2017 Sons of Speed Racer

Here’s what you’ll see Buzz racing in his Team American Iron leathers at the New Smyrna Speedway in Daytona. Direct-drive–that means no clutch, no gearbox. Tug the wheel while in the stand and off they go!

1915 Harley Special

Inside A Sons Of Speed Boardtrack-Style Racer

Text by Billy Lane

Photos by Jim Arbogast

What do you envision when someone describes a motorcycle as a boardtrack racer? The term has been applied to so many styles of motorcycles over the years, we’d like to define the term for you and share this replica racer AIM Editor in Chief Buzz Kanter will be competing on in March for Team American Iron.

Button on left grounds the magneto to slow down. Right side throttle to speed up. Hand operated oil pump on left tank, gas on the right.

There is no denying that motorcycle racing rapidly advanced the development of the motorcycle engine. Roads in the first decade of the 20th century were not conducive to high speeds. Worse, the surfaces were so rough they often destroyed the motorcycles that rode over the dirt, mud, and gravel surfaces. But that seldom mattered when two sporting riders found themselves side by side on the same road.

Visionaries like Jack Prince saw the potential of a smooth surface for high-speed motorcycle racing. So they modeled their banked board racetracks after the wildly popular bicycle velodromes. The first recognized motorcycle board track, built in 1910, was the Los Angeles Motordrome. And, as you might expect, it didn’t take long for motorcycles, designed for speeds of 25 mph on the road, to exceed 100 mph on the boards.

This new sport was so popular, motorcycle boardtrack racing quickly influenced the young manufacturers and privateers to increase speed through greater engine horsepower, creating some of the most ingenious and beautiful engine designs by way of their makers’ desire for glory on the racetrack.

Billy tailored each specific frame to accept a variety of old motors. Here’s Buzz’s 102-year-old motor.

Billy bent the top tube of Buzz’s frame to mimic the lines of an original 1915 Harley-Davidson, and then bent and welded a set of 0.045″ aluminum fuel and oil tanks

But progress did not happen without problems. Rough, unpaved roads broke the brazed and soldered frames, forks, fuel tanks, and wheels of early motorcycles. Owners would remove and repurpose the engines, trashing the remainder of the motorcycle in favor of lighter and sometimes stronger designs for the track. Boardtrackers were some of the first motorcycle racers in organized events.

Stripped of all unnecessary weight or parts, they were raw performance. Big muscular engines clamped low in skinny keystone frames with braced forks and drop bar handlebars; slim wheels and skinny tires with no brakes to get in the way or slow you down; magneto ignitions, a skinny seat, and no fenders. Direct drive removed any need for transmission or clutch. The only controls on true boardtrack racers were the twist grip throttle (either cable or rod actuated), a magneto kill button, and a hand pump to override the oiling system. These were purpose-built, fire-breathing, all-out race machines!

A century later, we have a few surviving engines patiently waiting for their revival. The last boardtracks were closed in the early 1930s when motorcycle racing was relegated to flat dirt tracks. Dirt track racing required more horsepower at speeds well below those achievable on the boards.

I created Sons of Speed (SOS) to put the engines that survived two world wars and The Great Depression back on the banked track. Sons of Speed maintains as much of the raw purity of motorcycle boardtrack racing as possible, the way it was done a century ago, while promoting the sharing of information, education, diversity of brand, and safety that was absent during the sport’s peak in 1915.

At the core of Sons of Speed are vintage 1000cc twin-cylinder, air-cooled motorcycle engines from manufacturers like Excelsior, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Merkel, P.E.M., Reading-Standard, and Thor. I, along with several carefully chosen others, have rebuilt these engines to withstand the rigors of high-speed racing. Most of the troubles associated with early engines were due to carburetion and ignition irregularities, which we have overcome by improving carburetor design and modifying or replacing the magneto ignitions.

