Motorcycle Family

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 [email protected] or post them on our Facebook page.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Help Dave Roper Ride 1911 Indian At Isle of Man TT Motorcycle Race

Last year Dave Roper approached me at American Iron Magazine with an idea of riding a 1911 Indian motorcycle racerbike at this year’s Isle of Man to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the one and only time an American motorcycle won the famed Isle of Man races.

UPDATE My Dual Carb Harley Panhead Motorcycle Bobber

After ignoring my 1949 Harley Panhead bobber (with dual Linkert carbs) for more than two years after the top to bottom engine rebuild I am getting it back on the road. This is a bike I built almost ten years ago and featured in the pages of American Itron Magazine. In addition to the usual break in issues – especially with the modern crappy gasoline, I have to overcome a number of other challenges.

TAM Communications’ Growing Harley Magazine Family

We are growing our family of Harley magazine titles. Some of our supporters have been reading American Iron Magazine since it was launched in 1989. We at TAM Communications bought the near death American Iron Magazine in 1991.

American Iron Garage – All Tech Harley Magazine Now On Sale

The American Iron Magazine team has published a new magazine called American Iron Garage that goes on sale today. It is an all tech issue with lots of step-by-step install articles for Harley riders. And it has a large catalog from J&P Cycles including over $3,000 of special discounts in this issue.

First Rides, Current Rides, Online Harleys & More

So what’s your story? My first motorcycle ride was on the back of a beautiful old Norton Commando. I was a high-school kid when a college student I worked with during the summer vacation offered to give me a ride on the backseat. I was nervous about throwing my leg over the bike and hanging […]

NEWS FLASH Polaris Buys Indian Motorcycle Company

Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII) today announced the acquisition of Indian Motorcycles. The business was acquired from Indian Motorcycle Limited (“IML”), a company advised by Stellican Limited and Novator Partners LLP, U.K. Private Equity firms. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

First Erik Buell Motorcycle Racer – RR1000R Classic

Ever wonder what kind of motorcycle Erik Buell built in the very beginning? Well, as a Harley factory suspension and chassis engineer AND ex-roadracer, Erik first built a roadracer powered by a dual carb XR1000 Sportster engine. Here, thanks to our friends at Bike EXIF, is a brief write up and some cool photos of one of Erik’s first Harley-powered motorcycles – the Buell RR1000R.

Price Trends For Collectible Classic Motorcycle

Last week it was announced that RM Auctions, a major player in the high end auto auctions, has “merged” with Bator Vintage Motorcycle Auctions, owned by Glenn Bator. If you are not keeping track, Glenn Bator bought the J. Wood auction company from my long time friend and racer Jerry Wood, taking over the long running auctions at Daytona Bike Week and other locations.

New How-To & Tech Harley Magazine Coming

We at American Iron Magazine have been very busy building the regular issues of American Iron Magazine and launching the new Motorcycle Bagger Harley magazine as a bimonthly magazine. In our spare time (Chris Maida and Joe Knezevic are now insomniacs) we are creating and launching a brand new concept in Harley magazines that goes on sale in May.

Kickstart Classic Harley Motorcycle Magazine Ride

We at American Iron Harley Magazine are teaming up with RoadBike motorcycle cruising magazine and the folks at Wheels Through Time, Panhead City and Barber Motorsports to put on the 1st Kickstart Classic motorcycle ride in October and you are invited.