Trask Performance motorcycle chin spoilers

7-36-1-TraskFor 2009 to present baggers, Trask Performance has released chin spoilers to cover up the lower frame area of your bike, adding a bit of custom style. Able to fit with or without an oil cooler, these spoilers are primed and ready to paint, and come with all the necessary hardware to mount to your bike. $279.95. Info: Trask Performance, 866/998-7275,

2012 Victory Boardwalk Motorcycle Review

Maybe the ancient Mayans got it right when they predicted that the world would experience a major change at the end of 2012. If so, then Victory Motorcycles is one step ahead of the curve because after nearly 15 years in the business, that growing, Midwest-based company recently announced a shift in how it’s going to market its products in the coming years. In the vanguard of that change is a new model, the Boardwalk, billed by Victory as a custom cruiser.

To better understand the Boardwalk, you first need to have a clearer picture about how Victory intends to reinvent itself, and that tale began with the acquisition of the Indian motorcycle brand less than two years ago. When Victory’s parent company, Polaris Industries, acquired Indian (ironically, the original Indian Motocycle Company ceased doing business in 1953, only a year before Polaris Industries was formed), speculation ran high that some of the existing Victory models would simply undergo a rebadging, and life would go on.

Hardly so, suggests Vice President Steve Menneto of Polaris’ motorcycle division. Instead, he promises that a “relaunch is on schedule” for next summer, possibly in August; it will be a proprietary Indian based on design features spearheaded by Polaris engineers and stylists.

Menneto pointed out, too, that the new Indian line would constitute the “classic brand” of what Polaris markets, allowing Victory to produce more mainstream bikes that take into account three aspects of its inclusive customer market. In the process, Victory marketers pinpoint their customers as three types of riders — those who ride cruisers, baggers, or tourers — and that those buyers want their bikes to exhibit a certain level of what one company spokesman termed “edginess.” Expect words like bold and aggressive to find their way into Victory advertising and promotional material as time goes by.

In a nutshell, the touring category includes all Victory models that come equipped with travel trunks. Baggers are just that, models with saddlebags (windshields optional), while Victory’s cruiser group is composed of naked bikes that are built more for style and performance. And it’s among the cruisers that you’ll find the Boardwalk, a model based on the tried and tested (and discontinued) Kingpin, which first appeared in 2004 and was derived from the Vegas that came to market in 2002. As you can see, the Boardwalk’s bloodline goes back more than 10 years.

Because the Boardwalk was spawned from existing models, there wasn’t much in terms of chassis and drivetrain development necessary to get the basic platform up to speed. This allowed the design team to spend most of its resources on the bike’s style and comfort factor. Consequently, the Boardwalk checks in with all-new sheet metal, and it rides on 16″, 60-spoke wheels with whitewall tires (as opposed to the Kingpin’s 18″ hoops). Like all Victory models, at the heart of the Boardwalk beats the Victory Freedom 106″ engine, an overhead-cam, fuel-injected V-twin that develops a claimed 113 ft-lbs. of torque. Power is transmitted through a primary chain drive and six-speed overdrive transmission, and a composite belt drives the rear wheel. Single-disc brakes are found front and rear (four-piston caliper up front, two-piston caliper on the rear).

For the most part, the sheet metal is proprietary to the Boardwalk. The wraparound fenders are a first for Victory, and no other model shares the bulbous side covers that form-fit to the seat. Speaking of the seat, like the Judge, the Boardwalk’s two-up saddle is an unusual design, so the aftermarket will require dedicated seats for customers seeking an alternative. In the meantime, Boardwalkers can opt for Victory’s custom replacement saddle, plus the existing passenger pad is easily removable to create a more custom appearance. Boardwalk owners will also like the passenger seat’s mounting system: removing the chromed fender covers on each side exposes mounting bolts that secure the seat, actually suspending the seat frame slightly above the fender’s sheet metal. So when the passenger seat is removed, there’s no unsightly center bolthole or annoying scuff marks on the paint, giving the Boardwalk the look of a bike intended for a lone wolf. Nice.

Whether you’re riding solo or two-up, the 25.9″ high saddle offers good support, and it’s scooped to keep your keister in one place while riding. The passenger pad offers additional back support for the driver, although the seat’s padding is probably on the firm side for most people.

The Boardwalk’s floorboards are spacious, too, and with no heel shifter to hinder you, it’s easy to place your foot on the end of the left board while cruising. Ditto for the right side, so you’re never hard pressed to find a comfortable position for either foot while riding this bike.

