Garage Season And Daytona Madness

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

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.

Buzz

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Save Money And Have A Chance To Win A Harley

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

American Iron Magazine is committed to publishing 13 big issues again this year

Many magazines these days are jacking up their prices while cutting back on their product. We’re holding at 13 issues a year, publishing big, informative magazines, and reducing your costs. We all want to see motorcycling grow, especially with younger riders. But that’s not likely to happen if costs keep climbing.

I think I speak for most of us when I say times are tough and money is tight, but this isn’t the place to discuss why our economy is where it is. I’d rather share with you what we’re doing to add value for our readers and help you get more from your tight motorcycle budget. In return we only ask you to let others know how we’re helping and why.

Basically, there are four areas where we’re trying to benefit you, your wallet, and your motorcycle. The first is that we’re slashing the cover price of this magazine to under $5 an issue. Second, we’ve cut the subscription rate to under $25 (for all 13 issues!). Third, we’re increasing to four issues our Do-It-Yourself and Tech American Iron Garage. Fourth, we’ve teamed up with Dennis Kirk to give away a free custom Harley-Davidson Fat Boy to some lucky reader.

Let’s start with our price cuts. American Iron Magazine continues to lead the market in sharing the best American (Harley, Indian, and Victory) motorcycles, products, and tech.

Effective with this issue, we slashed the cover price from $6.99 to $4.99 (a buck more in Canada). We haven’t been that cheap in 20 years!

Lower prices are good, but what about content? While some magazines are folding or cutting back on pages and frequency, American Iron Magazine is committed to publish 13 big issues again this year (a new one every four weeks) and do it with the best editorial anywhere.

The newsstand industry continues to consolidate, making it more difficult and expensive for publishers to distribute their magazines in stores. We’re still the best-selling motorcycle magazine on the newsstand, but if you can’t find us there, we encourage you to subscribe. We cut the sub rate to under $25 a year in print (in the US) and less than $20 in digital delivery (worldwide). To subscribe call 877/693-3572 or go to AImag.com.

Many of us enjoy doing our own motorcycle maintenance and upgrades. Besides the feeling of accomplishment, it can save us some real money. In response to the growing demand for this kind of editorial, we’re increasing the frequency of our all-tech and DIY American Iron Garage newsstand specials in 2016 to four issues, with the first one on sale January 19. Back issues of American Iron Garage are available at Greaserag.com and in digital delivery at AImag.com.
Now, I’m not sure how long we can offer these lower rates, but you can help us by encouraging other enthusiasts to buy our magazines or subscriptions. We think our readers are worth this gamble, but we need your active support to make it work. The more readers we add at these lower prices, the longer we can afford to offer them.

Win A Custom Harley
From Dennis Kirk who wouldn’t want to win a great custom Harley-Davidson Fat Boy? Partnering with Dennis Kirk, we picked up a very nice Fat Boy for a year-long project bike. We will share the process of what we changed and how we customized it in the pages of American Iron Garage over the next four issues. Then, at the end of the year, one lucky person will win it.

This sweepstakes is open to all residents of the US, ages 18 and over, except where prohibited or restricted by law. All subscribers are automatically entered to win. So, if you don’t subscribe already, do it today. Or you can sign up to win without subscribing at AImag.com. It’s that simple.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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Goodbye, Old Friend

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I had no idea what it would lead to when, in 1974 and against my parents’ wishes, I bought my first motorcycle. As a broke college kid, I sold that bike a year later to help pay for a slightly newer and bigger one. That transaction led to buying and selling even more bikes over the years.

The buying and selling stemmed from efforts to upgrade my ride, leading to an obsession with motorcycles in the process. Fast forward to the 1990s. That’s when my motorcycle interests reversed: leading me to classic American bikes from the 1940s and ’50s. I owned, and enjoyed riding, a 1953 Indian Chief, my first Indian. I later bought a beautiful, but barely running, 1946 Chief during the 1996 Daytona Bike Week. I spent a day or two sorting it out at the long-gone Klassix Auto Museum, where we used to host the Indian & Classic American Iron rallies. Fortunately, the ’46 Chief responded well to fine tuning, and my efforts were rewarded with a bike that loved to be ridden.