To carry these original engines around the track, I designed and built a modern version of early motorcycle half-mile racing chassis. My Sons of Speed frames employee a universal keystone design, in which most early V-twin motorcycle engines fit. The various manufacturers’ engines are bolted in the identical keystone frames via engine cradle plates. By simply replacing the aluminum engine cradle plates, an Indian or Excelsior Sons of Speed race engine can quickly be swapped into a Harley-Davidson- or Reading-Standard-powered Sons of Speed chassis. Each chassis shares the same countershaft and rear drive sprockets, forks, handlebars, wheels, seats, and tires. The only significant variation in the chassis is the shape of the fuel/oil tanks, which I created to mimic the original style of the original Flying Merkel, Harley-Davidson, or Thor designs.

Our use of lightweight aluminum parts wherever possible helps translate the limited horsepower of the early engines up to track speed. I constructed my Sons of Speed frames and forks from 1020 mild steel, seamless tubing that is drawn over a mandrel. All joints are coped and hand-fit before TIG welded in the jig to ensure joint strength. Aluminum wheel hubs feature modern sealed wheel bearings, supporting rims with 28″ clincher racing tires made from Firestone’s original molds. The result is simple, reliable, and relatively affordable race bikes, complete with interchangeable components, and all in a package that weighs less than 170 pounds.

To build a half-mile banked wooden track would cost over a million dollars—well beyond the Sons of Speed budget. But we do have a lease with New Smyrna Beach Speedway for March 17 and 18, 2017, during the 76th Daytona Beach Bike Week. The Speedway is a half-mile asphalt track with 20-degree banking, well suited for Sons of Speed racers. The Speedway’s surface may not be made of wood, but it offers so much more in the way of speed and excitement than a dirt track. We could have more than 20 Sons of Speed racers ready to go in March, so the action will be fast and furious.

In addition to racing, I am currently working on organizing a vintage custom car and motorcycle show at the track, with vendor spaces and camping. For advance tickets (tickets are limited), videos, and information, please go to our Facebook page (Choppers Inc) and follow us on Instagram @Choppers.Inc.

Shown here is Buzz Kanter’s 1915 Harley-Davidson-powered Sons of Speed racer. RetroCycle, in Boonton, New Jersey, rebuilt Buzz’s 102-year-old engine and shipped the engine to me after some test runs. I bent the top tube of Buzz’s frame to mimic the lines of an original 1915 Harley-Davidson, and then I bent and welded a set of 0.045″ aluminum fuel and oil tanks.

Prior to building Buzz’s racer, I’d built and been running another 1915 Harley-powered SOS racer belonging to Shelly Rossmeyer-Pepe. Shelly’s and Buzz’s racers are virtually identical, except for the tanks and a few small details. Both bikes share identical sprocket ratios from front-to-rear, seating, footpeg, and handlebar locations.

The original boardtrack racers ran with the pedal cranks fixed in place and used as foot rests for the rider. Since pedal cranks are of no use to us, I eliminated them from the SOS racers. The footpegs are in an exaggerated configuration, like a pedal crank, with the left peg forward of center and the right peg aft, near the rear axle. Because the riders sit so far rearward on these bikes, the unusual foot positioning makes it easier to lean our body weight inward and forward over the front wheel, which is necessary to maintain both control and speed in the turns.

My race bikes are direct-drive machines, with no clutch and no gearbox. So starting them takes some thought. We can start them with a tug on the rear wheel on a stand, or by dropping in from the top of the banked track. These engines fire to life immediately, sending us into turn number one at an alarming pace. Braking is achieved by a combination of throttling down or ignition kill and steering the bike to fight gravity on the track’s banked surface.

Throttling up on another bike from behind through a turn at 70 mph—with no brakes—will make your heart beat harder than the thumping engine a few inches beneath your chest. Because these racers are geared tall for high speeds, they decelerate fairly quickly with engine braking. But from top speed, it might take up to a half-mile to come to a complete stop. AIM

Find this story and more great articles in Issue #347 of American Iron Magazine.

Mark Potter’s Man Cave

Harley memorabilia offers a quaint and acceptable substitute to wallpaper.

