Ross Kiwi Tomas Memorial Kickstart Classic Day 1 Video

Here’s a quick look at some of the bikes on the July 2014 Ross Kiwi Tomas Memorial Kickstart Classic.

Ride With American Iron Magazine; Honor Ride for Harleys 110th

honor-ride-2013-4It should be no news flash that harley-davidson is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year or that The Motor Company is throwing itself a birthday party in its hometown of Milwaukee over Labor Day Weekend. While the details of Harley’s celebration are still being finalized, we’re ready to join the party. The official festivities start on Thursday, August 29, and last four days. A parade is scheduled for Saturday, August 31.

As in past years, the four days go by pretty quickly, thanks to all there is to do and see. Of course, there’s the Harley-Davidson Museum, which is open 9 am—9 pm daily, where there will be a free outdoor celebration. Anybody making the pilgrimage to Milwaukee, who’s never been to the museum, needs to put that on his schedule. On Saturday, pick up a ticket and hop over to the BMO Harris Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee for the UFC 164 Harley-Davidson Hometown Throwdown.
honor-ride-2013-1honor-ride-2013-5Music is such a big part of Harley culture, and what good is a party without a live band, right? H-D went way above and beyond with this year’s musical lineup at the Summerfest grounds and at the Marcus Amphitheater. The Marcus features Toby Keith on Thursday, Aerosmith on Friday, and Kid Rock on Saturday. A separate ticket is required for those shows. What’s amazing is the bands that are playing at the Summerfest Grounds, access to which is included as part of the 110th Commemorative Celebration Ticket Package. There’s 60 bands in all, and some of us have actually paid over $100 in the past to see just one of them. The only foreseeable problem with so many bands is that several of your favorites might overlap. We will definitely be checking out our buddy Pat Simmons and The Doobie Brothers at the Briggs and Stratton stage on Thursday, August 29th at 9 pm.
It’s hard to guess how many enthusiasts will take part in this memorable celebration of our favorite motorcycle manufacturer, but estimates put the number somewhere around a quarter million people. The party will feature special commemorative ceremonies, exciting live entertainment, and much more. (For updated information on all the various events and attractions visit Will you regret not being there? We won’t!

We Ride
With the successes of our previous group rides to Milwaukee for the 90th, 95th, and 100th anniversaries under our kidney belt, we’ve put together the American Iron Magazine Honor Ride sponsored by GEICO Insurance. Our celebratory ride is something we’re putting together for staff, readers, friends, and friends of friends. In case you haven’t figured it out, the good folks at GEICO have generously signed up as our lead sponsor.

Harley-Ride-Map-FinalThis year, we’ll actually be doing two free rides, an East leg and a West leg that will meet up and roll into Milwaukee together. Those coming from the West will join Motorcycle Bagger Editor Dain Gingerelli and AIM Managing Editor Joe Knezevic at Blue Springs Harley-Davidson in Blue Springs, Missouri. Those coming from the East will join Editor-In-Chief Buzz Kanter and Editor Chris Maida at AD Farrow Harley-Davidson in Columbus, Ohio. Because we love our vintage iron, Buzz is going to be riding one of his classics. We invite anyone who wishes to cruise at a more relaxed pace, on a modern or vintage bike, to ride with Buzz. Each starting dealership is having a welcome reception on Sunday afternoon, August 25.

honor-ride-2013-disclaimerThe following morning, each group will hit the road for its own unique overnight adventure and lunch stops. PLEASE NOTE that there have been changes to our previously printed plan.  First, the East start point will now be at the North Star location of A.D. Farrow in Sunbury, Ohio not the Columbus location. Also, the Eastern ride will now be stopping at Quaker Steak & Lube for a lunch buffet on Monday, August 26, instead of the Harley dealer originally announced. Both groups will then meet up at Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson in Peoria, Illinois, on Tuesday night, August 27, for what should be a great East meets West party and dinner. Then on Wednesday morning (August 28), we’ll leave as one large group (rest assured, Buzz will continue to lead his group the rest of the way) from Walters Brothers with the goal of arriving in Milwaukee that evening so we can all get settled in before The Motor Company festivities kick off on Thursday, August 29. Check back with us at and on our American Iron Magazine Facebook page for any last minute updates.

We invite you to ride along for the entire trip, a day, or even just a few hours. You can also catch up with us at any of the scheduled stops for a bit of fun or to meet the staff. Participation in this ride is free, and we will be offering affordable, limited-edition T-shirts on the ride and on while supplies last.

