The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Archive Collection – Book Review

Harley-Davidson Archive Collection

Motorbooks Publishing sent me this seven pound book to review. It retails for $60.00 and is a work of art. You’ll need a sturdy coffee table for this book!

If your going to create a historical compilation of the most important motorcycle collection on earth than you should use the highest standards of photography and printing to do the collection justice. I think Randy Leffingwell, Darwin Holmstrom, Harley-Davidson and Motorbooks have done a fantastic job in creating a work of art. The quality of the paper, printing, photgraphy and of the course the collection itself is outstanding!

As you may know Harley-Davidson Motor Co. opened the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee this past summer at the 105th Anniversary celebration. This book coincides with the opening of the museum for those who can’t make it to the museum or just want their own photo archive of the Motor Company’s rich history. According to Bill Davidson in the forward “this book is a departure from the plethora of previously published articles and histories of our company and our product, for it is the first-ever look inside the Harley-Davidson corporate Archives vehicle collection.”

“No other vehicle manufacturer had the foresight to save what Harley-Davidson has saved for more than one hundred years.” The Motor Co. started the vehicle collection in 1915. There are more than 460 Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Collection which is part of the Harley-Davidson Archives. Starting in 1915 Harley saved special interest motorcycles representing every year from 1915 to present for the collection. Many were taken directly from the assembly line. Some were prototypes and one off customs. The Mo Co repurchased motorcycles to fill in the years from 1903 to 1914 so that every year of Harley history is represented. “The archival artifacts chronicle more than just Harley-Davidson history; they represent the evolution of technology, styling, advertising, and product development. Most important, however, is that the collections reflect the lives of those who built, sold, and rode a true American legend.”

I started reading each year one at a time but have not finished yet and didn’t want to wait any longer to tell you about this masterpiece. Each year has at least it’s own two page spread with photo’s, description, history and interesting statistics. Interesting statistics? Is there such thing? Well, it is interesting to note how many models of each motorcycle were manufactured and how much they sold for back in the early years.

I know this book costs more than most, but if you’re an enthusiast you’ll like it!

If you like coffee table books, you’ll also want The Great Book of Harley-Davidson which weighs two pounds more than the Archive Collection. Pound for pound this has to be the most motorcycle book for your buck compared to any other!

Biker Brotherhood

First State HOG in West Virginia

There is something spiritual about being a motorcyclist that is impossible to explain to non motorcyclists. Part of the mystique is brotherhood! We don’t go into a motorcycle dealership to buy brotherhood, but on the road we experence so many things that we did not expect. No wonder we become passionate about this sport! We are very fortunate as human beings to have a connection that others don’t understand.

There is no doubt that among motorcyclists there is a brotherhood or an “open door policy” for friendship. Making new friends during childhood it is a lot easier than during adulthood. I am guessing this is partly due to the fact we are all thrown together into a school and partly due to the fact that as children we are more open to developing relationships. As an adult it is difficult to make friends. Some males don’t make many friends after graduating from high school or college. Their interaction with other adult males may be limited to co workers.  We become less trusting and throw up walls that inhibit us from starting conversations with total strangers. I grew up in the Boston area and it was unnatural to strike up a conversation with a stranger of the same sex. It’s taboo! Back home, a man who talks to another man he doesn’t know is either gay or about to pull a scam! You only talk to women if you are hitting on them. Under these circumstances it is difficult to make new friends. It is a lot easier of course to start a conversation with someone that we have something in common with. For example a man may feel less inhibited starting a conversation with someone wearing a t-shirt for his favorite sports team:  “hey you like the Bruins, I like the Bruins… we can talk about this topic because we have something in common”. Now let’s introduce the sport of motorcycling…

You ride a motorcycle, I ride a motorcycle… we understand each other! Ah, the refreshing open acceptance that allowed ourselves to make friends with strangers during childhood is back! I joined the First State Chapter of the Harley Owners Group just shy of two years ago. I have made dozens of new friends through HOG. Grown men and women of all ages welcome each other with hugs! There are people I have met recently in my HOG chapter that feel more like family than friends. We are blessed to have found this experience. Motorcycling is so much more than just riding a two wheeled form of transportation!

