We Love You Karen

Karen on her big girl bike

Mama rode off to heaven on Friday April 24, 2009 at the age of 47. Karen was born in Wilmington, DE, the daughter of Louise Bain and the late Herlan Bain . She was a 1980 graduate of William Penn High School and has been a resident of New Castle County all her life. Karen was a Hairdresser for 30 years. She was a member of First State Chapter of H.O.G. where she was Activities Officer. Karen enjoyed travelling, reading, bowling, riding and spending time at the beach. Most importantly Karen’s heart belonged to her family. She loved and cared for her family and especially enjoyed spending time with her grandson Tyler. Karen leaves behind to cherish her memory her loving husband and best friend of 27 years Edward C. Fortner II; her sons Ryan E. Fortner, his fiancée Marissa Massey and their son Tyler R. Fortner of Newark, DE, Justin C. Fortner and Colby B. Fortner both of Newark, DE; her mother Louise Bain of Bear, DE; her brother Roger A. Bain of Bear, DE; and her mother-in-law Clara Fortner. Karen is also survived by a host of other loving family members and all her friends she has made over the years, all of whom called her “Mama”. Karen was also predeceased by her father Herlan Bain, her brother Bruce H. Bain and her father-in-law Edward C. Fortner. Family and friends are invited to Karen’s viewing and to visit with her family on Saturday May 2nd from 3pm to 6pm at BEESON FUNERAL HOME OF NEWARK, 2053 Pulaski Highway, Newark, DE 19702 (Fox Run), (302)453-1900. A funeral service celebrating Karen’s Life will be on Sunday May 3rd at 2 pm at the funeral home, followed by a viewing and visitation with her family. In memory of Karen a contribution may be made to: Motorcycle Accident Victims, M.A.V. www.motorcycleaccidentvictims.org

Women Riders Month

Princess on Christmas Day

Female Ride Day was introduced in Canada in 2007.  Held on the first Friday in May, this event was created to celebrate the number of women who have chosen to take the front seat and ride their own motorcycles.  Vicki Gray, the founder of the campaign, wanted to raise awareness of female riders and encourage other women to take up the sport.

Female Ride Day was such a success in Canada that it went international the following year.  Women across the United States, Australia, Europe, and of course Canada got out on their bikes to demonstrate their passion for riding.  Some rode on highways and some on back roads.  Some rode solo and some in organized groups.  They rode all types, makes, and models of motorcycles.  But most importantly they got out there to ride!

Diana rides her Sportster

There are 4.3 million female riders on the road today.  We comprise 12% of Harley owners and 18% of all motorcyclists, and our numbers are growing.  Just look at how many women riders we have in our little community of moto-bloggers!

This year the Harley-Davidson Motor Company has decided to get into the act.  This is not surprising since the MoCo has been making great strides in catering toward the female motorcyclist of late.  They have declared the entire month of May to be the first ever Women Riders Month.  The celebration will kick off on International Female Ride Day next Friday, May 1st with special rides for ladies.  Karen Davidson will lead a ride in New York City; and in Milwaukee country-artist Krista Marie will lead a ride ending at the Harley-Davidson museum.


The Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Rider’s Edge are teaming up the first weekend in May to offer Basic Rider courses to women across the nation.  The goal is to set a Guiness World record of 100,000 women trained to ride in one weekend.  With the overwhelming success of Million Mile Monday last year, my money is on them far surpassing that mark!

Ladies, we are making great strides in the motorcycling community.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with the release of Tami Walker’s book Why We Ride which shines a spotlight on women who have hit the open road on two wheels — it shares our stories of how and why we began motorcycling.

You can order this book (click here) and read all about me, BB, Lady R, KT Did, and many others!

Karen on her big girl bike

If you already sit behind the handlebars, then get out there and ride next Friday!  And if you have not yet taken the controls, I encourage you to celebrate Women Riders Month by signing up for a Basic Rider course.  We’ve come a long way, now let’s get out there and ride!

