My bike for the Motorcycle Cannonball is a 1915 Indian, C-3 Big Twin. I was very fortunate when I found it. I wanted to ride the Cannonball but didn’t have a bike old enough. I wanted to ride an Indian and started looking for one and the next week the bike I’m going to ride came up on e-bay. It was like –“here is the bike you are looking for.” It was almost too good to be true. Of course, the next task was to check it out and make sure it was all that the write up claimed it to be. Sure enough it was. I talked to Stephen Thielicke of Preston, Washington, who owned the bike for the past 20 years and rode it fairly regular in pre-16 events. It was in good running condition – needed nothing and was very original. So all I had to do was win it at a price I was willing to pay. Needless to say, I won the bid. It’s a sweet bike.
Well, I have some nice bikes but this is my first and only pre-16. I must say I am now hooked on pre-16 models. This experience may change the direction I go with my selection of future collector bikes. I do, however, particularly like Indian motorcycles: old and new. Harleys are ok, and I have a few, but to me they are like Toyotas: everybody has one.
I think the biggest challenge for this ride is figuring out what might break and making sure I have a way to repair or replace the part. I’ll be getting a good bit of seat time on the bike between now and the event and hope to have a better handle on what to expect problems with. Finding spare parts is a fun challenge, so being willing to pay what it takes to procure them is the real challenge.
I really only got obsessed with vintage collecting about five years ago. I went to a couple of auctions, did a good bit of study, and watched ads before jumping in to buy. During that time I passed up what turned out to be some very nice bikes at good buys. You remember the ones that got away clearly. The first bike I went to look at was only about 75 miles from my SC home. It was many collectors dream bike: a ’41 Indian four. From what I knew, it was priced below market value. It was a nice, good running bike but I didn’t know enough about them to know what was original equipment and what was reproduction or just not correct for the model. I did know enough to know how incorrect a bike can be, but didn’t know enough to know who to call for advice, etc. Anyway, I passed it up and later learned how correct of a bike it really was. I always say, “We’re all ignorant, just on different subjects.”
The other bike I passed up buying that I later regretted was at an auction. Oddly enough, I ended up buying that exact bike a little over a year later and paid $3,000.00 more for it than I could have bought it for the first time I saw it.
My first vintage bike was a ’52 FL Harley – perfectly restored. Well, I’ll correct that by stating it’s a bit “over-restored.” It’s a beautiful bike and usually takes first place when I show it. Problem is, I like a lot of motorcycle brands and models. My interest is broad and I’m usually just limited by my purchasing power. It’s a bit of an addiction, but a good one. I’m so glad to have it versus the many other addictions I could have and have nothing to show for it. I’m actually slowing down on the purchases for my personal collection and just trying to take the time to enjoy the ones I have. I enjoy buying and selling bikes but have a problem with getting ones that I just don’t want to turn loose of.
The bikes are fun and many are good investments, but one of the things I like the most is the camaraderie and relationships I’ve developed with people that have the same passion.
I’ve owned some bikes that are now considered vintage but when I had them they were new. One neat picture I have is of two bikes I had when I was only about 16 years old. The bikes are collectable now and both are known as “widow makers”. One is a blue H2 750 Kawasaki and the other is the orange TM 400 Suzuki. It’s amazing I survived those years.
I was born in Florida, raised in Sioux City Iowa, and have lived in Seneca, SC since the age of 17. I am now 54 years of age. I was a lucky kid – my whole family had bikes since I was about 12. My dad, brother and mom all rode. I started with mini bikes and grew into dirt bikes because I was too young to have a license. I hung around guys that raced motocross so I started racing, too. I like to look back in my scrapbooks at some of the articles when it talks about “young” Jim Petty. I ended up racing with guys like Roger Decoster and Bob Hannah. It’s hard to say I raced against them, I was on the same track, but they blew by me quite easily. I was, however, pretty good on a local level.
I am fortunate to have a wife, (Teresa), who supports my passion. She has probably been too supportive. I don’t think my daughter Stephanie, however, understands the addiction. I’m fortunate that she teaches locally and still have her in my life. I think she really did enjoy going to an event with me this past summer when the three bikes her old man entered got two 1st place awards and the third bike finished 2nd to one of my other bikes.