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COVID-19 vaccinations being offered at Laconia Motorcycle Week

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by Naoko Funayama from https://www.wmur.com

The 98th Annual Laconia Motorcycle Week kicked off on Saturday with big crowds, nice weather and COVID-19 vaccinations.

A National Guard Tent was set up at the rally headquarters to distribute the vaccine.

“We’re just appreciative of the opportunity to serve the state of New Hampshire. This is the highest level that we can do as Guardsmen for our state is to serve us in a public need,” said Staff Sgt. Dante Davis Jr. of the Army National Guard. “It’s just the sincere appreciation of not only our state but just Americans all around the world.

Event organizers also set up hand sanitizer stations to make hand sanitizer readily available.

COVID-19 guidelines weren’t the only safety guidelines event organizers emphasized this year. Organizers have asked Granite Staters to be cautious of traffic and speed, and ask that people try to maintain a safe distance from bikes when driving.

Laconia Motorcycle Week prepares for return of bigger crowds, vendors

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by Andy Hershberger from https://www.wmur.com

LACONIA, N.H. — Laconia’s Motorcycle Week will have a very different look and feel than it did in 2020

The declining COVID-19 numbers are making a big difference this year as Laconia gets ready for the 98th annual Motorcycle Week.

“It means we’re getting back on to life and back on to what we all do best in the hospitality industry, so we were grateful to have it last year, but this year is especially important,” said Cynthia Makris, Motorcycle Week president.

There was a rally last year, but it was a completely different event. It was held in August instead of June, crowds were down and the normal carnival atmosphere suffered.

One difference this year will be the vendor tents. Last year, just four nonprofits were allowed to set up shop in Laconia. This year, there will be more than 200 tents selling everything from T-shirts to leather goods.

Officials said that alone will be a big draw for the event.

“It’s huge this year, especially after all our businesses have gone through in the last 12 to 15 months,” said Scott Myers, Laconia city manager. “And this really kicks off the summer season. It gives it a jump start because schools aren’t quite out yet and it’s not really family vacation time.”

Officials say safety measures will be in the form of awareness, hoping visitors are mindful of where the state and the country are at in terms of the pandemic.

“We’re encouraging everyone to still remain socially distant when possible,” said Jennifer Anderson, of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. “We’re going to have handwashing stations and sanitizer stations available.”

Officials said the best way to be socially distant is for people to get on their bikes and ride.

 

Peter Makris Memorial Run Kicks Off Laconia Motorcycle Week on June 12

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The Peter Makris Memorial Run hits a milestone in this 15th year as the “Official Kickoff to Laconia Motorcycle Week®.” Started as a tribute to NASWA patriarch Peter Makris, the charity run offers the best riding experience with the escort of NH State and local police, offering a “feet-up” ride through the Laconia area scenic hills, lakes and small towns.

The run also accentuates one of the reasons we ride—to give back to the community. Bikers are known for their generosity and heart and this ride is an expression of both. Makris was for many years the face of the legendary NASWA Resort, the Official Hotel of the rally, welcoming all to “The NAZ” with his warm smile and handshake. He was well-loved in the community as a leader and is now commemorated in this 15th annual ride which has raised over $475,000 for area charities including the Laconia Fire Department, Easter Seals “Veterans Count,” the Laconia CERT team, and last year, the Belknap House homeless shelter and Building Dreams for Marines.

This non-profit was formed to assist Marines and other U.S. military veterans with mobility issues as it retrofits residences to enable vets and their families to live comfortably and confidently in their homes. Peter Makris’ service in the Marines and membership in the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club brings the charity full circle.

“We know my father would be proud of this initiative,” says Cynthia Makris, president of the NASWA Resort who followed in her father’s footsteps to make the NASWA a strong community service and contributor. The Resort was founded by her maternal grandparents in the early 1900’s and she now guides 4 generations of the Makris family in maintaining its legacy, with her mother, 96-year-old Hope, busy in the kitchen, baking the desserts for the resort.

