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Motorcycle repair runs in the family

Monday, April 20, 2009 | 5:24 p.m. CDT; updated 9:55 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 27, 2010
Rock Palmer stands near the award-winning Harley-Davidson motorcycle as his son, Raymond, stands for a portrait so he is reflected in the rearview mirror.

CENTRALIA — The sights, sounds and smells of the shop are familiar enough. Loose wheels, belts, bolts and handle bars lay about the small motorcycle shop, not quite organized but far from chaotic.

Rock tunes wail from a radio on a shelf overseeing the workmanship being applied to a large, powerful and expensive touring cycle. Add the aromas of exhaust fumes, fresh rubber tires and cigarette smoke, and the place immediately embodies everything that symbolizes American mechanic shops.

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All those loose parts, wheels and cycle frames have the look of rare workmanship. And the two toiling craftsmen exude uncommon excitement for their greasy labor. Rock and Raymond Palmer, father and son, are doing what they love together. They are Harley Davidson virtuosos and operate a shop to prove it.

R & R Cycles in Centralia is the shop born from the Palmer men’s shared appreciation and knowledge of the American motorcycle.

Rock and Raymond rescued an old, dilapidated 1982 Shovelhead FXRS Willie G Special from oblivion a couple of years ago and turned it into a first place winner at the 2009 Wide Open Bike Show in St. Louis.

If you ask them, the prettiest sound they've ever heard would be the blast of a hog accelerating at break-neck speed. And nothing is better than a Harley’s powerful surge as the wind whips and all worries seem miles off.

Slowly but surely, the word is getting around Boone County that memorable custom bikes are made and mechanical problems are solved at R & R Cycle. Centralia is a little out of the way on a search for a genuine Harley-Davidson Xanadu, but worth the trip. What you’ll find is more than a motorcycle shop.

R & R Cycle is a father and son doing what they know best, and that’s just about as pretty as life gets around here.


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