Archives for June 2011

Harley Magazine Contest Motorcycle Bagger Free Subscription

Every issue of Motorcycle Bagger we run a number of custom Harley bagger motorcycles as well as at last one new Harley bagger review. In addition we run one classic American bagger motorcycle in each issue as a salute to the wonderful history of American motorcycling.

We need a good name for this feature and decided to let the readers come up with names and submit them to us. In American Iron Magazine we call that section the Classic American Iron.

The one we pick will earn the person a free one year subscription to Motorcycle Bagger. And no, we will not call it Old Bags or Saggy Bags! 🙂

Blackline Softail, Harley’s newest Dark Custom

Over the past few years, Harley-Davidson has chosen to make new bike announcements gradually. Usually we’ll hear about most of next year’s models around July, but then a couple more releases will come in the dead of winter. I’m not sure why H-D does this. Perhaps certain models aren’t ready for production, or maybe H-D wants more press over a longer period of time. Fortunately for us, the unveiling of the 2011 FXS Blackline Softail took place in New York City, about 50 miles from American Iron Magazine’s offices, this past January. I was on hand for the evening’s festivities and was excited with the newest Dark Custom.

Once the drape was pulled and the bike was shown to the eager reporters, none other than Willie G himself got up to speak, and in his off-the-cuff presentation said, “You can call it a bobber, you can call it a custom. There’s a lot of words you can use for it.” Initially, I scratched my head. A bobber? Really? I just don’t see it. But when he capped his speech with “I think it’ll look great parked in front of any bar in the whole country,” I could see that. But I had to wonder, who is Harley building bikes for? Barhopping hipsters who take undue risks with their lives? Or real riders who want to enjoy time in the saddle? Due to record snowfalls in New England (and most everywhere else in the United States), it would be two months before we had a chance to actually ride the new Softail.

The nuts and bolts of the FXS are similar to other Softails. It uses a fuel-injected 96B V-twin engine with a six-speed Cruise Drive transmission and rear belt drive. This combo moves this 682-pounder down the road just fine. But the differences between this Softail and the others in the lineup are where the FXS shines. Lots of detail work went into making this powertrain distinctive. From the top down, the rocker box covers are gloss black, the cylinder heads feature a silver powdercoat finish, and the cylinders are finished in black powdercoat. The crankcase has a wrinkled black finish, and gloss black powdercoat covers the outer primary cover and transmission side cover. Other parts such as the derby, cam, and air cleaner covers are featured in mirror chrome. The finished product is impressive-looking, to say the least. An old-school chrome round air cleaner cover lends the bike an overall minimalist look.

The engine package is carried in a new Black Denim powdercoated frame with matching swingarm. Up front hangs a FX conventional front end with black powdercoat triple clamps and black fork lowers. The real eye-catching centerpiece of the bike is the new Split Drag internally wired handlebar arrangement, which mounts directly to the top triple clamp. The instrument gauge is nestled deep between the two downturned bars. The left bar is separate from the right and looks like no other in the Harley lineup. For function, I find the overall width of the bars too narrow, and they don’t provide much leverage for maneuvering the bike. But they get big styling points. A by-product of the narrow bars is that they place the mirrors too far inboard and only provided a clear view of my elbows. Any look to the rear required me to tuck in my arms and crane my neck to see what was back there. Without a doubt, the new handlebars are a form-over-function decision. However, by the time you read this, H-D’s P&A department will have wider bars and other accessories available.

I appreciated the left switch-mounted mode button, which allows the rider to toggle through several functions on the single gauge instrument. The speedo is analog, but the inset LCD displays a tachometer, clock, gear, odometer, A and B tripmeters, and miles to reserve. The entire package is low profile and tucked cleanly in the gap between the bars.

Flowing back through the cockpit, you’ll find an attractive, smooth, die-cast top gas tank panel atop an asymmetrical, 5-gallon Softail fuel tank. This is  clean on the left side, with a low-profile fuel fill on the right. This is the only place you’ll find color on a Blackline, which can be had in Cool Blue Pearl ($15,998), Sedona Orange ($15,998), or Vivid Black ($15,499). That clean top panel with tasteful Bar & Shield logo is primarily there to cover fuel pump hardware. The seat’s hung low and is advertised to be a mere 26.1″ from the ground (unladen). While some shorter riders might be attracted to this, I met one vertically challenged test rider who found the reach to the bars too far. But for my 6′ frame, the ergonomics were comfortable, even if the seat padding isn’t.

