Last Minute Harley Christmas- FREE American Iron Magazine Gift Subscriptions

Looking for a great last minute gift for your Harley riding buddies? Until December 31 American Iron Magazine is offering a BOGO (Buy One, Get One free) deal on gift subscriptions to the best selling Harley-oriented magazine in the world.

aim cover

Buy one gift subscription for the usual $26.95 rate and give a second gift subscription FREE. And American Iron Magazine will even send them gift cards in your name.

No limit on how many gift subscriptions you can give and a free one for every paid one until December 31, 2015.

For more info or to order, please click on FREE Subscription Offer

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Antique & Classic Motorcycle Seats For 2 or 3 Riders

Take the Whole Family Along – Accessory Motor Cycle Seats

Emblem Motorcycle with side seats

The motorcycle through the first three decades of the 1900s was more than just fun two-wheeled transportation to enjoy on a sunny day. The automobile at first was quite expensive and only within reach of the well-to-do. The two-wheeler was a less expensive alternative for others of more modest means and soon became an economical way of transport for many.

The early machines, really not much more than a motorized bicycle were only offered with a solo seat. Soon the accessory manufacturers began offering retrofit rear seats for a passenger. As motorcycle development progressed, and the machines became more powerful, side-seating arrangements for both two and three passengers were offered, which is the subject of this article.

The Emblem was manufactured by the Emblem Mfg. Co., located in Angola, NY. The Company like many, first manufactured bicycles and then added a motorcycle to its line. Later on the firm apparently offered their own version of a side-seat that was also availble with two smaller units on the rear for children. The image (above) shows a couple and their two sons with an early teens V-twin model equipped with four seats.

In addition, this machine is equipped with an umbrella, a speedometer, and a small bicycle like headlight powered by a generator running off of the sidewall of the front tire.

  •                          The lead image (above) shows a family with an Emblem V-twin four seater.

Excellisor and Indian Motorcycles with Miller Triplex Seats

  •           The Miller Triplex Seat was offered as early as 1914 by the Haverford Cycle Co. of Philadelphia.

Who came up with the idea of offering side seats for both a rider and passenger is unknown, but patented examples were found as early as 1913. The Miller Triplex Seat offered by the Haverford Cycle Co. of Philadelphia was on the market as early as 1914, and can be seen (above) in the Jan.  22, 1917 “Motorcycling and Bicycling”. The retailer also handled the Excellsior Motorcycle.

The advertisement (below) in the October 6, 1914, “Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review” demonstrates the Miller side-seats, and a center seat that the rider used when three were aboard. An optional forth seat for mounting on the rear of a machine was also offered.

Miller Triplex Side Seat

  •           “Miller Triplex Side Seat” ad in the October 6, 1914, “Bicycling Word and Motorcycle Review”.

Motorcycle Side-Seats

  •                         An early machine equipped with side-seats on a motorcycle run of some sort.

An interesting account in the “Motorcycle Illustrated” March 1916 issue is included (below) that details a 3000-mile round trip by an Excelsior agent and a “running mate”. They traveled from Pennsylvania to Florida and return, starting on Dec. 9, 1915. The article tells of the week-long trip south that included: frozen roads, being arrested for speeding, followed by muddy roads, waterholes, and balmy weather after reaching The Sunshine State.

  •               Round trip account of a “Side- Seater” Florida trip -“Motorcycle Illustrated” March 1916.


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Mix & Match 1930s Harley VL and Sidecar From 10 Year Hibernation

We love American Iron Magazine, because it is a high quality magazine that always features a classic American motorcycle (usually a Harley) and some classic motorcycle tech in each issue.

In addition, these good folks publish a few special newsstand issues of all tech, called American Iron Garage, which is available in stores, in digital delivery or through

1930s Harley VL up on the workstand at Retrocycle in Boonton, NJ

In the next issue, they will be publishing an article on how to pull an old Harley out of hibernation and get it running and back on the road. They used this mix and match 1930s Harley VL and sidecar. Mix and match because it is built with Harley parts from various years and models.

Old sidecar from a 1930s Harley.

It had not been ridden or even started in more than 10 years before this project began. The first thing they did was unbolt the sidecar from the bike so they could roll the motorcycle up on a lift to start sorting it out.

1930s classic Harley VL up on the work bench

What happened and what did they find after pulling this vintage Harley out a basement where it sat for more than a decade? Well, you are going to have to pick up a copy of American Iron Garage to find out more.

You can subscribe to American Iron Magazine in PRINT or DIGITAL delivery by clicking on the appropriate link.

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Harley-Davidson MooGlide

This may not fit the definition of “Classic” but it’s a very important bike to me.  A Mooglide was the first Harley-Davidson I ever rode.

