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The Classic Life

Travels Near and Far


Though winter is solidly here and I’ve spent more time cleaning and fixing motorcycles than riding them as of late, I did manage to get in one good little trip before the snow started to fly.

My brother Phill and I found a few days on the calendar to load up our saddlebags and head west. Back roads and small town main streets came and went, and after a few hours of riding we found ourselves in Lindsborg, Kansas, a small college town some 70 miles north (and a bit west) of Wichita. We made a pass up and down Main Street to drive by the gift shops and the Öl Stuga pub, then headed north of town to see Coronado Heights Park. Situated atop a 300-foot bluff, the park features a “castle” and picnic areas built in 1936 as a part of the Works Project Administration.

After an hour of walking the park and drinking in the views, we put the earplugs back in and the helmets back on and headed farther west to the town of Marquette, home of the yearly Thunder on the Smoky motorcycle rally and the Kansas Motorcycle Museum. Founded by Marquette resident and accomplished motorcycle racer Stan Engdahl, the museum features more than 600 trophies, all won by Stan during his 60 years of racing dirt track and scrambles. Stan ran a TV repair shop in the historic downtown building that now houses the museum. When he retired, he turned the shop into a display of his trophies, along with a few of his old race bikes. Many other people contributed motorcycles, and today the 4,500-square-foot space features a rotating collection of more than 100 bikes, with a large collection of early American motorcycles.

While wandering the museum, Phill and I stumbled into a discussion of which museum bike we’d pick to have for ourselves. He chose a neat old Indian Scout, while I kept coming back to this 1956 Harley FLH (see below). I've never ridden a Panhead, but I've always loved their look, somehow much more elemental than the modern versions.

Though Stan passed away in 2007, the museum lives on as a non-profit, run by volunteers, and its more than worthy of few hours of your time. I know I’ll be visiting again. (Find it on Facebook or visit here.)

Looking back, the trip was a nice break, and it's a happy memory to have stashed in the back of my head until the snow goes away and riding in 2021 begins.



Win a Royal Enfield

Retro classics are a part of the motorcycle industry we've kept a close eye on since the founding of this magazine in the summer of 2005.


Over the years we've featured new model profiles of many of the big hitters like the myriad iterations of the Triumph Bonnevilles, Scramblers, Thruxtons and more, along with Royal Enfield Bullets, Moto Guzzi V7s and a host of retro models from other manufacturers.

Triumph started with just one model, the Bonneville, when their modern version debuted at the Munich Motorcyle Show in September of 2000. Today Triumph builds a whole line of retros, so many, in fact, that they form their own category: Modern Classics. Ten models fill out the list, some with even further trim levels and special versions. The Classics have been such a hit that it is rumored that they make up half of motorcycle sales for Triumph.

We've also featured the recent debut of the Royal Enfield 650 twins, the INT650 and the Continental GT. We're delighted to see the interest that is still growing in them today.

Our contributors and readers love them. MC contributor Joe Berk and friend Joe Gresh took a trip from California south to Baja, Mexico, aboard a Bullet and an INT650 last summer. Berk came home ready to buy a twin, and recently purchased a bright orange INT650 of his own. Heck, I'd thought about buying one myself, but I ran into a stellar deal on a 2008 Triumph Bonneville Black (another story for another day).

Reader and restorer Don Smith, whose lovely 1965 Ducati Mach 1 graced the July/August 2020 cover of Motorcycle Classics, recently bought an INT650 also, and he is thoroughly enjoying it. At 81 years of age, Don still has some 20 motorcycles. While his trips are a bit shorter than they used to be, he still gets out for a motorcycle ride two or three times a week. Keep on riding, Don!

Though we can't give you a collection of 20 motorcycles like Don's, we are giving away one new motorcycle: your choice of a new Royal Enfield INT650 or Continental GT.

To enter the Motorcycle Classics Royal Enfield Giveaway, go to We can't wait for one of our readers to have a new 650 twin in their garage.



