Readers and their Rides

Mark Zickefoose

Written by  October 31, 2004

Ask just about any biker in the area around Washington, Iowa, and he or she will probably be able to tell you where Mark Zickefoose lives. Many have been to his house for a meal, for help fixing some mechanical problem, or just to chat. Zick, as he is known to his friends, always makes guests feel welcome, and no one is a stranger for very long. I first met Zick at the Freedom Rally in Humboldt, Iowa, at least a dozen years ago. We were introduced by Mouse, a mutual friend who had moved from Washington to Dodge City, Kansas, where I lived at the time. Since then we have enjoyed riding together on many occasions. When I was in Iowa recently to attend the Davenport antique show and the Thunder in the Sand Rally, I talked Zick into sharing some information about himself and his unique scoot.

CC: What is your occupation?
Zick: I drive a cement truck.

CC: How long have you been riding, and what was your first motorcycle?

Zick: I’ve been riding since I was 19. My first bike was a '76 Sportster.

CC: How many motorcycles have you owned?

Zick: Three – the Sportster, a '79 bagger, and the '81 bagger I have now.

CC: Please tell us about your current ride.

Zick: It’s a 1981 Harley-Davidson with a 1999 4-inch bore, 4-inch stroke, S&S motor.

CC: What’s the displacement?

Zick: It’s 100 cubic inches.

CC: Have you had it dyno tested?

Zick: I did when I still had drag pipes on it, and the test showed 91 horsepower and 106 foot-pounds of torque.

CC: How’s your gas mileage with the big motor?

Zick: I get about 45 miles per gallon. I’m kind of proud of that.

CC: It looks as though there’s barely enough room for that engine in the Shovelhead frame.

Zick: It’s an extremely tight fit. It clears the rear seat post by only one eighth inch.

CC: How long did the installation take?

Zick: R. D. Wulfe installed the motor for me. Working it in with other jobs he had, it took about two months.

CC: What else had to be changed to use the S&S motor?

Zick: I installed a higher torque starter and a heavier battery. I had some difficulty with overheating at first, so I added an oil cooler.

CC: I see you replaced the drag pipes with a Thunderheader. Did you have any trouble with the fit?

Zick: I had to cut an inch and a quarter out of the front pipe and an inch out of the back and re-weld it to accommodate the 4-speed frame.

CC: Why did you decide to replace the Shovelhead motor?

Zick: It spun the cam bearing and took out the cases, and I decided to replace it with the big S&S. Since then I have repaired the old motor.

CC: Do you plan to build another bike around that engine?

Zick: Hopefully. I’d like to build an old-school chopper with a Springer front end, drag bars, and a peanut tank. I haven’t decided between a softail and a rigid frame.

CC: Please tell us about the tattoo on your arm.

Zick: The same design is painted on the front fender of my motorcycle. I designed it with the help of a friend. It’s an Indian Mandela, symbolic of an Indian ceremonial shield.

CC: I have noticed your interest in Native American lore.

Zick: Especially the Sioux and Crazy Horse. I call my motorcycle Akicita Wakan meaning Sacred Messenger in the language of the Dakota Sioux. I gave it the name when I had it painted red with Indian designs including the Mandela on the fender and Crazy Horse on the tanks.

CC: To what motorcycle clubs or organizations do you belong?

Zick: A.B.A.T.E. of Iowa, District 14.

CC: What is your most memorable riding experience?

Zick: I’ve been on too many memorable rides to name one as the most memorable. My most recent memorable ride was the trip to Kansas City for the Dave Mann Benefit. That one was really special.

CC: What rallies and events have you attended and which is your favorite?

Zick: I’ve been to Sturgis several times. My first year there was 1982 and my last was 1990. It’s too big and commercialized to suit me now. I’ve attended the Freedom Rally and the Conesville rallies here in Iowa and Four Corners in Colorado. My favorite is the Red River Run in New Mexico. I like the fact that it’s smaller, like the old Sturgis, and the scenery is great.

CC: Do you prefer riding in a group or by yourself?

Zick: It depends on my mood at the time.

CC: Who are some of your favorite riding buddies?

Zick: There are a lot. I’ve been riding with Frank Russell the longest. He’s 72 and rides a 2000 Road King Classic. He and I are the only ones left in Washington from our original bunch of about ten riders.

After our talk, we decided to let Zick’s lady friend, Melissa, try her hand at photography from the back seat of my Heritage. I gave her a quick briefing on the operation of my camera. Then we agreed on a plan for conducting the photo ride and headed down the highway. It was a fun ride, and Melissa got some terrific photos.

Story and photos by Stripe