’’ and he did it. The hardest part was stopping especially when compared to a dirt bike. Whilst doing the run the Globe was moving violently and was too dangerous so it was dyna bolted all-around the base to stop it from moving and Steve was thrown back in and within 3 hours had the sporty upside down.
Knowing it was possible Gavin ended up altering the suspension, changing the gearing and a few other alterations to make it easier to ride, but the old Globe had seen better days and was showing signs of fatigue and the Harley was destroying it so Gavin and the boys spent the following day welding and grinding and bringing it back to its former glory and fitted a set of straight through pipes to the Sporty while they were at it. It was now night and the ever impatient Gavin had no qualms with having a go at night and was looking forward to seeing it all lit up with the head light and taillight going up side down and round and round “looks absolutely fantastic’’ he says. With its new lease on life the Globe went on tour, first it was the Mount Bulla Hog Rally and then it was Sexpo where there was three bikes put into it at once. A couple of days before Sexpo Steve had been hurt and they never had a rider so Gavin contacted Dominic Gasser from Silver Circus, Dominic had used the Globe before and sent his young rider Riccardo to fill in, Riccardo jumped on the Harley and it only took him a few minutes to suss the bike out and he was doing figure eights all over the globe. It was another first for quick fix, Harley Davidsons are used on the wall of death in the USA but the Sporty is the heaviest bike and the first Harley ever in the Globe. By now you may be thinking Sexpo what’s Sexpo got to do with bikes, well Sexpo offered an opportunity for Gavin and the Quick Fix Harley Davidson team to run the Harley’s in a Freestyle arena alongside freestyle bikes and to show the masses and other riders what can be done on a Harley. There were four different riders who took the challenge. Two of which Kain Saul and jack Fields actually spent 3 days before hand setting it up using a 120 ramp or lifter and landing on 11meter ramp the Quick fix big down ramp. Both the riders felt their most comfortable at 85-90 feet in comparison with their purpose built freestyle bikes in which they feel more comfortable around the 75 foot mark. Jumping the extra 15 feet means they can do most all the tricks they do on freestyle bikes, ah I hear you say what about the back flip? Kain Saul a back flip specialise back flipped the XR 1200 off a Super Kicker ramp and still the knockers were quick to say ‘’The XR 1200, that’s not a true Harley!’’ and this would piss Gavin off no end so he put it to one particular knocker ‘’What the fuck do you recon we should back flip’’ in which the punter replied in a sarcastic tone ‘’Jump the big ones a Softail or something like that?’’, never one to be told he couldn’t do something Gavin makes the defying remark ‘’well fuck, we can back flip if you want, how about that will that fuckin please ya? ’’. From that time on every-time he mentioned what he had in mind he was met with negativity and told it was impossible which made him all the more determined. Harley Davidson Australia executives were riding around Australia and happened to turn up at Quick Fix Mildura riding pre model imported bikes that where under special license and were only allowed to stay in the country for a certain period of time and weren’t to be registered. Never one to miss an opportunity, a few laughs, a couple of beers and a fair bit of bullshit Gavin said to the boys I’m going to back flip that referring to a Road King the boys were riding and to Gavin’s surprise they said if you are going to backflip it we will leave it here. The bike was a brand new road worthy 103 Anniversary Road King complete spot lights, windshield and sissy bar and with Harley Davidson Australia’s blessing it was straight to work and out with the grinder, the idea was to keep the bikes standard look so the shocks were set behind the saddle bags and the triple trees changed. Back flip specialise Kain Saul was given the task of flipping the goliath and having conquered the flip in a foam pit decided to take it to the next level and whilst it wasn’t quite perfect they decided to do it on dirt, but Gavin wasn’t going to do it for free in a paddock this time, he wanted to wait till somebody heard about it and thought bullshit you can’t do that and come to the party so as Gavin could recoup some of his outlay and pay kain ‘’I’m not having that kid (Kain) risk his life for nothing, he’s a tough bastard but I don’t want him doing it without being payed properly. The aim was Sexpo and its stage to document the feat. Gavin’ long term goal is a documentary and to promote and approach potential sponsors Gavin came up with the idea to combine the freestyle jump over the globe of death with another Harley upside down in it and for once the timing wasn’t quite there and it didn’t quite work ‘’I have to pitch it to people and they usually think queer with everything I do’’. After talking to film makers that have been involved in large productions in Australia he has been able to get an understanding of film making and picked up the basics and common sense side of it and spoken to Discovery Channel ‘’let me tell you how it works it’s as simple as hell!’’ Gavin says ‘’First you have 5-6 characters, that people are going to relate to and someone will relate to one of those characters and good content that will make people turn their tellies (TV’s) on. What sells in the US is dry red dirt sand country and we do actually have Kangaroo’s hop down our main street in Mildura and come complete with those Aussie bush accents’’.
