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: www.GreaseRag.com.

For more info about this years Cannonball, and route details visit: www.Classic-Harley.info.

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 GreaseRag.com or call Rosemary at 203/425-8777 x114.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz Kanter

All Tech Harley Magazine – American Iron Garage On Sale In September

The American Iron Magazine team has finished putting the final touches on the 2012 issue of American Iron Garage and it is off at the printers now. “We published the first issue of this all tech Harley magazine last year” Publisher Buzz Kanter stated. “It sold very well so we took the basic concept from last year and made it even better for 2012.”

American Iron Garage, a newsstand-only all-tech Harley magazine, goes on sale the beginning of September and will also be available for sale in digital format too.

Our Magazine Plans & Harley Show In Daytona

Bring your bike and friends to the H-D Ride-In Custom Bike Show presented by American Iron Magazine.

This magazine (along with Motorcycle Bagger and RoadBike) is owned and published by TAM Communications. If you think that sounds like a big fancy corporation run out of impersonal offices in an ivory tower, you’d be wrong. My wife and I created TAM Communications in 1989 to publish Old Bike Journal in a spare bedroom (the garage was reserved for my motor­cycles). Gail and I still own and run the company 23 years later. Like you, I am passionate about motorcycles and spend an insane amount of time riding, wrenching, and discussing motor­cycles. I love my job and feel very fortunate to be here. Thanks.

As the best-selling Harley magazine in the world, you should expect more from us than other publications. As enthusiasts, our staff wants to offer the best in print, online, and in person. We have been working on a number of improvements around here, some we can discuss now and others will have to wait until we finalize them.

One area I can share now is that we want to increase our one-on-one experience with our readers and their bikes. We plan on doing this at various motorcycle events around the country. Another is to become more accessible to our readers online through Facebook and Twitter as well as on our web sites and forums.

Harley bagger fans should note we have increased the frequency of our Motorcycle Bagger from six to nine issues this year. We will continue to offer custom baggers, bagger reviews, and bagger tech in American Iron Magazine as we always have, but Motorcycle Bagger is dedicated to the subject, if you can’t get enough in AIM.

I am not sure on the timing, but in response to many requests: yes, we are looking into offering subscriptions to our magazines in a digital format on tablets and smart phones soon.

Daytona Harley-Davidson Show
We love to meet readers and check out what they ride. So I’m pleased to announce that we are teaming up with Harley-Davidson for a free custom and classic bike show in Daytona during Bike Week. If you are thinking about going to Daytona Bike Week with your Harley, I’d like to invite you to bring your bike and friends to the Harley-Davidson Ride-In Custom Bike Show presented by American Iron Magazine.

This event, with classes from mild to wild, old and new, will be on Wednesday, March 14, at the Harley-Davidson Experience at Riverfront Park on North Beach Street. Our staff and I will be there to photograph a number of bikes to feature in our magazines. For more details visit www.AIMag.com or www.Harley-Davidson.com/Daytona.

The Daytona show should be a nice balance to the dealer-built bikes from the American Iron Magazine-sponsored custom motorcycle show at the dealer-only American V-twin trade show in Indianapolis in February. And if you can’t get to either of these shows, we will also be sponsoring the J&P Cycles Open House bike shows in Iowa on June 23 and 24. As I said earlier, we really do like meeting our readers and sharing their bikes in print. And I suspect you do, too. That’s why we go to all kinds of motorcycle events around the country with our cameras.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz Kanter    
American Iron Magazine

Follow Buzz on Facebook and Twitter

Winter Motorcycle Projects

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

“I built it with my dad”

it’s cold during the winter where I live, which makes it the perfect time for a ground-up bike project! This year I’m building a 45″ flathead-powered bobber with my youngest daughter. My first chop (back in 1971!) was a handshift 45 flathead. And while this engine is as dependable as a stone, it doesn’t make a lot of power. To me, that makes it the perfect engine for a low-dollar, first custom bike for a son, daughter, wife, — whoever. However, the drawback to using a 45 has always been the three-speed, handshift, foot-clutch transmission.