The Peter Makris Memorial Run

8:30-9:30 AM – Registration – Pick up your 15th anniversary collector T-shirt, with artwork by renowned Harley Davidson artist, David Uhl’s Uhl Studios design group, chip for a beer “on Peter.” $50 registration – $75 VIP, front-of-the-pack.

10:00 AM – Inspirational opening ceremonies across the street at The NASWA parking lot on Weirs Boulevard. This year the New Hampshire Leathernecks, the U.S. Marine Corp’s motorcycle club, will also be honored and will lead the ride in Peter’s memory!

10:30 AM – Kickstand UP for a no-traffic, “feet up” cruise, thanks to the escort of the State and Local Police. Breezing by other bikers, cruise to another Laconia legend, The New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Feel like a racer, running exciting laps around the track and road course, thanks to NHMS GM Dave McGrath, who offers Memorial Run riders this breathtaking experience.

12:30 PM – After the ride, the adventure continues back at the NAZBar & Grill for the After-Ride Party. The gourmet boxed lunch and beer on Peter will be waiting for you at the NazBar! Participate in the 50/50 raffle and have plenty of fun with new and old friends. Live, rocking music will feature top talent—The James Montgomery Band will again grace The NASWA stage to bring fun to the party all afternoon.

Start your Laconia Motorcycle Week® experience at The NASWA Resort! Share Peter’s passion for riding and help benefit the area’s veterans and first responders on Saturday, June 12 with the 15th Annual Peter Makris Memorial Run.

Be sure to keep checking the events page on the official site of Progressive Laconia Motorcycle Week® laconiamcweek.com for updates on this and many other events at this year’s rally.

Laconia Motorcycle Week® gives great appreciation to all of our sponsors, especially our Presenting Sponsors: Progressive, AMSOIL and Team Motorcycle, as well as the State of New Hampshire for their large financial support of our rally each year.

For more information about visiting the state of NH, check out visitnh.gov.

Laconia – where rallies were invented!

Laconia Motorcycle Week Press Conference invitation

By General Posts

Laconia Motorcycle Week® Welcoming Press Conference Thursday, June 10, 2021 at North East Motor Sports Museum at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 922 NH Route 106, Loudon, NH 03397.

The 98th Anniversary of Laconia Motorcycle Week® begins Saturday, June 12th, 2021 and the Laconia Motorcycle Week® Association invites all media personnel to help us kick-off this year’s Rally at the Welcoming Press Conference hosted by North East Motor Sports Museum at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Thursday, June 10th from 11:00AM to Noon.

Cynthia Makris, President of the Laconia Motorcycle Week® Association, will moderate. Scheduled to appear are:

  • Governor Chris Sununu
  • Captain Bill Haynes – NH State Police Highway Safety Office
  • Laconia Police Chief Matt Canfield & Laconia Fire Chief Kirk Beattie
  • Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer & Laconia City Manager Scott Myers
  • Phil Warren – Meredith Town Manager
  • Chief Mark C. Armaganian | Director of Enforcement | NH Liquor Commission
  • David McGrath – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • Tom Day – Gunstock Mountain Resort
  • Bob Coy – United States Classic Racing Association
  • Tom Netishen – North East Motor Sports Museum
  • Jennifer Anderson & Charlie St. Clair- Laconia Motorcycle Week Association

Media inquiries and to RSVP, please Contact Jennifer Anderson – 603-387-6628 or info@laconiamcweek.com.

Daily Rally Press Conferences for Laconia Motorcycle Week® will occur at the Naswa Resort (1086 Weirs Boulevard) from Monday June 14th through Friday June 18th at 9AM.

www.LaconiaMCWeek.com

Gearhead’s Trike Story

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by Tim Graves with photos from Sam Burns

That old trike was a real Frankenstein’s monster. She was the back end of a Corvair of a 1960 vintage and a front end of a Honda CB 500. She had a full-size keg gas tank on the chariot bed over the engine. The driver seat was a plastic Baja bucket. The passenger seat was none.