This edition of My Garage appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of American Iron Garage. Back issues of  American Iron Magazine and American Iron Garage are available at Greaserag.com.

Mark’s 2007 Softail Deluxe combines retro and modern to keep his oasis grounded in the present day.

Kick back and relax, and please try not to drag your jaw on the floor. Welcome to Mark Potter’s home garage, something more of a gearhead haven and the initial induction to a new segment here in AIG. And what a way to kick it off. Mark’s garage is a polished collection of wow and more wow, and it’s a delectable collection of eye candy for all. From the decadent, handmade Harley-Davidson-imprinted floor plate, cut to look exactly like the Bar & Shield, to the stroll through history lining the walls in the form of posters, newspaper clippings, photographs, and artifacts, any motorcycle enthusiast would find a warm, fuzzy welcome in Mark’s garage.

This micro-Harley utopia orbits the centerpiece of the garage, the nucleus of Mark’s universe: his 1942 WLA. We would be content enough hanging around in the garage, lighting a stogie, taking in a ballgame on Mark’s surround sound television, and lapping on for hours about Harleys and all of the memorabilia strewn around the room. But talking points would begin and end with what Mark attributes to fully tying the room together, the mint ’42 WLA in all its historic glory. WLAs were introduced in 1942 as production of

Here’s that ’42 WLA, the bruising cruiser that helped win the war. Now, ain’t that nice?

civilian motorcycles was almost stopped entirely when America entered World War II. The WLA, also known as The Liberator, primarily operated as a military vehicle, though many soldiers who rode them during the war were inspired to purchase Harleys when they returned home. Mark’s WLA dons an all-black paint job (as opposed to a military green), but it’s still an incredible piece of history flashing its style in the middle of his garage.
Mark did most of the work, along with some help from his riding buddies. He tells us that it’s an ever-evolving process, but it has been heaps of fun to build and, of course, enjoy. The Harley bistro table was handmade, and the barstools feature leather seats with the Harley-Davidson logo. Not lost in the luster is his 2007 Softail Deluxe, sporting some sweet sharktail exhaust tips, and fitting into his blast-from-the-past theme with some whitewalls and a windshield.

Everywhere you turn, you’re met face-to-face with Harley-Davidson history.

We’re thoroughly impressed with Mark’s motorcycle Valhalla, and we appreciate his letting us take a look around. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a friend who puts in this kind of legwork for his “man cave,” but we’d certainly take an invite from Mark any night of the week. It’s Miller time! AIG

Remembering Pearl Harbor and All That Followed


With today marking the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the catalyst for America’s entry into World War II and to not remember both the loss of life on December 7, 1941 and the following sacrifices over the subsequent four years. Many of us have a close familial tie to WWII, and we receive photos and stories every week involving grandparents and motorcycles and the war effort.

America’s immediate response to the bombing of the Hawaiian naval base is not beyond reproach, as detailed in Dain Gingerelli’s upcoming tour story when he rode to Manzanar, California, the site of one of the internment camps for Japanese and Japanese Americans living in the States in the aftermath of the attack.

Here is brief excerpt from Dain’s piece: “Perhaps the most touching place is the cemetery at the west end of the camp. A tall stone obelisk, erected in August 1943, marks the location where about 150 souls are entombed. The obelisk’s inscription in Japanese Kanji script reads: Soul Consoling Tower.”

As we put the finishing touches on issue #346, we found the coincidence of Dain’s tour and the anniversary too much to overlook. #346 will be on newsstands in January, and Dain’s reflections at Manzanar are well-worth the read.

Dyno Solutions’ New Location

State-of-the-Art Tuning in Connecticut 

Dyno Solutions, conveniently (for us, anyway!) located in New Milford, Connecticut, is now operating at a new location. Just 2-1/2 miles north of its old location on Route 7, the new HQ can be found at 571 Danbury Road, New Milford, CT. We’ve taken numerous bikes over to Dyno Solutions to get ’em tuned just right, and you may recognize the name from multiple install stories in which we’ve swapped out exhausts, air cleaners, etc. A center for all your tuning needs, Dyno Solutions is a certified Dynojet Power Vision tuning center offering custom fuel maps for all bikes, and older bikes are welcome to be serviced, too.

