Bob Kay’s passion has been fueled by the stories from working in the motorcycle industry and riding thousands of miles for the past 50 years.
It started when he very young. Two of his father’s friends rolled into the family’s driveway on panheads. He was awestruck.
From that point on he wanted to be a biker. His father told stories about the bikes he and his father rode. The most notable was the white 1929 Harley-Davidson JD model with gold stripes that Bob’s grandfather ordered from the Factory.
In the summer of 69, Bob went to Woodstock and to college. He met this cool guy that had also been to Woodstock. T0hey became roommates and best friends. It was John Bettencourt, who was already a national motocross star. Soon, Bob bought his first motorcycle.
In 1971 Bettencourt’s opened their second shop and Bob worked for them. He started prepping new bikes then moved into the Parts department. He lived in a converted delivery truck behind the shop. Bettencourt’s was a full-on race shop and Bob dove in. He tried motocross, enduro, short track and some road racing.
He married his high school sweetheart in 1973. In 1974, he and Deborah partnered with a good friend in 1974 and opened Motorcycle Madness.
In 1975, Bob started in parts at Honda of Boston, working 60 hours a week and racing on weekends. He became parts manager then general manager. To keep growing in the industry, Bob continued his education.
In 1979 he started his first distributorship, Recreational Dimensions. In 1982 he graduated from Dean College with high honors and a degree in Business Administration.
He got hired at Nempco and was a third generation Harley biker working for a Harley-related company. In 1983, Bob and Deborah bought into Nempco and became partners.
Then he met Dave Perewitz. They became good friends and developed a few products together. Dave suggested Bob organize a bike show at Laconia. Nempco ran several shows at Laconia and Sturgis benefitting children’s charities.
In 1992, Bob’s partners retired and Nempco became Bikers Choice. Bob managed the integration relocating to Texas as a Tucker vice president and general manager of the Bikers Choice.
In 2002, Bob joined American Iron Horse as Chief Operating Officer.
Bob helped Hardbikes with a new build to order custom bike operation. He founded Biker Pros to help American custom builders, initially supplying parts and focusing on custom bike shows helping builders get better exposure and sponsorships. Biker Pros started Torian Chopper Leathers and supplied leathers for Easy Riders. Bob saw many builders enter their first show at one of those events and go on to be some of the best custom builders in the industry.
In 2007, Bob cofounded and remain a partner in A Bikers Garage. Bob now spends more time building bikes, riding bikes, and passing on the passion to his grandson and new granddaughter.
Bob says that his best stories have come from the roadside repairs and the generosity of people willing to help. Being inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame is an overwhelming honor.