Writer's Ramblings


In the history of free trade, there are those rare business opportunities where product, timing, and market conditions converge with great opportunities for success. For Fat Baggers Incorporated, aka FBI, the timing appears to be right!

Motorcycle customization’s start occurred when soldiers returning home from World War II wanted to personalize their newly purchased machines. One of the early custom bikes, the bobber, first focused on cleaning up the front end, leaving forks and a naked front wheel. Owners would then adopt an automotive tire to the rear wheel to get the early fat look. Changes that followed included custom built frames, longer front ends, tall handlebars, modified exhausts, wild paint schemes, gleaming chrome and multitudes of engine upgrades.

The most significant trend in customization of recent years has been the development of the fat tire. The first custom bike to incorporate a rounded profile (non-automotive) tire appeared on the cycling scene nearly 20 years ago. In that time, the growth in wider rear tires has been the most consistently requested modification. Many custom builders today offer quite a variety of fat tire bikes, predominately in either rigid or softail frames. Most, however, are not built with traditional rear suspensions, and certainly very few are made specifically for the Harley-Davidson touring line.

Ironically enough, the baby boomers, children of those WWII veterans and the fastest growing segment of cycle enthusiasts today, are fueling the sales of customized bikes. Now thanks to FBI, middle-aged riders can combine the comfort of the FL line with the demand for fat tires and the market convergence begins to take shape.

Gary Chipp, one of three sons of Bob Chipp, owner of C&C Cycle of Chariton, Iowa, was always a tinkerer. At 16, he built and raced his own drag bike. A few years later, he made a bet with dad that he could modify the frame of an Electra Glide to incorporate a 240 series tire and still utilize factory saddlebags. With trial and error and patience, Gary won the bet. That experience led him to the idea to create and market a bolt-on, wide tire kit for FL models.

The challenge to create an FL wide tire kit was two phase. It started with the stock rear fender and swingarm, both of which limit tire width to a 140 series. Once that was accounted for, the final drive alignment must be addressed. Gary’s design resulted in a new swingarm, rear wheel, axle and a custom rear fender, wide enough to extend over the rear frame struts. For the drive alignment, 3/8” spacers inside the inner primary, as well as an extended transmission shaft allow movement of the final drive out to eliminate tire contact. Custom saddlebag attachments that loop under the new fender then rise up and allow use of stock luggage bags. The mounting brackets and required hardware are CC milled from either stainless stock or aluminum.

The result is a strikingly beautiful wide tire custom touring machine. Clients can choose from a variety of fender styles, taillight assemblies and docking hardware to allow attachment of stock backrests. The kit includes a powder coated swingarm, axle, primary spacers, Metzeler 880, 18 inch 200 series tire, fender and all other associated hardware, with pricing starting at $3,500. Since wheel options are many, the cost of the rear wheel is not included, but FBI does offer a full line to choose from.

The response for FBI products has been very well received! The fabrication and installation facility, next door to C&C Cycle, has more than tripled in the past year, from 5,000 to 16,000 square feet. To spread the word about their product, FBI purchased a custom semi trailer and now travels to national bike rallies, taking orders in advance and scheduling on-site upgrades. Just last month, 15 kits were sold and installed at Bike Week in Daytona.

If you don’t have your own FL yet, you can pick from a line of already customized Fat Baggers, ready to roll off the showroom floor. Say you have a tour pack that you cannot give up? No problem, a customized, removable chrome mounting bracket is available.
If you are into radical wide tires, FBI also offers in house customization for tire widths up to 300 series.

The market is ripe, the product is quality, the staff is friendly and the service is excellent! For more information, contact Gary or his staff at 641-774-7499 or go on-line and check out the gallery at www.fatbaggers.com.

By Nic

The art gallery operated by Vicki Vormehr and Gail Youngquist is located in Lawrence, Kansas, but these adventuresome ladies often hit the road in order to display their artwork at bike rallies from coast to coast. One such road trip was a short one to the American Royal Complex in Kansas City, Missouri, site of the Cycles n More Bike Show the weekend of January 27 through 29. From our booth across the aisle, the Cycle Connections staff observed that Vicki and Gail’s display was a big hit with show attendees. Much of the artwork featured motorcycles, and it was very difficult to pass this mobile art gallery without stopping to browse. During the bike show, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to interview Vicki and Gail.

CC: I know you attend lots of motorcycle events. What attracted you to this one?
Vicki: We’ve never done a rally this close to home. We are normally at far away events like Sturgis, Laconia, or Laughlin. We’re going to the Daytona Rally for the first time this year. Since January is kind of a slack time for motorcycle events, it worked out well for us to come here. The travel expenses were minimal, and we can go home at night.