By now you might be wondering: why the name Boardwalk? Not a bad question, and I can only surmise that the tie-in is found with the handlebar, in this case it’s a low, wide beach bar. Boardwalks are associated with the beach, and the Boardwalk has beach bars, so there you have it. In any case, exaggerated handlebars like this often present a love/hate relationship to the rider, and the Boardwalk’s are no exception. You’ll certainly feel like a cool, low-and-slow cruiser rider when you grasp the handgrips and snick the bike through the gears, but when riding fast into headwinds you’ll work extra hard to support your upper body. Low-speed turns in parking lots and such require dexterous movements because when the bars swing wide left or right, the outside handgrip becomes a little more difficult to reach.

The Boardwalk’s ride itself is pleasant and rewarding. The suspension’s spring and damping rates seem well matched, although the single rear shock absorber’s compression damping might be the weak link when road ruts become too severe or repetitious. Otherwise, when you snick the six-speed transmission through its gears, you’re rewarded with a rather pleasant baritone exhaust note from the otherwise ungainly stacked mufflers (thank you, EPA). Victory offers EPA-and CARB-compliant replacement mufflers that produce a slightly deeper tone, and the X-Box exhaust (available from dealers for $999.99, including a remap kit that’s a must) simply looks cleaner and cooler than the stock cans.

Cornering clearance is sometimes compromised by the outrigger floorboards and the 675-pound bike’s low stance. You can figure on more than 150 miles between stops to fill the 4.7-gallon gas tank. Speaking of which, the tank logos represent part of Victory’s new look — eventually all Victory models will wear this label, but for now, only the Boardwalk has it. A Boardwalk can be yours for $15,499 black; $15,899, pearl white. AIM

NEW BIKE REVIEW By Dain Gingerelli

Story as printed in the October Issue of American Iron Magazine.

Donny’s Unauthorized Technical Guide to Harley-Davidson

Donny’s 740-page book, Donny’s Unauthorized Technical Guide to Harley-Davidson, 1936 to Present: Volume I: The Twin Cam, guides the reader on a surefooted journey to a thorough understanding of the H-D Twin Cam. Petersen’s insight paired with hundreds of graphics, pictures, and charts makes complicated technical subjects easy to grasp, especially for the motorcycle novice. His down-to-earth writing examines what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s just okay about the TC 88, TC 96, TC 103, and CVO 110 Twin Cam powertrains. Donny solves problems. This is the definitive bible on all aspects of the Harley-Davidson by the world’s most-read Harley technical journalist. Available at and

2012 Motorcycle Cannonball, Rolling Through Milwaukee

Buzz made it to Milwaukee on day 3, but not without a few issues. Cannonball Day 3 Recap

With about 3,000 miles ahead of him, repairs and fine tuning were done late into the evening. Hopefully, with a little good luck and support from fellow cannonballers, the ol’ Harley’s dialed in, all gremlins shaken free and it’s smooth riding from this point forward.

Fingers crossed.

For daily Motorcycle Cannonball Updates and News visit: 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball News

Here’s a quick video about Buzz’s 1929 Harley JDH.

What’s It Like To Ride A 1929 Harley? Video

What’s that? You wanna know what its like to ride Buzz’s 1929 Harley JDH Cannonball bike? No problem. Enjoy this video shot from the riders point of view. As you’ll see and hear, the Bike’s running strong, shifting smoothly and looking good. This years Motorcycle Cannonball is just over a week away, looks as though rider, machine and Team American Iron are ready for the challenge.

To pick up your official Team American Iron Cannonball t-shirt, visit:

For more info about this years Cannonball, and route details visit:

Old Harleys & Even Older Harleys

A lot of my riding time these days is focused on prepping and getting real-world shakedown miles on my rebuilt 1929 Harley-Davidson JDH before the 3,800-mile coast-to-coast Motorcycle Cannonball in September. But I keep reminding myself what Dale Walksler of Wheels Through Time advised me, “Get the bike running right and then leave it alone. The more miles you put on it before the Motorcycle Cannonball, the sooner you will wear out stuff on the ride.”

I’m occasionally on the various new bikes we have at the office for review, but most of my riding time is on my older bikes. One of my favorites is the blue and white 1936 Harley EL. I have always had a soft spot for Knuckleheads, which is one of the best-looking American motorcycles ever produced. I rode my ’36, which is a first year Knuck that runs as good as it looks, on the first Motorcycle Kickstart Classic last year.

I agreed to show my ’36 at a local high-profile car event and wanted it in the best possible condition — mechanically and cosmetically. The first thing I did was make sure the bike would start and run well as I was planning on riding to the event (we don’t need no stinkin’ trailers!). As expected, it fired right off on the first kick (gotta love that!) and I rode it a few miles to get everything up to operating temperature. Then I rode over to a gas station to top off the gas tanks.