Pulling strings and dropping names got me an extended ride on the 2011 Blackline, and, unfortunately, I regretted it. I couldn’t see spending much time riding the Blackline long distances. This condition was worsened by the harsh suspension and the heavy steering feeling. To me, a true bobber is small, light, and taut. I don’t see the large Softail line as an appropriate foundation for a bobber. The 21″ front wheel, combined with rake and trail figures of 30 degrees and 4.84″ respectively, plus over 680 pounds of heft, produced lethargic steering and required muscle to maneuver at low speeds to keep the front end from flopping over. At speed, it was perhaps a bit too easy to touch down a footpeg on corners, and I noticed the right forward control footpeg protrudes a bit farther than the left. Perhaps that is to allow the rider’s right leg to bend around the air cleaner.

Some final high points of my impression of the Blackline include the attractive, smooth black rim lips on the spoked wire wheels, the use of a simple plastic license plate bracket, which is bound to be removed and discarded by the owner anyway, and a trendy grenade-like coil cover on the left side of the engine. Simple styling with attitude is the perfect summation of my overall impression of the Blackline. If attitude is more important to you than comfort and function, this is the bike for you. Unfortunately, it’s not the bike for me. AIM

Check out the January Blackline unveiling story here

Story as it appeared in the June 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine.

HARLEY NEWS Changes At American Iron Magazine

We at American Iron Magazine want to thank all our readers who took the time to respond to our reader survey a few months ago. We were overwhelmed with the responses and are almost done wading through them all. Thanks for helping keep us the best selling Harley magazine.

Based on much of what you all shared with us we are planning on making some changes to the magazine to keep it the best it can be for you.

Don’t worry, we are not going to totally overhaul it so you won’t recognize us. But we will start making some changes and improvements that you will see starting in a few months. We will be adding a few new features, dropping a few and even bringing back some old favorites.

If you have anything more you would like to share with us please do. We are always looking for ways to improve the magazine.

MOTORCYCLE NEWS American Motorcyclist Association vs Virginia motorcycle-only checkpoints

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has expressed concern to Gov. Bob McDonnell over a recent motorcycle-only checkpoint in northern Virginia, calling the stop “discriminatory.”

The Arlington County (Va.) Police Department conducted a motorcycle-only checkpoint on May 28 during the annual Rolling Thunder gathering in Washington, D.C. The Rolling Thunder event, held May 27-29, involved tens of thousands of motorcyclists riding to the nation’s capital to seek accountability for prisoners of war and service personnel missing in action.

In the letter, dated May 31, AMA Washington Representative Rick Podliska told McDonnell that motorcycle-only checkpoints are discriminatory and profile only motorcyclists.

“The AMA urges the Commonwealth of Virginia to suspend the use of motorcycle-only checkpoints until questions raised by the motorcycling community have been addressed,” Podliska wrote.

Those questions include: How do motorcycle-only checkpoints increase the safety of motorcyclists? Where do states draw their authority to conduct motorcycle-only checkpoints? Is “probable cause” required to stop a motorcycle and, if so, what constitutes probable cause?

“The safety of motorcyclists is better served by efforts that minimize injuries and fatalities by preventing crashes in the first place,” Podliska wrote. “The most efficient way of doing so is not through sporadic, discriminatory roadside checkpoints, but by mitigating crash causation.”

Copies of the letter were also sent to Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott, Virginia House of Delegates Transportation Committee Chairman Joe May and Virginia Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Yvonne Miller.

The Virginia motorcycle-only roadside checkpoint is the latest in a series of the discriminatory checkpoints that have been conducted in Utah, New York state and Georgia. The AMA is strongly opposed to this practice.

In a victory for motorcyclists, lawmakers in New Hampshire recently approved, and the governor signed into law, a bill that prohibits law enforcement agencies or political subdivisions from accepting federal money for motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave Georgia a $70,000 grant to conduct one or more roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints and the state police did so as thousands of motorcyclists rode through the state on their way to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Bike Week March 4-13.