Please note that you are responsible for making your own hotel and/or camping arrangements along the way, (Note: a limited number of rooms have been blocked off in American Iron’s name at nearby hotels listed in the details). It’s particularly important to plan ahead for accommodations in
Milwaukee. You’re responsible for your own transportation. If you plan to go, be sure you and your bike are in shape to handle this ride.

See the sidebar and map for details on our planned stops. Our ride basically covers interstates, but that does not mean you have to. We hope to see you along the way, and no matter where you hook up with us, make sure you find one of the staff and say hello. AIM


May 2013 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Wrap-Up

The May 2013 Kickstart Classic was a great success and lots of fun. We want to thank our sponsors – Spectro Oils, GEICO Insurance, Wheels Through Time, and Wrench Ride Repeat, as well as all the Harley dealers who welcomed and fed us along the way. The ride from Charleston, SC to St. Augustine, FL was spectacular, with AIM Editor-In-Chief Buzz Kanter and several other riders leading the pack on their pre-1930 Motorcycle Cannonball bikes. Over 50 riders aboard kickstart motorcycles of all ages and brands took part on the ride.

Look for full coverage of the May event in American Iron’s summer issue going on sale 7/23. For the digital edition, on sale 7/5 click AIM DIGITAL.

The next Kickstart Classic will be in the Northeast at the end of this September. Details and registration info will be available at within the next couple of weeks. We look forward to seeing you there. – Ride Safe.


Motorcycle Tour Above The Clouds In Ecuador

Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-1Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-17We all have different ways of blowing off steam, finding ways to relax, and centering ourselves. Riding motorcycles works for me. I’ll get out of the city, away from all the hustle, and lose myself in a long ride upstate. By the time I return home, I’ll have a clear head. The pressure of work and life will have lifted, and life will again be focused and worry free.

I’ve met someone recently whose search for clarity wasn’t that simple. His ride lasted several years and crossed international borders. Court Rand found his inner peace, and what he’d later define as freedom, on the shores, mountaintops, and jungles of a South American paradise. After doing so, he decided to share his love for this Latin American gem with other adventurous riders, thus Ecuador Freedom Bike Rentals was born.

Location, Location
Ecuador is roughly the size of Maine and sits on South America’s Pacific Coast. It’s divided by the equator and has the Andes mountain range for a backbone. Climates tend to remain the same year-round, with a wet or dry month being the only change. Basically if it’s hot, it’s always hot, if it’s cold, well, you get the idea.

Seasons are determined by altitude, and it’s possible to experience several in one day while on a tour, something unique to Ecuador. Court’s a native New Englander, but he and the Freedom staff live and play in Ecuador. They’re familiar with the towns they tour, have friendly relations with local restaurants, hotels, and service station owners. Plus, they speak Spanish fluently. That’s a huge plus when your español is limited to ordering beer and finding a bathroom. They take their tours — guided or self-guided — and their customers seriously. It’s an aspect of Freedom Bike Rentals that stands far above other moto-tour companies. Last year, I was lucky enough to represent AIM on a week-long exploration of this culture-rich and beautifully diverse country along with our old buddy Jon Langston.

Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-11Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-15Way South Of The Border
the trip started with a relaxing flight into quito, Ecuador’s capital. A beautiful and historic city located on the eastern slopes of an active, yes, active volcano in the Andes. At an elevation of just over 9,000′, Quito’s also the world highest capital city. Impressive. Court, along with his business partner Sylvain, a guy that speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, Klingon, and several other languages, were gracious enough to pick us up at the airport.

This isn’t usually included in a tour package, but just about everything else is. Food, lodging, fuel, and barbecue guinea pig (we’ll talk more about that later), basically all you’ll have to pay for on these tours are cold beer and mementos. Currency in Ecuador is the US dollar, so no exchange is necessary.

Getting to Know You
our first morning started out with a quick breakfast and scooter ride around Quito. Being a fairly busy city, with lots of tour buses and car traffic, scooters seemed like a great way to get around and see the sights. Did I mention tour buses? Yeah, well, in Quito, and most of Ecuador for that matter, you don’t let buses, trucks, or cars slow you down. Even if you’re on a 50cc scooter. Just go around, in between, or even over them — whatever works. Hey, Court, don’t let that bus get in your way (inside joke). Our city tour wove around modern and historic neighborhoods, down cobblestone streets and past churches built in the 17th century. We enjoyed an amazing view of the entire city atop El Panecillo, a 9,895′ hill that’s also home to a 135′ aluminum monument of the Virgin Mary, a statue that can be seen from almost anywhere in Quito. After returning to Freedom headquarters, we geared up and got on our bikes (mine was a bright yellow Buell Ulysses).

Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-16Highs and Lows
our tour group was small. jon, court, and i were on bikes, and Sylvain and Salina, our beautiful canine mascot and brains of the operation, rode in the support truck. We left Quito heading west, stopping about an hour into the ride for lunch at a roadside frittata stand. While eating, I asked Court where the equator was in relation to our present location. He responded by saying that the equator runs basically right down the center of the road that we’d been traveling on. I’d been riding along the center of the Earth, bitchin’!

After lunch, we ducked into the Intiñan Museum, where we straddled two hemispheres and were shown how gravity affects us differently when on the equator. Yes, water rotates clockwise on one side and counterclockwise on the other while draining or flushed. It’s true, I saw it happen with my own two eyes.
We spent the night in a hostel (cheap hotel) inhabited by hummingbirds and exotic plants. Unfortunately, as Jon and I found out, beer cannot be served or bought on Sundays in Ecuador. Being from Connecticut, I’ve spent years dealing with this kind of thing. Jon’s a New Yorker; this was a little harder for him. Our hosts came through, serving us cool refreshing cups of coffee that tasted a lot like Pilsner, the Latin Budweiser.

The next day, we navigated mountain roads thick with clouds and climbed to 14,000′-plus. The view from this vantage point was unlike anything I’ve seen. After a brief stop to enjoy the sights, we headed back down the Andes’ western edge, twisting our way around rocky cliffs on beautifully paved roads. The roads surprised me and will be a constant reminder of Ecuador’s nationwide highway improvement program this entire trip.

Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-22Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-23As we descended, the temperature rose and our surroundings changed. Rocky cliffs turned into sandy dunes, and the thin mountain air became salty and robust. Finally, after cresting a soft, sandy hill, the Pacific Ocean came into view. We’ve traveled through two seasons and dizzying heights to arrive in the beautiful beach town of Canoa.
Canoa is a great place filled with friendly, laid-back people looking for waves to ride and a hammock on the beach to spend the night. After a sip of homemade Ecuadorian moonshine and a solid night’s rest, we continued south to Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil.

The traffic getting into Guayaquil is heavy, as it’s a modern town with high-rise buildings and tons of tourism. It’s also a stopover point for those traveling to the Galapagos Islands. We spent the night in a hotel, right on the main drag. It reminded me of Park Avenue in New York City, only instead of a park, we looked out onto a fast moving river.
In the morning, while waiting for Sylvain and Salina, Court, Jon, and I were mobbed by a gaggle of exotic Latin beauty queens who demanded photos of themselves with our bikes and us. I really miss that town.

Cuenca was our next destination. A historic town similar to Quito, it’s filled with centuries-old buildings and strong local traditions. We had dinner in Cuenca with friends of Court and Syl’s, who insisted we eat at their favorite local restaurant, Mi Escondite, which specializes in barbecue cuye (guinea pig). It was delicious; if you’re ever in town you’ve got to try it.

After dinner, we walked around town enjoying the age-old culture. I met a shop owner whose handmade guitar business was passed down through five generations. He was open late working on a guitar, but he spent the better part of an hour showing me around his shop and explaining the craft. He was filled with pride while talking about his work, a true craftsman.

Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-8Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-12In the morning, we left Cuenca and blasted back up into the clouds. Today we’d reach our highest elevation of the tour, 15,500′-plus, a mere hike to the highest place on Earth, Mt. Chimborazo. Yeah, yeah, relax, I know what you’re thinking. But, according to Ecuadorian lore, Earth’s not a perfect sphere. They say because of Earth’s rotation, the planet has a bulge at its center, so when measured from Earth’s core, Chimborazo actually sits higher then Everest. Take that, Himalayas!

We left the dizzying heights and motored toward Baños, a town known as the gateway to the Amazon, nestled at the foot of the once thought dormant Tungurahua volcano. In 1999, volcanic activity restarted and has been ongoing ever since. Funny, we rolled in after dark, and I had no real idea of where we were until morning. It was an amazing sight come daybreak.

Baños is a popular spot for the adventurous. There’s great hiking, gondola rides across huge gorges, waterfalls, and mineral-filled hot springs. Yes, minerals. I was told that’s why the water’s yellow, and I believe that story, especially since I soaked for an hour in that chicken soup. I must say, it was relaxing.

After washing off the minerals, we hopped on our bikes and continued on. Our surroundings once again changed, and the chilly mountain air became hot and humid. We’d officially entered the Amazon jungle. This was the fourth season we’d experienced on this journey. There was the autumn-like weather in Quito, a cold, windy winter in Chimborazo province, brisk spring in Baños, and now a hot summer in the Amazon.

Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-37Ecuador-Freedom-Bike-Rental-motorcycle-tour-AIM-39This is where Jon and I would spend our last night in Ecuador. We heard tales of spiders the size of dinner plates, and snakes large enough to swallow a man whole. All jokes aside, there is wildlife, yes, maybe a bit larger than we’re used to here in the States, but nothing to worry about.
The Cotococha Amazon Lodge is a high-end resort set on the banks of the Napo River, comprised of thatched roof bungalows, a four-star restaurant, and a two-story lounge area that blends in seamlessly with the surrounding rain forest.

After arriving, Jon and I took a quick swim in the river; it’s not often you get to end a long day’s ride by cooling off in the Amazon. The next morning, we took a guided hike deep into the jungle, cooled off in a waterfall, and rode inner tubes back down the rapids, where Court and Syl were waiting for us, bikes gassed up and ready to go.

Journey’s End
our final ride was a long one, not in distance, but because it was hard to imagine we’d be on a plane only hours from now heading home. I didn’t want our adventure to be over. We rode high into the Andes once again, the air cold and thin, the once-plush jungle canopy was replaced by a volcanic landscape. Reluctantly, we followed our guide as the sun quickly set, and the twisted valley road grew dark.

Off on a distant hillside, we could see the city lights of Quito glowing, marking the end of this unforgettable journey. Court gave us a thumbs up as we entered the city, I looked over at Jon and did the same. The tour was over, but my love for this Latin American gem is sure to last a lifetime. Thanks for sharing, Court. AIM

Tour – Matt Kopec
Photos – Jon Langston & Matt Kopec

Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental, Quito, Ecuador, 603/617-2499,


MOTORCYCLE NEWS: Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Spring 2012 Announced

Motorcycle Kickstart Classic 2011 at Wheels Through Time

The first Motorcycle Kickstart Classic in 2011 was a huge success. So much so that, in response to the strong demand, we are announcing the next Motorcycle Kickstart Classic in May 2012. Organized by American Iron Magazine, RoadBike magazine and Wheels Through Time, it is a 2-day ride through some of the most stunning roads and mountains in North Carolina.

While the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic celebrates vintage motorcycles, it is open to all makes, models and years of motorcycles. Electric start bikes must ride at the back of the group (to catch and pick up any parts that fell off the older bikes)

The event officially starts with a Welcome Dinner for all registered riders and passengers May 16 at Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, NC. The next morning we roll out of the museum and ride about 200 miles to finish the first day at Crossroads Harley-Davidson in Wilkesboro, NC for a welcome party and bike show. The registered riders and passengers are invited to a special dinner and discounted hotel rooms near the dealership.

Classic motorcycle heaven? No just the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic crew having fun.

Next morning (May 18) we leave from Crossroads Harley at 9 AM and ride about 85 miles to the AMCA Southern National Rally in Denton, NC for a world class antique swapmeet, bike show and more. The registered Motorcycle Kickstart Classic riders and passengers will have special dedicated parking and are invited to participate in the antique motorcycle parade on Saturday May 19.

This event is limited to the first 100 motorcycles and riders to register.

Registration costs $100 per person (rider or passenger) which includes dinner Wednesday and Thursday nights, an event T-shirt, event stickers, and on the road support vehicles. The Motorcycle Kickstart Classic is a rain or shine event!

The registration form will be available shortly. But if you can’t wait, please send your name, address, email, shirt size and $100 check (to TAM Communications) to American Iron Magazine, ATTN Kickstart Classic, 1010 Summer St., Stamford, CT 06905.

This event is sponsored by Wrench, Ride, Repeat tm, American Iron Magazine, RoadBike and Wheels Through Time.

The 2011 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic

Join American Iron Magazine and our colleagues at RoadBike for the inaugural Kickstart Classic, a two-day, 293-mile tour from the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina to the Barber Vintage Festival at the Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama. Sound simple enough? Well, here’s the kicker: all the lead motorcycles must have a functioning kickstarter, and that’s the only starter to be used for the duration of the tour. All makes, models, and years of bikes are welcome — but those that use electric starters will be relegated (not regulated) to the back of the pack.

The party starts with an all-day open house at Wheels Through Time on Wednesday, October 5. At 10 am the next day we ride to Rome, Georgia for a visit to Panhead City, the famous vintage Harley emporium. We’ll get to Barber Motorsports Park by lunchtime on Friday October 7 — just in time for the start of the 7th Annual Barber Vintage Festival. Word has it we may also get to do a lap on the track!

Stay tuned to for more details!