Category Archives: Columns

So WHO will carry the Torch?

Post & Images by Jack McIntyre

daytona 2017As a Motorcycle Rally Photographer, my wheels are always turning, and my motorcycle as well. Weeks & sometimes months in advance, the shooting schedules and daily plans are being designed. I’d say, just from my perspective, over the last 20 years, pretty much the same crowd has been producing the events and rallies. Not to say that there aren’t many new faces, because there are, but I always ask myself who will begin to step up to really take over the responsibilities for the larger events. Daytona Bikeweek and Sturgis for example are two GIANT rallies. I walk them religiously meeting and talking to groups of great people. With many of the promoters & photographers now getting into their mid 50’s and above, I’m always on the lookout for the next breed. Facebook & Instagram are fine for people to post images on, but when it comes to serious event coverage, who is going to handle it? Who is going to coordinate these massive events? My eyes and ears are open, this is a challenge to the younger cast now entering the stage.

IMG_1340I just returned home from Daytona Bikeweek 2017. It had a rather chilly start, but by the end of the week, the sun was blaring and the temps back where they should have been. Something I took notice to all week, Main Street and some of the outer areas had the traffic of the old days. We aren’t back to what the early 2000’s brought regarding visitors, but this Bikeweek wasn’t far from it. Mr. Johnny Lange (above) is kickin’ some butt at the major events coordinating space with vendors with contests. His company SCC PROMOTIONS, just had an extremely successful Bikeweek in Ormand Beach, across from the Iron Horse Saloon. Johnny leased the Boot Hill Saloon property and opened it to all types of vending, motorcycle repairs, his own bar, and a killer Bagger show. Contact Johnny here if you want to vend with him at an upcoming rally. (714) 465-7103

1Mr. Lange said, “Daytona Bikeweek 2017 in Ormand Beach was huge, we had a record number of vendors at the Boothill property. The Strip Club Choppers / American Bagger Worlds Sexiest Bagger Show was an amazing success with a record number of entrants”. This is what I am talking about, the industry needs people like him, many people, to lite the next fire. The 20 something crew needs to emerge so that none of this goes away.


My two cents.

So Easy Even a Girl Should Do It: S&S Stealth 2 Air Filter Install

Story by Leah Misch
Photos by Leah Misch ad compliments of S&S Cycle
Editor’s Note: The Garage Girls Ultimate Biker Makeover Contest has been a hand up to riders for quite a few years now. The 2016 winner, Leah Misch, is from Wisconsin and when S&S Cycle, one of the contest sponsors, learned she had won they invited her to visit company HQ and offered to install the prize they provided. Here’s that story:

I turned 17,000 miles on my 2015 Indian Scout motorcycle (I call her “Scout”!) while on a solo tour across the country. I rode so much I literally wore a hole through the sole of my shoe but I thought I could put off getting new shoes until I arrived home. Riding in Tennessee, ironically on “Lookout Mountain,” I laid down my motorcycle. All the multiple minor factors added up to losing my balance on a descending right stop on a freshly rain-drizzled road. Proper riding gear could have prevented this.
The week after I returned home I saw the Garage Girl’s Ultimate Biker Makeover Contest. Contestants were asked to submit an essay on “why you deserve a biker makeover.” I laughed to myself on the irony of the situation… “My bike NOW needs a makeover because I neglected to give myself a gear makeover!”
So I submitted an entry highlighting the importance of proper gear to ride safe. I thought my chance of winning was slim since I’m not the best writer, but I figured it was the first step in starting that book everyone keeps telling me I need to write, about my travels and life story.

leah-1See, it’s been quite a journey! I left an abusive relationship, ran my first 5k, overcame morbid obesity, learned to ride a motorcycle, walked again after breaking my back, finished my first marathon and traveled across the country solo on a motorcycle. Then I crossed paths with S&S Cycle in Sturgis.
I met Dave Zelma, S&S Cycle’s marketing director, this year at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s Hooligan Flat Track Races. He invited me to check out the S&S Demo Day at Sturgis Dragway the next day. I thought to myself, “Heck yeah; that sounds really cool!” The next day I tore up tread on the S&S 143” Dragon as I ran it down the track for my first experience ever on a drag strip; wow, does that bike have power! When I said my good-byes that day I never thought the next time I’d be seeing them would be to install the Stealth II Air Filter I’d won in the Ultimate Biker Makeover Contest!
I was so excited when I received an email saying I’d won the contest and couldn’t believe the list of awesome prizes. My bike really needed the S&S Stealth 2 Air filter after recently turning 21,000 miles. Not only did S&S provide this high performance product, but since I live right in LaCrosse they invited me to their facilities in Viola for the install!

leah-2The S&S staff greeted me with a warm welcome and smiles at the door then lead me to the shop. During a walk-through tour, I reencountered some of the great S&S people I had met out in Sturgis. I was excited to be there and learn more motorcycle maintenance so I asked, “Is it okay to watch the install?”