I’ve owned many classic motorcycles since then. Some I keep for a year or two before selling to make way for different ones. Others I keep and rode for decades. I never know which of these categories a new (well, old) bike will fall into when I purchase it. You see, I easily fall in love with classics, and I think each one is a “forever” bike. Most aren’t. And that’s okay because buying and selling lets me own, ride, and enjoy a wider assortment of motorcycles than if I had never sold any.

I had no idea what amazing experiences I’d have aboard this 69-year-old time machine. They include a ride up the California coast to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Hollister riots with AIM Classics Editor Jim Babchak, the Tomas family from Kiwi Indian, and the wacky pranksters who hang out at The Shop in Ventura, California. I also enjoyed many wonderful rides on that Chief in and around New England (including many bike shows — and plenty of trophies), and I’ll never forget the ride on my Indian from the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, to Sturgis this summer for the 75th running of the Sturgis Rally. Riding that Chief to Sturgis was fitting, considering the famous rally started out as an Indian motorcycle gathering.

But all good things must come to an end. I’m fortunate enough to own several classic motorcycles, but I can’t ride them all. Not having ridden the ’46 Indian much in the past several years (other than to Sturgis), I knew it was time for someone new to own and enjoy it. So I loaded a full description and photos on eBay along with a very reasonable reserve. I’m half-sad to report it sold quickly. Not for as much as I was hoping for, but a fair and reasonable price. As I walked the new owners — a nice, young couple — around the bike, sharing a few of my experiences and stories with them, I had serious second thoughts. And when I fired the engine up to ride over to their trailer, I had a hard time letting go of the handlebar. But a deal is a deal, and it’s time to let someone else create his own memories with the Chief.
Besides, I’ll always have my memories with this one, plus I still have my 1940 Indian Sport Scout to ride.

BOGOF: Last-Minute Gift Solution

Need a quick and easy solution to your last-minute gift-giving concerns? For the first time ever, American Iron Magazine is offering a BOGOF (Buy One, Give One Free) gift-subscription deal. For every gift subscription you buy for a riding buddy at our regular price, you get a second subscription free. Buy two gift subscriptions and get two more free! And we’ll even send them a card in your name. It doesn’t get much easier (or cheaper) than that for holiday (Harleyday?) shopping. But you have to act now as the offer expires December 31!
Please go to AIMag.com web site to take advantage of this limited-time Buy One, Give One Free gift-subscription deal. But, again, do it now, as this offer is good only through the end of the year.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

 

Buzz

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Motorcycle Magazines — Still Cheaper Than A Latte

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I’m often asked how we decide which articles to publish in this magazine. Non-riders I talk with are amazed that there are enough motorcycle topics for us to fill a magazine this size every four weeks (we publish 13 issues of American Iron Magazine a year) without running out of material. Many riders often request that we publish articles that are of specific interest to them: like only baggers, Softails, Panheads, or whatever they’re into.

In general, here’s the procedure that Chris Maida (the hardest working editor in our business) and I follow on what seems like a weekly basis. As an enthusiast magazine, our job is to educate and entertain you with informative articles in every issue. Because our 100,000-plus readers’ interests cover a broad spectrum of American motor­cycle-related topics, we spread our coverage as widely as possible to give real value to all readers.

Every issue offers American motorcycles. There are new reviews and as many different types of customs as we can fit; you’ll find everything from backyard builds to pro-built customs, plus at least one classic American bike. Those full-feature articles are joined by a list of departments that include three favorites: Reader’s Ride, Snaps, and Letters. And as you’ve probably noticed, those departments are filled with photos of our readers’ bikes. We love to feature your rides, and we encourage you to send your photos to Letters@AmericanIronMag.com and ReadersRide@AmericanIronMag.com so that you can be part of our magazine family.

American Iron Magazine is also filled with informative and factual new bike and product reviews, plus tours and event coverage. Chris then puts together an assortment of tech and how-to articles for our readers, from novice to skilled mechanic, to complete the editorial package.