I find many people are attracted to classic motorcycles and like to ask questions about them. And most owners are happy to answer questions about their pride and joy. This was the case at the gas station where a number of people walked over to admire the bike. Two of them asked if they could take photos with their cellphone cameras. One of them, I didn’t catch his name, was obviously fascinated by the bike and admitted he rode a Harley, too. We chatted for a few minutes, and I asked him if he read American Iron Magazine. He said he did, and I told him I’m the editor-in-chief. He stared at me and finally said, “Wait, you’re Buzz?” He told me he thought my bike looked familiar, and said he had just read about the first Motorcycle Kickstart Classic and thought the bike looked great in the photos.

He told me he was a truck driver here in Connecticut and that his subscription to American Iron Magazine had just expired. Meeting me and seeing the Knuck motivated him to resubscribe. I thanked him for his support. His buddy, also a Harley rider, asked me if I was also involved in Motorcycle Bagger, which he subscribed to. I told him we publish three motorcycle magazines — American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger, and RoadBike — right here in Connecticut.

After a nice visit with these two, I headed back to my house, where I spent the next couple of hours cleaning and prepping the bike for the show. I lubed the chain, checked the tire pressure, adjusted the foot clutch rod, and conditioned the leather bags and saddle, and then I washed and waxed the motor­cycle, top to bottom, front to back. When I was done, the old Knucklehead looked great. I wonder if that is why it rained all that night and into the next morning when I rode it to the show?

Motorcycle Cannonball 2012 & Team American Iron T-Shirt
the first motorcycle cannonball endurance ride was in 2010. Many of our readers told me they wished they could have seen some of the action and ridden along with us. Well, you have another chance in September. We will be riding pre-1930 motorcycles 3,800 miles from New York to San Francisco. See page 122 for the route and dates, or go to

I’d like to invite you to be an honorary member of the Team American Iron Support Staff. For $20, you can buy our official T-shirt featuring my 1929 Harley on the front and #15, my competitor’s number, on the back. Please visit or call Rosemary at 203/425-8777 x114.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz Kanter

2012 Harley-Davidson FLS Softail Slim Motorcycle Review

Don’t let the name fool you. The Slim is more than just a trimmed-down Softail. It’s a bike that salutes the immediate post-World War II years when motorcycling redefined itself in America. It was a wild and rollicking time, too. And, despite today’s misperception that the 1947 Hollister incident served as ground zero, the real activity shaping the future of biking took place at competition events across America. Speed merchants like Tom Sifton and Chet Herbert built dazzlingly fast motorcycles for ironmen such as Joe Leonard, Ken Eggers, and Jimmy Chann for closed-course racing, and for a guy named Al Keys to ride as fast on two wheels as possible.

Among the lessons learned from racing was that excess weight can hamper a bike’s speed and handling performance. Indeed, even before the post-war era, competitors realized this and it was common to see Harley VLs and Indian Scouts with cut fenders and extemporaneous components removed in the interest of speed. Those early bikes were known as cut-downs, and across the aisle in the automotive world, racers removed fenders, floorboards, bumpers, even windshields from their cars, in the process prompting new names for their vehicles. Those early hot-rod cars were actually known as soup-jobs and bob-jobs; only later did someone coin the term hot rod. Bikers settled on the term bobber for their bikes, and it was common to see them at the Jack Pine Enduro, and TT races and scrambles across America.

Perhaps the ultimate bobber, though, was the Knucklehead-powered bike that Chet Herbert built for Al Keys to race at El Mirage Dry Lake. Keys, riding a bike known as The Beast, was clocked at 158 mph. In July 1950, Herbert, who went on to build high-performance race cams for
motorcycles and cars, also entered The Beast at the nearby Santa Ana Drags, which was to become the first continuously sanctioned quarter-mile drag races in the world. Keys and The Beast performed magnificently, too, finishing the day as Top Eliminator, a title he held week after week, defeating the top car driver, a guy named Dick “Krafty” Kraft.

Krafty Dick was a quick learner, though, and he took a lesson from Herbert to remove as much hardware from his modified Model T as he could. Ultimately, Krafty Dick showed up at the starting line with a bare rolling chassis sporting a firewall cowl section, a small gas tank, a flimsy roll bar, and a seat for the driver. The reduced weight was enough to finally help him slay The Beast, but the big lesson to everybody was that weight was a hindrance when it came to absolute performance. Power-to-weight ratio became part of every racer’s mantra.

