Billy Lane Pulled It Off

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

In spite of long odds Las Vegas bookies would never take, in spite of the worst Mother Nature could throw at him, in spite of countless people saying it can’t be done, in spite of struggling to get century-old racing motorcycles to even run, Billy Lane pulled it off. The first-ever Sons of Speed races in March gave a full grandstand and tens of thousands of online followers a view of motorcycle history in the making. Photos, videos, and messages from the usually low-tech New Smyrna Speedway blew up the Internet and most platforms of social media.

To everyone’s surprise and delight, Sons of Speed was a handful of guys (and a couple of very fast gals) pushing spindly old race bikes harder than they have been ridden in almost a hundred years. As one of the racers, I can tell you firsthand, it was so much more than that. If all you want to know is the winners: young Brittney Olsen captured a hard-fought first, Matt Harris a close second, Shelly Rossmeyer-Pepe third, and I managed to hold on to fourth place in the final race. If you are curious about what the event was like from a racer’s perspective, read part one of Sons of Speed starting on page 66.

We at American Iron Magazine feel fortunate to have been a small part of the inaugural Sons of Speed, an amazing event that is sure to rapidly grow in size and popularity. If you missed the first Sons of Speed races, you have two more opportunities to check out the action this year. We will be racing these old motorcycles at the Full Throttle property during the Sturgis Rally in August, and then it’s back to New Smyrna Speedway for Biketoberfest.

I know it is still a long way away, but you might want to make a note. In October, we are adding a show to the Sons of Speed parking lot for handcrafted custom and competition bikes, as well as a few select hot rods, called the Old Speed Show. More details to follow here in AIM and at www.OldSpeedShow.com.

Great Events Coming Soon
I can’t be the only one looking for interesting, motorcycle-friendly events and destinations to ride to. While there is no way I could share (or even know) about them all, here are a few in the next month or so:

Rolling Thunder in Washington, DC Sunday, May 28. Held every Memorial Day, this is a great event to honor our brave men and women in uniform. We cover this event every year in the magazine.

Greenwich Concours in Greenwich, Connecticut, June 3-4. This is a high-quality two-day show for exceptional classic and antique cars and motor-cycles. American Iron Magazine is a sponsor this year, so I will be there, and we expect some great old American street and race motorcycles on display.

Race of Gentlemen in Wildwood, New Jersey, June 9-11. This is a flashback event for classic two- and four-wheeled beach drag racers—lots of old-time fun and some great vintage race bikes and racers on the sand and in the parking lots.
Laconia Rally in and around Laconia, New Hampshire, June 10-18. One of the Big Three motorcycle rallies, Laconia is must-attend for all serious motorcycle enthusiasts.


USCRA FIM Vintage Motorcycle Road Race, New Hampshire Speedway, June 10-11. If you love classic motorcycle road racing, you need to check out this USCRA event tied in with the Laconia rally. If my schedule allows, I plan to race my 1937 Indian Sport Scout in the tank shifter class.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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What Do We Ride?

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

A car moves the body, but a motorcycle moves the soul

Do you consider your motorcycle more a form of transportation or a personal statement? I’m convinced that for most of us it’s a bit of both. Though it’s likely more of a statement, because, let’s face it, most riders in America put in more miles each year in a car or truck than on two wheels. They are cheaper to buy, easier to maintain, and work better in all sorts of weather and road conditions. But as the old saying goes, “A car moves the body, but a motorcycle moves the soul.”

Ask a dozen people why they buy and ride motorcycles, and you will likely get dozens of different answers. Mostly, we ride motorcycles because it’s fun, exciting, and different. Motorcycle riders are different. My generation was inspired by Easy Rider, Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild One, Then Came Bronson, or CHiPS. No matter what inspired us to ride, that first one was enough to get us to come back for more.

So what do we ride? Many like factory stock motorcycles the way the design team intended them. Others like to tinker and bolt on parts to personalize their bikes to match changing tastes or style. And others go for radical modifications—big-wheel baggers, stripped-down bobbers, long-fork choppers, or swoopy café racers. And let’s not forget the antique bike crowd, always searching out original parts or the next project bike. Each motorcycle has its appeal to someone.

We are all a family united by our love of riding and motorcycles. And like most families, we are a widely diverse group. Some lucky ones trade up to new Harleys or Indians every year or two. Others are waiting for those 2- or 3-year-old trade-ins so they, too, can trade up to something newer. And some ride what we can afford while dreaming about riding something newer one day.

