Reliving AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days in 2010
The following was featured in the Sept. 2010 edition of American Motorcyclist... [Part 3 of 3] Click here to read Part 1 of 3 or Click here to read Part 2 of 3
By American Motorcyclist Staff
Every year, tens of thousands of riders converge on AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days to celebrate something very simple and surprisingly universal: old bikes. From the roadrace track to the off-road racing to the swap meet and the classic bike shows, to any one of dozens of attractions highlighted on the pages that follow, it’s clear that the vintage motorcycling scene is not only alive and well, but hard on the gas.
Making It His Own: A TT Masterpiece
Mike Bartholomew knew what he wanted, and it wasn’t a stock 1977 Yamaha TT500. So, considering he had a 1977 Yamaha TT500 in his garage, the Parma, Mich., resident went to work.
“I’ve gone through every part and bolt,” he says. “The body work is inspired by a dirt-track theme. I’ve added disc brakes, a pumper carb of a late-model YZ400, a low exhaust. It really is out there.
“Then, obviously, there was the paint job,” he adds.
Full Throttle Ahead: A Ridden Resto
John Kreps moves fast.
The Valley City, Ohio, resident didn’t start vintage racing until a few years ago, but he’s already one of the most serious competitors in the post-vintage off-road ranks.
This year, one of the bikes he brought to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days was a 1978-1/2 Suzuki RM250, set up for the woods.
“It was pretty stock,” he says. “I did full Race Tech suspension in the forks. I’ve got Works Performance shocks in the back. I have a custom-made aluminum silencer.”
Kreps, who has gotten to know a number of vintage racers through his regional online forum Pitracer.com, says that peer pressure played a role chosing this competitive outlet.
“I have a lot of friends who have vintage raced for years,” Kreps says. “They got me into it in 2006. One lent me a bike to ride here. I raced one of my friend’s bikes and won on it, so that was pretty cool. That pretty much flipped the switch for me.
“The next year, I had my own bike that I restored,” he adds. “Now I’m up to 11.”
Rockers: The Subculture Lives
Mike Seate, founder of Cafe Racer magazine, made sure the cafe crowd was well represented, sponsoring a bike show that attracted some remarkable and refined machines.
Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes (kneeling, left) and part of his posse of about 30 who made their way to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days from Detroit.
“I’ve been coming down for years,” he says. “How many places can you go and see this many makes of motorcycles, all kinds and all ages?”
Scot Harden: Desert Racer, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer
On getting his start on motorcycles—and Husqvarnas
“I’ve been competitive all my life. Whatever sport I took up, I was competitive. But there’s something about motorcycles. I’m not really into team sports. I liked individual sports. And motorcycling was the ultimate expression of the individual. When I was 14 or 15, “On Any Sunday” came out, and that really became the blueprint for my life. I chased down Baja until I was the lone dust cloud on the horizon. I won the Baja 1000. I did the International Six Days Enduro, and got my medal. I traveled all over the world racing. “On Any Sunday” gave me a really good road map of what I could be.”
On the appeal of desert racing
“I like the speed. The feeling of speed from a motorcycle just does that for me. I love running from first through sixth, playing around in the upper range of the transmission, that feeling of motion and the big slides and drifts. I would get a thrill of riding along next to the freeway in a whooped-out area, where I’d be passing the cars at like 70 and 80 mph, bouncing across the desert. I loved that.”
On the attraction of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days
“It’s just so cool to be here and see all this passion and all this enthusiasm. For Husqvarna to be Marque of the Year is just a real honor. I feel fortunate that the AMA selected us for that. The AMA is doing a lot of great things for the sport, and this is just one example.”
On how he views motorcycling differently today
“What’s different for me is the fact that I appreciate it all that much more. Having lived through the 1960s and ’70s and ’80s, that golden era of motorcycling, even into this century, to still see the sport stay strong despite the adversity we’re all facing right now is just really reassuring. I have a deeper sense of appreciation for it, and I just feel grateful. It’s so cool to share that feeling with people like this.”