Our subtitle has been “For People Who Love Harley-Davidsons” since 1989, and most of our editorial is Harley-specific. But we add Indian, Victory, and other American motorcycles because our readers have asked for that.

If you have specific ideas on how we can make American Iron Magazine a better package or if you have comments, please pass them along at Letters@AmericanIronMag.com. We’d like to hear from you.

In addition to American Iron Magazine, we also publish American Iron Garage, a tech and DIY publication. AIG has no tours, events, or new bike reviews — just real-world tech, do-it-yourself installs, and homebuilt customs. These issues are available on the newsstand or through the mail from GreaseRag.com.

Subscribe & Save
How do you get American Iron Magazine? We’d like to thank all of our loyal readers for your on-going support in keeping us the best-selling magazine in our field. We work hard to get the best possible product to as many stores as we can. Yet the cost of doing business in the traditional single-copy industry continues to climb, and I don’t see this changing for the better any time soon.

I won’t go into the details here, but I suspect it’s going to become increasingly difficult to find magazines on your local newsstands. With that in mind, I encourage you to subscribe (in print, call 877/693-3572, or digital delivery at Zinio.com) to American Iron Magazine for yourself and as gifts for your riding buddies.

It’s up to you if you want to pay $7 per issue on the newsstand or $2 per issue through a subscription. In fact, you can buy a subscription for yourself and for two friends for less than buying one year’s worth on the newsstand. Something to consider. Regardless of how you buy American Iron Magazine, all of us here appreciate your support.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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Sturgis History & Our Plans

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

The annual black hills classic, otherwise known to most riders simply as Sturgis, is right down the road. And this year’s event looks like it’s going to be off the charts. Billed as one of the largest motorcycle events in the world, Sturgis certainly is one of my personal favorites. I’m not so much into the scene on Lazelle Street or what takes place at some of the campgrounds, as I prefer to be riding the amazing roads you find once you get out of town.

This year marks the 75th Black Hills Classic, and you know how much we riders and enthusiasts love anniversary years. Did you know this event was started on August 14, 1938, by “Pappy” Hoel and the Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club? The highlight of that first event was nine locals in a scrappy motorcycle race on a backyard track. While today the event is dominated by Harley riders, it didn’t start out that way because Pappy was the local Indian dealer.

Given that scenario, we thought it would be a great year to celebrate history with a salute to the old timers who started the Sturgis rally in the first place, especially those Indian motor­cycle riders who supported Pappy’s ambitions.

Indian Motorcycle Black Hills Run 2015
As we go to press, we’re supporting­ rides to Sturgis. I will lead one from Iowa, and my friend Mike “Kiwi” Tomas will take charge of the Ross Tomas Memorial Ride from Southern California. My ride starts at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, the morning of Thursday, July 30, and we should pull into Sturgis on Saturday evening. Riders interested in the Ross Tomas Memorial Ride should call Kiwi Indian at 951/788-0048 for dates and info.

Both rides are free and open to riders of all makes, models, and years of motorcycles. Each rider will be responsible for his own bike, transportation, hotel, etc. Everyone is welcome to ride with us, but please keep in mind that we’re honoring Indian’s role in Sturgis by inviting all Indian riders (old or new bikes) to ride at the front of the pack. Please note, too, that we intend to stay off the major highways as much as possible so we can ride at an appropriate pace for classic motorcycles. We will post updates on AIMag.com and the American Iron Magazine Facebook page as needed.

Indian-Rally-ad-2015Indian & Classic American Iron — Black Hills Rally 2015
Years ago, our magazine created the Indian & Classic American Iron Rallies in Daytona and Sturgis. I loved those rallies, and they were run in the spirit of old-fashioned fun, with great machines, people and stories, fun field events, and a terrific vintage bike show.

We usually don’t hear about free motorcycle shows anymore. Thanks to a number of sponsors, though, we’re bringing this free event back on Tuesday, August 4, at the Buffalo Chip. Free registration opens around 9 am, the field events are scheduled to begin at noon, and trophies will be awarded at 4 pm.