As our motorcycle riding family ages, my question is what are we doing to encourage the next generation of riders? What are you doing to share the passion with a neighbor and to let others, young or old, experience some saddle time? If we do not encourage and mentor new riders, what’s going to happen to our motorcycles? Please send us your suggestions on how we can grow the sport of motorcycling to Letters@AmericanIronMag.com.

American Iron Special Issues
Over the years we have created some great special newsstand issues focusing on specific topics. This includes our American Glory issues that celebrated Harley’s 110th anniversary, 100th, and even 95th. Last year we published American Iron Salute, celebrating brave men and women in uniform.

The No. 1 best-selling motorcycle issue of 2016, it sold out in most stores, so we release another one later this year. On May 16th we are publishing the first issue of American Iron Power, which will be all about high-performance options and motorcycles. Look for it in the same stores that sell American Iron Magazine. Most of our magazines (even the older ones) are available to purchase at Greaserag.com.

Motorcycle Kickstart Classic
Love the look, sound, and passion of classic motorcycles? Our next Kickstart Classic ride will be in the Carolinas May 18-21, starting at Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, and ending at the AMCA meet in Denton, North Carolina. Preregistration is highly recommended at AIMag.com or call Rosemary at 203/425-8777 ext. 114.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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Black Leather, Loud Pipes, And Trouble?

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Our job is to educate and entertain our readers

Hollywood movie makers, a handful of video game programmers, and even some of the media seem to think that all motorcycle riders plow through towns with blaring exhaust notes, stirring up problems, and leaving behind a mess. Does that sum up who we are? You and I know otherwise. We know about the generous, patriotic, and caring nature of most motorcyclists. We know about the charitable Christmastime toy runs benefitting less fortunate kids. We know about the fund-raisers for local riders in need. We know about galvanizing charity rides such as The Patriot Ride, Kyle Petty Charity Ride, The Dream Ride, dozens of MDA rides, and cancer survivor and veteran support rides.

OK, so some of us might look and sound scary to nonriders, especially when we gather in numbers like we do in Daytona this time of year. But let me share an observation I have made at every Bike Week I have attended, going back to the 1970s. It’s a secret most visitors aren’t aware of: Daytona locals love bikers. Ask the waitresses, hotel managers, and retailers, and they will tell you we are their favorite group of visitors. The locals report that bikers are friendlier and more polite than the racecar fans, hot rodders, and spring breakers—especially the spring breakers. We don’t overcrowd or trash hotel rooms. We don’t skip out on bills. And we tip our servers better, too.

While on the topic of Daytona Bike Week, I sure hope you get a chance to see Billy Lane and a handful of other motorcycle daredevils make history. I’m referring to the Sons of Speed race at the New Smyrna Speedway on March 17 and 18. You can learn more about this first-time event in his article about my 1915 Harley racer on page 100 in this issue. I hope to see you there.

One last highlight in regards to Bike Week: this is the 347th issue of American Iron Magazine, the first one went on sale at Daytona Bike Week 1989, and TAM Communications bought American Iron Magazine the week before Daytona Bike Week 1991. We’d like to thank everyone who has helped and supported us. Our crew simply could not do what we do without you.

Want More Motorcycle Tech?
Every four weeks our hard-working team has to pump out another issue of American Iron Magazine—13 times a year. And we squeeze in the best possible mix of editorial in each issue. This includes new bike and product reviews, tech and how-to, motorcycle news, custom and classic bike features, plus occasional tours and event coverage. Over the years, we discovered that some of our readers can’t ever seem to get enough of our DIY tech, while others may not be as eager to jump to tech pieces.

If you are one of those who quickly rip through the tech and how-to in our flagship American Iron Magazine and still want more, we now also publish six issues of our all-tech American Iron Garage. Frankly, I don’t know how our team keeps up this pace, but I am sure glad they do. Want more tech? Pick up a copy of American Iron Garage from your favorite newsstand, or you can save a bunch of money and subscribe by calling 877/204-0774.

RIP Victory
As we prepared to ship this issue to the printer, we got the news that after investing 18 years of blood, sweat, and gears, Polaris is shutting down Victory. While this is not a complete surprise,
I am sad that we are losing another great American motorcycle brand. I can understand why those who own Victory motorcycles, putting thousands of miles on them, really love the product.

I spoke with some senior Polaris management, and they assured me they can now put more resources into further growing the Indian brand. I hate to oversimplify it, but this is a matter of Polaris consolidating motorcycle resources for the benefit of one brand instead of diluting them over two. I will miss Victory, but I am curious about what Polaris can now do with the Indian family.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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New Faces at American Iron?