Introducing the Gearhead Gathering

The 2019 Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

One of the most rewarding parts of working for this magazine all these years has been meeting and interacting with all the wonderful people that make up the old motorcycle hobby. Meeting readers and enthusiasts at motorcycle shows and events throughout the years has allowed me to put faces with a lot of your names, your bikes and your stories. And as much as we love travelling to the big shows like the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama, for the past four years we've also looked forward to our own Big Gig: The Motorcycle Classics Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway, held each summer at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

When we started this event, we crossed our fingers and hoped we'd have 20-or-so readers show up and ride with us for the weekend. The first year 80 of you showed up, and we've shared each event since with nearly that many riders, enjoying great roads, tasty meals and a bit of bike-wrenching to boot.

We've also enjoyed hanging out with and getting to know our special guests, Brian Slark, Mark Mederski, Alan Cathcart and Dain Gingerelli. These kind gentlemen have shared their time and their stories with us, and we're very grateful for their presence at our event.

But enough looking back. Let's look forward.

This year, we grow. Produced in conjunction with our successful Getaway, for 2020 our Events team will morph the Getaway into something bigger: The Gearhead Gathering, still taking place at Seven Springs, but this year it moves to Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-6, 2020.

In addition to the guided rides on some of the area's best roads, there will be a lot more going on throughout the weekend. We'll offer self-guided ride recommendations and routes for those of you who want to ride alone or in smaller groups, setting your own pace. Plans are also in the works for a hill climb, a woods race, a bike show, a swap meet, workshops and even displays and demonstrations of vintage farm equipment presented by sister titles Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine.

For continued info, head to, where you'll have the ability to buy tickets and lodging packages, and where we'll publish all the updates as plans progress.


Thinking Spring

Norton motorcycle

With fall firmly here and winter trying to set in, any day the weather warms a bit I try to get out for a ride, knowing full well that any day now might be that last perfect ride of the year. Kansas winters can have their warm days, so I don’t really completely take any of my bikes off the road for the winter, unless repair or upgrades mean pulling one apart for a time (which, well, happens every year at some point!).

This last weekend had one of those last great days, and I was determined to get my Norton out for a run. A favorite quick jaunt from Topeka is to head west on K4 towards Dover. I’ve ridden that road hundreds of times over the 20-plus years I’ve lived in Kansas, and it’s always a good way to shake the rust off, whether it be mental or physical. The pavement is nice (unless it’s particularly sandy or gravel-ridden thanks to farm trucks and trailers pulling stones up from the shoulders) and the road is full of sweeping, flowing curves and elevation changes. It’s not the Tail of the Dragon, but it is about 15 minutes from my garage door.

I ran K4 out and back Saturday, then decided that the weather was just too perfect to call it a day. I was having too much fun, and dark was still an hour or so off, so I turned around and ran it again, stopping to take a picture on the way home. It’s always nice to have one of those photos to imprint on the memory, to keep you warm through the winter until temperatures rise and the streets are clean again.

If you're willing to travel a bit, winter doesn't really have to set in at all. If you can make it to Florida, I encourage you to head down to the 14th Annual Dania Beach Vintage Motorcycle Show on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Frost Park. It's free to attend, with an affordable fee to enter your bike in the show if you wish. The numbers seem to grow each year, and they're getting close to having 400 motorcycles enter the show.

Whether you make it to Florida or not, spring will be here before you know it. Now is the time to think about what your bike needs to be ready when the warm weather returns. I've decided my Norton is due for some shocks before spring, along with a couple other tweaks. What bike projects are you working on this winter? Send me a note at, and a photo too!


The Ride of the Summer

Landon Hall and a Moto Guzzi V7

As we look towards the colder months with fall here already, the memories of summer rides come floating back. A busy travel schedule and too many deadlines kept me off a bike more than I would have liked this summer, but I did have one solid stretch of time on two wheels: our 4th Annual Ride ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em Getaway weekend in August.

