Kickstart Classic 2017 Set For This Weekend

We were thrilled with last year’s turnout. This year, we decided to hold the event a little earlier: we don’t need anyone suffering heat stroke! Join us for a weekend of pure, old-school fun

Start stretching your hamstrings, topping up your oil, and packing the extra tape for those loose parts—it’s time for the Kickstart Classic once again! This coming weekend, May 18-20, marks the 6th annual meet-up and ride at the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Each year, we try to pick a unique, interesting destination for the Kickstart to conclude, and this year we settled on the AMCA meet in Denton, North Carolina.

We just saw Buzz off today, the boss man packed and ready to head south to get to WTT museum sometime between what we can only surmise as today and the ride on Friday. (Keep your eyes peeled for the American Iron truck with an auld Harley in the back!)

Rolling out from the Wheels Through Time museum, you’ll score a chance to get a sweet riding shot and possible be seen in the magazine!

Thursday evening will be the meet and greet at on the museum’s grounds, where you can either sign in and pick up your stuff if you preregistered, or you can register for the ride on site. Food will be served, and the museum will be open for all of your gazing and drooling leisure (admission is included with your registration).

Friday morning, we ride. As most of you know, the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains provide some of the most beautiful roads for cruising this side of the Mississippi. We’re going to take our time, snaking through the region as we make our way to Salisbury, North Carolina, for an overnight stay.  There will be an entire day’s worth of riding.

 

Gorgeous roads await. Make this the trip for your riding season.

Saturday, we roll into Denton in the late morning, and there will be a parade, vendors, a show, and more awaiting our arrival.

The Kickstart Classic is open to all makes and models of motorcycles, though the newer bikes will have to ride behind the old lugs, just in case a thing or three goes bouncing backward. This is a purists dream, deep in the valley of the mountains where time feels as though it stands still, and for a weekend it truly does, as Dale Walksler’s invaluable collection of old iron serves as the appropriate setting for the rumble of motorcycles from the teens, ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s reverberating through the mountains from the small town of Maggie Valley, and suddenly we’re in a different decade—heck, we’re transported to a different century.

 

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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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.