Just a little history of what started me on the biker’s road.

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Event Update for Laconia Motorcycle Week

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June 12th-20th, 2021 – New Hampshire – home to America’s Original Riding Rally

This year’s Progressive Laconia Motorcycle Week® promises to be bigger and better than last year’s pandemic-postponed event. The changing guidelines dictated by the response to COVID 19 and subsequent vaccines have made planning for this year’s rally a challenge but we’re proud to announce that all the popular events rally goers have experienced in the past will be back.

In addition to the Hill Climb Expo up Tower Street on June 15th and the Gunstock Amateur Hill Climb on June 16th, the week will feature several rides and “gypsy tours,” a nod to the origins of the rally, when a group of riders, over 100 years ago, first made the trek to Laconia.

The 15th Annual Peter Makris Memorial Ride to NHMS takes place on Saturday, June 12, featuring a police escorted ride around Lake Winnipesaukee and a return to the NASWA resort for lunch and entertainment. On Sunday, June 13th, the AMA Gypsy Tour to NHMS for USCRA Vintage Races begins at 10:30 AM on Lakeside Avenue. Participants will get a 50% discount on race tickets for the day and a free lap around the track at NH Motor Speedway.

Monday, June 14th features the Mae-West Memorial Ride. Riders meet at 8:30 AM at Rally Headquarters for a scenic ride through local towns and ending at NH Motor Speedway. All proceeds benefit local animal shelters. The popular Covered Bridge Gypsy Tour leaves Weirs Beach at 10:30 AM for a 170 mile guided tour to at least 6 covered bridges throughout scenic New Hampshire.

Three more rides originate from Laconia on Thursday, June 17th. The Ride to the Sky guided tour to the base of Mount Washington leaves (from Laconia Harley-Davidson) at 9 AM and the We Love Laconia Motorcycle Week Ride leaves Rally Headquarters at 10:30 AM for a scenic tour ending at NASWA Resort. Make sure to join or watch in tribute as the POW/MIA Freedom Ride tours Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach at 6 PM en route to Meredith’s Hesky Park for the 33rd annual POW/MIA vigil.

Finally, kick-off the 2nd weekend with the new Motorcycle Lights Parade on June 18th! Ride from downtown Laconia to Weirs Beach. This first ever evening ride is a great chance to showcase those LED lights!

Be sure to keep checking the events page on the official site of Progressive Laconia Motorcycle Week® laconiamcweek.com for updates on these and many other events at this year’s rally.

Laconia Motorcycle Week® gives great appreciation to all of our sponsors, especially our Presenting Sponsors: Progressive, AMSOIL and Team Motorcycle, as well as the State of New Hampshire for their large financial support of our rally each year.

For more information about visiting the state of NH, check out visitnh.gov.
Laconia – where rallies were invented!

New Beginnings Bikernet Weekly News for May 20, 2021

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Hey,

This is a momentous day in the Badlands.

Bandit and the Redhead have escaped to the Badlands. This effort was a mixture of organization, money, stress, and perseverance. Someone said I should write a story about the move. At the time, the thought of it terrified me, but I suppose I’m getting to the point… I needed to finish the job first. I will mention one item that was paramount: Coordination.

You could do us a major big favor and share the news with anyone and everyone. We work hard on the news every week and I believe it covers motorcycle related news and freedom news worldwide. You could help a lot, by grabbing the link and sharing it with the world.

Hang on for more reports, and keep freedom alive, forever.

–Bandit

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Annual Steel Horse Rally at Arkansas

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When 20,000 motorcyclists converged on Fort Smith in Arkansas for the annual Steel Horse Rally, Meridian Rapid Defense Group was there to ensure a safe and memorable event.

Large parts of the downtown needed to be closed off to cars and trucks but still left open for the bikers to enter and that’s where Meridian’s Archer 1200 barriers were the perfect fit.

https://www.thesteelhorserally.com/

The Steel Horse Rally is a motorcycle gathering held on Fort Smith’s Garrison Avenue to benefit local charities. This year again, more than $100,000 was raised and an estimated $4.2 million of revenue flowed into city business over the two day rally in May.