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Our job is to educate and entertain our readers

The life cycles of a magazine must be active and evolving to survive in today’s harsh print environment. We have a new opportunity every four weeks to present this publication in fresh and interesting ways. And as the final decision maker for the growing American Iron family of magazines, I feel our job is to educate and entertain our readers with high-quality editorial and attractive presentations.

Easier said than done. I have been the editor-in-chief here since 1991, and I am fortunate to have worked with some of the best and brightest in the business. I feel all of our team has benefited from those that came before us. And that is the case once again.

Last year, our longtime editor Chris Maida retired and moved south. While Chris continues to contribute to these pages, Steve Lita stepped up and has been hard at work improving what Chris helped create. After many years as art director for American Iron Magazine and creative director for TAM Communications, Chuck Queener has just retired. I am delighted to announce that Tricia Szulewski, who has been designing our other magazines for more than a decade, is taking over from Chuck with this issue.

So, who are these “new faces” at American Iron Magazine? Good question. Both are long-term, year-round motorcycle riders and wrenches. Both have been on staff here for more than a decade. Both are MSF instructors, and both, I assure you, are passionate about and dedicated to motorcycles and riding. I feel fortunate to have them leading our team. After you look through this issue and see some of the initial improvements, I am sure you will agree.

We publish the premier and best-selling magazines in their respective areas because we have a great team. And thanks to your support and feedback, I am confident we will continue to improve when and where we can.

Mark Your Calendar
We are invited to so many great motorcycle events, rallies, and races, it’s tough to decide which to go to and still take the time to publish all our magazines (American Iron Magazine, American Iron Garage, the new American Iron Power, and American Iron Salute). In case you are curious, here are a few that we plan to attend in the next couple of months.

• Mama Tried
February 17-19
Held in Milwaukee,  this custom bike show has grown into a very cool event.
MamaTriedShow.com

• AMCA Meet
March 10-11
New Smyrna Beach,
Florida. Antique
Motorcycle Club
of America’s
gathering of classic
bikes for a swap
meet and bike show.
AntiqueMotorcycle.org

• Daytona Bike Week
March 10-19
Anyone reading this should
already know about this one.
OfficialBikeWeek.com

• Sons of Speed Race
March 17-18
For the first time, pre-1925
boardtrack-style motorcycles will
race heads-up at the New Smyrna Beach Speedway. I will be racing my
Team American Iron 1915 Harley
twin, so please come cheer me on. Tickets are available at the gate or
Eventbrite.com.

• Handbuilt Motorcycle Show
April 20-23
Austin, Texas. A fast-growing show of high-quality, handbuilt custom motorcycles.
RevivalCycles.com

• Kickstart Classic
May 18-20
Maggie Valley, North Carolina,
to Denton, North Carolina. Our event for classic motorcycles (new ones are also welcome).
AIMag.com

 

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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What’s In The Works For 2017?

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Let’s start the new year by thanking our great readers and advertisers

This first issue of the year is a good time to look forward with anticipation. It’s also a good one to take stock and review our past. I founded TAM Communications in a spare bedroom over my small garage, and I launched Old Bike Journal back in 1989. I was working at a crossword puzzle publisher (Penny Press), and my modest goals were to make enough to pay the bills and perhaps have enough left over to buy another classic bike.

A lot has happened in 28 years— more than I can share here. We purchased American Iron Magazine in 1991, and thanks to our amazing team, we grew it far beyond my wildest expectations, becoming the best-selling motorcycle magazine on the newsstand. After trying various ideas, we decided to focus on the American Iron brand. We expanded to include our all-tech American Iron Garage, and last year we published American Iron Salute, a motorcycle magazine to honor our brave men and women in uniform.

So, you might ask, what’s in the works for 2017? I’m glad you asked. We are investing in what you want and expect from the industry leader. While some other magazines are reducing frequency and offering less, we feel our readers and advertisers deserve more. We are again publishing 13 issues of American Iron Magazine this year. We are increasing our all-tech American Iron Garage to six issues. We will publish another annual issue of American Iron Salute. And we are launching American Iron Power, a performance-oriented special issue. That’s a total of 21 print magazines in 2017. Wow!

Plus, we are looking into more events. We will share details on our popular Kickstart Classic ride soon, and we are looking into bringing back our FLASH Races at Sturgis to find out who has the fastest street-legal Harley, Indian, and Victory motor­cycles in America. Got an event idea? Please send it to Letters@AmericanIronMag.com.