Thursday morning ad man Shane Powers and I met up with our friends and supporters Tom McKee and Adam Rexroad, piled into the rented SUV and ran the route they’d plotted for us. We run it first in a car so that we can easily work on finishing out our route sheets as we go. Friday morning we got on bikes and ran the route again, a terrific 125-mile loop with a perfect mix of small and medium sized roads full of elevation changes and every kind of curve you can imagine. It was a blast. Then on Saturday we led attendees; it was even more fun to share the day with all the readers who were able to join us this year.

Royal Enfield lent us an INT650 and a Continental GT650 to ride, and I spent Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday on those. Though I enjoyed the Enfields and just the chance to be on a bike, riding in the country for three days in a row, my ride of the summer was still yet to come.

The highlight of the trip was riding the 1967 Moto Guzzi V7 you see me grinning like an idiot next to below. Owned and restored by friend of the magazine Paul Harrison, it’s a bike I’ve drooled over since Paul finished it in 2017.

Bought on eBay as little more than a frame, an engine and a gearbox, Paul lovingly restored the bike. It’s perfect in its own way, mechanically rebuilt from the ground up, yet certain pieces show the patina of age with pride, like the amazing gas tank, which still wears its original paint.

Over lunch on Sunday, Paul offered to let me ride the bike back to the resort, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous. Paul’s bike is very dear to him, and I knew our group pace on the way back was going to be way faster than I wanted to go on a bike I wasn’t familiar with. I was right. Paul and I rode back at the rear of the pack, and when we'd returned, I asked Paul how much of the brakes he used during one surprise quick left turn in the route, as we were moving along a pretty solid clip. He replied, “all of them.”

To start the V7, you turn the key in the dash below the speedometer to the right until the engine fires, just like you do on the dash of my brother Phill’s 1962 Buick LeSabre. The bike lit immediately, settling into a loping idle.

Paul hopped on another bike and we took off down one of my favorite roads in the area, County Line Road, which runs to the nearby town of Champion. The V7's V-twin bark is distinctly Italian, and the engine pulled strong from low revs with plenty of torque, and cruises down the road with ease. What a ride. I'm smiling just thinking about it. Thanks again, Paul!

If you rode something cool this year, send me an email at, and send a photo too. And next time a buddy offers to let you ride his bike, do it! Don’t be nervous, just be careful.


The Bike Made Me Do It

Landon Hall and a Norton Commando

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’ve met a lot of motorcyclists in my life, and I bet 75 percent of you would agree with me on this: Motorcycles can speak to you.

Some days they audibly speak: they misfire, they squeak, they squeal, or when things go really wrong, they grind, growl or just go bang. But that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the way sometimes a motorcycle tells you something. Maybe it doesn’t even tell your brain. I think maybe it tells your gut.

The bike says, “Hey man, you need one of these.” The last time this happened to me was in July 2016. At our yearly MC Ride ’Em, Don't Hide ’Em event in Pennsylvania, we’d finished up our Sunday Morning Ride, the last of the official events for the weekend. After we helped attendees pack up and get their bikes loaded, we decided it was time for lunch.

This was to be the inaugural unofficial lunch ride. All weekend we had been riding a selection of vintage twins brought to the event by Joel Samick of RetroTours. I’d spent most of the weekend riding his 1970 Triumph T100C (dutifully named Purple Rain by ad man Shane Powers). Light, agile, simple and almost quaint, it did the job and got me around all weekend.

But the hard part was over. No more leading a group or trying to figure out where I was going. Get on a bike, follow editor Backus and see where we can find some grub. (We wound up at See-Mor’s All Star Grill in Normalville, Pennsylvania. We now try to go every year!) We all swapped bikes for the lunch ride. Joel had also brought his 1973 Norton Commando Fastback 750 for us to use (that's me with the 750 below). I’d pulled the Norton out Friday night to start it and run it around the parking lot. I was taught the kickstarting ritual by none other than Brian Slark (!) who was our guest of honor that year.

