He built a Harley from scratch as his body was fighting cancer

  • People
  • Tuesday, 08 Dec 2015

Cancer survivor Ron Greer stands next to the breast cancer awareness Harley Davidson motorcycle he built. Photo: TNS

Ron Greer’s labour of love has two big pink tires.

The tires fit perfectly with the colour scheme – and message – of the custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle he remade from the frame up.

The Akron, Ohio, resident and Florida snowbird took almost nine months to build the large bike as he recovered from chemo and radiation treatments for lung cancer.

He recalled at times he only had the strength to work on the Harley, a 2000 Road King, for 15 minutes before needing to rest an hour and then get back to work.

“It’s one of a kind. You’ll never see another one like it,” Greer said. “It’s a fun bike.”

But he does want as many people as possible to see it.

“It was built with cancer in mind,” Greer said. His mother died of cancer. One of his sisters recovered from stomach cancer, and another from breast cancer. He found he had stage 3 lung cancer in Dec 2013 – he thought at first it was pneumonia when he went to see his doctor in Florida.

“I beat it. I’m totally cancer free,” the 65-year-old said.

“I struggled to build that bike. Believe me, I struggled. I hate to think back on it,” he said. “This was my first venture. I figured, what did I have to lose? It was a lot of work. But it was (also) fun.”

He loves to show the Harley off at cancer awareness events. It has been featured in a national motorcycle magazine and took top honours at a local “Bikers for Boobies” breast cancer fundraiser.

Greer has been riding motorcycles for decades. This was his first time trying to build a bike.

The Road King has every optional piece of chrome made for it. The lighting is state-of-the-art LED. There are “Willie G” skulls everywhere, by famed Harley-Davidson designer Willie G. Davidson. The white seats are ostrich leather. The custom pinstriping, which includes Christian symbols as well as cancer-awareness designs, was done by an “old school” artist in Ocala, Florida.

“I shopped two months to find the right red paint for the bike,” Greer said.

The bright pink tires are a limited edition put out several years ago by Dunlop, a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co brand. Just 600 of the tires were made and Greer managed to snag two of them for his project.

“I found them online,” he said.

Greer credits his wife for getting him through the project. They’ve been married four years.

“I handed him tools. I handed him food. I reminded him to take his medicine,” Ligaya said. She is from the Philippines and was visiting there when her husband got his cancer diagnosis.

Because she had problems with her paperwork, she said she was unable to return to the US for 10 months. “That was terrible. He had to go through cancer alone,” she said.

Ligaya said her husband was determined to see the bike project through. “He was, ‘I have to finish this?’” she said.

Greer said building the motorcycle was therapeutic and helped him get his mind off his problems.

All of the work was done in Florida. While Greer does ride it from time to time, the Harley is transported by trailer for long distance trips. When he dies, his will specifies the bike be passed on to family members.

Greer hopes other people find inspiration in the Harley and why it was made.

“This is basically my contribution to cancer – to fighting cancer,” Greer said. “I’m very proud of it.”

He knows people who gave up fighting cancer and understands their thinking.

“My choice was to fight it and beat it. But it was a struggle,” Greer said. “It’s an ugly disease. Ugly, ugly, ugly. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.” – Akron Beacon Journal/Tribune News Service

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