Interview with Tom Zimberoff

Black Art of the Chopper logo

Most motorcycle enthusiasts with an appreciation for custom motorcycles and choppers are familiar with the book Art of the Chopper by Tom Zimberoff. This is an outstanding book featuring first class photography by expert  portrait photographer and journalist Tom Zimberoff. Tom features twenty of the hottest custom bike builders in this book. Each builder has a chapter that starts with a fantastic B&W portrait photo of the artist and is followed by an editoral and then features color photo’s of the most awesome pieces of custom motorcycle chopper bling art on wheels you ever seen. Art of the Chopper was so successful Tom followed up with Art of the Chopper II. In total there are 41 talented builders/teams featured in these two books which are the best selling books about custom motorcycles ever published. I met Tom a few years ago at a motorcycle show in Virginia and he was kind enough to sign my copy of AOTC. Recently Tom came by and left a comment on a post here at Road Captain USA and I leaped at the opportunity to interview him.

1. Tom can you tell me how you got involved with motorcycling and photography?

Let me compress a long story into something you can digest in one sitting. Starting at age nineteen, while I was still in college, I began a successful career as a photojournalist and, later, as a commercial photographer. Early on I became an advocate for photographers’ rights; i.e., protecting business prerogatives by educating photographers and their clients about copyright-licensing issues (i.e., intellectual property) and the importance of establishing a paper trail of business documents. In addition to promoting a higher standard of business practices, I was concerned with promoting effective marketing skills. I believe all photographers will increase their effectiveness in these areas through the use of computer automation.

No one becomes a photographer because he wants to start a small business. They all want to support their art instead. Nevertheless, anyone who wants to become a “professional” photographer can simply hang a Nikon around his neck and jump into the marketplace. The problem with that is, without any knowledge about how to ethically, competitively, and profitably price your work, you undermine the efforts of those who worked hard to establish best practices before you came along. By under-billing and consequently watching your business fail, every new generation of tyros is responsible for ratcheting down prices year after year.

When the Internet came into play in the mid 90s it seemed obvious to me that an opportunity existed both to help photographers make money and to make money myself doing it. First, I realized that while you can’t download a bouquet of flowers, prescriptions drugs, automobile parts, a trombone, or a suit of clothes from the Internet, you can certainly download photographic images. Voila! I realized that if I could create the means to both aggregate and interconnect photographers on the Internet, I would be in a position to license and distribute their images. I created software that rapidly became indispensible to every photographer who tried it because it boosted their business skills, helped them make more money, and kept their businesses profitable. I automated the business paper trail so photographers could spend less time behind a desk and more time behind a camera.

I quit taking photo assignments in 1993 and virtually locked myself in a room for a couple of years to teach myself how to write software code. I created PhotoByte, which thousands of photographers still use. The idea was, when the number of photographers using my software reached critical mass, I could flip a metaphorical switch and they would all be on my network. I would share the licensing revenue created by tens of thousands of other photographers.  

I retailed a simple version of PhotoByte as a proof-of-market concept for several years until I aquired partners who helped me raise nearly eight million dollars in venture capital to start a “real” company. The problem is that founders like myself are often marginalized quickly in such tech deals. When I lost control of my company, those on the board of directors who thought they knew more about the habits of photographers than I do changed the direction of the company. The company failed. I lost my shirt. I needed, quickly, to find a way to make a living.

That brings me to motorcycles. Having already published a book about the business side of photography (Focus on Profit; Allworth Press), I knew I could write. (The book is used as a text at colleges throughout the country.) I couldn’t go back to shooting. It had been ten years, and I lost touch with all of my contacts in that industry. But I still knew how to shoot. And I have always loved motorcycles. I thought I might be able to put together a book about my passions, combining photography, writing, and motorcycles. I got lucky. 

 Art of the Chopper - new

Click here to purchase book at Amazon.com 

2. How did Art of The Chopper come to be and how long ago did it first get published?

The first of two volumes of “Art of the Chopper” was published in October 2003. Volume II was published in October 2006.

Art of the Chopper II

3. Who is the most interesting chopper builder to work with?

That has to be the late Indian Larry. You can get my take by reading his chapter in the book, I think.

