Mouth Closed, Mind Open

Mer collumn

Bumping down the aisle of the 737 toward the steerage section, I glanced at the seat designations noting that 18E was, of course, a middle seat. Sigh. Gear stowed and seat belt buckled, the next revelation was my companion, (the one who scored the window seat,) a young woman who clearly wanted to talk, judging by her several overtures.

Worn out after five days of visiting shops and show-going, and with three hours and 58 minutes of flight time ahead, chit chat was the last thing I was interested in. So I brushed off her first forays at conversation, closing my eyes in fake snooze mode till take off then opening my laptop promptly when the announcement was made. But somewhere over Missouri, my exhaustion ebbing and stress easing, the ice broke. She was wearing a Harley T-shirt too after all, which, she told me later, was why she thought I’d be someone she could talk to.

As it turns out I didn’t talk much at all, she did. I only listened, which was exactly what this stranger needed. She just wanted to tell her story to somebody, and that somebody turned out to be me.

She said she was on the way home from a memorial service for her husband, held in his hometown. He’d been riding his Harley the day of the accident and she was home with the kids, as usual. Riding had been his hobby when they met, but she was aware of what it meant to him so she had never tried to restrict his riding time—though she didn’t join in either. But she knew that his riding family had meant so much to him, as recently evidenced by their impressive showing at the memorial, and now that he was gone she was determined to find out why, while it was only just partly too late for her. So, as she explained to me, when she saw someone in biker garb she was starting to speak up, in an effort to get to the heart of what made bike people tick and perhaps get closer to the joy and pleasure her husband had experienced in their company.

She offered more detail, but that was the gist of it. So I shook my head, murmured un-huhs, and listened. Once we landed and parted ways, I was chagrined and slightly embarrassed that I had selfishly squandered away time early in the flight.

Pondering later on this episode of active listening, it struck me as quite a turnaround. See, some people are born with a generous spirit that makes them good listeners. But for others, me in particular, learning to listen has been an acquired skill, one I’m still working on. I come from a boisterous family where fearlessly interrupting and raising one’s voice to be heard is considered polite discussion. There’s no mean spiritedness about it, it’s just how we communicate.

For many years, I thought this was the way everyone conversed, that speaking one’s mind without concern for feelings or opposing viewpoints was typical. So when I began studying journalism and had to acquire interview techniques, it came as a shock that I was supposed to listen, not talk. The people I was interviewing didn’t care about my opinions, not at all. And it took stupendous effort for me to keep quiet, too. I can’t say how many times I kicked myself after leaving an interview, thinking I would have learned more if I’d kept my mouth shut and not interrupted.

Eventually I learned that asking open-ended questions, as opposed to the kind where a mere yes or no suffices, encourages the other person to talk more. I figured out that allowing a moment of silence can be pivotal, too. What might be revealed after a beat of reflection can change everything. But more important than interview techniques, I learned that my real job was learning to listen. For a chatty, tenacious terrier type person who always (at least in my mind) had something worth saying, this was an epic obstacle, a very steep learning curve to conquer.

Human nature being what it is, the Dale Carnegie adage is true: if you listen while another person talks about themselves, it reflects back on the listener. The talker goes away thinking what an entertaining person you are, even though they did most of the talking.

Whether that’s accurate or not, this much I know: when I truly listen, without an agenda, I’m the one who walks away from the exchange richer by far. – Marilyn Stemp

Tire Tech, Straight from the Top!

If you’ve ever worked on your own bike, you know the value of good technical information from the people built the machine. And Harley-Davidson has offered up this info to help enthusiasts and mechanics alike. We’re happy to share the following tips from The Motor Company on keeping your tires happy and lasting as long as possible. -ed.

Authorized H-D Dealer Tire Service

A patch of tire rubber no larger than a credit card is what connects a motorcycle to the road, and maintaining those tires is critical to motorcycle performance and to the safety of your ride. The motorcycle tire experts at Harley-Davidson have put together the following tire-care tips for all riders.

A number of factors can influence the rate of motorcycle tire wear. One of the most critical is also frequently overlooked by riders: maintaining proper tire inflation pressure.

“Checking tire pressure is one of the most important tire-maintenance functions a rider can perform,” says Steve Bindl, H-D Product Portfolio Manager. “Properly inflated tires wear longer, and correct pressure promotes better braking, better fuel economy, maximizes traction, and reduces the risk of tire damage or failure.”