Dyno Solutions uses the latest wide band 02 sensor technology. Every dyno run can show you not only horsepower and torque, but also the exact air/fuel ratio. This takes the guesswork out of fueling adjustments. The air/fuel ratio graph and printout shows a rich or lean condition at each rpm range during a dyno run allowing fast and accurate engine diagnostics. Load control simulates real world riding conditions that are needed to finely tune smaller throttle positions on a motorcycle. This “steady state” testing is the only way to accurately and quickly tune a motorcycle. Dyno Solutions has the latest Eddy Current load control system for repeatable, consistent results. The work done at Dyno Solutions comes highly recommended from us here at American Iron.

WIN THIS HARLEY! Dennis Kirk Sweepstakes Update IV

This 2009 Fat Boy came to us relatively bone stock and ready to revamp. Now, it leaves our hands a new bike, ready to be ridden by it's a new owner, who can be you!

This 2009 Fat Boy came to us relatively bone stock and ready to revamp. Now, it leaves our hands a new bike, ready to be ridden by it’s a new owner, which can be you!

Centuries of poets, bards, and musicians have long serenaded the masses with the wonders of the world shaking the cold of winter and embracing a rebirth in spring and summer. So, too, are we excited for the changing weather, albeit with less pretty wordification. As we move into the riding season for much of the country, our American Iron Garage Spring issue is in still circulating the newsstands, and Summer will be hitting the shelves at the end of May. There’s still much to be seen on our Dennis Kirk/American Iron Magazine giveaway Fat Boy, with the upcoming issues of AIG rife with installs and how-to guides, and there’s plenty of time for you to enter to win. Head over to Greaserag.com to order any and all back issues of AIG, and keep your eyes peeled for these Fat Boy installs, as well as many others, in the our Summer issue.

We got our hands around some Love Jugs Cool Masters, a pair of external cooling fans that promote efficient air flow over those hot twins while crawling through traffic. It was a fairly straightforward install, and we were even able to complete a Klock Werks project from Spring that required an ignition relocation. The exhaust system also received some TLC in the form of blacked-out 2-into-1 Freedom Exhaust Outlaws, and we noted some tips and tricks to get through this install properly. Lastly, we cleaned up the stock coil and hanging wires with an ACCEL Stealth SuperCoil install, a project that might sound daunting but was actually finished with relative ease. The winner of this sweepstakes will surely be a happy new owner.

The Love Jugs assembly mounted right onto the left side of the Fat Boy, where the horn used to be. Who needs that thing, anyway? (To be relocated!)

The Love Jugs assembly mounted right onto the left side of the Fat Boy, where the horn used to be. Who needs that thing, anyway? (To be relocated!)

Love Jugs Cool Masters will keep the future owner's skivvies a little drier this summer.

Love Jugs Cool Masters will keep the future owner’s skivvies a little drier this summer. Notice the Klock Werks ignition relocation mount, too!









And how can that new owner be you? Be sure to check out our Summer (On sale 5/31) issue to get a peep into the American Iron ossuaries where all the handiwork gets did, and purchase the coming issues to follow along with in-depth articles and close-up photos of the modifications. And how can this Fat Boy be yours? Subscribe to American Iron Magazine(877.693.3572) and you are automatically entered to win. So subscribe today. Or, you can enter with no purchase necessary at denniskirk.com.

Dangling wires be gone, this stock coil setup hits the bricks.

Dangling wires be gone, this stock coil setup hits the bricks.

Off comes the incumbent exhausts! Impeach!

Off comes the incumbent exhausts! Impeach!

Notice anything different? ACCEL Stealth SuperCoils clean up the left side reaaal nice.

Notice anything different? ACCEL Stealth SuperCoils clean up the left side reaaal nice.

On goes the Outlaws. Draw!

On goes the Outlaws. Draw!