CC: How would you characterize the artwork you are selling here?
Vicki: We are showing paintings, mostly featuring motorcycles along with children or horses.
Gail: There are also several with women and motorcycles.
Vicki: Probably about 90% of our sales are to women. It seems that women just really like our work. However, our wine prints are more popular with the guys. One features a red Pinot Grigio with a chopper on the label. We also have prints with white wine, and a cabernet with a vintage motorcycle on the label.

CC: You really have lots of great paintings here. Is it all original?
Vicki: Yes, every bit of it is original.

CC: Do you each have different specialties?
Vicki: I do watercolors. My subjects include motorcycles, landscapes, western art, and artwork to decorate children’s rooms.
Gail: I use a variety of media. My own innovation is enameled line drop art. It’s something I discovered by accident when working with jewelry. I also work with pencil, pen and ink.

CC: How much time do you spend on the road?
Vicki: We normally do four or five bike rallies a year. Some are like ten days long. Sturgis is twelve to fourteen days. We also have a studio in downtown Lawrence. We frame and mat everything, and we do all of the artwork, so we’re working seven days a week. In Lawrence, a lot of the business space is being taken over by national chain stores, driving the rents up. Many of the little stores that made Lawrence so fun with all of the variety that you don’t see at every mall are moving out, and that’s sad.

CC: Where do you set up during the Sturgis Rally?
Vicki: We’ve been at the same location in Deadwood for the last four years. We have a forty by thirty foot booth inside a casino. We are above the Eagle Bar that is the original site of the Number 10 Saloon. We miss out on a lot of the rally because we’re working.

CC: Since you are selling to people on motorcycles, I assume you end up shipping most of it.
Vicki: The first year I think we had fifty-two boxes we had to ship out. We didn’t think about our customers not being able to take their purchases with them. The next year we had prints rolled up so they could take them in tubes. We still ended up shipping a lot of it. We will ship anywhere.
Gail: We found out that shipping to Canada cost about three times as much. That was an expensive lesson.

CC: You mentioned that you are working all the time at the rallies. Don’t you get to party at all?
Vicki: We normally work from ten in the morning until ten at night. We’re pretty tired by that time.
Gail: Don’t get us wrong. Some of our favorite stories come from the rallies. We work hard, but we normally take one or two nights to go out for a little bit.
Vicki: We are right about a bar in Deadwood, and people keep bringing us wine. We can’t do that. We have to work. We do T-shirt printing and rhinestone work as well as selling the artwork.

CC: I’m sure you get lots of offers for motorcycle rides.
Vicki: I’m kind of scared of motorcycles. I wouldn’t mind a ride if they don’t go too fast.
Gail: My cousins had Harleys when I was growing up, and I had horses. I’m not as timid about motorcycles and Vicki is.

CC: Please talk about the prices and sizes of what you sell.
Gail: Prices vary a lot. The prints are very nice, and the colors are so good they look just like the originals. If you want an original, we’ll sell you one, but if you want a really good print that looks as good as an original, we have those too. We do the prints on watercolor paper the same size as the originals.

CC: How did you get started going to motorcycle rallies?
Vicki: I had painted a picture of a little boy in diapers and a motorcycle jacket. Gail’s nephew saw it and said we should put it on T-shirts for little kids to sell at rallies. We decided we couldn’t go with just one thing, so that first year we painted about fifteen different scenes we thought would sell. We put the art on T-shirts and sold prints. It was mostly the grandmas and grandpas that were buying them for the kids.

CC: I’d like to hear about how you prepare to paint and where your inspiration comes from.
Gail: We go to coffee every morning. At every coffee house, they know what we order. We just walk in the door, and they start making it. They ask us if we ever work or just spend all our time having coffee. We tell them we are working even while we are having coffee. We have lots of ideas to go over to decide what we want to put on that canvas to take to the next rally. The morning coffee is how we get started. We get our ideas in order and go on from there.
Vicki: Sometimes we’ll sit at a coffee house with a sketch pad and do a rough sketch of what we are going to paint. Lately we’ve been working on lots of beach scenes, since we’re getting ready for Daytona.

Whatever it is that inspires these two, both have a marvelous talent for expressing their fun-loving spirit and their zest for life through their artworks. Some of their work is shown in the thumbnails below. You can learn more about the Vormehr & Youngquist Gallery and see more of Vicki and Gail’s work on their web site at vyartgallery.com. Be sure to visit them at their gallery, online, or at a bike rally near you.

By Stripe
Lead photo by Mike Schweder

Editor's Note: If you're going to be at Daytona Bike Week this year, make sure to stop by Vicki and Gail's booth at the Wreck Bar & Grill, located at 115 Main Street - Daytona Beach, Florida!

I’ll bet you already knew Jack Miller American Thunder V-Twin sells motorcycles. You may even know that they are Kansas City’s exclusive dealer for American Ironhorse and Wild West Choppers. If you knew this, surely you know they have a huge selection of pre-owned, low-mileage Harley-Davidson bikes, including hard-to-find Screamin’ Eagle models. Well, if you think you know all there is to know about Jack Miller American Thunder V-Twin, I have a surprise for you; there is one other large item you may not know. The people at Jack Miller American Thunder V-Twin actually care about their customers.