I feel very fortunate to have worked with so many amazing people in the motorcycle and publishing industries. I’d like to start the new year by saying thanks to all our great readers and advertisers. Also, thanks to our staffers at the magazine and all the people who help us build, print, and distribute our magazines with so little drama. We simply could not do what we do without you.

American Iron Garage—DIY Tech & Home Wrenching
There are lots of great reasons to work on your own motorcycle. You get to better know and understand your bike and how it works. You become better skilled at identifying the issues and possibly fixing them. You get a better running and looking bike for less money by doing it yourself. And it’s a great feeling to be able to maintain and upgrade your bike yourself. Whatever the reason(s), a growing number of riders are reading our American Iron Garage all-tech magazine to become better wrenches. You can, too.

We have increased American Iron Garage to six issues this year and now offer subscriptions. You can get a full year delivered to your home for less than $20 a year in the US. Heck, you will save more than that with your first DIY oil change!

If you like learning more about how your motorcycle works and how you can make it better, then you should be reading American Iron Garage. If you also like to save money (who doesn’t?), subscribe today. Call 877/693-3572, or visit AIMag.com/Garage.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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Motorcycle Family

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

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!

Buzz Kanter Nov. Shifting Gears

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.

Buzz

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American Iron is going full throttle in print

Buzz Kanter EIC

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter 

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

As the temperature drops and the air gets crisp, it’s starting to feel like one of my favorite times of the year to ride here in Connecticut. Especially in the early morning and late afternoon when the sunlight adds a magical quality to the golden autumn colors along my favorite twisty back roads of New England.

I am so into riding now that I will soon be heading out to visit Vermont’s covered bridges on a motorcycle. If I can get to enough of them, I’d like to turn the trip into a motorcycle tour to share in print with American Iron Magazine readers.

Biketoberfest & More
meanwhile, farther south, there is plenty going on in and around Daytona and Orlando, Florida, during the next few weeks. Anchored by Biketoberfest on Daytona Beach, there is much to see and do from October 13 to 16. The AMA Hall of Fame (I was honored to have been inducted in 2002) will be honoring and inducting the new class at a swanky ceremony on October 13 in Orlando (motor­cyclemuseum.org/halloffame). Also in Orlando is the AIM Expo, a strong industry trade event open to the general public (aimexpousa.com).

Looking for more exciting motor­cycle action? As you are reading this I am preparing to scare myself silly on a 1915 Harley boardtrack racer at the Sons of Speed event. It is at the New Smyrna Speedway on Saturday, October 15. The track opens early, and the race heats will begin around 1 pm. There will be a number of brave fools (including me) flying around this paved 1/2-mile track at excessive speeds with no brakes. We will be trying to recreate the feel and excitement of the long-gone boardtrack days. Please join us and cheer on Team American Iron.

American Iron
print is not dead! the fact that so many people are reading this magazine confirms my feeling. OK, so we do have some digital readers, but they are welcome in the family. We at American Iron are going full throttle in print, and we’re still growing and expanding.

American Iron Magazine continues to lead the pack with a solid new issue full of popular editorial every four weeks, that’s 13 issues a year! Our hard-working team must be doing something right, as we are still the world’s best-selling motorcycle magazine on the newsstand. In addition, we are increasing our all-tech American Iron Garage to six issues a year, and you can subscribe to it now.

I strongly recommend subscribing to American Iron Magazine and/or American Iron Garage because it saves you time and money (more than half off the single copy price), and you will be entered to win our American Iron/-Dennis Kirk custom Harley Fat Boy. To subscribe, please call 877/693-3572 or go to AIMag.com.

We expanded our events this year. In 2016, we did the American Iron River Run with Indian Motorcycles up the Mississippi River, the Patriot Ride in Minnesota, the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic in North and South Carolina, and the Dream Ride in Connecticut.

We’d love to hear any and all event suggestions you have for American Iron rides and events, along with anything else you’d like to suggest or share, at Letters@AmericanIronMag.com.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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Harley’s new 107 cubic inch, Milwaukee-Eight

Buzz Kanter EIC

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter 

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I  can’t believe it’s been 17 years since The MoCo last invited us for an exclusive look and ride of a new generation of Harley engine, the TC88, which we named the Fathead. Seventeen years!

You have already seen the cover of this issue of American Iron Magazine. Harley’s engineers, designers, and marketing teams have pulled the cover off a totally new engine design to carry Harley Trikes and Touring bikes into the future.