“No,” I was told….
My heart dropped and my head hung low.
“We are going to show YOU how to do it!”

leah-3Step by step Grant Hillegass and Dean Young taught me about the different tools needed to remove the bolts, the jack to support the frame, and fitting the black piece of hose that runs to the air filter. It was fascinating to see the mechanics making Scout function. They showed me where the old air filter sat under the gas tank.
We did a fun grand reveal, opening the box of the new S&S Stealth II Air Filter, and it felt like Christmas in October! Putting the new filter in was surprisingly easier than anticipated.

leah-4 leah-5leah-6leah-7leah-8leah-9leah-10leah-11Most of the work was removing bolts. Taking out the stock air filter required removing a few additional bolts. The S&S Stealth 2 Air Filter does not require this additional step, which makes the reusable air filter easy to maintain and wash. High-performance, efficiency, and simplicity; I like it! That’s the lifestyle of most bikers, right?
I was given the honor of firing-up the new improved Scout and hearing a roar she’s never belted out before! Awesome! Then it was time to put her back together.
After all our “hard work,” we reminisced on motorcycles and travels over lunch. The day ended with a personal tour of S&S and learning the history of the S&S factory in Viola, a company now globally known for its complete high performance engines and components. As we walked through the S&S company museum it was fun being quizzed on different engine types from Knuckleheads, Panheads, to Shovelheads. It was even moving to see retired record-holding machines from history like the streamlined motorcycle that raced at the Bonneville Salt Flats, setting a record of 276.51 mph.

Next we toured the manufacturing facility where I watched S&S products being manufactured on high-tech equipment by dedicated staff. S&S continues to bring us these great high performance parts and engines that will continue to shape the future of the motorcycle industry.
I’m so glad the people at S&S took the time to show me how to do the install. It’s definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life and it totally motivated me to want to learn more.

leah-12leah-13The new Stealth II Air Filter can be found at:
Check out Leah’s winning essay here, And we tip our hat to these sponsors of the Garage Girls Ultimate Biker Makeover Contest: Avon Tyres, Baker Drive Train, Harley Davidson Footwear, Vance & Hines, Mustang Seats, S&S Cycles, Klockwerks, Spectro Oil, J&P Cycles, Hijinix, Geico Motorcycles.


Story and photos by Marilyn Stemp

1 1AIf your motorcycle is equipped with a Mustang seat, you can rest assured that your posterior is in good hands, so to speak. How do I know? Because we recently visited the Mustang factory—something you can do, too,—and after a thorough tour that traced the manufacturing process of a Mustang seat in great detail it became eminently clear: your comfort is Mustang’s main concern and they go to great lengths to assure it.

The state of Massachusetts is smack in the middle of America’s story of independence, and Mustang’s factory is in the heart of the American Industrial revolution’s birthplace, the Three Rivers section of Palmer, MA. The scenic two-laners here are thick with history and rife with Yankee ingenuity. You can still get a sense of it in the tiny village greens, the town clocks, and the community horse troughs. We learned much more about the manufacturing boom that developed in this area during a trip to the Wood Museum of Springfield History, but more on that another time. We’re in Palmer to visit Mustang.

2 3Mustang’s factory is housed in a 19th Century textile mill whose long narrow expanse once hummed with hundreds of looms that were operated by leather-belted, water-driven machines under the floor. The workspace then was mainly lit by rows of angled skylights in the roof, now efficiently covered by solar panels. Hardwood floors, arched windows, and interior brick walls were retained when the building was refurbished, while integrating modern offices. It feels like a good place to work and that sentiment was revealed many times on the smiling faces of the people we interrupted while we wandered through. Marilyn Simmons, Director of Global Business Development and sister of Mustang’s founder Al Simmons, and General Manager Matt Kulman led our very thorough tour with contagious enthusiasm.

