“I know he sees it.”
That’s how Durham, North Carolina resident Thomas Lee Williams described the emotions behind the completion of his late brother’s dream motorcycle, a project that’s been more than three years in the making.
Last Monday, Williams and a slew of friends completed the long-awaited mission they took on following the day Sidney Williams died in a traffic collision on the Grand Strand during the fall Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally in 2017.
Sidney and some friends were heading from a restaurant to the motel where they were staying when a minivan struck Williams’ bike in Atlantic Beach on Oct. 7, 2017. He died at the hospital following the collision, which his family members believe was the result of texting while driving. No one was charged in connection to the incident.
Lee said he and others were at the motel awaiting their friends’ return when they learned of the incident. Soon after the tragic crash, Lee and friends began the project of completing upgrades to a bike his brother had planned to begin revamping when he returned home.
“He already had everything picked out of what he was going to order,” Lee said of his brother, who was mentally piecing together his dream bike through vendors on the Grand Strand for bike week. “He was gonna do all that stuff to it when he got back from the beach, but he never made it.”
The project began with help from Raging Bull Harley-Davidson in Durham before Williams and friends took over the project completely in order to expedite the process since the motorcycle shop was working pro bono whenever time allowed.
“It was no hard feelings,” Lee said, adding that Raging Bull still provided the crew discounts to help with the completion. “I just wanted it done.”
Keith Geoffrion, who previously worked at Raging Bull before taking another job, continued to help in his spare time, spearheading the bike’s construction. Many others — such as Ray Riggan (seat upholstery), Ed Finch of Scoobe’s Cycles (paint), NAPA Auto Parts manager Donny Moore and wife Renee Moore (purchasing and donating parts), NTK FabWorks’ Nick Koutiaris (emblems and a memorial cross that sits at the corner of U.S. 17 and 31st Avenue South, where Sidney’s crash took place) and two of Sidney’s closest friends, Mark Meade (thousands of dollars in contributions) and John Veasey (errand running and a little bit of everything) — played a role in the completion of the motorcycle at no cost.
“It’s overwhelming for everybody to come together and do what they’ve done with the bike with the help and the money and all,” Lee said. “It just shows you how many friends he had and how he was to people and how people come back and done what they did for him.”
Depending on the coronavirus situation, Lee plans to bring the bike down to the Myrtle Beach area for the 2021 spring rally in honor of his brother, who got to know many people working for the City of Durham as the chief installer of equipment for police cars and through the biker community.
When that time comes, the masses will be able to admire the black bike featuring white flames and, of course, the sparkling new rims that caught Sidney’s eye not long before tragedy struck. Though there’s plenty of new bells and whistles, the 2006 Harley-Davidson Street Glide’s original motor, transmission and swing arm remain.
“He’d say it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen,” Lee said, predicting his brother’s response had he been able to see the completed bike in person. “He’d probably just start crying.”