JG's 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

JG’s 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

To make my long story short, I had ridden as a kid, Honda’s, Kow’s, etc. and as many of us did, walked away because of college, living in NYC and then a wife and family. To add insult to injury, I picked to go to college in Albany, New York, so a bike would have become useless sometime in October.  Some years later, a good friend  and I decided we wanted to ride.  JG looked like he had ridden for the last 15 years so it was time to grab a bike to match his look.  I took the course to get my license, Joe bought his uncles Mooglide, very low miles that had been in storage for years.  Once he was comfortable crossing the Outerbridge Crossing on the bike, he brought it out to show off, in Manalapan New Jersey, and let me take it to for a ride.  I left him standing in my driveway for about an hour while I went around the corner. I was hooked. While the Evo could have used a bit more power, I bought my first softail, a Deuce, shortly after. JG's 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

JG’s 1994 Harley-Davidson MooGlide

The Mooglide was first offered by Harley-Davidson in 1993 with a limited run of 2700 Nostalgia, or FSTN.  The 1993 Nostalgia was a numbered, special order bike, but Harley chose to continue the bike using a Softail Special (1994) and a Heritage Softail (1995-1996) as the basic bike, though still calling the Nostalgia a FSTN.  Because the Heritage Softail script is on the front fenders in 1995-96, the Nostalgia appears to be simply a version or paint scheme on the Heritage.

1993 Harley-Davidson FSTN MooGlide

1993 Harley-Davidson FSTN MooGlide

What really made me love the Nostalgia is the beauty of the paint, the subtlety of the wire wheels, how well the 16 inch wheels tucked under the perfect fenders and the extra bits of chrome, subtly placed particularly on the tins and the drivetrain.  The two tone paint and pinstripes accent the modernized tins beautifully.  Even the round air cleaner looks perfect.

1995 Harley-Davidson MooGlide Heritage Softail

1995 Harley-Davidson MooGlide Heritage Softail

The 1993 and 1994 bikes were called Mooglides because they came with a Suede like leather seat and saddlebag inserts.  The 1995 and 1996 Heritage Softail version had a two tone leather seat and I’ve heard argument that they should not really be called a Mooglide.  This is complicated by the FSTN actually being on the Heritage Softail. I’ll leave that argument to the comments.

The 1993 models were Black and Birch White with Red pinstripes. 84’s Silver on White with Red pinstriping. 95 Black on Charcoal with Red stripes and 96 Silver on Dark Green with Gold pinstripes.  The 94, perhaps because it was the first I’ve seen, is my favorite.  The 96, both being dark colors with little contrast, my least favorite. All of course have Evo propulsion – 1,340 Five Speeds with full consoles and what looks to be 16 inch factory wire wheels.

Harley-Davidson 1996 MooGLide

Harley-Davidson 1996 MooGLide

I believe the Nostalgia was the inspiration for the Deluxe.  If you were to look at a Black and White Deluxe and cover the script on the front fender, you will have a hard time telling the difference between the two bikes (except of course that the Nostalgia has Evo power and the Deluxe Twin Cam power).

The bike rides like a modern Harley and has virtually the same seating position as the more modern Deluxe.  With a low seat and 16 inch wheels the Nostalgia has a low center of gravity and you sit up on it.  This makes it easy to bend the Nostalgia into turns, but you have to be careful, you don’t really wrap around the bike enough to be able to muscle the weight up and down with your body, so it doesn’t like to lean real low or move left-right-left quickly. The bars come back to you from the trees and your feet fit comfortably on the floorboards, more like the armchair at your dining room table than many motorcycles.    The seat is wide and comfortable and low. Joe’s bike had an untouched Evo and to be fair, you needed to plan when you needed acceleration.  You could twist the throttle all the way to the stops and would still have trouble being the first person off a light.  The tires had more than enough grip to handle anything you’d throw at this bike, as it was more a cruiser than a back roads cut-up and the brakes were more than adequate to handle the performance.

My buddy JG sold his bike to someone in the Netherlands some years ago. I was still married and not cash rich.  The bike still had very low miles, and I’m very sorry I let it go to this day.

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2015 VMA International Swap Meet and Bike Show

vma poster art 2015.pdf

The Vintage Motorcycle Alliance, LLC is proud to announce the 4th Annual “International Vintage Motorcycle Swap Meet and Show” in picturesque Eustis Florida at the wonderful Lake County Fairgrounds on March 6, 7 and 8,  2015.  Last year’s association with the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and the success of their sponsored antique motorcycle show and road run has prompted VMA to again remain open Sunday and forge “Destination Eustis 2015” into a family driven extravaganza.  There is building anticipation of a much larger display of vintage machines in the main exposition building and we have offered vendors the chance to enhance sales by staying another day to provide vintage parts to the public.  Visitors previously unable to attend on Friday or Saturday can now enjoy the bike show and interact with celebrated vendors to purchase necessary parts for their projects.  Seminars by officiandos and tradesmen will be offered to enlighten novices, collectors and enthusiasts to the fine arts of owning, maintaining and riding vintage machines.