But winning races wasn’t the objective behind Harley-Davidson’s new FLS Softail Slim. Instead, the Motor Company’s design team wanted to get back to basics, to focus attention on the heart and soul of the bike: the engine. After all, we’re talking about motorcycles. To do that, the stylists, led by Senior Designer Casey Ketterhagen, took the same approach that the racers did more than half century ago, in the process conceiving a bike that pays homage to those pioneers of speed.

The difference, of course, is the Slim was developed to win customers, not races, so Ketterhagen’s crew paid close attention to what components found their way on — and in some instances, off — the bike. Most obvious features are the bobbed fenders, and the rear lighting utilizes lessons originally applied to the Nightster, including the iconic side-mount license plate assembly. The rear tire is slimmer, too, the Dunlop listed as a MT90B-16″, which makes this the narrowest 16″ tire found on a Softail.

What you won’t find much of on the Slim is chrome plating. There’s just enough of that glittery stuff to catch the eye, but for the most part black paint or powdercoating takes its place. That’s just another nod to being period correct; chromium was scarce after the war, so for several model years, new bikes rolling out of Milwaukee didn’t have many chromed parts on them.

The Slim’s 103″ engine sports a raw aluminum/semi-polished finish to its primary and ignition covers, and even the rocker boxes have that poor boy finish to enhance the post-war heritage. The fork legs share a similar finish, and the old-style round air horn is coated in black.
Black highlights other trim items, too. The wheel rims, headlight, and nacelle are black, as are parts of the hand controls and that stylish Hollywood handlebar, a design that was found on early police models because its crossbar served as a place to position pursuit lights. And when you look down at the tank-mounted speedometer, you’ll also see the black cat’s eye console, another throwback to the time.

Perhaps the only point of contention that I have with the Slim’s styling is in the solo seat. While the tuck-and-roll vinyl cover looks period correct, a tractor seat as used on the Cross Bones would have been more in tune with the post-war times. But that’s a minor point, and no doubt the Slim’s saddle suits the bike’s profile well. It also sets your butt a claimed 23.3″ off the deck, although a long stint in the saddle makes it obvious that comfort wasn’t paramount to its design.

But the half-moon floorboards — another bobber-era feature — position your feet well for long rides, and the reach to the Hollywood bar places you in a comfortable riding position as well (an optional 2″ pullback riser can be installed without having to change control cables — nice touch). You practically feel like you’re sitting in the Slim, not on it, and you can only imagine what guys like Leonard, Eggers, and Chann must have been thinking about when they rolled their bikes to the starting lines so many years ago (although by the time Leonard won his first AMA Grand National Championship in 1954 he was riding race-bred KR models).

In any case, you won’t be sliding the Slim around any dirt tracks, but you might be scraping those floorboards around some corners because there’s not much clearance if you ride this bike aggressively through the turns. But
riding moderately, the way any Softail is designed to be ridden, rewards you with all the on-road enjoyment you can expect from this 671-pound motorcycle. It’s a ride that can take you across town or across country, or even back in time to when life was a little simpler and bikers were exploring new ways to go faster on their machines. AIM

NEW BIKE REVIEW By Dain Gingerelli

Story as published in the July 2012 issue of American Iron Magazine.

Steve “Street Rod” builds a chopper to rival the pros

Before I go on and on about this being Nutmegger Steve Van Blarcom’s first bike build, which it is, you should know that he’s a successful and well-respected builder of hot rods and classic automobiles. To say that he’s mechanically inclined just wouldn’t do his skills justice.

Having built countless custom hot rods and performed many nut and bolt restorations, there were still a few things that Steve wanted to do. The first was to set some land speed records. In 2006, he hit 198.43 mph in his Thacker and Shine 1929 Roadster at the Maxton Mile. He’s currently the record holder, and since the Mile closed down in 2010, he always will be. In 2009, he trucked out to Bonneville where he claimed a world land speed record in the roadster, taking it to 216.979 mph.

There was still something that Steve had not done. While he had worked on motorcycles and customized several of his prior bikes, he had never actually built one from the ground up. At the time, bike builder shows were becoming very popular on television. “I used to look at the bikes that they built and thought, I can build one like that,” Steve says. “I wanted it to be a theme bike like I was watching the bike builders on TV do.”

Steve’s life revolves around his family and hot rods. Both are displayed prominently on this bike. “When I thought about what I should use for a theme, because I’m such a street rodder I came up with the idea to make what we now call the Hot Rod Chopper.”