4 4AThe “we” I speak of who visited consisted of daredevil motorcycle jumper Doug “Danger” Senecal, a local hero; Lathan McKay, owner of the Evel Knievel collection; Brenda Stiehl and Aliceje Keyburn from MAG; and your humble scribe. We started out in R&D, a high-ceilinged, well-lit, studio-type space just right for thinking great thoughts and making 3-D examples of them. It’s a veritable skunk works of testing and prototyping, complete with all the necessary equipment. This is where trends are turned into product and where ideas become reality. Some recent examples? Branching out from Mustang’s traditional designs are several new lines of seats being built for Roland Sands and Dave Perewitz.

5 6Every seat made at Mustang requires three basic components: the base plate in steel or fiberglass, the foam, and the cover. And though portions of the process are automated, the variety in styles and applications means that each seat is also a hand-made product, created one at a time. Over 50 sets of hands touch any given seat as it travels from base plate to packaging. That’s impressive!

9 10Base plates are made in house. That simple sentence doesn’t sound like much but it’s an extensive process that involved many steps and extensive in-house capability. If the base plate is steel, the sheet metal is cut then formed in presses over molds. Some styles require that several steel pieces be welded to complete the base, after which the steel bases are powdercoated and edged.

7 8If it’s fiberglass, the base plate is formed by spraying glue and fiberglass over molds, then rolling, curing and trimming each one before pounding it off the mold. Both types of base plates figure into your long haul riding comfort because the inherent design encourages the rider to sit in a more upright position, keeping the spine straighter and reducing fatigue.
11 12The foam is next. The shape of the foam portion is determined in R&D, where the prototype is produced and from which a mold is made. The liquid foam mixture that goes into the mold is a proprietary secret—a mix of open- and closed-cell materials whose combination and density are just right. As Marilyn said, “Not too hard, not too soft.” And there’s no need to “break it in,” either. That’s because the company actually designed and built a machine that crushes each foam section into perfect compliance, making it ready to roll.

13 14So you see, it’s not just happenstance that a Mustang seat feels good. Al Simmons developed these major elements—the base plate design and the foam composition—to build in the comfort. It was done with intent!

15 16While the base plate and foam are being made, progress moves ahead on the cover in the sewing department. At one time, vinyl and leather was hand cut to patterns. Now, of course, it’s computerized and pieces are often cut in multiples. “But each cover is still hand sewn by one person, start to finish,” said Marilyn. “That’s the only way to do it.”

On larger seats especially, the sewing can get quite complicated, not to mention when patterns, quilting or contrast stitching is required. It’s also at this point when custom embroidery is done, and details such as studs, covered buttons and hand-tied conchos are added.

19 20Then it’s on to final assembly, where it all finally comes together—and this has to be done exactly right. Once the foam is hand trimmed and attached to the base plate, the cover is both glued and pop riveted in place while being pulled taut and perfectly straight. At final inspection each seat is checked over carefully then packaged. Instructions and hardware are added if needed, though most seats mount with a bike’s stock hardware.

21 22If you’re a person who likes instant gratification, you’ll be glad to know Mustang maintains a remarkable inventory. Chances are, if you order from the catalog your seat will be sent right away because it’s already there waiting for you. No need to wait weeks.

We couldn’t help but notice the patriotic theme at Mustang, where red, white, and blue motifs figure prominently, on the manufacturing floor and inside the offices, too. Said one employee as we looked over his shoulder, “We love to show our pride in our product. On every seat it says ‘Handcrafted in the USA.’ That’s because it is and we’re proud of it!”

23 24When you spend your money on a quality product that’s made by a company doing things the right way by employing people in good U.S. jobs, it makes you feel good. But don’t take my word for it; visit Mustang. They opened the factory to tours for riding clubs, industry folks, and just regular riders about 18 months ago and the response has been enthusiastic. But if a ride through New England isn’t in your plans, ask your local shop or dealership if they’re participating in Mustang’s Demo program. It allows customers to borrow a Mustang seat to try out on their own bikes for a couple of days. See for yourself what Mustang has crooned for decades: “Discover what a difference comfort makes!”

Mustang Seats

See Motorcycle Seats 101 on the Mustang website to learn how to identify a quality seat and which features to look for in a replacement.

Mustang sells factory direct though they encourage riders to visit their local dealers. Mustang seats are distributed by Tucker Rocky/Bikers Choice and Drag Specialties/Parts Unlimited in the US or Motovan and Parts Canada in Canada, as well as other distributors worldwide.



Counterproductive Effort in Sturgis

By M. Stemp

I’ve always preferred the velvet glove over the sucker punch, but after the sneaky maneuvering at a recent Meade County, South Dakota commissioners meeting, the gloves are off. There’s long been an element of greed associated with the Sturgis Rally, but as the 75th anniversary approaches, the sharks are circling ever more fiercely with each scoop of chum that hits the water.