A few weeks ago as I looked ahead to events and rallies we plan to attend this summer; I came to the realization that my wife was going to need a more comfortable ride than my old Fat Boy for the miles I plan to log. I filed this in the back of my mind because, unfortunately, my ex-wife did her best to destroy my credit a few years back. Stephanie and I have worked hard to rebuild my credit, but it is still, by no means, sterling. I was sure there was no way to get financed on a new bike.

Fast forward a week or so later, I stopped in at Jack Miller American Thunder V-Twin with Cycle Connections Editor-in-Chief Mike Schweder to use up a lunch hour hanging out with Parts Manager Mark Parman and Parts Associate Tattoo Dave. I have known these two for quite a while, and they have always taken excellent care of me on my parts-buying adventures. They keep track of a large stock of parts and accessories and always seem to have just what I need. While I like to think they stock their inventory with me in mind, I know it is the busy three-lift bike shop on the other side of the wall that gets much more of their attention. Mark handles double duty as Service Manager and keeps his shop clean as a pin, and the lifts are always occupied. After using up most of my lunch hour, Mike and I said our good-byes and headed out. Walking through the back shop packed with motorcycles, a white Electra Glide police bike caught my eye. I stopped to look for just a minute when motorcycle Sales Manager Josh Baker walked up. “I’ll make you a great deal on that bike,” he said. I knew better than to get my hopes up. I explained my credit situation to Josh, and he didn’t blink an eye. “We can get you financed,” he said. He asked if I had a trade-in, and I told him about my Fat Boy. Within minutes Josh had a truck and an enclosed trailer on its way to my house to pick up my bike. Right then and there I knew that this was no ordinary dealer.

To make a long story short Josh, with the help of General Manager Danny Williams, had me financed at a great rate, and I am the proud owner of a great touring bike. I got a great deal on my new bike and got more than I was expecting out of my trade. Customer service like I received is a rare thing these days. I am in a customer service business myself, and believe me, when I say a business takes care of you; I know what I am talking about. Jack Miller American Thunder V-Twins owner Dale Overfelt has built a quality organization and should be very proud. If you are in the market for a production chopper, pre-owned Harley-Davidson, or even the sweet Fat Boy I traded in, I urge you to shop Jack Miller American Thunder V-Twin. These folks will be there for you after the sale with parts, accessories or any of your service needs—I guarantee it. When you do stop by, tell them Loney sent you.

By Loney and
Stephanie Wilcoxson

AutoBody on the Run is more than a catchy name; it’s a way of doing business.
Owner Mike Cupp and painter Scott Sharts don’t sit still. They are both in a state of perpetual motion. To provide service the way they do, sitting does not fit into the equation. Mike believes in some old-time business values that seem to be scarce in today’s world. He believes in providing quality professional work, with attention to all details. He does not stop there, as he believes in providing these services to the customer at a reasonable price.

Mike and Scott have over 20 years of paint and body experience between them, and it shows. The work their shop turns out is fantastic. You may wonder how I can be so positive about their work. I have seen it firsthand. In my daily job I am the service/parts manager at an RV dealership. Mike and his crew have painted coaches worth over $300,000 for my customers, and believe me, if it wasn’t done right, he wouldn’t be my painter.

To provide the quality of work he does, Mike has spared no expense. From the state-of the-art Magic Spray downdraft paint booth he uses, to the European ICI Autocolor finishes he applies, everything is top quality.

AutoBody on the Run is much more than a paint shop though. They can provide all of your fabrication needs on that custom you are building as easily as they can handle the insurance work on your factory bike. Sheet metal fabrication, frame molding, cleaning and mudding tins are all specialties available at this one-stop shop.

Do you want something a little different? Bring your ideas to Mike and Scott, whether it be custom graphics, pin striping, flakes, high solid custom clear coats—anything needed to make your bike distinctively yours. I am so impressed with their work, this photojournalist’s scooter will be coming apart this winter to get the frame molded and painted as well as some new color on the sheet metal, all at the hands of Mike’s crew.

If you need work done right at the right price and want it done when it is promised, whether it be on your scooter, car or truck, AutoBody on the Run is the name to remember.

By Loney and
Stephanie Wilcoxson

What do women, motorcycles and luxury retail have in common? MOTO-GEAR!

One year ago, on October 13, 2004 MOTO-GEAR opened it’s door’s in Kansas City, Missouri to offer men, women, children and pets the most unique and cutting edge motorcycle apparel, gifts, artwork and custom motorcycle parts that the industry has to offer in a luxury retail setting complete with Starbucks coffee and bottled water. Don’t forget to take time out and see if you can find the owner’s pet’s painted in the mural on the back wall. Give the kids something to do while you shop.