The stunning paint job has a House of Kolor Candy Blue and Silver laid down by Shane Salisbury of Wetcoats. Those colors are broken up with a painted chrome strip and ’57 Chevy aluminum fins on the back fender. “It went on from there and started to involve my whole family,” Steve says. The names of all the members of his family are featured on the bike, including Judy, his wife of over 40 years; his grandsons Derek and Drew, and his daughter Laura. The ignition cover on the left side of the bike is engraved Sandy, in memory of his other daughter. To make the family complete, there’s also a Steve painted on the bike.

Take a look at the other airbrush work that Shane did, like the moon eyes on the left side of the oil tank and “Mr. Horsepower” Woody Woodpecker on the right. To come full circle on Steve’s chopper, the paint features six of Steve’s actual cars right on the gas tank. The diner the cars are parked in front of is the famous Olympia Diner on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington, Connecticut. That was the popular strip back in the day where hot rodders used to cruise and show off their rides. The wide tires on his Bad Coupe painted on the fender almost make even the 300-class rear tire look pitiful.

Delivering power to that hunk of rubber is a 131″ V-twin built by H&L Performance in Wallingford, Connecticut, which uses S&S Cycle cases and produces 150 hp. The custom pipes, and the rest of the metalwork, were built by Jamie Miller of Miller Racing. That giant Weber IDF carb from Terry Components not only feeds tons of air and fuel to the beastly engine, but it also adds to the bike’s hot rod theme. A BAKER Drivetrain RSD six-speed backs up the 131, and the two are mated via a BDS 3″ primary.

For added cleanliness, Steve wired everything through the big blue frame. The frame itself sports 40 degrees of rake and is stretched 8″ up and 5″ out. It’s also tough to overlook those one-off wheels made by Chuck Wendt of Rowe Machine and modeled after the old Radir wheels that graced hot rods in the ’50s. That big beautiful front end is a 14″-over Mean Street Stiletto model, which Steve internally wired the brake lines through. Doing the actual braking at both ends are Performance Machine calipers. Steering is accomplished with a classy Custom Cycle Control Systems handlebar with built-in controls, and, of course, internal wiring.

With that clean look and killer power, it might be difficult to believe that the hot rod chopper is streetlegal. It is, as part of Steve’s original goal was to ensure the bike would be 50-state legal as any stock Harley-Davidson would be. Even the one-off exhaust has the proper amount of baffling to keep this chopper out of the impound.

While Steve has the technical skills and tools required to build a pro-level bike, no one can take away that this is indeed his first bike build. While many would-be builders out there tried to copy the pros they saw on television, Steve succeeded and gave “as seen on TV” a whole new meaning. AIM

READER’S RIDE By Tyler Greenblatt

Story as published in the July 2012 issue of American Iron Magazine.

Contribute & Win A FREE One-Year Harley Magazine Subscription

If we use your photo or caption, you’ll get a free one-year subscription (or extension) to American Iron Magazine.

In past columns I’ve asked for photos of your bikes, Memories, and cool destinations to publish. Now I want your fun photos. Yup, I want fun photos you took for our new photo and caption contest. Here’s how it works. We want to run a reader-supplied photo of a person, place, or thing (that also involves an American-made motorcycle) to feature in the monthly Quoted & Noted section.

We’ll then ask readers to send in a funny caption for that photo. If we run your photo, you’ll get a photo credit and a free one-year subscription (or extension) to American Iron Magazine. If we use your caption, you’ll get a free one-year subscription (or extension) to American Iron Magazine. Simple, right? The contest will start as soon as we get usable photos, so get those cameras out and start taking pics! Sorry, but we can’t use cell phone images as they are way too small (low resolution) for print reproduction, nor can we use prints. All submissions must be sent electronically to

With a new reader-supplied feature starting, another regular feature is retiring. After several years, we are discontinuing the Fit To Ride column. Our thanks to Phil Halliwell for covering all the exercises and stretches we need to stay in shape, as well as caring for any muscle cramps that may prevent us from enjoying our motorcycles.

Chris’ Travel Tips
Whenever I travel, be it alone or with a buddy, I always take a stupid amount of disc locks, chains, and such to secure my bike. And since I’ve locked up my bike so it’s hard to steal, it’s also impossible for me to move it if I lose any of my keys! Let’s face it; misplacing a key can happen to any of us. To keep from becoming a victim of my own paranoia, I always carry spare keys for all the locks and the bike on a separate key ring. If I’m traveling alone, I keep the spare keys in a secure pocket I do not use for anything else. If I’m travelling with a buddy, I give the spares to him and offer to carry his spares. I never put the second set of keys in the luggage or on the bike. If you can get to them, so can a thief.

See you on the road.

Chris Maida

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