At that meeting on February 12, Buffalo Chip representatives presented a petition to become a stand-alone South Dakota town, an actual municipality built by bikers for bikers. But just hours before the meeting convened, city of Sturgis officials, who apparently caught wind of the petition, held their own “special” meeting in which they annexed acreage including Sturgis Brown High School—conveniently just down the road from the Chip—into city limits. This, along with a complaint to commissioners that the proposed new town was not 3-miles but only 2.987-miles from Sturgis, effectively pre-empted the Buffalo Chip’s efforts.

After all these years, why would the city of Sturgis suddenly annex school property? And why the rush to hold a special meeting specifically to do that? Moreover, why does the city of Sturgis care if the Buffalo Chip becomes its own town? There’s only one answer. Money, of course.

See, the flip side of the fantastic phenomenon that has become the Sturgis Rally is the ugly underbelly of the enormous amount of money it generates. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been gouged at a motel or ripped off for an over priced beer, because being at Sturgis means accepting this alternate universe. Companies large and small looking to display at the rally have sticker shock when they learn the costs involved. But it wasn’t always this way.

biker city slider

It certainly wasn’t true when Indian dealers Pearl and Pappy Hoel gathered friends for impromptu racing and hospitality in 1938 then repeated it the next year, and the next, effectively forming the Rally. And it wasn’t true decades later when, by 1979, city officials started licensing vendors. But by 1983, when the revelry in City Park became too tough to handle, the city tossed the bikers out of town. That’s right: the city of Sturgis threw us out. But bikers kept turning up each year anyway, and campgrounds outside of town, like the Buffalo Chip, made them welcome.

Now you don’t turn a cow pasture into a top-notch entertainment destination overnight or without investment; these campgrounds, and the Chip in particular, spent a ton of money improving facilities for riders over the years with no help from either city or county. The Chip has also promoted strongly, bringing mainstream attention to Sturgis through TV coverage on high-profile outlets such as Travel and Discovery; anyone involved with the rally has benefitted from that.

Of course the city spends money on the rally, too, but they came later to the party, licensing vendors again in 1988, hiring event management by 1995, and starting a city rally department by 2002. But by that time prices were skyrocketing and like many riders who got tired of being overcharged, companies also grew weary of the outrageous rates being charged to rent space or park rigs in town. Why do you think many of them have moved to Black Hills H-D in Rapid City in recent years?

Further, for a decade the city has consistently fought the county’s construction of an access road that bypasses town, even though it would ease traffic and assist public safety. And there’s the insane trademark battle that remains unresolved, now conveniently tabled until after the 75th. Which brings me back to the city of Sturgis putting up barriers to the Chip becoming its own town. Such obstruction comes off as malicious, mercenary and just plain mean.

How much better if the city had decided to work in partnership with other major players, abandoning politics to keep the rally positive and make riders feel welcome—especially in this milestone year. Instead, it’s another opportunity missed and a further impediment to progress for the Sturgis Rally.

Road Weasels, A Tribute To Ross Tomas

Post by Joe Distefano of Pro Riders Marketing.

After the tragic premature death of their only child,Ross, Mike and Carolyn Tomas, owners of Kiwi Indian Motorcycles in Riverside,California, decided to begin creating a new legacy in their son’s name. They have started a motorcycle group called the Road Weasels. This is already an International group and consists of both riders and non riders alike.

IMG_1233The entire focus of the group is to emulate their son’s sense of humor,love of life and general kindness toward others. These are the people who will be proud to wear the colors of the Road Weasels. The group has a web site at  . The membership fee is $40 (annually) and includes a tee shirt, tank decal and jacket patch as well as a commemorative poker chip with the Road Weasel logo on one side and the Round The World logo on the reverse side.

In addition, the establishment of the Ross Tomas Foundation has begun. Funds generated through the Road Weasels group ,as well as any donations, will be funneled to this foundation and its underlying program called YEP. This acronym stands for Youth Enrichment Program. YEP will be used to fund scholarships and provide a helping hand to young men and women who desire to pursue further education and need some help to reach their goals. There will be an application process as well as a governing board making funding decisions.

Joining Road Weasels is easy and promises to be extremely rewarding. There will be a number of events during the year as well as a news letter to keep members up to date on happenings. ALL riders are welcome join regardless of the type or brand of bike you ride. We even have members who do not have a motorcycle but love the concept of what being a Road Weasel stands for.

Go to the web site and check us out. Sign up today and get your membership packet on the way ASAP. YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID!

Ross jpeg