The Founder-President, Beverly Harvey, came up with the idea after shopping for motorcycle products in Kansas City and finding few sources for unique items.

“After a trip to Daytona Bike Week and to Sturgis I realized there were so many different products on the market that were not available locally in one shop such as unique helmets, jackets, artwork, gifts, custom bike parts and so on. I felt that size and variety of motorcycle apparel were limited, especially for women, and in an industry where the largest growing segment of new motorcycle riders are women I felt there was a big gap in the local marketplace. I wanted to bring together in one location all the unique, fun, edgy, main-stay products the motorcycle industry has to offer and make it a comfortable and fun environment in which to shop. The response has been overwhelming. Many of our customers love the store and ask if we are a franchise or a chain.” said Beverly

Beverly also went on to say, “We will do whatever it takes to bring to the public the really cool, edgy, cutting-edge, fun stuff the motorcycle market has to offer, such as dog helmets, dog goggles and t-shirts, metal-spiked bra’s for women, helmet hair, novelty and airbrushed helmets, fake tattoo’s, high-end art work such as Blue Dog art by George Rodrigue, one of a kind painted skull cookie jars and the main stay products such as helmets, boots jackets and much, much more.”

“If it is motorcycle cool you will find it here…at MOTO-GEAR”

For more information, stop by or contact Beverly at (816) 455-4327 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here’s a captivating mission statement: “We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling. . .” It continues, “by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles . . . in selected market segments.” Voila! That’s the essence of Harley-Davidson, the highly enviable company who has taken decades-old twin-cylinder, push rod engine technology and created one of the most desired lines of products available anywhere! You may ask, “How do they do it?”

My participation in the Open House at the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations and Power Train Facility in Kansas City the past four years has been a fascinating experience that has stirred my curiosity and increased my awareness. To better understand the company's success, recognize these facts. They’ve designed very reliable, highly desirable motorcycles with first-rate quality control. They are continually expanding their product line and production volume. They maintain a highly functional partnership with a massive network of dealerships. Perhaps most importantly, they continue to maintain a very cooperative relationship with existing customers while creating that same connection with their new clientele. One of the best examples of their customer connection is subtly on display during their Open House events.

This year’s event, Friday and Saturday, September 9 and 10, was particularly special for me. Not just because I toured the facility again or because I had the opportunity to test ride many of the new bikes and get my adrenalin buzz, but mostly because I was able to spend time with the people who work behind the scenes that make this business run. I also had the opportunity to spend some time with the individual responsible for delivering the demo fleet and providing oversight of the program at open house events and at large biker events coast to coast.

To better understand the business/client relationship, I spent some time with the Demo staff present for the Kansas City event. Volunteers from corporate offices and operations facilities all across the country directly interact with customers in a number of ways. Employees Alice Klyeman, a mechanized assembler from York, Pennsylvania’s Final Assembly Plant and Susan Keey, from Accounts Payable in the Juneau Avenue corporate office were both at their first Demo event. Although assembling saddlebag rails and performing accounting functions may not prepare them for front line customer service, collecting registration information was a role they both enjoyed. As the first to meet and greet current and potential customers, they and others collected information from 675 registrants. Both were impressed with the people they met and both acknowledged that it had been a great experience. Susan made a very good point regarding the business/client relationship, “Demo rides allow people to pick out the bike that fits.”

Moving from registration over to the lines of demo machines, grouped by model and awaiting the anxious riders, I had the opportunity to spend time with more company employees. These staff members were there to assist riders on their arrivals and departures from the tour routes. Down from Milwaukee were Rosie Rodriguez from Capital Drive, where Sportster motors are built and Dawn Schultz, from the Pilgrim plant where the Twin Cam 88 motors are assembled. Rosie, a machinist with four years in the company, works with the cylinders. Although she doesn’t have a bike yet, her favorite ride is the Road King (smart lady!) With 5½ years of experience, this was Dawn’s second Demo event, but her first Open House. Her normal job is the final engine prep, inspection and fluid fill, then crating for shipment to York, Pennsylvania or the Kansas City Final Assembly. After touring the Kansas City facility, they both were excited from their growth in perspective. “This is a very nice facility,” Dawn said and followed up with, “it was nice to see where the finished products I’ve worked on are delivered.” Neither hesitated in recalling the positive experiences of the previous couple of days, and both again commented on the friendliness of the facility workers and the demo riders.

Last but not least, I spent some time with Randy Dunn, whose official title is Project Manager-Demos and Shows. Randy is responsible for delivery, maintenance and care of the demo fleet, operation of the demo program and care of the traveling museum. It has to be one of the most unique jobs in the country. For eight months of each year, Randy lives out of a company-provided motor home and travels to each of the open house events at the Harley-Davidson plants. He also attends all the big rallies and events across the country, including: Sturgis, Daytona, Laconia and Laughlin. For each of his destinations, he is assigned a different group of employees who support the operation of the demo program. We sat in the plush comfort of his traveling home and for about an hour, chatted about this business, about Harley-Davidson the company, about the passion to ride and touring, about world history and museums and the civil war and about life in general. Yes, we really did touch on those topics.