Indian Larry Portrait

Indian Larry Famous Daredevil

4. Can you tell us what makes a particular motorcycle photogenic compared to another?

Photogenicity, if I may coin a word, is not my criterion for photographing motorcycles. In fact, photographing them is entirely incidental to their celebration as artworks. My photographs are merely illustrations, as they are suitable for inclusion in a catalog of these objects d’art. 

However, I can speak to the criteria that make a motorcycle art.

5. What types of motorcycles do you like to photograph?

Beautiful ones. What is my criteria for beauty? Well, we have to begin with a conceptualized, hand-made machine that, in my mind, exemplifies a convolution of form and function. In other words, form does not follow function nor vice versa. It can work as a sculpture as well as a means of transport. It is literally a vehicle of self-expression. No single aspect of the bike conflicts with any other, neither visually nor operationally. It must also exhibit a combination of flamboyance and minimalism; very hard to achieve and nearly impossible to quantify. Mine are certainly objective opinions. And (with a wink and a nod) I am always right when I identify one bike as a work of art and another as, well, a nice-looking bike that is derivative of someone else’s work — or just a piece of crap. It is my job to distinguish between the two and to proselytize those differences. I am a critic. I don’t see anyone else in the industry taking on that role. And, for the sake of convenience, I call an “art bike” a chopper, whether it sprang from a Ducati or a Harley, or whether it sprang from scrap metal and one’s imagination. 

Finally, it’s not so much that I enjoy photographing them. I do it simply so more people can see them. It’s better that they should be publicly exhibited; hence Art of the Chopper at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum earlier this year and to be shown elsewhere in the future. I do, however, enjoy photographing the artists who create choppers. I enjoy making portraits. Incidentally, it was fun to see a picture of Mister Miyagi wielding chopsticks on your blog. (You should credit the photographer. And, perhaps, you owe him a small licensing fee.) The late Pat Morita was a good friend of mine. My portrait of him hung over the bar at the Imperial Gardens restaurant on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles for many years. Alas, both Pat and the IG are gone.

Pat Morita aka Mr Miagi

© 1981 Tom Zimberoff

6. Do you ride a motorcycle? What kind of bike do you ride if you do ride?

I have a customized H-D Cross Bones. I emphasize the word customized as opposed to custom

Custom Harley-Davidson Cross Bones

Tom Zimberoff’s custom Cross Bones
I also own the chopper depicted on the cover of my second volume of Art of the Chopper:

 Tom’s chopper

Unfortunately, it was vandalized and will soon undergo a metamorphosis into a completely different design. I want to buy a Road King and a Ducati 1000S.

7. Do you have any new projects coming up or that have just come out that you would like to tell me about?

I am working on a third and final volume of Art of the Chopper. My exhibition of AOTC opens at the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala Florida in October this year. It will run through January 10, 2010. The opening coincides with Daytona Beach Biketoberfest, just a few miles down the road.

8. Are you making any appearances this year at motorcycle events? Where will you be if my readers would like to come out and meet you?

I have no appearances scheduled until Biketoberfest. I will certainly be in Daytona Beach and in Ocala for the exhibit opening.

Arlen Ness aka the Chop Father

Billy Lane

Russell Mitchell

Dave Perewitz

Women’s Biker Fashions Revisited

I started Diva Customs three years ago out of the frustration of not having any nice clothing to ride in. It seemed that everything on the market for women riders was originally designed for a man, just downsized for a woman.

–Tami Walker, Diva Customs

This same sentiment is what motivated me last March to write the post “Women’s Biker Fashions.”  I also submitted the article for First State HOG’s newsletter, which was then forwarded to the regional manager and drew the attention of high-ranking officials at Harley-Davidson MotorClothes Division!

Admittedly, even at the time I wrote the article I had begun to see some improvements in the ladies’ apparel at Harley-Davidson.  Nonetheless, H-D officials contacted our HOG chapter in an effort to draw recommendations of what our lady riders would like to see in the MotorClothes line.

I am very glad to see the many improvements that have been made in the past few seasons.  The MoCo really does have an eye out for its market, and is constantly working to satisfy our wants and needs.  Harley-Davidson has made so many improvements in the ladies MotorClothes selections that I felt it appropriate to post a follow-up to my original article.

