SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher Is it just me, or is february the most challenging month for most motorcycle riders? Daytona Bike Week is still a month away. By now most of us Northerners have parked our bikes for the winter, and we’re itching to get back on the road. I know I am. […]
I have owned lots of great bikes, and some not so great
We each discover motorcycles in our own way. Our tastes in specific machines, from specific eras, in specific styles, vary and are likely to change over the years. The café racer imports I was drawn to in college still appeal to me, but not enough to own one. If it wasn’t for my on-track racing accident in 1979, I might never have discovered my passion for antique motorcycles.
Recognizing I would never be a great road racer, and while recovering from a serious crash at the old Bridgehampton, New York, racetrack, I didn't want to give up riding. So, I bought my first antique motorcycle, a British Army BSA M20. Totally foreign—literally and figuratively—to me, I had a steep learning curve with that machine. Next I got my hands on a 1950’s BMW R51/3 and sidecar, and then finally my first antique Harley, an original paint 1924 JDCA, which I still own.
I have owned lots of great bikes, and some not-so-great bikes, in the last 40-plus years. I remember my first handshift motorcycle, an ex-police Shovelhead, on which I almost killed myself learning to ride. The shifting was fine, but that foot clutch was tough to master back in the early 1990s. From there, I mostly rode Harleys and Indians from the 1940s and ’50s. They were old enough to be cool, different, and fun, but new enough to almost be reliable in modern traffic. Almost.
I enjoy motorcycling: the feeling of freedom on the road, the social aspect of riding with friends, the accomplishment of getting and keeping my motorcycle running, and the romance of the older machines.
While I appreciate the convenience and efficiency of a shiny new Harley, Indian, or Victory, my passions run deepest for motorcycles older than me. Okay, I do own one modern Harley, a hot rod XR1200X Sportster, which I love riding.
For many years my interests focused on Knucks, Pans, and Chiefs. I was fortunate enough to have owned and enjoyed a number of them over the years. Then my interests went further back in time when I discovered Indian 101 Scouts and Harley JDs from the 1920s. Primitive, total-loss lubrication, dangerous clincher tires, and virtually no brakes; these machines take time and many miles to understand and keep on the road. But they sure are fun!
In 2009, my pal Dale Walksler called me. He told me about an up-coming ride called the Motorcycle Cannonball. He said it was open to 1915 and older bikes to ride across the US as an endurance run. I’d never owned or ridden anything that old. Sourcing parts, building, and riding my 1915 Harley twin on that event opened a whole new world of amazing machines and people to me.
Thanks to many friends, including Dave Fusiak, Dale Walksler, Fred Lange, and others for sharing your knowledge with me on that ride of a lifetime.
It doesn’t matter what you ride—old or new, stock or custom—you are a member of the motorcycle family.
We’d love to hear about how you got into motorcycles and what your two-wheeled passions are these days. More than just another bike rag, we want American Iron Magazine to be your magazine, and we can’t do that without your participation.
I’ve shared my story here, and I want to hear yours. Please send your story and photos to Letters@AmericanIronMag.com or post them on our Facebook page.
Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.
So what’s a ride to do when the snow falls and sticks to the road? How about strapping a sidecar onto your Harley and bundle up for some winter fun. That is what I did here in New England. Granted, you have to be careful od slipping and sliding your Harley around on the packed […]
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher American Iron Magazine is committed to publishing 13 big issues again this year Many magazines these days are jacking up their prices while cutting back on their product. We’re holding at 13 issues a year, publishing big, informative magazines, and reducing your costs. We all want to see motorcycling […]
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher I had no idea what it would lead to when, in 1974 and against my parents’ wishes, I bought my first motorcycle. As a broke college kid, I sold that bike a year later to help pay for a slightly newer and bigger one. That transaction led to buying […]
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher I’m often asked how we decide which articles to publish in this magazine. Non-riders I talk with are amazed that there are enough motorcycle topics for us to fill a magazine this size every four weeks (we publish 13 issues of American Iron Magazine a year) without running out […]
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher The annual black hills classic, otherwise known to most riders simply as Sturgis, is right down the road. And this year’s event looks like it’s going to be off the charts. Billed as one of the largest motorcycle events in the world, Sturgis certainly is one of my personal […]
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher I was riding streetbikes in the 1970s when the first gas and oil crisis hit America. If you’re of a certain age, you probably can recall the OPEC embargo and subsequent gas rationing that followed. Our government decided for us that we had to line up for hours at […]
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher Most of us go through what i might call motorcycle life cycles.You know, those times in our life when we are fortunate enough to get another motorcycle. Typically, we go through a similar routine in the lead-up to buying our next motorcycle. Fantasize. Come on, we all do it. […]
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher Yeah, you know she’s a looker. and wherever you go with her, she turns heads. Do I need to remind you never to take her for granted? She has real needs, and if you don’t meet those needs, there is a good chance she’ll have to go to someone […]
Buzz Kanter, Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of American Iron Magazine magazine, talks with Garrison about his involvement in the recent Motorcycle Cannonball event and riding almost almost 4,000 miles on pre-1937 motorcycles.