Randy’s experience prior to Harley-Davidson is distinctive. As a former member of US Special Forces, his exposure from many different situations has clearly broadened his perspective and more than prepared him for this role that he relishes. Single and with no children, he doesn’t appear to be burdened with the job requirements of traveling and very much appreciates the opportunity he has been given. We spent some time discussing the unique success of the company and the feeling of contribution he has as an employee in this position. In his words, “Demos provide an opportunity for employees, who otherwise may not get out, to learn about the line of bikes, their differences and model changes and to get to know the people who purchase them.” He continued, “Since all company staff who work at these events are volunteers and want to be here and the people lined up to ride want to be here, it’s a win-win situation.” As I departed, recognition of how unique this opportunity was set in, and my own perspective about the company and the employees I had met, reached a new level. It was truly an intriguing and entertaining discussion.

Telling the story of the Demo ride also requires some discussion of routes and the hardware I had the opportunity to straddle. There are two designated paths for demo participants. The self-paced route for all machines except Buells and V-Rods was just over nine miles and covered mostly two-lane back roads. For Buells and V-Rods, there was a designated group ride route that was just over 12 miles and did provide for some four-line highway travel. I planned to capitalize my opportunities and ride as many of the new models in the 2006 model line as I could, but there are so many new bikes this year, and so little time, that I just didn’t get to them all.

My first ride came with the latest entry in the touring line, the Street Glide. This bike is clearly a Willie G. creation. With the Electra Glide Standard as the clay building block, the Street Glide modifies the front fairing with a sleek new look. By eliminating the running lights, placing the turn signals on the bars, integrating the mirrors into the fairing and shortening the windshield, the front view is streamlined and the finished product is a customized, low profile, open road cruiser! At six feet tall, the volume of wind in my face at highway speeds was perfect! The finished product is sleek and clean, and the ride from the injected TC 88 was smooth and strong. Another special addition is the new Harman/Kardon audio system, introduced this year, which delivered clean, crisp stereo sound. As a bagger rider, this latest FL model left me impressed and asking for more.

The next new machine I tested was a product that you knew was coming and wondered why it took so long for the motor company to deliver; the factory fat tire! For 2006, Harley is offering several of the Softail models with a two hundred series tire and they look good! The particular model I tested was the Springer Softail. On board, the seat was firm but low, easily allowing my feet to reach the ground. The first thing that caught my eye was the gleaming chrome headlamp and my reflection in it. The forward mounted pegs required some personal adjusting and seemed to be fitted more for a shorter rider. The counter-balanced TC88B is a smooth performer as well. This machine has a distinctively different feel than the rubber mounts. My first inclination of the ride with the wider tire was that it was more difficult to initiate a turn with. This may have been the product of the fat tire or the Springer front end, but I’m confident that after some time in the seat, you will learn to successfully navigate this retro-look cruiser exactly where you want it to go.

Next up were the high revving, high performance hot rods. Each year, one of my objectives from the open house demo event is to ride the speed demons and get my annual jonesn’ for adrenaline rushes out of my system! As much fun as these tire squealing, inertia generators are to ride, I don’t need more education or my dad to tell me that if it were my daily rider, I’d either end up with a suspended drivers license, insurance I could not afford or injured because I simply could not exercise responsible discipline with this much power at my disposal. And don’t think for one second that those who plan this event don’t recognize that there are people just like me, frothing at the mouth for a fast ride on these bikes. They clearly understand the importance of maintaining control over the riders of these machines. As a result, all V-Rods and Buells are demo ridden during designated time periods and with lead and trail riders. In most circumstances though, they do allow some leniency between the front and the back of the pack, so you still can have fun, as long as you behave responsibly!

My first test ride of the high performers was the new Street Rod. Introduced this year, this model of V-Rod comes already dressed up with custom 10 spoke wheels, two-tone silver and black power train, straight shot dual pipes and low rise adjustable bars, to begin with. It maintains the standard VSRC 120 hp, 1130 CC power plant and incorporates a new 180 rear tire, and mid mounted pegs. Being in the V-Rod family, it clearly distinguishes itself with lighting quick acceleration, responsive brakes and agile steering. Its striking good looks set it apart in the V-Rod family. Even with all of this, the riding position and set up on this bike was just not the right fit for me.