Meridian’s CEO Peter Whitford said, “In this situation with a huge number of motorcycles and crowds on the streets, safety was of the utmost importance. By correct placement of our barriers, we were able ensure that cars and trucks were kept out of the mix.”

Meridian’s fully certified deployment team moved in with Archer barriers and quickly secured the street. The barriers, which carry the full certification of The SAFETY Act and each are made of 700 lbs of U.S. steel, were set far enough apart that bikes could easily pass through while larger vehicles were blocked from entering the rally area. The Archer barrier can be moved by one person and can stop a vehicle hitting it head-on at speed.

Capt. Daniel Grubbs from the Fort Smith Police Department explained that security was a big factor, “We set out to ensure the safety of the motorcycle riders and the general public during this event.”

Before the event Meridian worked with the city and organizers to prepare a fully certified vehicle safety mitigation plan.

“The rally was all about people enjoying themselves safely,” said Mr. Whitford. “And, importantly, raising money for local charities. With our contribution of the Archer barriers, we at Meridian were proud that we were able to do our part for local charities in Fort Smith.”

“We are excited and grateful for the return of the Steel Horse Rally,” rally president Dennis Snow said. “This year’s sponsors were vital to keeping the rally alive. A couple of months ago, because of COVID, we weren’t even sure if we would be able to have the 2021 Steel Horse Rally.”

Meridian Archer 1200 Barriers are “SAFETY Act Certified” by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) providing the ultimate standard in keeping people, communities and places safer. For more information about Meridian Rapid Defense Group and the Archer 1200 vehicle barrier visit www.meridian-barrier.com

Historical Perspective Progressive Laconia Motorcycle Week

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June 12th-20th, 2021 – New Hampshire – home to America’s Original Riding Rally

After a COVID-hobbled rally in 2020, Progressive Laconia Motorcycle Week® returns to New Hampshire for its 98th year, June 12 – 20. Ninety-eight years is a long time, longer than most of us have been alive, so you can imagine there are stories to tell about the world’s oldest motorcycle rally. If you’re doing the math, you’ll have to take into account the 7 years the rally wasn’t held to come up with 1916. This was the year a few hundred motorcyclists, organized by central and southern New England motorcycle dealers, traveled north for a “gypsy tour” to Weirs Beach.

Who would have known this would mark the beginnings of a tradition that would span a century? The tour was first sanctioned by the Federation of American Motorcyclists in 1917 and when the FAM disbanded in 1919, the Motorcycle and Allied Trades Association (M&ATA) took over the sanction until 1924, when the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) was formed. Back then, the weekend event centered around races and hill climbs. The number of participants grew each year as did the event’s duration. Over time, the rally blossomed into a week-long event, eventually suffering in attendance and popularity after getting wrapped up in the upheavals of the 60’s. The rally reverted to a 3-day weekend and would remain so until 1991, when organizers revived the week-long event after seeing the success of Sturgis’ 50th Anniversary Rally in 1990. Laconia Motorcycle Week reclaimed the support of local businesses and the AMA as a week-long rally and the oldest gypsy tour in the country.

Today, Laconia Motorcycle Week® is a much-expanded version of the early “gypsy tour” years, offering attendees lots of fun, food, music and, of course, countless miles of scenic riding through New Hampshire’s famed landscape. Over 230,000 riders are expected to descend on the Lakes Region this year, holding the honor of the oldest of the three national rallies with Daytona and Sturgis being Laconia’s sister rallies. Sure, all that noise and leather may seem intimidating, but don’t be fooled. Behind those leather jackets are just regular people; a multi-generational group of enthusiasts, from all walks of life, who all just happen to share in the exhilaration and liberation that riding brings.

So, be a part of Motorcycle Week history. Plan a ride to New Hampshire for this year’s Motorcycle Week (June 12 – June 20). Whether it’s your first or 98th visit, you’ll find the shared passion for riding, around which this event was founded, has never changed.