Winter Motorcycle Repairs

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, Editor

Here in the northeast, wintertime is when you tackle big projects, or ones that take a lot of time to complete, since the weather is not exactly the best for a motorcycle ride. Things like paint jobs, chroming, powdercoating, engine builds, and major chassis modifications require many steps and outside shops to do various sections of the repair/upgrade. Delays are also due to an outside shop having a long turnaround time, like a chroming facility or paint shop. This is pretty much the standard pattern in our favorite pastime. So why am I telling you this?

Wintertime is also when you should take care of other projects, like replacing a slipping clutch or fixing a failing starter system. Unfortunately, a common problem is the guy who waits until that first nice day to call a shop to get his clutch fixed or bald rear tire changed, and he wants it done right away. Really? Those repairs were needed back when he put the bike up for the winter. Actually, the repairs were needed before then, but he was able to nurse the bike along to get the rest of the riding season in instead of losing those last few days to the shop. That part of the deal is fine; glad he was able to do it. The problem is that he didn’t get the bike fixed when the shop was slow during winter. Once the nice weather is back, he wants his bike fixed right away. Unfortunately, so do 20 other guys who also waited to get their bikes fixed.

Don’t be that guy. Go into your garage with a cup of coffee, uncover the bike, and give it a good going over. How are the tires? Good to go with lots of tread, or almost bald? What about the brake pads? Doing the tires and pads at the same time can save you some labor cost, depending on the model. Check out the primary chain and rear drive chain/belt. How was the clutch working last season? Did the bike start easily or were there starter issues? Maybe a fresh set of spark plugs is needed? How are the bike’s electrics? Does the horn and all the lights work? Yeah, it might be a bad bulb, or it might be a short or broken wire. Change the bulb now and see if that does the trick. If a short has to be tracked down, it may take the mechanic awhile to find it.

The point is that it’s now the beginning of February. If your riding season hasn’t started yet, but soon will, get those repairs done now. This way, when those nice riding days show up, especially the ones that pop up unexpectedly on a weekend, you can just fire up the bike and go for a ride. That is, unless you like watching your buddies ride by as you load your bike onto a truck.

See you on the road.
Chris Maida

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Garage Season And Daytona Madness



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. In the meantime, if we’re lucky enough to have a heated garage or shed, we can spin wrenches and dream about spring riding.

I consider myself fortunate to have a heated work space that can hold several motorcycles and projects. No matter how many hours I spend in the garage wrenching during the riding season, I never seem to get far enough down my “to-do” list.

I’m not complaining as this is my passion, but sometimes I need to stop what I’m doing, step back from the workbench, take a deep breath, and reprioritize my winter projects. Know what I mean?

Entry-Level Motorcycle Choices
Most riders probably didn’t start their riding days aboard Harleys or Indians. Many of us had our first motorcycle experiences on small-displacement imports. Perhaps on a Honda, Triumph, Cushman, Hodaka, or Ducati. Most likely those bikes had single-cylinder engines that we had to kickstart before we could ride.

Anyone interested in an American entry level or “learner’s bike” in the last decade or so has not had many choices other than the short-lived Buell Blast and a few others. So what do you do when your friend, kid, or neighbor tells you he wants to learn to ride? Few of us want to loan our pride and joy to someone who’s never ridden a motorcycle before. Too many things to go wrong, especially on a full-size bike.

It appears that the big American manufacturers recognized the need of entry-level models and have been hard at work expanding new-rider options. Harley started with the Sportster Low models a couple of years ago, before adding the 500 and 750 Street models. Indian came out with the Scout about a year ago, and recently unveiled the new 2016 Scout Sixty (see Dain’s ride review on page 72), and now rumors are stirring that Victory has a small-displacement entry-level bike in the works. Good news indeed!

Daytona Madness?
One of the most exciting and lethal forms of motorcycle racing was boardtrack racing, popular more than a century ago. Those daredevils would race around crudely built wooden boardtracks at speeds over 100 mph. OK, so that doesn’t sound so fast when compared to fast street bikes today. But consider that those early rigid-framed race bikes didn’t have brakes, clutches, transmissions, or more than an inch of fork travel. Basically, a boardtracker was little more than a fire-belching engine stuffed into a bicycle frame.