Next up was the Buell Firebolt. This bike is built as the new age sport bike. The riding position with the seat further back and the clip on bars forces you over and down onto the tank, overlooking the front wheel. This is not a particularly pleasing experience for someone who is used to sitting upright on a Road King with hangers, a windshield and backrest! But, I had signed up for it and I was going to ride it out. Though balanced incredibly well, the Firebolt is a taller in the saddle machine and will challenge riders with shorter legs. Its overall light weight, high torque engine and tight shifting pattern provide acceleration that will easily bring the front end up! And just as quick as you can take off, its braking system was incredibly strong and with effort from as little as one finger, will allow you to raise the rear end as well! Demos for these machines require full-face helmets. After my demo ride, it’s certainly clear why! In the hands of less experienced riders, these are perilous machines, but put them on the track with a skilled racer and I'm confident they will more than hold their own. Although I appreciate the intent and design of these machines, they are just not my style of bike.

Saving the best for last was entirely coincidental. My final test ride was, in my opinion, one of the best engineered bikes I have ever had the opportunity to ride; the Screamin Eagle V-Rod. For those who may not know, the Screamin Eagle line from Harley-Davidson are highly customized, high performance factory machines with limited production. With a 240 series rear tire and a list of chrome accessories longer than the Nile, it oozes with custom style and class straight off the showroom floor. It is eye catching indeed! The riding position on this V-Rod, with forward controls and the taller and wider bars was perfect for me. I was comfortable and ready to rock!

As our group began, I patiently picked my spot near the back of the pack. When we progressed, I laid back and waited for gaps between myself and the rider in front. When the gap was narrow, I weaved back and forth in my lane and worked the brakes. Its feel was secure and the effort to maneuver was undemanding. When the gap widened enough, I gave it some gas! Saying high performance and V-Rod sounds oxymoronic, but there clearly is a difference between this rod and the others. The experience was comparable to that of a world-class roller coaster, just as it reaches top speed on the downhill side of the apex! It was truly amazing acceleration! The tach moved like a wiper blade on high, starting at just below 5 grand and peaking out near 9.5! In this case, the company claims an extra 10% horsepower from the 1250 cc power plant with high flow heads. After my 20 minute ride, I’d say that number is a bit conservative! The only thing really slowing me down, besides the rider in front, was the volume of wind that was generated during those horsepower bursts, nearly blowing me off the bike! The overall experience was unforgettable. While seriously reconsidering my earlier statements about owning one of these high-speed bikes, I called my wife, who promptly told me in so many words “to put the crack pipe down!”

On Friday, the plant was in full operation and if you took the tour, you likely had to move to the edge of the path more than once as forklift operators delivered materials to continually feed the assembly lines. One interesting aspect was a new display on the assembly line floor. Space had been opened up where previously wheels were laced and tires were mounted. During the event though, this space was used to display one of each model from each assembly line, including the new V-Rod Destroyer- the factory guaranteed-under nine seconds straight out of the crate-drag bike. Seeing that much open space on the floor certainly stirred my curiosity regarding what changes are in store for that partial of real estate in the assembly area?

Over the course of those two days, the overall experience was a smorgasbord of fun and knowledge. While the facility opened their doors to hundreds of visitors and while Randy and company kept the demo fleet running, I continued to absorb the phenomena of Harley-Davidson. I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with the people who make it happen, both in the plant and on the tarmac and the experience again increased my awareness and curiosity. Where else does a vendor deliver new products to current and potential clients for demonstration without charge?

After that weekend, my confidence in their fundamental operating philosophy solidified and I pondered one last consideration: Some companies have it figured out. Some companies never will.

Story and photos by Nic

If you like Rock 'n Roll, ribs and motorcycles—and who don’t, then I hope you made it to Worth Harley-Davidson North’s 10th Annual Rock 'n Ribs customer appreciation day on Saturday, August 20. Riders from all over KC and the surrounding area always look forward to this annual event, which can best be described as a fun-filled biker carnival.

I mean where else can you go to get 15 percent off everything in the store, check out all the great 2006 bikes, listen to Blues Notions cranking out some awesome jams, while eating some of the best FREE barbequed ribs you’ve ever tasted. Affordable Elegance is the caterer of choice for Rock 'n Ribs and several other large biker events around the KC area.

I have no idea how they can barbeque such huge quantities of delicious falls-off-the-bone ribs. Even if you go back for seconds an hour or two later (OK…guilty as charged), you always get the same great taste! All I can say is “Please show me how you do it? I’m sure it’s probably some secret family recipe, which if they showed me they’d have to kill me, but as good as these ribs are, it might just be worth it!

Frankie and crew from 101 the FOX was broadcasting live from the parking lot and everyone was given a chance to spin their Wheel of Fortune to win some great prizes. You could also register for a chance to win a Mellencamp-Fogerty VIP Experience at their upcoming concert on September 12. How cool would that be!

Don Post and the March of Dimes Bikers for Babies® gang was there promoting this year’s ride, which is on Sunday, September 18 at the Kansas Speedway. They also had their 2005 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide giveaway bike displayed, which you may have noticed on the cover of this month’s issue. This gorgeous bike was donated by Worth Harley-Davidson North.