Laconia Motorcycle Week® gives great appreciation to all of our sponsors, especially our Presenting Sponsors: Progressive, AMSOIL and Team Motorcycle, as well as the State of New Hampshire for their large financial support of our rally each year.

For more information about visiting the state of NH, check out visitnh.gov.

Laconia – where rallies were invented!

Historic Off-Road Show at the Harley-Davidson Museum

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by Skyler Chun from https://www.milwaukeemag.com

Preview: A Historic Show at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Learn all about the history of off-road motorcycling at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

A new exhibit – about the storied past of off-road motorcycles and the people who rode them – has rolled into the Harley-Davidson Museum.

“There’s a deep history here with this type of riding,” exhibits curator David Kreidler says, adding that the company has long made special motorcycles designed to be ridden across difficult terrain. After all, when the company was founded in 1903, roads weren’t widely paved, and riders needed to be able to maneuver their bikes across rutted earth, or dodge fallen logs and debris.

The “Off-Road Harley-Davidson” exhibit was created to coincide with the introduction of the Pan America adventure-touring motorcycle.

One of the highlights of the exhibit, “Off-Road Harley-Davidson,” is the LiveWire, the company’s first all-electric motorcycle. The bike was featured prominently in the Apple TV+ show “Long Way Up,” which followed Ewan McGregor and his friend motorbiking from South America to Los Angeles. Older bikes are also on display.

While the museum is open to the public, it’s planning virtual events as well. To replicate the experience of walking through the galleries, Kridler will lead tours of the exhibit space that viewers can access online if they’d rather not visit in person.

“Off-Road Harley-Davidson” looks back at Harley’s history of all-terrain motorcycles. Visit the Harley-Davidson webpage for more information.

“Off-Road Harley-Davidson” exhibit celebrates the company’s past
by Mark Gardiner from https://www.revzilla.com

To celebrate the launch of its Pan America adventure bike, The Motor Company recently mounted a lovely exhibit called “Off-Road Harley-Davidson” at its museum in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, just as the exhibit was due to open to the public, a surge in COVID cases forced Milwaukee County to close museums!

I recently got a private tour of the exhibit from curator Dave Kreidler. You too can join Dave for a virtual gallery chat on Thursday (cost $6 or free for museum pass holders). The museum expects to reopen to the public next month.

The Pan America has been engineered for everything from comfortable touring to exploring gravel or dirt backroads and taking sand, mud and the occasional river crossing in stride. That might seem like a radical change for Harley-Davidson, but only if you forget that the company’s been selling motorcycles for more than a century. For the first few decades of its existence, sand, mud, and water crossings weren’t off-road challenges — they were features of American roads.

Harley-Davidson is older than 99.9 percent of U.S. paved roads

The first modern asphalt roads were paved in the mid-1800s, before cars and motorcycles. Bicycles became popular in the 1880s and bicyclists were the first group to lobby governments for improved roads. Still, by 1900 less than five percent of America’s roads were paved. There was a bit of an asphalt boom during the First World War, but it was limited to roads connecting manufacturing centers to ports. The war in Europe convinced the U.S. Army that trucks — and roads that could support them — were a strategic asset.

After the war, the Army sent 79 vehicles, 260 enlisted men and 35 officers, including a young Lt. Col. named D. Eisenhower, on a cross-country convoy to demonstrate the practicality of trucks and the need for better highways. They traveled from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco on the Lincoln Highway. Eisenhower returned dismayed by the dismal state of the country’s roads and bridges. Dozens of flimsy wooden bridges were destroyed by the Army convoy!

Little was done to improve the situation until the Works Progress Administration improved and paved about half a million miles of roads as part of the New Deal. Many farm-to-market roads were paved; one New Deal slogan was “Get the farmers out of the mud!”

Ike never lost his interest in road construction and as president he signed the bill that created the Interstate Highway System.

