Paying Tribute To The Only Harley Repair Mechanic In Cuba

The first Harley-Davidson motorcycles arrived in Cuba in the 1920’s. But after the 1959 communist revolution and the consequent U.S. trade embargo that followed most Harleys disappeared smuggled out of the island, others fell in disrepair and parts available dried up. So, how is it possible that there are still about 100 Harleys in Cuba, most still in running condition? Because of Sergio Morales, the only Cuban mechanic on the island making a living repairing Harley-Davidsons the old fashion way fabricating his own replacement parts to preserve a piece of Americana in Cuba. He works out of his modest Havana house. Rebuilding an engine takes him one to two years given the need to make his own parts.  Morales’s personal bike is a 1950 Panhead, called “El Indio” that he bought in 1986 for $1,000 after selling his 1945 Flathead. It still carries nearly all of its original parts. The wheels, though, are borrowed from a Skoda, the Czech automobile. Morales even fitted the bike with a sidecar, lifting the chassis from a Soviet Ural sidecar and designing a homemade copy of a Harley body. In 1990, Sergio Morales got his first Harley repair manual and discovered that he already figured out all the instructions inside. Because of the embargo, US citizens are forbidden to travel to Cuba (although you can travel there coming from another country but I am not supposed to tell you), but if you go there because you can as a foreign national or as soon as the embargo is lifted, before you rush to a pristine Cuban beach, pay a visit to Sergio. He is a true Harley hero. In La Havana, just ask for direction to the “Harlista” nut. They all know.

Zipper's

15 Responses to “Paying Tribute To The Only Harley Repair Mechanic In Cuba”


  1. 1 wyndryder Jan 12th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Now this man is “old school”, the hard way. we can not even compare or imagine.

  2. 2 Kirk Perry Jan 12th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    We’re making some contacts with Sergio Morales to see exactly what parts he needs to keep the machines running. There is an organization called “Passage for Peace” that travels the U.S. collecting computers and necessities for Cuba, picking up contributions from designated collection spots.
    In theory, Leslie Balog from San Francisco, said that people could send the needed Flathead, Knuckle and Pan parts to one or more locations within the U.S. and the parts would go to the addressee in Cuba, (via ship from Tampico, Mexico) who would be [b]Sergio Morales[/b] himself.
    Her task now is to contact Sergio and get a laundry list of what he needs. Once we have that, we can post the lists on several sites and try and collect the quoted shipping fee (from Mexico to Cuba) from some of our parts manufacturers here and abroad. All suggestions are welcome over at http://hydra-glide.com/ We’re new at this. So, you don’t need to comment here or we might get pinched.

  3. 3 Brad Schwertzer Jan 12th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Hope that Mr. Sergio Morales will be able to access a computer and read this article. This guy is a new breed of hero. Again, a great article.by Cyril.

  4. 4 burnout Jan 12th, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    VERY cool that we can be aware of, and recognize, this man’s talent. I know how to visit now! Thanks Cyril! peace

  5. 5 rodent Jan 13th, 2009 at 8:50 am

    The article came from the New york Times

  6. 6 Byron Jan 13th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Viva Cuba with Harleys and no Castro. Everybody shipping a spare part to Sergio.

  7. 7 Byron Jan 13th, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Obama will soon remove the embargo. Tourists will invade Cuba. Capitalism will overcome communism. Harley will sell 50 brand new bikes the 1st year. 500 bikes second year. Sergio Morales open the largest HD dealership in the Carribean. He organizes an anual bike rally. La Havana Bike Week becomes the largest bike event in the world..

  8. 8 Malto67 Jan 13th, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Awesome story. I teach at a Tech school. My job is to teach students to “think like mechanics” in order to become professional technicians when they graduate. This guy is the essence of “think like a mechanic”. I’d love to be able to spend some time with him and just soak up some of that knowledge. Thanks for a great story.

  9. 9 Maddog Jan 13th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Sergio Morales for President of Cuba.

  10. 10 Kirk Perry Jan 13th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    It would seem from viewing the CBS ’46 Knuckle footage (of Laura Logan, white cutoff blouse and bluejeans… looking good!) off-the-line … holding the back rail of a buddy seat, and then later, being push-started by two roadside pedestrians…..
    that, to begin with, Cuba could use some 6V H-2 batteries and a Battery Tender®.
    http://www.batterytender.com/
    They might send a “box” in to their regional “Peace” location. Whatever Sergio needs. We’ll see.

  11. 11 Brian Christner Jan 13th, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    It is great to see innovation even in tough conditions. It just shows everyone we should never have an excuse to ride. These guys manufacture their own parts just to enjoy motorcycle riding. I tip my hat to to them on this one. Great article.

  12. 12 dark tan superman Jan 13th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    One of the best stories that I’ve ever read on this blog!

    Cyril, you are the man!!

    Long live America!!…….Fuck Castro!!!

  13. 13 dave meccariello Jan 24th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    End the embargo. It is a failed policy that has kept Castro in power for 50 years. The ego of a small group of politically connected Cuban ex-pats is hurting the PEOPLE of cuba and their families.

    you want to rid cuba of communism? flood it with capitalism. otherwise it will end up like so many latin american countries… trading one thug for another every so often.

  14. 14 GUILLERMO SANTANA Jan 27th, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    WE WANT TO INVITE MR. SERGIO MORALES TO THE REGIONAL RALLIE ORGANIZED BY THE GUADALAJARA CHAPTER. IT WILL BE TAKING PLACE FROM THE 26th. to the 28th. OF FEBRUARY IN GUADALAJARA, JALISCO MEXICO.
    IT WILL BE AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU AS OUR GUEST.

    P.S. IT IS IMPRESIVE WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH
    THOSE MACHINES.

  15. 15 Kirk Perry Feb 20th, 2009 at 11:57 am

    We received some recent pics of Sergio and da’ guyz. There under the heading “Off Topic and Other Business” > Harlista Harley-Davidson® of Cuba
    Black & white for stark contrast. We’re still trying to get a “wish list” from them of what they need. Looks like box coils and rear wheel hub w/ sprockets would help. We just need to know what they want and then we’ll post a list of it over on hydra-glide.net

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