Triality, Inc. had a table setup next to the showroom entrance to promote their Warriors on Wheels Dice Run on Saturday, August 27 and just inside the showroom doors, the Greater Kansas City Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) had a membership drive going on and was busy signing up new members.

On the other side of the showroom I could hear two sewing machines humming away as riders patiently waited to have patches sewn on their vests and jackets. One of these days I’m going to have to remember to bring in my drawer full of patches and have them sewn on. Darn it…forgot again!

Out in the parking lot, Mike Grahn and his team of professional bike detailers from Pig Glow were busy polishing up a new bike and promoting their products. I have several bottles of their products on the shelf in my garage because this stuff works so well! Since I’m always in a hurry, one of my favorite items is the Quick Detail. You can spray this stuff on your paint, chrome, fiberglass and plastic surfaces, then wipe it off with a soft cloth (I use baby diapers) for a super high gloss shine.

So there you have it! Another great show of appreciation from the one and only, Worth Harley-Davidson North!

Story by Mike Schweder

Photos by Mike Schweder and Stripe

It’s that time of year again! Although fall is just around the corner, there is one event that many riders in Kansas City eagerly anticipate, and that is the Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Power Train Operations Open House event. This year's open house will be held on Friday September 9 and Saturday, September 10. What makes this such an anticipated event, you may ask? This demand is largely around the availability of the Motor Company’s large demo fleet. It’s also an opportunity to take a tour through the assembly plant and witness first hand the assembly of Sportsters, Dyna Glides and V-Rods.

At least one bike from each of the new models will be available to ride and over 40 bikes in total, with NO CHARGE! It’s not that often that you can experience anything associated with Harley-Davidson without parting with some dollars! So, if you want to take one of these beauties out for a ride, all that is required is a valid motorcycle license and a DOT approved helmet. You’ll follow a designated tour path that gives you access to both back roads with some hills and curves and a brief run at highway speeds.

The demo fleet includes new 2006 bikes and at least one of every model available. This year’s lineup includes new bikes like: a custom FL model called the Street Glide, a custom Dyna, whose roots go back to post WWII, called the Street Bob, the 35th Anniversary edition of the original factory custom Super Glide, complete with its white paint and red and blue striping, and a new line of 200 series fat tire Softails. There’s also the ever popular Screamin’ Eagles which include an Ultra Classic and Fat Boy.

Having participated in this event the previous three years, I see it as an opportunity to get my annual adrenaline rush aboard the bike that’s the fastest machine the company has ever built, the VSRC V-Rod! Because of the demand to test ride the V-Rod, scheduled tours are set up. Riders wishing to hop on the V-Rod will take their demo as a group, with lead and trail riders who will give you an enough of an opportunity to understand what these screamers are all about! Riding the V-Rod is an unforgettable experience that I encourage all speed enthusiasts to try, at least once.

Self-guided facility tours will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The plant will be in full production on Friday, which provides a very interesting look inside of plant operations. The fabrication side demonstrates sheet metal cutting, pressing, preparation and assembly, as well as robotic welding of frames. On the production side, all Sportsters, Dynas and V-Rods are assembled and rolled off the line. To participate in the tour, be sure and bring a photo ID, closed toed shoes and leave behind your knapsacks, cameras, phones and pocket knifes. You will be required to pass through a metal detector and you must be 12 and over.

In addition to the tours and demo rides, local dealers will be present. Food vendors and related products will also be available. Saturday afternoon and evening, Platte City, in conjunction with the open house, will be holding their End of the Trail Festival, which includes a rally, parade, dice run, and a street dance featuring The Bob Harvey Band, as well as a town carnival from 4 p.m. until midnight. Make your plans now and test ride that new Harley you’ve only dreamed about before!
By Nic

Classic Leather and Lace is owned by Kay Fleming, who retired from BellSouth in May of 2003 and decided to venture out on her own. It has always been a dream of Kay’s to open her own lingerie boutique, so on October 9, 2004 Classic Leather and Lace opened their doors for the first time.

Kay and her husband Danny are avid Harley riders and it was at Danny's suggestion that she add biker leather and accessories to the store. Needless to say, leather and lace go very well together! They are also hoping to expand their store to carry used motorcycles in the very near future.

Classic Leather and Lace also holds fashion shows throughout the Birmingham area at different bike events and bars, so if you are interested in hosting a show, please give them a call to discuss the details.

Also make sure to check out the Classic Leather and Lace web site to shop online. Their 2005-2006 Calendars are also available, and you can purchase them online as well.

The next time you are in the Birmingham area, make sure to stop in and visit Classic Leather and Lace, because they are always looking to meet new people.

Classic Leather and Lace is located in Birmingham at 505A Cahaba Park Circle off Hwy 280 behind Burger King and you can also find them at bike rallies around the Alabama and Florida area.