Now think of your neighbor or the average Joe down the street. He gets married, has children and goes to work day in and day out. He comes home from work tired, spends time with family and watches the boob tube. He doesn’t do much else! He has little interaction with others. He is disconnected and can’t make new friends. He forgets life is an adventure and his journeys are limited. I feel sorry for these people who failed to discover what we have! 

I am a lucky man! I own a Harley Davidson motorcycle that has opened the door to numerous adventures, taken me to places I would have never visited and created lasting friendships I otherwise would not have made. This sport has given me and my wife something we can share together that enriches our lives. Thank God for the Harley Davidson company and the Harley Owners Group!

No wonder there are so many people out to squash our fun. Those people trying to put a stop to motorcycle rallys, loud pipes and enact helmet laws. There are even a few bad apples putting scathing comments on our motorcycle blogs! They are jealous! It’s that simple!

We have it, they don’t! Be glad you have it my brothers and sisters!

Accessories for your Harley Davidson®

Tami Walker and Diva Customs in Virginia Beach

Diva Customs

This past weekend Hairsnipper, Big Ed, RC, and I went down to Outer Banks, NC on a scouting mission for our First State HOG chapter spring trip.  On the way we had the opportunity to stop by Diva Customs in Virginia Beach and meet the owner Tami Walker. 

Princess, Hairsnipper and Diva

Tami is an amazing woman! She is writing a book featuring women motorcyclists and their stories about how and why they began to ride.  Hairsnipper and I submitted our stories to her a few weeks ago, and we have since shared several emails back and forth.  We were going to be coming through the area, so we arranged to take a side trip over to meet this inspirational woman. 

BTW, at last count Tami still needs 17 ladies’ stories for her book, so if you haven’t sent yours in yet please check out her blog for the details and get it in ASAP.  Don’t worry if you think your story isn’t good enough.  Chances are whatever it was that inspired you to ride will also be inspiration to someone else.  Everyone’s story is a great one!

Tami is a female motorcyclist and entrepreneur.  She started Diva Customs about four years ago because she found a need for motorcycles and riding gear that fit a woman’s body, not to mention style.  Her work is amazing!  Check out these pictures of her very first motorcycle.

Diva Customs Sportster

It started life as a Sporty, but now it has a wide-glide front end to make it handle more smoothly, a custom seat, and all kinds of bling (I especially like the air cleaner cover).  This bike has a lot of style, just like everything else in Tami’s humble shop.

Diva Custom Gas Tank

We were welcomed with a smile when we arrived at Diva Customs.  Tami was happy to show us around her showroom as well as the service area.  In the service area, we saw many examples of her work — lowering bikes, putting on Le Pera Up Front seats, custom gas tanks, smaller diameter grips, and easy-pull hand controls.  The Le Pera seats that come in the “up front” models lower the seat height and move the rider 2″ to 3″ closer to the handlebars. Tami said that it is very important to replace the top heavy peanut tank on a Sportster with a custom tank that holds the gasoline at a level below or even with the motorcycles frame. This lowers the center of gravity and eliminates that top heavy feeling that many Sportster owners complain about. The showroom boasted a few completed motorcycle projects for sale, and lots of ladies gear — all of which is fitted and fabulous!  There are also some unique feminine touches to her shop, like the full-length mirror decorated with a large-brimmed hat and feather boa and the rack of alluring corsets for sale (for when you are not riding of course).

Diva Customs Front Room

After almost an hour of visiting with Tami and listening to her stories about the shop, her book, and the time she met her idol (Arlen Ness) we needed to get back on the road.  We all left with hugs and hopes to see each other again at Delmarva Bike Week in September. 