That’s a roundabout way of pointing out that the first 100,000 or so Harley-Davidson motorcycles were used on a mix of surfaces that riders of today would say called for an ADV bike, if not a full-on dual-sport. Back then, though, there were just “motorcycles.”

Curator Dave Kreidler shows “Off-Road Harley-Davidson” exhibit

The exhibit’s not arranged chronologically. “We organized it in five sections, based on the type of riding that the company was selling to people,” Dave said as we stood in front of a 1964 BTH model.

Sold as the Scat, the BTH was a 175 cc two-stroke that’s recognizable as a dual-sport in spite of its rigid rear end and a plunger fork with only a couple of inches of travel. It was one of the last models in a line of lightweight motorcycles based on the German DKW RT 125. (DKW’s intellectual property was essentially seized as war reparations, and versions of the RT 125 were sold as BSA Bantams in Britain, Harley-Davidson Hummers in the United States and the MMZ M-1A Moskva in Russia.)

The Scat was a road-legal trail bike sold with a high pipe, high fenders, and fairly knobby trials-pattern tires. An extra-low final-drive ratio was available as an option. It was one of many Harley-Davidsons that, over the years, were marketed as perfect vehicles for hunters and anglers.

Next up were a couple of displays devoted to touring in the 1910s and ’20s, which would be considered pretty intense adventure-touring by today’s standards.

In 1914, the Model 10-F was Harley-Davidson’s flagship. It had a two-speed gearbox and a “step starter” that allowed it to be started without putting it up on its rear stand. That was a real advantage if you were in terrain where there was no firm, level spot for the stand.

While researching this exhibit, Dave found a 1914 article in H-D’s dealer magazine describing a young naturalist named Hamilton Laing, who dropped by the Juneau Avenue factory on a ride from New York City to western Canada.

“I got kind of interested and poked around a little bit more on the internet for him,” Dave told me. “Lo and behold, he became a fairly well known naturalist, worked for the British Columbia Museum, and they had all of his papers.”

Laing’s papers included a memoir of another epic ride, from Brooklyn to Oakland in 1915. Laing “talks about the motorcycle in very poetic terms,” Dave said. “There’s this great passage where a speeding car passes him in Pennsylvania, and he goes on for a few paragraphs about how the motorcycle is a superior form of transportation, if you just want to stop and smell the roses. You know, not much has changed actually in that regard.”

The British Columbia Museum noted that although Laing kept his motorcycle for several more years, he did most of his work travel in Canada by canoe. An intrepid fellow!

Another period touring display is a 1921 WJ Sport, one of Harley-Davidson’s rare boxer twin offerings. “The popularity of this machine for cross country touring is due in part to its ability to travel even a burro trail,” bragged an advertising copywriter of the time.

“We wouldn’t call this a lightweight today,” Dave said. “But it was lighter than our Big Twin. The engine was easier to work on and it got good fuel mileage.” In 1921, those were important considerations. Touring riders had to perform most of their own maintenance and repairs; gasoline was expensive and often was only available from mechanics or automobile and motorcycle dealers.

Although you can see that the WJ doesn’t have much ground clearance, it does have a forgivingly low center of gravity, which was surely a boon when picking one’s way through difficult terrain at slow speed.

The next display we looked at was devoted to purpose-built race bikes. Enthusiasts had raced H-D’s heavy big twins in tough off-road events like Michigan’s Jack Pine Enduro forever but by the mid 1950s lighter, purpose-built off-road motorcycles dominated in the dirt.

The 1958 XLCH Sportster was a true production racer, sold without lights. “In some ways you could say that this was our first real off-road motorcycle,” David noted. (The first road-going Sporty — equipped with a headlight — came the following year.)

Both the Sportster and an elegant 1972 ERS Sprint scrambler evoke an era of spare and elegant production racers like the company’s KR and XR flat track bikes. The Sprint was one of the models that emerged from H-D’s acquisition of the Aermacchi company, which happened in two stages. It purchased a half interest in the Italian firm in 1960, then AMF-Harley-Davidson purchased full control in 1974.