The AMA opposes the federal motorcycle-only checkpoint grant program, and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and some of his colleagues have asked U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to suspend the program.

Sensenbrenner has also introduced H.R. 904, which would prohibit the U.S. transportation secretary from providing funds for motorcycle-only checkpoints.

“The NHTSA should focus on decreasing the likelihood of crashes from occurring in the first place,” Podliska said. “No public money should be applied to promoting such a program without first addressing questions from the motorcycling community.”

In addition to letters submitted to the past and present governors of Georgia, the AMA also sent a letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland urging him to suspend the grant program that gives states money for motorcycle-only checkpoints until questions have been addressed.

To view the AMA’s letter to McDonnell, click here:

Harley Race News Rapp Wins AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Race at Miller

Milwaukee (May 31, 2011) – Veteran racer Steve Rapp charged from a fourth place start to take his first win in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series with victory at Miller Motorsports Park May 31 aboard his Parts Unlimited Harley-Davidson XR1200 motorcycle.

Following challenging conditions throughout the weekend that threw rain and temperatures in the 30s and 40s and even a brief hailstorm on the starting grid at the racers, Monday’s 8-lap race went off on a mostly dry race track with scattered rain drops. Polesitter Michael Barnes (Drag Specialties) took the early race lead, but Rapp and Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing’s Chris Fillmore each took turns at the front on Lap 2.

After dropping to eighth on the opening lap from his seventh place start, 2010 XR1200 Series champion Danny Eslick rallied back up to the lead pack, picking off multiple riders in each of the opening four laps until he reached the second position just a half-second behind leader Rapp. But strong pressure from Fillmore on the Oklahoman allowed Rapp to build a gap at
the front as the Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing teammates battled throughout the last third of the race. Eslick and Fillmore ran side by side across the start-finish line to begin the final lap, with Fillmore taking the initial lead into turn 1. The pair traded positions on the final lap until Eslick cut underneath Fillmore a few turns from the end and held on to the advantage.

At the checkered flag it was Rapp with the win, Eslick in second 0.974 second back, with Fillmore just 0.081 behind Eslick in third, to take his third podium of the season. Barnes, Michael Beck (J&P Cycles), and Tyler O’Hara ( completed the top six in the running order with a spirited battle for fourth.

“I don’t know what was going on behind me, but it was an exciting race for me,” Rapp said. “I looked back a couple of laps from the end just to see what was going on. It doesn’t take much to get passed on one of these, so I was kind of worried.”

“It was a lot of fun to get back on the Harley,” said Eslick, who sat out the first two races of the season to focus on his Daytona SportBike effort. “[Fillmore’s] put the whupping on me in supermoto so I had to show him how road racing is done. I knew he couldn’t get by me before the line unless I really messed it up in the last corner. On these things you get a lot
of drafting but it’s done at the end of the straightaway, so I knew if I led him out of the last corner I’d get him at the line.”

Memorial Day weekend also saw XR1200 racing action in two other international racing classes, with the debut of the Harley-Davidson XR1200 Class as part of the Canadian Superbike Series at Circuit ICAR won by Cody Matechuk and the first round of the XR1200 Trophy class as part of the British Superbike Championship at Thruxton won by James Webb.

The AMA Pro Racing Vance & Hines XR1200 Series returns to action after a short turnaround this weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI.

Miller Race Result:

1. Steve Rapp (Parts Unlimited), 8 laps

2. Danny Eslick (RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing),
+0.975 second

3. Chris Fillmore (RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing),

4. Michael Barnes (Drag Specialties), +5.389

5. Michael Beck (J&P Cycles), +5.502

6. Tyler O’Hara (, +5.804

7. Chase McFarland (Latus Motors Racing), +9.944

8. Kyle Wyman (RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing),

9. Joe Kopp (Latus Motors Racing), +19.893

10. Michael Corbino (RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing),

11. Josh Chisum (Troy Lee Designs), +58.502

12. Michael Morgan (Python Exhaust), 1:07.406

13. Paul James (James Gang/Hoban Brothers/H-D of Appleton), +1:07.488

14. Gerry Signorelli (Kuryakyn), +1:25.934

15. Troy Siahaan (HOG Racing), +1:31.569

16. Matthew Heidel (Shar-Tuff), +2:01.615

XR1200 Series Points Standings

1. Chris Fillmore, 78

2. Steve Rapp, 71

3. Kyle Wyman, 51

4. Joe Kopp, 45

4. Michael Beck, 45

6. Michael Barnes, 44

7. Chase McFarland, 43

8. Michael Corbino, 38

9. Tyler O’Hara, 33

10. Paul James, 26


MILWAUKEE (May 31, 2011) –  Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Factory rider Kenny Coolbeth finished fourth in the opening round of  the Grand National Twins portion of the 2011 AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship on  the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The race was won by Rogers Lake/ Blue Springs Harley-Davidson rider Jared Mees on a Harley-Davidson XR750.

Racing at Springfield was delayed until late Sunday afternoon to allow the track to dry following heavy rain on Saturday. Coolbeth placed second in a heat race to qualify for the 25-lap main. A lead pack that included Mees, Kings Kustoms rider Sammy Halbert, Brad Baker on the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati, Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson rider Jake Johnson, and Chris Carr on the AMA Harley-Davidson were racing together at the half-way point in the race, with Coolbeth in sixth place less than a second behind the leader. Coolbeth moved past Carr and up to fifth place on lap 15, but by lap 18 had fallen off the pace of the leaders and dropped back by more than one second.

On lap 20 Coolbeth was alone in fifth place, 1.140 seconds behind Halbert in first but with a five-second lead on Carr. As the race wound down, Baker was dropped by the leaders and found himself battling Coolbeth for fourth position. Coolbeth made that pass on the
last lap. Mees got by Halbert on a last-turn drafting pass to take the win by 0.016 seconds. Halbert was second, followed by Johnson in third, as Harley-Davidson riders filled the podium.

“I got stuck behind the Ducati for a few laps there towards the end. He was holding me up in the corners but pulled away on the straights and by the time I got past him, the leaders were too far up front. But overall it was a good start to the Twins season,” Coolbeth said.

Coolbeth also placed fourth in the Dash for Cash bonus sprint, which was won by Halbert.

After seven of 21 rounds in the 2011 AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, Halbert leads the series with 128 points, followed by Johnson with 112, and Coolbeth with 91. Mees and Baker are tied for fourth with 89 points.

The next race on the AMA Grand National Twins schedule is June 11 on the half-mile Hartford Motor Speedway in Hartford, Mich.

Fairfield County Connecticut Car & Motorcycle Show

The high quality Fairfield County Concours held every year in Westport, CT is still looking for a few more rare and/or classic motorcycles to fill the field on Sunday, Sept 18.

This is a very high quality show with huge attendance. And we are pleased to announce the motorcycles get just as much attention and support as the cars. For more information please visit



Daytona Motorcycle Biketoberfest Top Ten Events in Southeast

Daytona Beach, Fla. – The Southeast Tourism Society has named Biketoberfest® as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for October 2011.

“We are delighted that Biketoberfest® has been recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society for inclusion among the best events throughout the entire Southeast region of the United States,“ says Janet Kersey, president/chief executive officer for the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Established in 1992, Biketoberfest® is an international award-winning motorcycle festival that will take place throughout the Daytona Beach area on October 13-16, 2011. The event offers participants an extended weekend getaway of sun, beaches, bikes and numerous activities .  Popular annual activities include motorcycle shows and rallies that showcase new, vintage and custom bikes; demonstration rides on the newest machines from top manufacturers; and on-track motorcycle action at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway.  Well-known venues such as Main Street, Riverfront Park, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard and Destination Daytona will host street festivals and gatherings that feature live music, delicious food, a variety of vendors and more.  Approximately 125,000 motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to attend the annual four-day festival.

Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Atlanta, STS is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting tourism in 12 southeastern states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.  To be nominated for STS Top 20 Event consideration, an event must be in at least its third year and must have attendance of at least 1,000. 

For more information on the Daytona Beach area’s 2011 Biketoberfest® event, go to or call toll-free 1-800-854-1234.