History Does Not Repeat

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Ride to Work

It’s called history for a reason. It’s in the past—done, gone, hope you enjoyed it. We often remember things having been better when we were younger. Some people call it “The good old days.” Perhaps life wasn’t as complicated as it seems now, and responsibilities weren’t as heavy. It was a time before the instant gratification of having the world at your fingertips electronically. For example, we used to carry cash, or even a plastic credit card, back before the current trend of paying for something without using hard currency. All it takes now is the swipe of an app, the beep of a laser code reader, and zoom, you’re out of the drive-thru lane barely touching your brakes.

Remember when riding you had to carry change to make a phone call or use a paper map to find your way? I recently took a quick trip to New York City for a business meeting. That morning, I was thinking ahead and figured I would fully charge my handy cellphone before I departed. Only one problem—I left the phone plugged into the charger when I left. So there I was, in the big city without any means of looking up the address of where I was supposed to go, and an immediate feeling of being lost. Just then I thought, “Wait a minute! I can do this.” I remember how to find my way around and communicate from before the days of smart phones. Believe it or not, they still have phone booths in NYC. I’ve been told it’s because the city doesn’t want to lose the revenue from advertisements posted on the sides. It didn’t take long to find one, and it actually worked. I was amazed. I inserted old-fashioned coins, cleaned the receiver with a handkerchief, and called the party I was supposed to meet. Disaster averted.

This dose of nostalgia is brought to you courtesy of my return from 2017 Daytona Bike Week. I drove the company truck down, so I had plenty of time to ponder. Heck, I remember going to Daytona Bike Week for nine consecutive years before even coming to work here at this publishing company, and I’ve been here for 14 years. And while I remember having a great time back in the day, I contend that current events are better than ever.

Nothing irks me more than when I hear someone spout, “I’ll never go back to that event now. It’s not as good as back when I used to go.” And while everyone is entitled to his opinion, I’d say Bike Week is still well worth the overnight, straight-through, bonzai-run I do to get there.

Think about it: motorcycles that are considered historical now, were more common back then. So, these days, it’s more exciting to see a bike from a specific gone-by time period. Young people, those who have never attended Bike Week or only attended in recent years, bring a whole new vibe to the party. There are so many aspects of motorcycling going on in and around Daytona during that week; I’d defy anyone to be bored. If you’re into off-road riding, there are events for you. Into custom bikes? There are plenty to be seen. Into racing? They have that, too. And as for the old classics that were more common back in the day, you don’t have to look hard to find them. The success of the inaugural Sons of Speed Daytona event was proof of that. The stands were packed! (See page 66.)

So, I say don’t let your memories fade. It’s nice to remember how good it was. But also use them to make it better the next time around.

Thompson Vintage Motorcycle Classic
Speaking of old bikes, and following in the footsteps of Buzz’s column (page 14), I’d like to add another must-see event that’s on my calendar this year: the Thompson Vintage Motorcycle Classic. It’ll be held in the quiet northeast corner of Connecticut at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on June 25. The event will host a field of historic (pre-1990) motorcycles in a bike show, a massive swap meet, and a vintage motorcycle track day on Thompson’s 1.7-mile road course. The fan-favorite Parade Of Classics will happen at noon, with the vintage track day starting immediately thereafter. For more information, call 860/923-2280 or visit ThompsonSpeedway.com. Hope to see you there.



Sacrificial Motorcycling

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Ride to Work

…making the decision to do without

I get lots of e-mails here at American Iron Magazine. Some come from readers, some from vendors and OEMs, and way too many from people who don’t have anything better to do than send out spam. But one just crossed my computer monitor that made me think. Seems a motorcycle manufacturer (a European brand that shall remain nameless, though here’s a hint: they’re known for making lots of red bikes) is promoting a new sales campaign based on the premise that you can now own a brand-new motorcycle for less than the cost of a good cup of coffee per day.

By the way, I love how they qualify what type of coffee (a “good” cup of coffee, not that cheap gas station stuff). It’s true, and they have the figures to back it up. A footnote at the end provides the supporting data. US News & World Report research shows that the average cost of a cappuccino in the US is $3.51. (I want that research dude’s job, traveling around buying cups of “good” coffee all day.) This is cappuccino we’re talking about here—after all, the company is Italian (hint #2). So with a payment plan of just $99 per month (after paying a specific down payment and $750 freight and setup fee), owning one of its motorcycles costs less than the $105.30 you would have spent on all that frothy, tasty, caffeine-laced goodness in a cup.

Sounds like a deal, right? Now comes the hard part: making the decision to do without one thing in order to have another. It happens all the time, you need to give up one thing you like, in order to get the thing you think you’ll like more. This is not the same as, say, ordering in a restaurant. “Can I have the loaded baked potato side dish instead of the creamed spinach (yuck)?” And that’s not meant to offend you creamed spinach fans out there. Giving up something you don’t like to get the one you do is a no-brainer. The sacrifice bunt in baseball is talked about often, and it benefits the team with the potential of scoring a run. The only person that doesn’t like it is the actual bunter.