I recently contacted Kathy Whalen, General Merchandise Category Manager, and was able to ask her a few questions regarding the changes in her division.

Q – I have noticed great changes in the MotorClothes offerings in the past year, particularly in attire that is appropriate for lady riders to wear to work in their professional-type careers.  Has that been a focus of your attention of late?

A – We understand that the passion for the Harley-Davidson brand continues after the ride ends. Offering lifestyle-appropriate apparel along with riding-appropriate gear allows people to express their passion no matter where they are or what they are doing.

Q – Thank you so much for eliminating the “boob pockets” that previously adorned so many of the ladies tops.  Have you received a lot of feedback regarding that particular feature?

A – We listen to our customer’s feedback when designing products. When we develop new products, we look at every way to make it flattering for as many customers as possible.  We strive to provide a balanced assortment of product that appeal to our customers’ diverse needs. We feature products that are custom designed for women, so they are much more than just scaled-down versions of men’s products.

Q – In what ways do you typically conduct research to determine what women are looking for?

A – We talk to our customers throughout the year, especially at events like Daytona, Sturgis. We also gather feedback through our dealer network and receive input from letters customers send us. In fact, our recent Skyline helmets for women were developed after specific customer input to MotorClothes staff at Daytona Bike Week.

Q – A few years ago, H-D offered a purple-trimmed reflective rain suit for lady riders.  I was in love with that thing, but as a brand new rider I wasn’t really planning on doing much riding in the rain.  By the time I decided it was a necessary evil, my purple rain suit was no longer available.   Any talk about bringing it back?

A – That rain suit received a lot of attention…in fact women’s gear in any color (more than just basic black) continues to be in demand. I can’t really comment on future products, however, we have a variety of new rain gear designed just for women with more feminine styling and graphics, including the Women’s Jettison Rain Suit and Women’s Spirited Rain Jacket & Pant, which changes pattern when it gets wet.

Q – I see you have recently unveiled the new Black Label clothing line for men.  Can you give us any advance hints of what is coming in the ladies department?

A – Right now, the Black Label line currently features only men’s styles. However, we’re always listening to customers and will take their input into consideration.

Q – I am so pleased with much of the new selection in women’s MotorClothes, but I still have to do quite a bit of shopping around to find everything that is available.  Obviously every dealer cannot afford to stock every item in their inventory. I see items at Harley-Davidson.com that are listed as “in store purchase only,” but I also see items in stores that are not even shown on the MoCo website.  And the seasonal catalogs I get in the mail only advertise the hot new merchandise for that season.  Is there any plan to provide one central resource that would show everything that is available?

A – Because there are so many products available and availability can change from month to month, it’s not always easy to show absolutely everything available all the time. Harley-Davidson.com is always a great starting point and will show you the newest products available to you.

It appears that women’s biker fashions are taking some giant leaps in a good direction.  I hope to see even more improvements in the riding seasons to come.   (I still want that purple rain suit!)  Until then, let me leave you with this video fashion show featuring me and all of my wonderful new Harley-Davidson apparel… and my new vest.

48 Hour Sale At Competition Accessories

Last month I ordered a pair of camo Kevlar reinforced motorcycle riding cargo pants from Competition Accesories. They were on sale for $59.99 which is $30 off and they are still on sale. Competition Accessories shipped them out quickly and they arrived professionally packaged. I have worn them once and like them a lot. I like cargo pockets but if you prefer jeans then you should know they have black denim Sliders on sale for the same low price. Order over $100 and get free shipping.

Use the following promotion code for 10% off items that are not already marked down: APP130

A limited supply of Camo Sliders Cargo Pants & Sliders Jeans are on sale for $59.99 at www.CompetitionAccessories.com

Black Denim SlidersCamo Sliders Cargo Pants with Kevlar


kevlar reinforced pads

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Motorcyclists

Buell 1125R tearing up race track

According to Stephen Covey “habits are patterns of behavior composed of three overlapping components: knowledge, desire, and skill. because these three components are learned rather than inherited, our habits constitute our second nature, not our first. We are not our current habits; hence, we should avoid defining ourselves in terms of our habits, characteristics, and reactive tendencies. Habits of effectiveness can be learned; habits of ineffectiveness unlearned.”