We are honored that American Iron Magazine readers will be the first to read about this exciting new engine design officially named the Milwaukee-Eight. Riders like to give Harley engines nicknames. When I first saw photos of this engine I thought the top end looked rather muscular, so how about we call it the Musclehead?

In brief, the all new 107″, single cam, four-valve-per-head Milwaukee-Eight will be available in all 2017 Trikes and Touring models. The bikes without lowers will use the oil-cooled version. Touring bikes and Trikes with lowers will use the oil and water-cooled designs, but the non-Touring models will retain the current Twin Cam powertrains. The limited-production CVO models will now be powered by a larger 114″ version of the all new Milwaukee-Eight.

The Harley team tells us the new Milwaukee-Eight engine idles lower, runs cooler, is faster, and gives better gas mileage than today’s Twin Cam. It’s quite an engineering feat, and one well worth waiting for.

For a lot more detail, please read our exclusive article and photos starting on page 46 for more information.

Sons of Speed Boardtrack Racing
love the romance and excitement of old motorcycles and the thrills and spills of real antique motorcycle racing? Check out the Sons of Speed boardtrack-style racing near Daytona on October 15.

American V-twin motorcycles from the teens through 1924 will be racing on the half-mile, banked asphalt of New Smyrna Speedway with no brakes, no transmissions, and no clutches! Join me, Billy Lane, and a cast of characters this Biketoberfest as we try to recapture the days of old, when racers were bold.

I will be on my 1915 Harley-powered reproduction boardtracker, representing Team American Iron. Other racers include Billy Lane (event promoter) on a 1913 Indian, Rick Petko (of Discovery’s American Chopper) on a 1913 Indian, Xavier Muriel (musician with Buckcherry) on a 1919 Harley, Jay Allen (of Broken Spoke) on a 1913 Thor, Shelley Rossmeyer-Pepe (Rossmeyer H-D) on a 1915 Harley, and Warren Lane (Atomic Metalsmith) on a 1919 Indian, and possibly others.

I expect the bikes will be showcased around town before the event. The races start around 1 pm, Saturday, October 15, at the New Smyrna Speedway (3939 Florida Route 44). Tickets are available at EventBrite.com and at the gate. Hope to see you there. This is going to be wild!

American Iron’s Greaserag.com
we get requests every week for back issues of our various magazines, motorcycle books and collectibles, and for AIM swag. We sell our back issues, while supplies last, and other interesting, motorcycle-related stuff at GreaseRag.com or call 203/425-8777, ext. 114 to order. Watch for limited-time special discounts!

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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Race On Sunday, Sell On Monday?

Buzz Kanter EIC

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter 

AMA Class C racers on tankshift 45 cubic-inch flatheads

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Talk to any of the motorcycle old timers and eventually they all get around to discussing a deep-rooted rivalry. It was between the two American motorcycle powerhouses, Harley-Davidson and Indian, on the racetracks and in the showrooms. I have heard and read about the epic battles on the sand of Daytona Beach, the rough dirt tracks near Loudon, New Hampshire, and the unforgiving hard pack of Springfield, Ohio. And the subsequent battle to get riders into the dealerships.

The parking lots at 1940s and early ’50s motorcycle race events were tightly packed with Harley flatheads, Knuckleheads, and Panheads, side by side with Indian Chiefs, Scouts, and occasional Fours. The riders proudly wore shirts or caps proclaiming their ride of choice. In the pits and on the tracks were Indian Scouts and Harley WRs. These were the fierce competitors of AMA Class C racing on tankshift 45 cubic-inch flatheads. Yes, I am going back more than 60 years, but whatever embers from this fierce
competition that still glow are about to get fanned into a powerful blaze.

After decades of dominating the dirt tracks of America with the all-conquering XR-750, Harley-Davidson recently announced a new race platform based on the 750cc liquid-cooled Street motorcycle. The XG750R broke cover at the Sacramento Mile where factory rider Davis Fisher finished the Semi in third place. Unlike just about all other 45-degree, air-cooled V-twins in Harley’s history, the radical new G (which used to be Harley’s designation for the Servicar trike) is a liquid-cooled, four-valve, 60-degree design. Could this be something to watch for in the future?

Right on the heels of Harley’s announcement of a new generation dirt track racer, Indian pulled the covers off an all-new race powertrain rumored to have been designed and built in less than a year! Say hello to the Indian FTR750 racer, powered by a liquid-cooled, four-valve, DOHC V-twin engine. I know the last Indian factory racer was built before I was born. I believe it was Indian model 648 Big Base Scout, built in very limited numbers in 1948 specifically to beat the Harley team in the important Daytona Beach races that year. Indian won the race, but it was the end of head-on, on-track competition between the factory teams of Harley and Indian. Until now.