So I extrapolated this idea into motorcycling, and, no, I’m not shopping for a new European bike today. But I have experienced similar tough decisions before. I see a rare, used motorcycle part on eBay, and I subsequently convince myself that I have to have it on my bike. So I immediately go to my parts sales auctions and lower the price to make them more attractive to other buyers. It’s fire-sale time. Yes, I’ll take the loss on this, to get the cash I need for that.
It’s a tradeoff. You can’t have it all—unless you’re independently wealthy and throw money around like it’s water (which reminds me of a meme I saw online: “Water is the most essential element of life, because without water, you can’t make coffee”). But even in that case, if you have both things, and it didn’t hurt to get them, then you might not value either as much as the person who gave up something valuable to get something of more value.

As riders we might give up time with family and friends to go riding, but as a result of that decision, we also have riding family and friends. So that might be a win-win situation, depending on your family. I know Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) coaches who have given up a lot of weekend riding time in order to teach new riders how to ride safely. Both are fun, and the latter is a bit of a noble cause. We give up the comfort of a warm, dry car to ride a motorcycle in the rain in order to get to a bike rally, where we’ll inevitably have a raucous time. We give up our hearing temporarily to see a Kid Rock concert at The Chip in Sturgis. I can’t really sip my morning coffee (there it is again) on the days I ride my bike to work. And I give up hauling anything larger than what can fit on my bike. Saddlebags do have their limitations.

It’s said that a man should give up three month’s salary to buy an engagement ring. I guess those guys are going without food, beer, gas, an apartment, and car insurance for a while. And they say money can’t buy you love.

Next up is deciding what to give up. Better think about this. All that shimmers is not gold. Once you have time to think about it and perform the necessary research, maybe the item you desired wasn’t a must-have after all. As for me, I’ll keep taking my regular coffee (none of that decaf stuff) with cream, no sugar. Thank you.


Crystal Ball

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Ride to Work

A glimpse into what many of us will be using on a daily basis in the near future

Attending a trade show is like having a crystal ball. I am hooked on trade shows. Just name it, and I’ll try to get media credentials for it. I get to network with colleagues, see people I haven’t seen in a long time, make new contacts, see the hottest new products, and come up with ideas on how to incorporate all this cool new stuff into my motorcycle adventures and yours!

My most recent trade show was the Consumer Electronics Trade Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The timing was perfect, as it led into a motorcycle press launch in Arizona the next day. So why not get to town a little early and get my trade show fix?

The CES is primarily for the mainstream market. There are plenty of TV sets, home audio, and cellphone gadgets galore. This year there were several hot trends; 3-D printers dominated several rows of one show floor, and the catch phrase smart electronic wearables was prevalent. I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but it was amazing to see what people are dreaming up. This show is a glimpse into what many of us will be using on a daily basis in the nearfuture, and some of it is a glimpse into what your children or grandchildren will be using on a daily basis in the distant future.

I posted pictures on social media while walking around, but posting took time away from walking around and seeing the cool stuff. So, believe me, my phone is full of pictures of items you have not seen yet. Some of my favorites include the portable 12-volt air pump with a compressor and removable air storage tank, the high-mounted brake light for the back of a motorcyclist’s helmet, a motorcycle helmet headsup display, and heated shoe insoles to keep a rider’s feet toasty. Dainese was there with its inflatable motorcycle riding jacket—think of it as an airbag for bikers. And Dainese wasn’t the only one with such a product on display. Remember, companies design these products for the mainstream consumer, and an inflatable rider safety vest can protect horseback riders, skateboarders, or skiers. Several companies displayed new tire pressure monitor kits, an accessory I think no motorcycle should be without. After all, we ride on fewer tires than a car, so we need to take care of our hides. Schumacher Electric showed its new Schulink battery charger, complete with a smartphone app so you can monitor your motorcycle’s battery charge status without even stepping foot in the garage.

Cameras, both still photo and action, were abundant at the CES; watch for a 360-degree action camera coming soon. I also visited the manufacturers of many professional still cameras, because we use them so much in the magazine biz. But how about an action camera that’s built into a pair of sunglasses? CES had it. There are those smart wearable electronics buzzwords again. I hope to show you more of what I saw at CES. Watch for some product reviews in American Iron Magazine soon.

Some of the products at CES are already available, some are coming soon, and yet others are pie-in-the-sky dreams that are not in production yet, with companies gauging the public’s interest. Some of the booths were actually crowdfunded projects from new startup companies.

I had a nice conversation with the folks from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and they were happy to show me their giant cat magnet on display. Joking here, it’s a prop they used in a television commercial, a trade show foot-traffic stopper, and hilarious to look at.

Some of the items that caught my eye, which are not applicable to the motorcycle industry, include a smart walking cane for the elderly or handicapped. The cane learns the walk rate of the user and can recognize if the user is walking erratically or has fallen down, at which point it can summon help electronically. That and the polished stainless steel robotic barista making coffee were my favorite non-bike items. Now all I need is a smart, wearable, stainless steel, robotic barista that I can carry on my motorcycle, and I’ll be all set.

American Iron’s Editor Steve Lita Featured on Motorcycle Men Podcast

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

American Iron Magazine Editor Steve Lita dishes on the state of the industry in Motorcycle Men’s podcast Episode 85

Podcast alert!

American Iron Magazine Editor Steve Lita joins the Motorcycle Men Podcast to dish on the industry, American V-twins, and our Daytona Bike Week giveaway bike!

Check out what Lita had to say by listening to Episode 85! Check it out at now at Motorcycle Men