It’s free and open to all (old and new) Indian motorcycles and all other classic pre-1984 American motorcycles. A big thank you to Dennis Kirk for sponsoring the bike show and also to a growing list of participating companies, including Kiwi Indian, Heather’s Leathers, Jerry Greer’s Engineering, and others for their support.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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Old Dog, New Tricks?

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

My first time on the track in many years, and I blow up the 1937 Indian Sport Scout racer!

After running strong for several laps, I could feel it losing power going out of the bowl and up over the hill in top gear. Rather than risk damage, I eased off the throttle while dropping from the twisty road course onto the NASCAR circuit. I held up my left hand and coasted into the pits, where the engine died. I pressed down on the foot clutch, handshifted the transmission into neutral, and rolled the bike out of the way.

I just sat there for a few moments, allowing the situation to sink in. Then I tried to kick the bike back to life and … nothing. The kicker wouldn’t budge the engine. I could not believe that I had seized the engine. That would mean the Indian was done for the weekend even before my qualifying race.

Flashback: it was 35 years ago when a serious accident ended my motorcycle racing adventures at the old Bridgehampton, New York, track. So I let my road racing license expire in 1979. Last year, I was at the J. Wood & Company auction at Barber Racetrack with my pals Paul Ousey and Jim Petty where I bought Butch Baer’s 1937 Indian Sport Scout (see page 94). I had raced one of Doc Batsleer’s Indians against Butch on this same bike at the USCRA Streets of Laconia races many years ago. I knew and loved this bike and am delighted to now own it.

Once bitten, the race bug never leaves you. It sat dormant in me for many years, but not anymore. It’s time to get back into the game. No race associations (correctly) would honor my 35-year-old race license, so I had to complete a race school. That’s why I was at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. I sat through the class, listened to the instructors, and managed fine on the first session of practice laps. All I had to do was finish the Rookie Race without doing anything dumb on track. That is not possible with a seized engine.

My tuner (Butch Baer’s grandson) Michael Baer knew something was wrong when he saw me pushing the bike over to our garage at the track. We opened the oil cap and smoke escaped. A lot of smoke. Thankfully, there was plenty of oil in the tank, but why so hot? He removed the rear spark plug, and it looked okay. After the engine cooled, Michael gently kicked it over. “Thank goodness,” I thought. “It loosened up. Perhaps I can still race it and get my license.” The front plug refused to come out. Michael eventually muscled it out, the plug protesting and squeaking the entire way. Along with the plug came the threaded insert that ripped right out of the cast iron head. The spark plug had gotten so hot it had welded itself to the insert. There was simply no fixing this in the garage.

I managed to get my license by borrowing a bike (thanks, Henry Syphers) for the Rookie Race and did fine, especially considering I’d never even sat on his bike before the prerace warm-up lap. As for my Indian, it turns out the race magneto’s timing ring came loose, causing massive overheating. Michael had it diagnosed and fixed within a few days, and it’s now ready for me to race it during Laconia Rally week. Wish me luck.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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This article originally appeared in issue #314 of American Iron Magazine.

To order back issues, visit Greaserag.com.

To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here.

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Don’t Try This At Home

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I’ve long been fascinated by the mechanical workings of old machinery. As a kid, I remember taking apart a broken watch to try to fix it. It never did run again, but I was drawn to all the fine gears, springs, and tiny moving parts. That attraction has never left me as I continue to spend time working on and riding old motorcycles.

While I enjoy riding my hot rod Sportster, I’m more likely to hop on something significantly older than me for a local ride. And although I love a well-prepped Panhead, Scout, or Knucklehead, my tastes have been shifting to earlier machines. I blame it on my close friends: museum founders John Parham and Dale Walksler, Motorcycle Cannonball founder Lonnie Isam Jr., and my pal and antique bike restorer Dave Fusiak. I’m fortunate to own several wonderful classic motorcycles, but I don’t see myself as a collector as much as an owner/rider.