These tough economic times are especially difficult for the small business owner.  Tami Walker is an intelligent and very knowledgeable woman with her heart in the right place, and I wish her and her company all the best.  Check out her website, and keep an eye out for her book when it gets published later in the spring.  And if you are ever in the Virginia Beach area, make sure to stop by Diva Customs and say “Hi”.  You’ll be glad you did.

Click here to visit the Diva Customs photo gallery.

Beyond The Law – DVD Review

 Beyond The Law

Big Ed and Hair Snipper came over last night and we all watched Beyond The Law with Charlie Sheen and Michael Madsen. The movie is based on a true story about Daniel Saxon. Charlie Sheen plays Saxon; a fearless small town police officer who is hired by the Arizona State Attorney General’s Office to go under cover as a Narc. He doesn’t do too well until Virgil aka Dildo, a goofy motorcycle mechanic, takes him into the the biker community. He then poses as a 1% and infiltrates the Jackals MC! Virgil, played by Leon Rippy, is hilarious. Of course Michael Madsen is great as Blood; the cold blooded President of the Jackals. The movie was pretty good. Very entertaining for a 1992 biker flick and can be had for $5.00 or less at some bargain bins. That’s alot of biker flick for the buck!

Click here to watch a preview on You Tube.

Also worth noting is the new book No Angel by Jay Dobyns will be available on Tuesday. No Angel will be the true life account of Jay’s inflitration of the Hells Angels previously covered here at Road Captain USA in the book review of Running with the Devil. Be on the look out for Dobyns promoting his book. I’m not sure how he will do that without the Hells Angels finding him, but he is scheduled to be on the 98 Rock morning show in Baltimore sometime this week.

Cycle Accessory Store

Old fashioned customer service is alive at the
Cycle Accessory Store

J&M CB Radio from Cycle Accessory Store

Diana knew that I wanted a CB Radio for my motorcycle so she set out on a mission to buy me one for Christmas. Through her research she found the Cycle Accessory Store owned and operated by Mark & JoAnn Thompson in Franklin, North Carolina. The purchasing process was intimidating because there are so many different components but Mark helped Diana through the process. Diana told Mark what kind of motorcycle I had and he made sure that she bought all the right parts that would mount to my motorcycle. Diana says Mark was “very nice, very friendly, very knowledgeable and very helpful”. The CB arrived in time for the holiday and I was floored when Diana gave me such a nice gift!

A week later after we returned from our Christmas getaway to Florida I told Diana I had changed my mind and would like to return the CB Radio. She was devestated after all the effort she invested in putting together the perfect gift. Our situation had changed so my priority changed. In the past Diana rode pillion on long trips and I wanted to be able to communicate with the Road Captains on Ulta Classics. Diana has since made it known she will be riding her own bike on future trips. Now my priority will be to communicate with her via a hands free bike to bike communication system.

I called JoAnn Thomson and asked her a ton of questions about different motorcycle bike to bike communication systems. She was a wealth of knowledge and super helpful. I decided I would like to buy two Chatterbox communicators in the spring which would cost about $600.

Now came the true test of customer service: I wanted to return the $588 CB Radio a full month after Diana purchased it, and I wanted a full refund now!

Mark and JoAnn said “No Problem” as long as the items are still in the original packaging. When buying accesories on the Internet I believe the true test of  a company is the ability to return products for full refund. The Cycle Accessory Store passed with flying colors!

I packed the CB Radio using styrofoam peanuts. I shipped it from The UPS Store making sure to choose signature required and to insure the package for the full value of the contents. I e-mailed Mark that the J&M CB was on its way back and if for any reason UPS damaged the package that he should not open it. That he should call UPS to file the damage claim for me. It cost me $27 to ship the package and it arrived perfectly in three days. Several days later Diana received a full credit on her credit card!

Cycle Accessory Store specializes in motorcycle communication, audio and stereo equipment. Mark and JoAnn serve up good ole fashioned one on one customer service. They provide personalized assistance over the phone. They return calls promptly too. They back up their products 100% and they know what they are talking about! They certainly earned the RC USA stamp of approval!

Cycle Accessory Store