The Walkers are truly a close nit family unit and live their lives around bikes, Poppy Walker is 75 years young and still drives around everywhere and has a habit of riding around the streets of Mildura at 180klph ‘’what are the coppers going to say to a bloke my age? They can book me I don’t care. What Judge is going to believe that?’’. Quick Fix is a truly family ran business and all ride, Gavin’s daughter runs Garage parties, girl’s rides and rides a 48 Sporty, Jack does what Jack wants and Gavin’s wife rides dirt bikes and after watching son Jack do wheel stands flat stick the length of the street on a Dyna she has set her sights on wheel standing, but in typical female fashion she wants to do it straight away ‘’No you learn to do one thing at a time ‘’ Gavin warns ‘’So as you can see she also has a fair bit of idiot in her so there’s not much chance for anyone else in the family’’.
Mildura was established on wine making, citrus and broad acre farming and there is no real industry, so the whole area relies on the weather and was in a draught for nine years a couple of years ago until the rain came and the draught soon turned to flooding and the Quick Fix shop was knee deep in water. Gavin found himself burning the candle at both ends, taking care of the shop and trying get the back flip together and time was at an essence because if they were going to be the first they had to get their shit together. Gavin cleaned up the shop and got his jump on the Crusty Demons tour ‘’the feeling driving back from Melbourne was electrifying, so fucking cool and then to take it on the Crusty Demon tour and replicate it 9 times, every-time he (Kain) has got on that bike he has landed it perfectly and every-time he gets on that bike before a jump he is petrified and shaking, I try to calm him down , don’t worry I tell him there’s only 10,000 people watching you the spotlight and shit, act like a showman while you are doing it!’’ The back flip is still on Gavin’s bucket list and whilst he is a mechanic of some not he is still a rider and the family has an 80-90ft ramp permantly erected in the backyard and not uncommon to see Gavin jump the ramp still in his jeans and work shirt and phone in his pocket.
Gavin brought his first bike off the old man, a 100cc Bridgestone road bike ‘’had to pay the whole $120 for it, didn’t even let me off $10 it was what he paid for it and he wasn’t going to take a penny less’’ and funny enough Gavin’s father didn’t want Gavin to have anything to do with motorcycles and when he looked into starting the shop the old man said ‘’bloody Harley shit boy, oil leaking heaps of shit’’ Gavin said that was what he wanted to do and pursued his dream working full time as well as running the shop for the first couple of years. There’s been plenty of water under the bridge since those early days and Gavin’s father is an iatrical part of the shop and though he hasn’t got a bike of his own only because he says he wouldn’t ride it enough, that’s not to say he doesn’t ride when Quick Fix were fitting the HRD sidecars to their bikes Gavin would fly his Father up to Sydney and he would ride the bike back to Mildura ‘’he does all the pickups and deliveries around Australia and would fly anywhere if there’s a bike to be ridden home. At 75 years old he’s a stingy old prick, you send him away in the van to Sydney and back and he refuses to stay in a motel, I give him the money and say dad you have to stop, you can’t do this or do that you might smash the bike or at worst yourself!’’ The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the stubborn 75 year old would grab Gavin’s JDM Honda sleeping bag and stops at truck stops for an half hour and have a kip on the vans front seat and usually only makes two stops on each trip ‘’I’m not paying anyone to sleep in their bed, moneys too hard to come by’’ he says. When Gavin was young a bloke mentioned he would like to go to Birdsville races and when he ran it pass his father his Father invited himself, Gavin too the wise way making the trek on a trail bike the old man showed his true grit making the trip on his shaft driven GS 1000 the 140klm of dirt road.
The Walkers really are a breed of their own and we as Aussies and the Aussie biker community are better for it and for this we congratulate them!