“Successful people build habits of effectiveness into their daily lives. Often they are internally motivated by a strong sense of mission. By subordinating their dislike for certain tasks to the strength of their purpose, they develop the following 7 Habits and discipline themselves to live in accordance with fundamental principles.”

In other words the average biker can transform himself into a highly effective individual through a strong sense of purpose. Anyone can develop new habits propelling themselves to new heights of success!

Mr Miagi

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bikers

Respect – Respect is the glue that holds the two wheel universe together. The successful biker respects himself, others, mother nature, the road and especially the machine! Turn your back on anyone and your butt can be kicked faster than you can say “Oh Shit!”. Underestimate the weather conditions and you can crash faster than you can say “maybe I should have stayed home”. Underestimate the road and you’ll find yourself in the ER faster than you can say “call 911”. Underestimate your iron steed and you will get hurt!

Brotherhood– Brotherhood among bikers is what differentiates us from the rest of the human race. It’s what makes motorcycling special. The successful biker waves at all other two and three wheeled enthusiasts on the road. The successful biker stops to offer assistance to other motorcyclists in need. The successful biker has his brothers back! Why? Because we are all vulnerable and someday we will depend on the goodness of our fellow brethren to help us. Turn your back on the code of the road and when you need help, it might not be there for you. Live your life helping others and the positive energy you create will make you healthier, happier and rich with friends!

Appreciation – Appreciate what you have! If nothing else, you at least know the freedom of the open road. You know the heavenly feeling of man and machine becoming one with the universe as the stress of the modern day rat race fades away. Twist the throttle, the engine rumbles, the earth quakes and you ride!

Knowledge– Knowledge is the key to better riding. Be both the teacher and the student. Learn as much as you can about the mechanics of a motorcycle, how to ride a motorcycle, about traffic conditions, about road conditions and about weather conditions. Share what you know with others and they will reciprocate. Seek out training. Be open to criticism. Dedicate yourself to constant improvement. A smart rider is the best rider!

Bruce Lee

Skill – The best motorcyclists hone their riding skills. Complacency kills; practice makes perfect! Never push yourself beyond your ability but always strive to increase your ability. Your confidence will grow and so will your skill.

Risk– The best motorcyclists understand risk and that motorcycling is inherently risky. Risk is like a ladder. At the bottom of the risk ladder is staying home and never leaving the house. At the top of the risk ladder is riding a motorcycle at high speed wearing only a blindfold! Each rider must make a conscience decision of how much risk he will assume. No self respecting biker wants to stay home safe, but few of us want to be at the top of the ladder. Decide where on the ladder you want to be. There are precautions one can take to lower the level of risk to a manageable amount. Learn how to ride safely by taking an approved MSF approved motorcycle course. Make sure your motorcycle is in safe working order with tires inflated properly each and every time you ride. Wear comfortable well fitted protective gear such as heavy boots, abrasion resistant pants, leather jackets, DOT approved helmets and full finger gloves. Avoid riding at night especially in areas where there are drinking establishments. Avoid riding in bad weather. Don’t drink alcohol until the kickstand is down for the night. The level of risk one is willing to take is a personal choice, the best bikers understand this principal and consciencely manage their risk level.

Maintenance – The best motorcyclists pay attention to maintenance. They take care of their machines, their bodies and everything else that is important to them. You can’t ride safely if your machine is not in proper working order. You can not ride safely if you are ill, upset, tired, hungry or under the influence. Listen to your body and take care of yourself. A short nap may be needed in the middle of a long trip. Maybe there is something else you need to take care of before you can focus 100% on riding. Maybe you have unfinished business at work or home that you should attend to first. The highly effective biker understands maintenance is key to top performance!

Blue Angels

Learn the 7 habits! Become a high performing octane induced piston pumping motorcycle demon who rides like a beast!