I often remind myself how fortunate I am to own some great bikes for a few years before they pass on to the next owners — preferably in better shape than when I got them. I enjoy working on, riding, and sharing these wonderful old bikes with others when I can. I think back to all the people who generously shared their passion, skills, and machines with me. I try to do the same — in this magazine, at events, on YouTube and Facebook, and on various motorcycle forums. But it’s not always fun and games.

Not long ago, I brought a recently acquired 1909 Shaw to a local motor­cycle event. The promoter asked me to start and ride it around the parking lot to win the Oldest Running Motorcycle award. I had only ridden the Shaw once before and not very far. I was willing to try, but I wasn’t too confident in the machine or my skills to operate it. The basic starting procedure is to open the gas and oil valves, connect the total loss battery, set the carb, and start pedaling. Once you get up to a decent pace, you need to tighten the pressure on the belt drive and hope the rear wheel spins the engine hard enough to start the engine. No kickstart, no clutch, no transmission. And only marginal coaster brakes. Pretty primitive today, but effective by 1909 standards.

As requested, I pedaled the Shaw (made in Galesburg, Kansas) up and down the parking lot, breathing heavily, with little more than an occasional pop from the engine. Looking back, I know I was lucky the engine didn’t fire and run, as the front wheel started violently flopping left and right. When the 105-year-old steering head stem snapped, the handlebars fell off, leaving no way to steer. It happened so fast, and I have no idea how I did it, but somehow I managed to stop the bike and get my feet on the ground, saving me and the bike from a hard fall. If the engine had caught, it would have shot the bike and me forward with no way to steer or even stabilize the bike. I guess this is a good reason many people with machines this old seldom, if ever, start or ride them.

Maybe I’m nuts, but my goal is to fix the steering head assembly, carefully check for other issues, and see if I can get this Shaw into dependable running shape to try it again. If you like classic motorcycles, we created the Kickstart Classic ride, which is less than a month away. This fun, two-day event for riders of all make and model motorcycles is getting ever more popular. I’d like to thank Spectro Oils for sponsoring it again this year, the Wheels Through Time Museum, Coker Tires, and Cyclemos Museum for feeding us and hosting welcome parties. We can handle only 100 riders, and the last time I checked, there weren’t many slots still available. If you want to join us, act now (AIMag.com or call Rosemary at 203/425-8777 ext. 114) or settle for reading about it in American Iron Magazine later this year.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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This article originally appeared in issue #312 of American Iron Magazine.

To order back issues, visit Greaserag.com.

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To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

Simple Basic Maintenance

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

We choose where we live, and, as motor­cyclists, we adapt to our circumstances.

I’m a lifelong New Englander, which can be a blessing or a challenge depending on the season. And now that we’ve made it through to another spring, I can admit that this past winter was one for the record books. I rode fewer motorcycle miles this winter than usual, but I also spent more wrench time in the garage than any other winter within memory. All I can say is thank goodness for heated garages!

Every motorcycle has basic needs, especially when parked for the season. Ignore these basic needs at your own risk, but be prepared to deal with the consequences on the first ride of the year.Some of the more common issues include a weak or dead battery, stale gasoline, flat tires, and rust. It’s too late to tell you what you should have done when you parked your bike months ago, but there is no better time than now to fix the issues before they get worse.

Because I own several motorcycles, I try to establish a regular maintenance schedule. The easiest part is to keep the batteries charged. I have accessory power cords on each battery, so about once a month, I rotate the smart charger from one bike to the next until they’re all charged. For wet-cell batteries, I also check the battery acid levels every couple of months. Yes, I’m converting to sealed batteries as the old ones pass on.

Stale gas is a real problem, especially today’s crappy ethanol-laced blend. Once it goes bad, I have found no way of bringing it back — especially if it has already damaged your fuel lines, EFI system, or carburetor. If the gas is stale, dump it and flush your system. If it is old but not yet stale (you can smell it), add some fuel stabilizer and run it through your system.

Before your first ride of the season and at least once a month, you should check the condition of your tires and adjust the tire pressure. The old joke is that the tire is flat only on the bottom, but if a bike sits long enough on flat tires, it will eventually damage the tires themselves. So, if you plan to park your bike for more than a week or two, it might help to slightly overinflate the tires by 5 pounds. Just remember to check and adjust the pressure properly before riding.