Tire pressure should be checked before every ride as a part of the pre-riding checklist in the motorcycle owner’s manual. Pressure should be checked when the tires are cold (before riding), and adjusted to the pressure listed in the motorcycle owner’s manual or on the tire information sticker located on the motorcycle. Use a high-quality gauge intended for motorcycle use when checking your tires. The Harley-Davidson Digital Tire Pressure Gauge provides accurate pressure readings in 0.50 psi increments up to 60 psi, and features a 12-inch braided line and 90 degree angle chuck for easy access to valve stems.

Check Tire Pressure with an Accurate Gauge

SERVICE TIP: Pressure gauges can become inaccurate over time due to wear and tear and should be replaced or checked against a gauge with known accuracy.

Exceeding the load capacity of any motorcycle can lead to loss of control and sudden tire failure, either of which could result in an accident. The load capacity of the motorcycle should always be considered when adding accessories, a passenger, or luggage to the bike. Check the motorcycle owner’s manual or the information label on the motorcycle’s frame down tube for the load capacity and never exceed the maximum load.

Another factor that can greatly impact load capacity is trailers and sidecars. Trailers should never be used with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Pulling a trailer will void both the motorcycle and the tire warranty. Sidecars are appropriate for some motorcycles but should not be fitted unless approved by Harley-Davidson.

SERVICE TIP: For every 4 psi a tire is underinflated, you could lose up to 80 pounds of load-carrying capacity.

After checking and adjusting the pressure, give each tire a careful inspection for cuts, gouges, or foreign objects that may cause punctures and loss of air pressure. If any damage or excessive wear is noticed, contact an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer immediately, says Bindl.

Worn tires can adversely affect motorcycle control and traction, and are more prone to road damage. Most tires have tread wear indicator bars that will appear between the tread block when tire tread depth reaches 1/32 of an inch, which is the legal limit. It is best not to wait until the tread is at the bare minimum. Once a tire gets to 2/32 of an inch or below, tires should be replaced. The pocket-size Harley-Davidson Tire Gauge Tread Depth Indicator Tool provides a precise tread depth measurement, and also has an air-pressure gauge.

Motorcycle tires are integral to the dynamics of the bike, so choosing a replacement tire is an important decision. Harley-Davidson has partnered with Dunlop and Michelin – two of the premier tire brands in the world – to create Harley-Davidson co-branded tires which are exclusively designed, tested and approved to deliver optimal performance on each Harley-Davidson motorcycle model. These tires can be identified by the bold “Harley-Davidson” script on the sidewall and are available through authorized Harley-Davidson retailers. Harley-Davidson advises its customers that it is essential to use only Harley-Davidson tires that are the approved fitment for each individual year and model motorcycle. Using non-approved tires or mixing approved tires from different manufacturers on the same motorcycle can adversely affect stability, which could result in death or serious injury.

For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at

Win A Ride In The 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball

cannonball2Carl’s Cycle Supply is holding a low volume sweepstakes event for an opportunity for someone to ride Matt Olsen’s 1936 H-D Knuckle in the 2014 CannonBall Event. The cannonball golden ticket is set up as a team fundraiser for the two 36 ELs that were built and prepped by Carl’s Cycle Supply to compete in the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball Coast to Coast run that takes place in September of 2014. The promotion continues from now to June 29th 2014.

The first place prize is an all-expense paid trip on the Motorcycle Cannonball from Florida to Washington riding on Matt Olsen’s 1936 Harley Knucklehead. The winner will get airplane tickets to the beginning and from the end of the race, the $2500 entrance fee, the hotels, $60/day food allowance, and a $60/ day gas allowance. The race team will be Carl Olsen on his ‘36 EL and the winner of the Cannonball Golden Ticket on Matt Olsen’s ‘36 EL. There will also be a chase truck with Matt and Brittney Olsen to take care of maintenance on both bikes, carry the riders’ luggage and do whatever is possible to make the trip as simple and enjoyable as possible.

Second place prize is an all-expense paid trip from anywhere in the world to visit the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The winner will have a private guided tour of the museum and power train factory as well as a behind the scenes look into the Factory Archives.
For more information about the Cannonball Golden Ticket go to: .

Source and images: Carl’s Cycle Supply
Posted by Sam Kanish


Paul Widman Takes 2014 J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder US Championship

The Chicago edition of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show hosted the 2014 US Championship of the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show with killer custom bikes in all classes. Paul Widman of Bare Knuckle Choppers took the FreeStyle win, a check for $5,000 and is our Grand National Champion.


For the championship, cash prizes were doubled to $14,000 and prizes to $7,000. Jon Shipley won the MOD Harley class and took home a check for $3,000 and a Harley-Davidson 120R motor.