Riding the Triumph all weekend had me trained on shifting on the right, so I had that down, but the Norton had an upside-down shift pattern to boot. Yep, one up, three down. Don’t mis-shift!

A few miles into our ride, we got to a clear, open two-lane road and everyone picked up the pace. It was time to see what full throttle sounded like. I opened it wide, nailed the shift from second to third and opened that throttle again. And that’s when I heard it.

Right in the gut.

That bike told me one thing, clear as day and louder than the glorious growl from those open mufflers:

“You need one of these.”

Apparently I was too busy listening to the bike rather than keeping up the pace. We soon stopped for fuel, and Powers said something to the effect of “Hey, I thought those things were fast?” My response shouldn't be repeated here. Shane Powers, ballbuster extraordinaire.

Our crew spent lunch talking bikes. Backus knows Commandos inside and out. He knew what was going on here. It was obvious. I think he even said it. “You need one of those.” Two months later I had one, but that’s a story for another day.

What ride do you remember that led you to buy another old bike? Send me an email at Even better, If you’ve got a hi-res photo of the bike, send that along too. And next time a bike talks to you, listen.


Onwards and Sideways

 Landon Hall

Welcome, friends. Last issue in this space you read about the changes going on around here, yet despite a slightly-less-old guy behind the desk, the song remains the same. The only minor change this issue is you now get to read the drivel of not one, but two Motorcycle Classics editors. Founding editor Richard Backus speaks his mind, where he’ll pen a regular column each issue about his riding exploits, what bikes in his small stable have or haven’t broken, and his views on who knows what else.

Over the years while attending events with the magazine, I’ve met and spoken with many of you, and I look forward to meeting the rest of you as we move forward through show season. Join us at Road America, July 27, for the Rockerbox show, or better yet, come to Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, for the 4th Annual Ride ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em Getaway. Richard swears he’s going to join us, and I intend to put him to as much work as possible. (I kid.)

For those of you I haven’t met yet, how we got this far is a funny tale. Back in 2005, I was an editor for the only other publisher in town, which specialized in floral magazines. I’d done an internship there during college, and they offered me a job when I graduated. An ad in the local paper alerted me one day to a job listing for an editor position with Motorcycle Classics, then just a startup. I mentioned it to my girlfriend (now wife) Marie, and commented that I wasn’t so sure about jumping to a title that was brand-new and unproven, despite my love of motorcycles (and bicycles before that). Marie saw it for what it was: an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. Soon I had an interview with Richard. I brought my résumé and a book of photographs of all the bikes I’d bought and sold. Years later he admitted he never read my résumé (he’d forgotten his glasses). He figured if I’d worked at another magazine for two years and hadn’t gotten canned, it’d work out. The album of bikes was enough.

When I started, we were just finishing the second-ever issue, November/December 2005. Here we are, more than 13 years and some 82 (!) issues of the magazine later. You might say I know how the sausage is made.

Anyway, back to that album of photos. Like many of you, I’ve had a bunch of bikes over the years, more than 30 by now, and they’ve all come and gone (save the two in my garage, a 1973 BMW R75/5 and a 1974 Norton 850 Commando). And I’d guess, like many of you, there’s one bike you wish you’d kept.

The one I miss most is my 1976 Honda CB750. I bought it while Marie and I were dating. It’s the first bike I ever took her out riding on, and I even had it at our wedding (hence the silly photo from 2006). I never intended to sell it, but I wanted something modern to do real touring on, and funds were tight. I still occasionally send an email to the guy I sold it to, but I’ve never heard back from him. I keep an eye on the local Craigslist, hoping it will pop up. A 1976 model with a dented tank and faded original paint, I had it painted a wild metal-flake orange reminiscent of the stock 1974 color.

If you’ve got a story about the bike you wish you’d never sold, send me an email at Even better, If you’ve got a hi-res photo of the bike, send that along too.

And if you know where my CB750 went, help a brother out.


The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

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