Uke's Harley-Davidson

by Tony Toto 48 months ago
Keith and Nanc Ulicki. Uke’s sponsors the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Chapter that organizes rides throughout Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin during the riding season.
Riders ready their bikes for the inaugural ride of the season and the annual Frank Ulicki memorial ride. The “extended family” that rides are from all walks of life including doctors, lawyers and firefighters.
Looking down onto the showroom floor, Uke’s offers some of the finest Harley motorcycles produced. The V-twin engine is the standard in all Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
The upper floor museum houses vintage Harley motorcycles. Step back in time and relive memories that made Harley-Davidson an American cultural icon.
A Harley motorcycle carved from a 700 pound block of chocolate in the upper floor museum overlooking the showroom floor.

Rising sixty feet in the air, the five level triangular shaped glass tower points due west over-looking Interstate-94. In an awesome display of strength, ten Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two per level, lie facing the highway. Standing at the base of the tower, I slowly tilt my head back allowing my eyes to crawl up each floor. As I admire the biker enthusiasts’ “eye” candy, I start to walk towards the entrance as my eyes lock on the famous black, orange and white logo. I open the door and immediately feel welcome with classic rock music playing throughout the showroom and upper floor museum.

I’m not a motorcycle rider and have only been a ‘backseater’ once when I was a kid. However, the seduction of throwing my leg over a Harley, turning the key, hearing the V-engine rumble and roar, slipping on sunglasses and hitting the open road has always been appealing.

Standing at the front of the showroom floor, eyeing the Tri-Glide Ultra with her Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 engine and the slick Dyna Low Rider with Wrinkle Black paint and chrome and machined aluminum finishes, I feel the allure of these dazzling ladies as their captivating charm fills the air like a London fog.

As my fantasy comes back to reality, I’m quickly reminded that today is the inaugural ride of the season with all the riders starting to arrive in the parking lot. Looking outside then back towards the showroom floor, I am greeted by the owner of Uke’s Harley-Davidson, Keith Ulicki. He shares with me a brief history of his family’s ownership in a Harley dealership. Keith’s father Frank opened the first Uke’s location over eight decades ago. “He started Uke’s in 1930. He wanted to buy a Harley store and had to go to Milwaukee to get approval from the home office. He opened his store on April 1st and brought in four cents,” Keith says with a chuckle and smile.

“Four cents,” I say smiling with him.

“I took over in 1985 and this building is our fourth location,” Keith says as he points to the various pictures on the memorial wall.

As Keith finishes with a brief history of Uke’s, I inquire when the inaugural ride of the season is going to begin. “Staging is set for 10:45 and we leave at 11:00,” Keith says. “Not only is it the inaugural ride of the season but it is the annual Frank Ulicki memorial ride.”

“I didn’t know it was the Frank Ulicki memorial ride as well,” I say thinking how admirable it is to honor a local legend.

Keith and I head outside and he introduces me to some of the riders and local H.O.G. Chapter members sponsored by Uke’s. After spending over an hour talking with these riders from all walks of life, I gain a deeper understanding that Uke’s Harley Davidson is not just a dealership selling motorcycles, but an extended family.