Paul Widman’s Championship winning ride is a 1940 EL Knucklehead named Jane Doe. The jewel-like bike features HD 74” mil with shaved and resized flywheels, large port heads and Kibblewhite valves. The chopper sports a handmade frame and front end. The handmade tank sports 1 ¾” coco bolo wood inserts.

1.       Paul Widman, Bare Knuckle Choppers – Jane Doe, 2014 Custom Knuckleheadub-free-il-1-PW-1

2.       Ron Harris, Chop Doc Choppers – ‘Ol 48, 2013 Board Tracker

3.       Rich Worley, American Biker – Steampunk Shovel, 2012 Custom

MOD Harley

Jon Shipley of The Hoosier Daddy Choppers was all smiles as his Firehouse Racer took the win at the Championship. He received a check for $3,000 and a Harley-Davidson 120R motor for his efforts.His custom sled features a Harley-Davidson 96 CI Twincam engine with hand-fabricated exhaust tipped with 1920′s fire hose brass nozzles, S&S Carb and Ultima 2in belt drive. Illumination comes from a 1910 Jose Lucas Carbide headlight and an After Hours Choppers tail light. The leather seat is from Anvil Customs.

1.       Jon Shipley, Hoosier Daddy Chopper – Firehouse Racer, ’13 Boardtracker

2.       Joel Gurath, Backbone Built Bikes – Retro Sexy, 2005 HD FXST

3.    Dell Battle – 2009 Racer, 200 HD Roadglide

Retro Mod

Mark Webster of MW Performance won Retro MOD with Stack of Dimes. It is a 1977 XS650 that features extensive engine work lightened chassis, a GSXR 750 front end and hand fabricated and formed tank and rear section.

1.       Mark Webster, MW Performance  – 1977 Yamaha XS650

2.       Kyle Shorey, Shade Tree Fabrications – Priceless, 2013 Shadetree Customs

3.       Dennis Crabtree – Baby Stroker, 1941 HD WL

Performance Custom

The Beast was built by Fusion Custom Cycles on a 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa platform. It’s a custom sled with 1397cc mil with ported heads, 360 swing arm, air ride and front and rear swing arm, LED lighting and chrome throughout.

1.     Ortiz, Fusion Custom Cycles – The Beast, 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa

2.     Biggums – Bigboy, 2008 Hayabusa

3.     Matt Jung, Fornallis – Rump Shaker, 2008 Hayabusa

MOD Street

Tony Prust of Analog Motorcycles found one ulgly motorcycle, a Bimota DB3 Mantra, and then found a Bimota enthusiast that wanted a custom bike. Analog transformed the bike into a thing of beauty. It features a custom subframe, 1 off tank and seat, custom fork brace, Alpina tubeless spoke wheels and a $6,000 ISR brake system. Engine updates include FCR carbs with velocity stacks, EVR slipper clutch, custom exhaust and belt covers.

1.       Analog Motorcycles – DB3.5, 96 Bimota DB3 Mantra

2.    Team Triumph – Green Manalishi, 2014 Thruston

3.       Thomas Foulds, Working Class Choppers – Jizzeppi, ’82  Suzuki  GS450

Additional Awards

People’s Choice was won by Josh Weinmann. He received a Bell Custom 500 helmet that was pinstriped from Skratch.  Working Class Choppers took the Hashtag Hustler award and received a J&P Cycles $150 gift certificate. SHO DOG Awards: Mark Gates takes the Rocking K Custom Leather’s chain wallet and Backbone Built Bikes takes the Garage Leathers’ Solo Bag. All award winners received a swag bag of Metal Rescue and a premium cleaning kit from Wizards.

Program sponsors include Progressive Insurance and Harley-Davidson. Contributing Sponsors include Wizards, Bell Helmets, Metal Rescue, Rocking K Custom Leathers and Garage Leathers Solo Bags.

Post by Jack McIntyre, Info & images by Jeffrey Najar, Partner BIKERPROS.COM

Biker Pros ub-free-il-1-PW-1 ub-free-il-1-PW ub-free-il-2-ChopDOcs ub-free-il-3-RICH ub-modharley-il-1-JonShipley-3 ub-modharley-il-1-JonShipley ub-modharley-il-2a ub-modharley-il-3 UB-PC-IL-1-Fusion-2 UB-PC-IL-1-Fusion UB-PC-IL-2-Biggum UB-PC-IL-2-Fusion ub-retromod-il-1-markwebster-2 ub-retromod-il-1-markwebster ub-retromod-il-3 ub-street-il-1-analog-2 ub-street-il-1-analog ub-street-il-2 ub-street-il-3-Thomas Foulds