This will be the 20th year an antique motorcycle swap meet has been presented at the Lake County Fairgrounds and the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance has joined forces with town officials to promote “Destination Eustis”.  We recognize the criteria that makes Eustis enticing to antique motorcyclists, the peaceful ambiance, ample amenities, quality entertainment and an easy access location.

The Vintage Motorcycle Alliance with their enthusiastic sponsors and amiable vendors promise to provide an event recognized for variety,,,, OEM used, NOS and top shelf NEW replacement parts, as well as literature, memorabilia and educational information for your classic machine.  The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club is energetically promoting another rare opportunity to enjoy a spectacular display of International vintage machines.  They expect great diversity with classic bobbers and choppers, military vehicles, vintage restorations, factory original paint bikes, antique racing and touring machines and daily riders from around the planet.  Fine examples from Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, England and Sweden, ALL two and three wheeled and ALL in excess of twenty years old.  We anticipate winning bikes from National “Board Track” racing and AMA sanctioned events and several highest scoring machines from the “2014 Cannonball” challenge to be on hand for your viewing pleasure as well as their owners and riders for conversation and inspiration.

Mark us on your calendar now, don’t miss “Destination Eustis”.  Come see what we have planned!

For more pertinent details and an interactive site map with vendor signup page please visit; WWW.VINTAGEMOTORCYCLEALLIANCE.COM

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Classic Harley News: Motorcycle Cannonball 2016

While still not confirmed, the classic motorcycle world is pretty convinced the next Motorcycle Cannonball, which is held every two years, will be for motorcycles 100 years or older.

1916 Harley Twin classic motorcycle

So our question is what does this do to the desirability and prices of 1916 and older Harleys?

Buzz Kanter, of American Iron Magazine, with his 1915 Harley twin at the start of the first Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010.

Buzz Kanter, of American Iron Magazine, with his 1915 Harley twin at the start of the first Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010.

The first Motorcycle Cannonball was open to 1915 and older motorcycles back in 2010, and the prices went through the roof for complete motorcycles and spare parts needed by the riders along the way.

Almost 2 years away and the riders and perspective riders for the 2016 Motorcycle Cannonball are already scouring the field buying up 1916 and older motorcycles and parts.

They are already fewer on ebay and when they are the auctions are getting progressively more expensive. The auction results in Las Vegas and other locations will also be an interesting measure of this trend.

On the other hand, you have to wonder if so many people riding sure old motorcycles so far (across the US in the case of the Motorcycle Cannonball), are more people discovering the fun and functionality of these classic Harleys? There was a time when even dedicated classic motorcycle collectors and riders dismissed the older “total loss” bikes as impractical? And a lot of people still shy away from motorcycles without front brakes (introduced by Harley in 1928).

We’ll see….



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Those Diner & Motorcycle Guys Internet Radio Interview of Buzz Kanter on Motorcycle Cannonball

Buzz Kanter, Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of American Iron Magazine magazine, talks with Garrison about his involvement in the recent Motorcycle Cannonball event and riding almost 4,000 miles on pre-1937 motorcycles.

Buzz with his 1915 Harley prior to riding it across U.S. on 1st Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010

Buzz with his 1915 Harley prior to riding it across U.S. on 1st Motorcycle Continue reading

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1936 Harley Knucklehead Classic Motorcycle in New England Autumn

I really like this photo I took a few days ago of my 1936 classic Harley EL Knucklehead on a stunning New England autumn afternoon. First year Harley production street OHV, first year Knucklehead, and first year recirculating oil for Harley.

Autumn 2014

I first saw this classic 1936 Harley Knucklehead (and photographed it for a feature in American Iron Magazine) at a swap meet in 1991, shortly after it was rebuilt and put back on the road. I lost track of the bike over the years and was then fortunate enough to buy it years later from the man who rebuilt and maintained it for so many years.

I took this photo a couple of days ago here in Connecticut to show off the bike and some terrific New England autumn colors. It is pretty much as I first saw and photographed it 23 years ago. I have since replaced the reproduction speedometer for a rare one-year only 1936 Harley speedometer. I added the American flag and pole, and just a few days ago I added the reproduction Hanson Sportshield roll up windshield.

I have put several thousand miles on this bike in the 7 years since I purchased it. I wish all my classic motorcycles started as easily and ran as smoothly as this first year Knucklehead does.