Most of us know how racing can benefit the brand. First and foremost, race bikes are cool. They should be designed with nothing that does not help them go faster, handle better, or stop properly. Second, competition breeds improvements. Lessons learned on the track often has great applications for the street. Third could be phrased “Race on it Sunday, sell it on Monday,” if motorcycle dealers were open on Mondays. Enthusiasts like to buy and ride the bikes they see race and win, even if they are buying a motor­cycle with little in common other than tank badges and a similar general look.

HD-Indian-wars-columnFor the first time in decades, Harley is showing serious commitment, gambling with a new powertrain to replace the XR750, and Indian has opened its corporate checkbook wide to re-enter dirt track racing after more than six decades. Could this lead to a rebirth of popularity in a sport that has, frankly, been in steady decline for too long? I sure hope so. Either way, I do know it will benefit all enthusiasts with stronger and better products for years to come. And I can’t wait to see the Harley and Indian teams out on the mile track, hanging it all out and fighting for the win.

If you are interested in learning more about the Harley/Indian rivalry I strongly recommend buying a copy of the long-out-of-print book Alan Girdler’s The Harley-Davidson and Indian Wars at Greaserag.com

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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To order back issues, visit Greaserag.com.

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To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

DIY Tech & Kickstart Motorcycles

Buzz Kanter EIC

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter 

George could do it faster; but he wanted to share all he knew

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

More American Iron
When American Iron Magazine first appeared in 1989, it was created to offer something of everything of interest to Harley riders and be family friendly. The overall quality of content, design, and even paper was higher than most other Harley-oriented magazines at the time, and we still work hard to offer you the best possible package.

We tried different approaches over the years. Some were quite popular, and others weren’t. Using this trial and error approach, while paying attention to what our readers and industry leaders tell us, we continue to fine-tune the mix of articles and subjects. The popular blend includes reviews of new bikes and products, tech and DIY, feature and classic bikes, tours and events, and a few quirky and unexpected articles.

Over the years we have recognized a large and growing audience of Do It Yourselfers (DIY) who enjoy wrenching on their rides. It might be to better understand them, personalize them, or just to save a few bucks. For these people, we can never offer too many tech, install, and DIY articles in any one issue of American Iron Magazine. With that in mind, a few years ago we created an all-tech special newsstand issue called American Iron Garage. It was so popular that we increased it to two issues a year, then up to three issues last year. Now, we are increasing American Iron Garage to six issues a year and offering subscriptions for those who can’t find the magazine locally or just love a great deal. And, yes, we will continue to offer great tech and DIY here in American Iron Magazine, too.

To subscribe to our all-tech and DIY American Iron Garage in print (only $19.97 a year in US print or digital worldwide) call 877/204-0774 or sign up at www.aimag.com. For a digital subscription, please go to AIMag.com.

Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Ride
if you love old motorcycles or are just looking for a fun group of motorcycle enthusiasts to ride with, our Motorcycle Kickstart Classic ride will meet up at Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, on Thursday, July 28. We will have a number of local rides around the greater Maggie Valley area Friday, July 29. We then ride as a group over to Chesnee, South Carolina, on Saturday, July 30, for a fun-filled day with the local AMCA (Antique Motorcycle Club of America) Legends Chapter. It’s up to each rider if he wants to stay in Chesnee for the night or ride back to Wheels Through Time.

You are running out of time to preregister, which you can do online at AIMag.com or by calling Rosemary at 203/425-8777 x114 with a credit card.

RIP George Yarocki
It is with deep sadness that i must say good-bye to my old friend and motorcycle mentor, George Yarocki. Everyone who met 88-year-old George quickly warmed up to this kind, humble, and generous gentleman.

George loved old motorcycles and old machinery in general, but his deepest passion was for the short-lived (1928-31) Indian 101 Scout. George was never one to withhold hard-to-find knowledge.

He was an amazing source of motorcycle information and mechanical understanding. He insisted owners work on their own bikes at Ft. Yarocki, with him looking on, providing advice and encouragement. I did this with my 1931 Indian 101 Scout more than once. George could have done the jobs faster, but he wanted to share all he knew so that it would carry through the years and generations and not be lost with his passing. We will miss George. He was one in a million.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

Follow Buzz on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

To order back issues, visit Greaserag.com.

To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here.

To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.