Chances are, you’ve spoken to him on the phone. Maybe he sold you a new leather motorcycle jacket. Or a new open belt primary. He may have given you some spot-on advice about the installation of your new Performance Machine wheels. Or he could have been the guy who helped you diagnose why your FXR is running in reverse only (Yeah, it happened).
We’re talking about Don Sasko here, head of our tech specialist program at J&P. Don works out of our Destination Daytona-based call center in Florida. He dishes out advice on everything motorcycle, not only to our customers, but also to his fellow call center crew when they’re stumped over more intensive tech-related situations. Don starts his shift every morning, hell-bent on maintaining J&P’s primary purpose of keeping the world moving on two wheels. His goal is to ensure everybody he talks to gets out on their bike and it runs and looks the way they expect it to.
Don is a walking encyclopedia of Ironheads, Shovelheads, Evos and Twin Cams. No one is more generous with his general knowledge, and that can be witnessed by the line of customers lined up at his desk, each with a catalog in hand or a question in mind. How do I know this? I’m the guy sitting next to him. Don is just one of the many ridiculously talented technicians I have the pleasure of working with every day here at J&P Cycles. So take a few minutes and read up about our favorite tech specialist, Don Sasko.
Jeff: What do you do here at J&P Cycles?
I’m a J&P Cycles tech specialist. I’ve been here going on seven years now, and mostly what I do is make your bike run. I do a lot of other stuff besides that, just like everybody else around here.
J: What was it that drew you to working in the motorcycle industry?
DS: I guess I was somewhere around eight, ten years old. My brother-in-law came home with his Panhead. After watching him riding around for a little while, he took me for a ride. I liked it a lot. When I told him I wanted another ride, he said, ’Nope. Not until you learn how to fix ’em.’ He was also a pretty good mechanic.
J: What did you do before coming to work at J&P Cycles?
DS: I had two jobs. I had my own shop up there in New York and I did precious metals for 25 years. At that time, there wasn’t a lot of money in the motorcycle business, but there was in the precious metal business! It took a lot of my time, but I still held the shop together.
J: What did you do in the precious metals business?
DS: Actually, I was a precious metal melter — maybe the youngest one in the country at the time. I used to pour out gold, platinum, iridium — sometimes mixed some different alloys together. Did a lot of it for medical and steel companies — the Space Shuttle, some computer work.
J: And when you retired from metals, did you still have your shop?
DS: I still had the shop. That I wouldn’t give up! I kept that open until I moved down here.
J: When did you move down to Florida?
DS: It was in 2003 or 2004 — whenever Central Florida had all of those hurricanes that everyone says don’t come through here. I started out in Del Rey, and a hurricane came through there. Then, somehow I ended up in Sebring, and four of them came through there. It’s like my neighbor says: “If I wanna get even with you, I move next to you.”
J: What’s your daily driver?
DS: Well, right now I have my ’95 Road King and my ’84 1/2 FXRT.
J: Tell us about the FXRT.
DS: The FXRT has 106,000 miles on it, and it’s never been apart. It’s about 95 percent original. I rode it down here from New York about five years ago. Use it just about every day, back and forth to work.
J: Tell us about the Road King. What have you done to it?
DS: Well, I had a real bad habit of buying first-year bikes, buying them up when they were brand new. In 1994, the Road King had just come out, so I decided I would wait a year. So I get it home, first thing I do is take it apart. My girl at the time was real happy. 25 miles on it she’s like “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m fixing it.” We changed out the front end, rear fender. Took the motor apart and changed all the gaskets, make sure everything was ok. Painted it up, handlebars, seat, saddlebags, exhaust — a few little things inside the motor.
J: What other bikes are in your garage?
DS: Well, there’s a ’72 Sportster and an ’80 Wideglide. They’re all done over.
J: What bike would you like that you don’t already own?
DS: I think I’d like to try the new Roadglide. But it wouldn’t be a Roadglide for long because I can’t keep my mitts off of it and I’d take it apart. But it would start out that way, like the rest of my bikes have.
J: What is the last book you read?
DS: I don’t know, I’m not much of a book reader. It was probably some Harley-Davidson book I’m sure. I read service manuals all the time. Got everyone of them in my garage from ’56 through. And, of course, I’m reading J&P Cycles catalogs every day.
J: What is the last CD you bought or 5 MP3s that you downloaded?
DS: Don’t have time for that. Too busy fixing bikes and hanging out with my friends.
J: Tune it to the radio and go?
DS: That’s it, man. Somebody else will tune it and take care of it.
J: What are your outside-the-industry interests? When you’re not riding, what do you do?
DS: I’m riding. I have some good buddies and we go out riding, grab some lunch and a few socialbles. That’s it! Back to work in the morning.
J: If you could make one recommendation to our readers when it comes to their bikes, what would it be?
DS: Get yourself a motorcycle service manual! Then after you finish reading that, get a parts manual. That way you can tell me what parts you need! There are so many people that get their bike and they don’t know what’s there, what’s in it. So get that service manual. And we sell them here!
J: Don, thank you for your time and we appreciate what you do.