One thing that’s conspicuously missing from the exhibit is an Aermacchi two-stroke motocross bike. Harley-Davidson fielded a factory team in the AMA 250 cc Championship on and off between 1975 and 1979. The ’75 MX-250 was produced for one year only. It used an adapted Kayaba fork instead of rear shocks. Although it was not really a competitive motocrosser, Bruce Ogilvie won the 1975 Baja 500 on it.

In 1978, they produced another limited run of MX-250s but the chassis was instantly obsolete compared to the monoshock Yamaha YZ250. The Aermacchi motor made good power but it was peaky as hell. Harley-Davidson sold Aermacchi to the Castiglioni brothers later that year and abandoned its AMA motocross effort altogether in 1979. In spite of its checkered history, the MX-250 is a bit of a cult bike with the vintage MX crowd.

Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should

The most compelling display may be a much abused 1985 FXRP police model. It’s hard to imagine anything further from a factory off-roader. But Charlie Peet, a Harley-Davidson enthusiast from Florida, chose that bike for his mount in the 9,000-mile Trans-Amazon Rally held in 1988.

Peet’s police bike was modified at a Ft. Lauderdale Harley dealership. They fit a larger fuel tank from a BMW, saddlebags, a skidplate, handguards, extra lights, and louder horns! It was shipped to the starting point in Cartagena, Colombia. It baffled the 170-odd other competitors. Most were two-person teams in cars or trucks; the six other motorcycles entered were all purpose-built dirt bikes.

“They voted Charlie least likely to finish because not only was he on this thing, but he didn’t have a support team,” Dave told me. “It was really dangerous. Normally with rallies, you have sweep teams; there were none. Every country handled its own leg of the rally. The maps were a mess. At one point, Charlie was riding and looking at his map, and what he thought was a road was actually the border between two provinces.”

In spite of that, he was one of four motorcyclists to reach the finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Harley-Davidson engineers convinced the company to acquire Peet’s FXRP so they could study it. Evidently they couldn’t believe it had finished the race either.

The FXRs were the first new models released after the management bought Harley-Davidson back from AMF. The chassis was developed with input from a young pup named Erik Buell, and there are people who claim these are the best hogs ever farrowed. Be that as it may, this 1,137 cc beast, which weighed 683 pounds, was a crazy choice for the Trans-Amazon Rally.

Into the modern era

The exhibit also includes a 2006 Buell Ulysses and Ewan McGregor’s LiveWire from the recent Long Way Up TV series.

The Ulysses, recently profiled on Common Tread, is another short-lived model that became a cult fave once it was discontinued. In this case, the whole Buell brand was killed off. It’s often seemed to me that Harley-Davidson employees dare not speak the Buell name, but perhaps the Ulysses reputation will be rehabilitated to help establish the Pan America’s bona fides.

McGregor’s LiveWire might be cool to see but next to Charlie Peet’s FXRP, McGregor and Boorman’s ride was little more than a jaunt.

All of this leads to, of course, the Pan America. Even the museum doesn’t have one of its own yet. The bike on display at the moment is a late prototype or early production model that belongs to the Parts & Accessories side of the business. They used it to test the fit of components and as a photo model.

With the exception of the Ulysses, the motorcycles on display in “Off-Road Harley-Davidson” are too old to be thought of as Pan America progenitors, so it’s up to you to decide whether the exhibit serves to bolster faith in Harley-Davidson’s ADV chops. That said, I admire The Motor Company’s sense of its own history, which obviously includes a lot of very adventurous riding that is nicely shown off in this exhibit. As I’ve come to expect from the Museum, the lighting and displays are beyond reproach.

David Kreidler scoured his employer’s extensive archives for photos, copies of old ads, and other ephemera which round out the stories of the motorcycles on display. As noted, a few models were conspicuous by their absence but it’s better to leave visitors wanting more than footsore and overwhelmed.

In addition to this week’s virtual debut of the exhibit, the museum is planning to reopen to the public on March 5 with hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.