If this sounds like fun to you, plan to join a handful of moto-loonies at the new Sons of Speed event. Billy Lane, the mastermind behind this madness, is handcrafting less than a dozen similar boardtrack race bikes with various 1000cc antique motorcycle engines to be raced at the New Smyrna Speedway  just south of Daytona Beach. We (yes, I will be piloting a Harley-powered race bike) have practice scheduled on Friday, March 11, with racing on the docket the following day. Keep your fingers crossed and wish us all luck. I’m still trying to figure out how on earth I got wrangled into this madness. Maybe it has something to do with these long, cold winter months.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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WIN THIS HARLEY! Dennis Kirk Sweepstakes Update


This 2009 Fat Boy came to us used, but will leave a very different bike, possibly in your hands!


American Iron Garage and Dennis Kirk have teamed up to give away this Fat Boy.

There’s a reason all of these pawn shop, storage container, and barn picker shows are flooding the television airwaves. People love other people’s stuff. Antiques Roadshow has been doing this schtick for years. We are not free of such covetousness, as we purchased this 2009 Fat Boy used and unseen, and, as Editor Steve Lita noted in his column in the American Iron Garage Winter issue (Winter 2015), “one man’s loss is another man’s gain.” He also noted that it was almost a shame to remove perfectly good parts from this well-maintained, finely built motorcycle. Alas, the cruiser parts have to come off, and the Fat Boy will be treated to a more aggressive, blacked-out look. And best of all: This bike can be yours.

Be sure to check out our Winter issue to see an “enlightening” install on the Fat Boy, and purchase the coming issues to follow along with in-depth articles and close-up photos of the modifications. And how can this Fat Boy be yours? Subscribe to American Iron Magazine (877.693.3572) or Motorcycle Rides & Culture (877.693.3577) and you are automatically entered to win. So subscribe today. Or you can enter with no purchase necessary at denniskirk.com.

Check out just some of parts we added to the Fat Boy, and follow along with this year’s issues of AIG to witness entire installs from start to finish.

Brand-new taillight installed.

Brand-new taillight installed.

The Fat Boy gets an air cleaner upgrade.

Clean air. Fresh, clean air.

Say goodbye to the brick-wall bracket of old.

A new license plate bracket cleans things up.

Sit back and relax.

Some new leather to park yourself on.


Help Wanted

Steve Lita, Editor, American Iron Garage


I’ve been fortunate enough to meet lots of great folks who work in the magazine industry. And not just the motorcycle magazine arena; my various paths have crossed with those of travel magazine pros, automotive and truck enthusiast mag writers, digital and webzine geeks, and even music biz journos. I like doing what we call around here seeing how the other guys do it. Sometimes I’ve been enlightened to new publishing techniques and processes and other times I end up scratching my head and wondering “How do they make a living?” But much like picking up tips for wrenching on your own bike, it’s a learning process.

Recently, a well-established, mainstream digital and print traveljournalist shared a tabulated report with me showing the results of data gathered from reader feedback and Internet hits. Lots of numbers and information on the page, some of which missed me completely. Over a drink at the bar, we discussed the meaning of all this confusing data. If you know what to look at, there is lots of valuable info on the page, and based on reader interest, future issues of that editor’s mag will feature more of the same items that rose to the top. It’s a high-tech version of combining the clichés: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and give the people what they want.

Well, with American Iron Garage (AIG) being so new to the newsstand and limited to three issues a year, it’s a little harder to cultivate lots of feedback for us to study. Sure, we can do all the spreadsheet manipulation the other guys do, but more time passes between each issue, so being the impatient lot we are, we need to take a more direct approach. We’ve added a new e-mail address to our list of contacts here at Garage@AmericanIronMag.com. And that will be our point of contact for your feedback and questions.