Thankfully, a few years ago Paughco came out with a hardtail frame that allows you to bolt in a Harley-Davidson 45″ flathead engine and Pan or Shovelhead four-speed, foot-shift transmission. That left one last glitch: how to connect them. BDL came to the rescue with an excellent belt drive system that does just that and gives you a modern clutch setup to boot.

Since Paughco has been a major player in the custom bike scene for decades, the crew there knew to design the frame so you can use Big Twin bike parts, of which Paughco makes many, to finish the build. We’re using a number of Paughco components on ours, namely 16″ chrome wheels front and rear, a chrome springer front end, gas tank, and oil tank.

What makes this build especially fun is that your son, daughter, etc. can do the build with you. This way, he fully understands how the bike went together. Of course, it also doesn’t suck that he’ll be able to say to whoever is admiring the bike, “I built it with my dad.”

Look for this build to start in a few issues. Of course, we’ll be showing you how to assemble the entire bike in our usual step-by step fashion. We’re also going to keep the sheet metal work to a minimum. After all, this is a beginner’s bike!


Chris’ Travel Tips
If you’re traveling without a full-face helmet on, a good set of riding glasses will keep dust and other minute debris out of your eyes. However, dust devils, strong crosswinds, lawn mowers, etc. can sometimes power past the best of eyewear. Whenever I encounter one of these common road hazards, I always close the eye on the side the blast is coming from. This protects me in two ways. First, it obviously protects the eye in the line of fire. Second, if stuff does get into my open eye, I can still see where I’m going with the one that was closed, so I can get out of harm’s way and stop in a safe location off the road to clean my affected eye.

See you on the road.

Chris Maida

New Year With Lots of Motorcycle Events

We are proud to be presenting the all-new Ultimate Dealer Bike Show at the American V-Twin Dealer Show.

Every February, motorcycle dealers, parts manufacturers, and distributors take a few days off work to meet in the heartland of America. We brave the winter cold and snow to gather at Advanstar’s annual Dealer Expo in downtown Indianapolis. This is where many of the newest products and services are revealed to the industry and the motorcycle press. And 2012 should have even greater significance to our readers as Advanstar is launching the American V-Twin Dealer Show inside its long-running powersports event.

The bad news is that, unless you work in the powersports industry, you can’t get into the show, which is closed to the general public. The good news is that our team will be there, covering the event and showcasing the most exciting news and products in print, on our Facebook page, and on www.AIMag.com.

We are proud to be presenting the all new Ultimate Dealer Bike Show at the American V-Twin Dealer Show. In addition to sharing many of the best new products, we will photograph and feature some of the more interesting motorcycles. The bikes in this show are dealer-built customs from around the world, so we are curious to see what cool rides will show up.

If you are a motorcycle dealer or work for one — franchise or independent — this custom bike show is a great chance to showcase your work. Call my pal Bob Kay at 919/886-5075 for more details or to enter. And, remember that our editors will be picking several bikes from this dealer-only show to feature in this magazine.

Motorcycle Events for 2012
While the new year is just that, a new year, we are already making plans for the 2012 motorcycle events we will be attending. We can’t attend all the events we’d like to, or we’d never be able to produce American Iron Magazine every month or to increase our Motorcycle Bagger from six to nine issues in 2012. Here’s a brief list of some of the events we’ll be part of:

American V-Twin Dealer Show: The motorcycle trade show in Indianapolis in February.

Daytona Beach Bike Week: A must-attend event for us every year. It marks the start of another year for riding. Plus, we are usually suffering from cabin fever and need to leave the snow of New England for some sunshine.

Motorcycle Kickstart Classic: Our first one in October was so popular that we’re going to do it again and perhaps add a second ride in another part of the country so others can join us on this two-day ride for vintage motor­cycles.