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Motorcycle Cannonball Info & Details

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion about the Motorcycle Cannonball. First off, it is a competition but  NOT a race. It could best be described as a timed and controlled endurance run (more detail in a moment). It has been held just three times, first in 2010 (for pre-1916 motorcycles) from Kitty Hawk, NC to Santa Monica, CA. The second one (for pre-1930 motorcycles) was from New York to San Francisco, CA. And the most recent one was (for pre-1937 motorcycles) from Daytona Beach, FL to Tacoma, WA.

Pat Simmons and his wife Cris Sommer-Simmons of Adventure Power’s Team American Iron pose with other Motorcycle Cannonball riders on the Bonneville Salt Flats for a photo.

The admission fee, which has climbed significantly (to $2,500 per machine for the last one) covers the admission and various support functions. Each rider (and team support staff) has to supply their own bikes, parts, spares, gas, food and hotels. The hotels and discount room prices are arranged by the Motorcycle Cannonball staff but must be confirmed and paid for by the riders. So this is not an inexpensive deal.

My 1936 Harley VLH on the last day of the 2014 Motocycle Cannonball in Washington. Not the Cannonball plates, large saddlebags, sheepskin seat cover and spare gas tank on the back. All good ideas for a tough endurance event like this.

At the end of each day, all riders are given the following day’s route sheets (printed on paper that can be as few as 8 pages and as much as 22 pages, depending on the route and number of turns planned). Most riders has purpose built roll charts mounted up for this purpose.  We are also told the evening before when the next day’s official start time is (by class), how many miles we will cover, when the first scheduled gas stop is and minimum and maximum height over sea level we will be riding that day.

SCORING. A rider gets a point for every mile ridden each day on course IF he (or she) leaves the start of the day on schedule, arrives at the end of the day on schedule and travels the entire distance under his or her own motorcycle’s power. If you are late you lose points. If your bike brakes and you can not fix it enough to ride to the end of day you lose a point for every mile you do not ride that day. You can fix your own bike with parts and tools you have or can obtain from other riders or strangers. You are not allowed to ride with or deal with a support mechanic on the ride.

Many of the riders have found it better to partner up into teams to help support each other on the road. These four riders and classic motorcycles (left to right – Buzz Kanter 1936 Harley VLH, Cris Sommer-Simmons 1932 Harley VD, Pat Simmons 1929 Harley JD and Paul Ousey 1925 Harley JE) are members of Adventure Power’s Team American Iron,

At the end of each day the scores and ranking are announced and posted at the “host hotel” for the day. The way this works is basically like this: Points (not necessarily miles) are the initial ranking criteria. Then, in case of ties, Class I bikes (smallest displacement) rank higher than Class 2 (medium size displacement engines), which rank higher than Class 3 (largest displacement). Then the older motorcycle ranks higher than a newer one. In case there are still ties the older rider scores higher than a younger one.

If you DNF (Did Not Finish) a day on the Motorcycle Cannonball, that’s bad. If you DNF too often you are disqualified from finishing. ALSO if you and your bike does not start and finish the last day on schedule you are penalized as a DNF for the entire event. This year (2014) and amazing 25% of the riders finished the event with DNF status. And what do the winners get? The top ranked rider took home a wonderful bronze motorcycle statue, a few other riders got amazing Michael Lichter yardlong photos, and the rest of us get little more than amazing memories, the feeling of accomplishment and some great new friends and stories.

For more information please visit or you can read about some of the exploits and adventures in American Iron Magazine or Click on PRINT to subscribe in print or on DIGITAL for a digital delivery subscription.

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1936 Harley EL Knucklehead Classic Photo Art via Instagram

Before I joined the magazine publishing ranks (American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger, Motorcycle magazine, and others) I was a photographer. And while I feel much has been lost in the art of photography with the popularity of cell phone cameras, a good photo is still a good photo. Interesting subject, cropping, lighting and composition draw people in.

1936 Harley EL Knucklehead engine. Classic design and art deco air cleaner.

I have just started using Instagram with my smartphone, and here are a few photos I took this morning of my classic 1936 Harley EL Knucklehead. I hope you find them of interest.

One-year only 1936 EL speedometer in Harley “skull dash” on my first year Knucklehead.

The 1936 EL Knucklehead was Harley’s first “modern” design with an OHV (overhead valve) design V-twin engine, recirculating oil, Fat Bob gas tanks, and wrap around oil tank under the seat. Not many of the first year Harley Knuckleheads were made, and they are becoming quite rare and valuable.

Floorboard and foot clutch rocker typical of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Many of the design cues introduced on the 1936 Harley Knucklehead are still being used today, including the split gas tanks with large speedometer mounted in the center. Also the horseshoe oil tank under the saddle with battery mounted inside.

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