We need to explore directions for stories to publish in future issues of American Iron Garage, and I’m putting out the call for your input. So if you saw the headline of this column and feverishly started looking for the latest version of your résumé so you could apply for that dream-job magazine writer gig you always wanted, you can calm down and put it away. There won’t be any paychecks going out. But the return for your input will be future issues of AIG containing more of what you like and want. Bottom line: we can’t do it all ourselves. We’d like to hear from the riders of real-world garage builds and find out what your wrenches are turning.

Recently, some letters have come in via e-mail at Garage@AmericanIronMag.com requesting air ride suspension how-to stories. So we’re checking into the hows, whys, and wheres of making that happen. Our staffers’ bikes are pretty blinged out, but luckily, there are trick new parts hitting the market all the time, so we’re keeping the UPS driver busy with incoming packages. And we’ve been circling the wagons of employee buddies who own, ride, and wrench on Harleys (and even a Victory or Indian or two) to aid us with compiling the tech installs we publish.

Show us some things you did to your bike. Show us your whole bike. Show us what you’re building. Show us what you started with. Show us works in progress, or show us the finished product. We’re interested in the interesting.

Here are some tips. Use a real camera, which these days mean anything bigger than a 5-megapixel digital handheld. No cell phone shots. I don’t care what Samsung tells you, they are not good enough. Use a tripod. Ain’t got a tripod? Brace the camera against a stationary object, because, no, Photoshop cannot correct a blurry/out-of-focus image. Watch your background because we don’t want to see your neighbor’s Prius. (Don’t laugh, you should see what we get sometimes.) Can’t take a picture worth a darn? Drop me an e-mail and I’ll e-mail you a PDF of a great story we ran on How To Shoot Your Bike.

No matter what, tell us how you feel about American Iron Garage and help us put together the best do-it-yourself, real-world motorcycle tech mag on the newsstand.


This column appeared in our Spring 2015 issue of American Iron Garage, our all-tech/DIY publication, which will see four issues in 2016. While AIG is not available via subscription, you can find it on newsstands wherever American Iron Magazine and our sister mag, Motorcycle Rides & Culture, are sold, and also online, along with back issues, at Greaserag.com.


Tech Shoots and Road Time

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, Editor

I enjoy visiting various shops around the country. It gives me the opportunity to talk with many different mechanics

I’m writing this just a few days before Thanksgiving, and about 10 days late. The rest of the issue has already been shipped, working its way through the process that will eventually result in the magazine that ends up in your mailbox and on the newsstands. It’s also the first day I’m back in the office after a three-day tech shoot at Rob’s Dyno in Gardner, Massachusetts. In fact, most of the last few months I’ve been on the road shooting tech for American Iron. While it’s well known I’m the editor of American Iron, few readers know I’m also the tech editor.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about being on the road often. I enjoy visiting various shops around the country. It gives me the opportunity to talk with many different mechanics, in both H-D dealerships and independent shops, and find out what’s going on with our beloved Harley-Davidsons, as well as Indians, Victorys, and custom builds. I don’t have a shop anymore, so this is the best way for me to get info from the trenches.

It also gives me a chance to meet some of our readers. Of course, I can’t hang out when the mechanic is ready to do the installation. With me stopping him at every step to shoot photos of what he’s doing, the time it’ll take him to do the job is doubled. And, as odd as this may sound, it’s hard on the mechanic to do a shoot with me. These guys are used to rolling through the job quickly and methodically. Having to constantly stop for me to take five to eight photos per step is, for lack of a better word, aggravating. I know because sometimes I’m the one spinning the wrenches! That’s when my daughter Chelsea is doing the photography, as she did for the 2015 Fat Boy upgrade series we finished in issue #331.

But all my travel is not only for tech. I usually go to two main bike events each year: Daytona Bike Week, which is about two months away by the time you read this, and Sturgis. Unlike when I’m traveling for tech, my main focus during these events is to cover the festivities and meet our readers. So if you ever see a short guy with a ponytail in a black American Iron shirt walking around, it’ll probably be me, so come over and say “Hey!”

See you on the road.

Chris Maida

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