Sturgis Bike Rally: Another must-attend deal for our crew. We love the craziness in Sturgis and riding the amazing Black Hills.

Motorcycle Cannonball: After the first one, I figured I was done with cross-country rides on antique motorcycles. But I’ve signed up again, this time for pre-1930 motorcycles. The two-week ride from Newburgh, New York to San Francisco starts Friday, September 7. Info at www.MotorcycleCannonball.com.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz Kanter  
American Iron Magazine

Harley Tech Magazine – American Iron Garage. What Do You Want To Read?

Earlier in 2011 the team at American Iron Magazine launched an all-tech Harley magazine called American Iron Garage, It was a one-shot, newsstand only issue that was not included with a subscription to American Iron Magazine.

Harley Tech Magazine - American Iron Garage

If you would like to buy a copy of the premiere 2011 issue of American Iron Garage, there are still copies for sale at www.greaserag.com.

Our editors are already working on an all new issue of American Iron Garage for 2012 and we encourage all our readers and advertisers to suggest articles and topics for us to cover in this all Harley tech, do-it-yourself magazine.

You can make your suggestions here in a comment, or email us at letters@americanironmag.com  and please remember to include AI Garage in the subject line.

Spare Engine for Buzz’s 1926 Motorcycle Cannonball Harley

One of the things I learned in last year’s cross country Motorcycle Cannonball ride was that it is a very good idea to have as many spares as possible. As I shared in the pages of American Iron Magazine riding a 1915 Harley across the US meant trying to track down parts not easy or cheap to find. Next year I am planning on riding a much newer (and easier to find parts for) 1926 Harley. So I have already begun to think about building the motorcycle I plan to ride AND to start stockpiling spares.

A spare 1920s Harley engine for the Motorcycle Cannonball

 Last year I purchased this engine, which is obviously made up from parts of various year Harley engine, and another much older one. My plan is to take this one apart and rebuild it as a back up engine for my 1926 Harley I will be riding on the Motorcycle Cannonball. Everything on this engine is pretty rusted, so much so I can’t even get out the sparkplugs yet. I’ve been soaking and spraying everything with Marvel Mystery Oil and Aerocroil for a couple of months and nothing yet.  

As crude as this old Harley generator looks, it sure beats the magneto ignition I used in the first Motorcycle Cannonball ride.

Someone suggested soaking the entire engine in a big bucket of diesel fuel for a week to loosen it up. Not sure if that would help, but might try it if nothing else works.

Once I have it all apart I will better know what I am dealing with. The good news is that parts are easier to find for a mid to late 1920s Harley than my last Motorcycle Cannonball project – Selma, my 1915 Harley.

Harley Magazine Editor To Ride 1926 Harley In Cross Country Motorcycle Cannonball

It is the dream of a motorcycle editor to ride a vintage Harley cross country and share it with his audience. As the Editor-in-Chief of the world’s best selling Harley magazine I was fortunate enough to buy, rebuild and ride Selma, my 1915 Harley motorcycle on the first ever Motorcycle Cannonball. This event was a coast to coast ride for pre-1916 motorcycles. No, that’s no typo – a cross country ride on pre-1916 motorcycles.

Buzz Kanter and local policeman with Selma on the road before the first Motorcycle Cannonball

Nothing like this had ever been tried before and none of the 45 riders really knew what to expect before we rolled out of Kitty Hawk, NC for the Santa Monica pier in California. I was committed to ride my 1915 Harley twin as hard and far as [Read more…]

Harley Magazine Sales – American Iron Magazine Still #1 On Newsstand & Overall

We at American Iron Magazine would like to thank all our supporters – readers and advertisers – for helping keep American Iron Magazine the best selling Harley magazine on the newsstand and overall for another year.

The latest circulation figures came out for the first half of 2011 and we significantly outsell all other Harley magazines, and  the n non Harley magazine titles too.

Our team will continue to offer the best editorial and content mix possible in American Iron Magazine and our newer Motorcycle Bagger magazine too.