Hours of operation:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m,
Thursday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Ride Safe from Classic Leather and Lace.

Information provided by Kay Fleming

So you want to plan a beautiful, scenic trip on your bike. One that would challenge your riding skills a little, with some mountains, curves, bends and twists. And one that would end up at a warm, inviting resort, just waiting to fulfill your and your bike’s every need!

If you think a place like that doesn’t exist, think again!

If your trip planning takes you anywhere near the Birmingham or surrounding area in Alabama, you need to check out 29 Dreams Motorcycle Resort. Five years ago, Tim Langley and his wife Kathy had a dream (get it?), to open a resort that would be a place for the motorcycle rider to go and meet up with friends, eat, and spend the night, without the hassles that sometimes come with traveling on your motorcycle.

That’s right; I used “resort” and “motorcycle” in the same sentence. Because this place was not only built for bikers, by a biker, they actually cater to the riders.

Back in August of 2000, Tim and Kathy came upon a piece of property for sale at the foot of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains consisting of 29 acres. And after years of being made to feel unwelcome at most establishments, just as so many of us who ride motorcycles have in the past, they decided to take this 29 acres and one old red barn with a loft and turn it into the warm, inviting oasis for bikers that we’ve all been waiting for! Kathy’s dad Pat Ciandella also came on board with them and now enjoys helping out. Everyone enjoys having him around as well! Whether you’re just looking for a day trip, or planning to spend a night or two, this is the place to be!

The main gathering hub is located front and center of the property in the old red barn, which, after taking the wood off the outside and using it for the inside walls, along with many other changes, was transformed into this great lodge where you can quench your thirst with some of the coldest beverages in town from their fully stocked bar. Or, if you’re hungry enough to eat the hide off your seat, they can fix that too. They serve three meals daily with dinner specials Friday and Saturday nights. And guys, they have a huge killer burger and a nachos plate big enough to share.

Enough about the excellent food. Now that you’re full, the only problem is figuring out whether you should go upstairs and work off some of that food at the pool table or at the dart boards or do you just want to go “veg” out in front of the big screen TV in one of the huge black wood and leather rockers or on one of the sofas. Or wait, those rockers out on the porch look pretty inviting too.

There are also several picnic tables outside and there is another bar out there for those emergency beers that may be needed as soon as you step out of the saddle. For those who just wish to chill, there are a few swings and tables nestled amongst the trees. There is also a very large pavilion where you can find Jeff Gailey and the band playing most weekends.

Not bad considering that Tim and Kathy were serving Cokes out of a cooler at the red barn when they opened the place in 2000. They did put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it during the winter of that year. Tim said that they started with getting “running water”! And by the time they officially opened May 26, 2001, they had added a cedar bath house with five very private, air-conditioned bath suites. It too has a large porch on it.

There is a large barbeque pit for gathering around to tell stories of rides back in the day.
A unique aspect of the property is they built seven cozy log cabins and made several beautiful tent-only camping spots for those who just threw a few things and a tent on the back of their bike and got the hell out of town. For those who didn’t bother to pack the tent before they left, don’t worry—Tim and Kathy will make sure you are well taken care of. They have a getaway package you can purchase where they will rent you a tent, set it up for you, supply sleeping bags, pillows, and towels. They will even bring you firewood and start a fire for you. Cabins come with one double bed and bunk beds. Pillows, linens, and towels are included. If you call ahead, they will even have a cooler full of ice cold beer waiting on you in your cabin when you get there.

There is a wonderful little stream that flows all through the property, which makes for a nice, leisurely stroll through the woods around the camping area. Tim also had another smaller red barn built that he leases to Bob Foreman, who sells apparel, accessories, helmets and such—all the little things you might need. Just this year, they added a “Moto-Shop” that he leases to Roger Bates, who will be there to help you with all of your mechanical needs that might arise. All of the staff are very friendly; they will come track you down outside to bring you your food. Anything you might need, they are there to try and get it for you.

Come discover for yourself the treasure that so many have already found right here in Vandiver, Alabama. With 29 acres to spread out on, Tim and Kathy say they have plenty of room for growth, so there’s no telling what kind of good treats they have in store for us in the future. A lot of the motorcycle events already incorporate 29 Dreams Motorcycle Resort in their itinerary.

If you ride a bike, you’re welcome here. This IS your place! So come, kick off your boots and relax with your friends, or come and make some new ones!

You can find 29 Dreams Motorcycle Resort at:
P.O Box 29 53707 State Hwy. 25-Vandiver Alabama 35176
Office Phone:(205)-672-0309/Fax(205)-672-8628

For additional directions or a map, see 29 Dreams Motorcycle Resort’s business information page and click the Map/Directions button.

By Lynn Reynolds and
Leigh Lilly - Birmingham, Alabama