And what about rust? I don’t care what kind of motor­cycle you have or how old it is, there is no reason for you not to treat any rust on it. None. Rust is like cancer. Aside from looking bad, rust eats through chrome and plating while damaging your machine — a little, and then a lot. If any part of your motorcycle has rust, treat it as soon as possible and as often as needed. I’ve had good luck with a number of products, including WD-40, StrongArm, and most recently, Gibbs penetrating oil. It’s not a bad idea to carefully look the bike over for rust and other signs of metal corrosion, especially on spokes and various mounting hardware. If you don’t take responsibility for at least this much maintenance, who will? Regardless, guess who will end up paying for it.

Upcoming & Noteworthy

• The Great Indian vs. Harley Race (www.IndianVHarley.com) in Kanab, Utah, May 8-11. Classic American iron battle where the name says it all.

Antique Motorcycle Club of America swap meet and show in Denton, North Carolina, May 16-18. For more info visit www.AMCASouthernNationalMeet.com.

• The Riding Into History (www.RidingIntoHistory.org) in St. Augustine, Florida, on May 16-18; the event theme this year is “American iron”!

USCRA vintage motorcycle road racing (Race-USCRA.com) at Laconia, New Hampshire, on May 19.

• We’re reintroducing our tech and DIY Harley special magazine American Iron Garage on June 6 on newsstands and digital only. (Please note this is not included in your 13-issue-per-year subscription.)

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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This article originally appeared in issue #310 of American Iron Magazine.

To order back issues, visit Greaserag.com.

To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here.

To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

Made In America

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I have just returned from Daytona Bike Week as I write this column. I was so thankful to be in the warm sunshine and on two wheels — a wonderful break from the terrible ice and frigid weather we’ve endured over this past winter.

On my first day in Daytona Beach, I learned about the new Harley Low Rider and hard bag “mini tourer” Sportster SuperLow. While I didn’t have the opportunity to ride either, the Low Rider caught my eye, and I look forward to some saddle time on it.

A few days later I picked up a new Indian Chief Vintage and put a few hundred enjoyable miles on it. Some of our staff tested the new Victory Gunner and came back impressed. And I saw (but was not able to ride) the new EBR (Erik Buell Racing) streetbike on display at the Speedway. Quite an assortment of two-wheeled American iron.

This got me to thinking about how wide a range of new American motorcycle models are being unveiled for 2014. Harley has the Low Rider, SuperLow 1200T, and the 750 and 500 Street (see Dain Gingerelli’s review on page 80). Indian launched three versions of its all-new Chief. Victory showcased its new Gunner, and EBR has the 1190RX, a world-class sportbike. All made in America by Americans. Nice.

Speaking of made in America by Americans, did you know that, in addition to American Iron Magazine, we publish other motorcycle magazines? While some print publishers are retrenching, we’re working hard to offer you more. You already know what AIM covers, but did you know we also publish Motorcycle Bagger for those of you who want more baggers and info. We’re relaunching our all-tech American Iron Garage with two issues this year: the first goes on sale June 3.

And earlier this year, we created Motorcycle magazine, our unusual, in-depth, all-brands magazine with its Rides and Culture subtitle. I’m proud of what our teams create and would like to encourage you to check out each our magazines for yourself. And (shameless plug here) a subscription to any or all of our magazines makes a great year-long gift to you or your buddies. Call toll free at 877/693-3572.

If you love to ride classic motorcycles but are more sensible than I am (see below), we hope to see you on our Kickstart Classic ride July 24-26. This two-day ride from Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, to Cyclemos in Tennessee is open to riders of all years, makes, and models of motorcycles. We have to limit it to the first 100 people to register. For more info, go to AIMag.com or call Rosemary at 203/425-8777 ext: 114. Entry is $100 per person, and you get an event shirt and stickers, food, and on-road support.

Back in the 1970s, thinking I was pretty hot stuff, I thrashed various motorcycles around racetracks up and down the East Coast for a couple of years. After a serious on-track accident, I hung up my race leathers. But the competition itch never goes away. So now, some 35 pounds and 35 years later, I’m ready to try it again. But with an older and slower machine than I raced back in the day. Last year, I had the opportunity to buy my old friend Butch Baer’s 1937 Indian Sport Scout racer at a bargain-basement price, so I did. I need to complete a United States Classic Race Association (USCRA) motorcycle road race track school as it won’t honor my 1979 AAMRR race license. Then I need to gear up and race prep my little 45″ flathead Indian to compete in the pre-1950s or Handshift class with seasoned race pros like “Doc” Batsleer, Steve Coe, and Art Farley. I hope to share some of my experiences, on and off the track, in the future. Until then, wish me luck.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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This column originally appeared in issue #310 of American Iron Magazine

To order back issues, visit Greaserag.com.

To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here.

To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

 

Made In America?

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter

SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

We at American Iron Magazine join a growing list in the motorcycle industry committed to, no, make that obsessed with, made in America. I recently posted a question on the American Iron  Magazine Facebook page asking “If you ran Harley, what would be the first thing you’d change?” The most consistent response, by a large margin, was to bring Harley’s manufacturing back to America.

Many people replied how much they hated seeing “Made in China” on the labels of Harley goods. When I followed up the Facebook posting by asking how much more would they pay for the same products made in America, I was surprised by the replies. About a third would pay 20 percent more, and about half felt the prices were too high already and should be the same when made in America.

On a separate, but related topic, Harley recently unveiled the new liquid-cooled 500cc and 750cc Street motorcycles. First shown in Italy at a huge European motorcycle trade and consumer show (a first for Harley), we were told these Harley-Davidsons are manufactured in India. Many long-term Harley enthusiasts were shocked. We questioned Harley-Davidson if there are plans to move more manufacturing overseas. We were told the small displacement Harleys built in India are for foreign sales only, and that all Street Harleys sold in America will be made in America.

Thank goodness. As the owner of this magazine, I understand some of the financial pressures Harley must be dealing with. However, I feel that some financial decisions shouldn’t be made just by the accounting department, especially when it comes to an American icon like Harley-Davidson. Know what I mean?

“Orphan” American Motorcycles 

In the early 1900s, there were more than a hundred motorcycle manufacturers in America. How many can you name other than Harley, Indian, Crocker, and Excelsior?

If you find the history and motorcycles of that time interesting, you should check out the Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance on Sunday, March 9. This world-class car show in Florida will be featuring an invitation-only display of “orphan” American motorcycles. I usually spend the day at this event with some friends, including Arlen Ness, John Parham, Paul Ousey, and Jim Kelsey. For more information, visit AmeliaConcours.org.

Disappearing Magazines

Some will blame the internet. Others the tough economy or lack of time to read print. Whatever the reason, you might have noticed fewer motorcycle magazines in stores. If not, you will soon. For reasons I won’t go into here, the traditional magazine store delivery system is under massive financial pressures. Unfortunately, there is a good chance some of the smaller and independent magazines will disappear from the newsstand, and even the bigger ones will become harder to find. If you enjoy this magazine and want to continue reading it, you should consider signing up for a subscription (print or digital online). In addition to making sure you get every issue of American Iron Magazine (13 times a year, one every four weeks), you will save a lot of money. You can continue to pay $6.99 per issue for more than $90 a year. Or you can pay around $27 a year (less than the cost of four issues) and get all 13 issues delivered to your door.

Plus, all subscribers are automatically entered in our 25th Anniversary Sweepstakes to win a new Indian motorcycle, S&S Cycle engine, or a $1,000 gift card from Dennis Kirk (one given away every four weeks), and more. See page 124 for the details.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

Buzz

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This article originally appeared in issue #306 of American Iron Magazine, published in March 2014.

To order a PRINT SUBSCRIPTION, click here.

To receive the DIGITAL EDITION for mobile devices, click here.

To order a copy of this issue or back issues of any American Iron Magazine, go to Greaserag.com.