Harley-Davidson Evolution Motorcycles: Greg Field

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Greg Field

Harley Davidson Evolution Motorcycles

Author Greg Field has written a number of books covering Harley-Davidson and Moto Guzzi motorcycles. In this article we catch up with the author during the release of his most ambitious H-D book to date.

1. How long did it take to put together the content for this book?

There were really two go-arounds to this book. The first I completed in about a year of on-again, off-again effort, but all the photos got destroyed when the roof to my shop leaked in a major storm. When I came home after discovering all the photos were wrecked, I did something really stupid and rash: I cleared my whole desk with a sweep of my arm, launching my laptop computer that contained the only copy of the text into the wall. The hard drive was spinning at the time so I lost all the text, too. From that experience, I learned the value of backups and calming meditation (not to mention medication).

Really, though, having to re-do the book turned out to be a blessing because it gave me another shot at overcoming the only major problem that plagued the first draft: It was written without any cooperation from Harley-Davidson and its employees. At first H-D didn't object when I interviewed some of the engineers and management, but then changed their mind and told me I couldn't use any of what I had learned. I was bitterly disappointed and extremely angry, but I finished that first draft of the book anyway because I am a professional. It was technically very good and detailed, but it was pretty dry, too.

Review: Harley-Davidson Evolution Motorcycles

Greg Field's latest on Harley-Davidson Evolution Motorcycles is a must for the true Harley-Davidson aficionado, or for aficionados of any marque, who have a true interest in motorcycles. For the posers or poseurs, the few bucks that the book will cost would be better spent on a couple of "Made in Taiwan" doo-rags or a down payment on a set of chrome plated grips, complete with day-glow fringe or even an MSF course.

This is a book about motors and frames; styling and engineering, written not from a technical standpoint particularly, but from a distillation of hours and hours of interviews with the people who pulled together and managed to put The Harley-Davidson Motor Company where it is today - back on it's feet rubber side down and firmly planted. It is not a fiction or a myth from sources like Big Dawg, Bad Dawg, Mad Dawg, Hound Dawg or Lap Dawg, imparting wisdom from a tavern stool two miles from home.

Do not expect a compendium of various minor changes reading like an encyclopedia of baseball statistics, or why a particular bolt was changed from a quarter to three eighths for esthetic purpose.

Expect a well written, well researched story about how a few people with engineering and a lot of industry savvy pulled a failing American company out of a hole and restored it by reinventing the wheel, fixing what was broken and building motorcycles.

Do not expect to see choppers, hoppers or poppers, do not expect to see information generated by PR or PC. This book does not go there either.

Do expect to see some fine photos, maybe even some Harley-Davidsons you may have seen on the road and perhaps even a familiar place or face or two. You will also not see any puddles of oil which may tend to prove that one evolution is conserving the other.

The Colonel.

After losing the first draft, I realized that while H-D could forbid me from talking to current Harley employees, they could not prevent me from interviewing former Harley employees, and anyway, most of the guys who designed the first Evolution-engined Harleys had long since retired. The problem was finding these guys, but I learned how to do that while writing the book Moto Guzzi Big Twins two years earlier. The internet was the key.

I drew up a list of who I wanted to find. Former chairman and CEO Vaughn Beals was at the top, followed by former chief engineer Don Valentine, former VP of engineering Mark Tuttle, and former VP of operations Tom Gelb. These are the retired H-D guys who really turned the company around. I found them all, and they suggested others I should talk to. A few days later, I found myself talking to the guy who in 1977 did the first conceptualization of what the Evolution engines would be.

The hardest guy to find was Bill Davis, a really talented free-lance engineer who designed the Softail frame in his shop and tried to market it before selling it to Harley-Davidson in the early 1980s. He was just great about sharing his story, as were almost all the former Harley employees.   I think the story really comes alive because it's largely written in their words.

So back to your question: I flogged away at taking photos and unproductively at the writing for about six months after the first draft was destroyed. Then one week when I finally succeeded in finding Beals and all the others, the story just coalesced and I was done about three months later. Total time: about two years.

2. strong>What's the story behind why H-D opted not to support the book?

After I started work on my book, one of the lead engineers on the Evolution project, John Favill, a British guy who I'm told helped design the Norton Commando, decided he would write a book on the Evolution Harleys. Harley chose to support that project. I guess I can't blame them, but it was bitterly disappointing nonetheless. Worst of all, Favill still hasn't finished his book, to my knowledge.

3. strong>Have they ever participated in your previous books?

They actually have, and I'm grateful for that help. They supplied a few photos for my first book, i >Harley-Davidson Panheads. Harley's archivist, Martin Jack Rosenblum, Ph.D., loved the Panhead book, so he got them to support the next book, i >Harley-Davidson Knuckleheads, by supplying a whole bunch of photographs.

I'll never forget my first time visiting the archives in Milwaukee. It took three trips there to actually get inside. The first two times, our meetings were canceled for undisclosed reasons after I was already in town, so I really wasn't expecting much that day, either. I parked my car and walked up to the guard shack. The guard signed me in and called Marty on the phone. Then, the guard sent me to another guard desk in the main building at Juneau Avenue. There, Susan Fariss, an intern for the archives at the time, met me and took me out back to another building. To open the door, she needed a metal key and a numeric key code. I thought, "Wow, pretty secure." When I looked in, I saw another door about ten feet further in. To get through, Susan used another key and another key code. Now, I was thinking, "Holy Knucklehead, is this Fort Knox?"

But it wasn't over yet. As I walked through the door, I noticed two things: First, someone was hurriedly pulling a sheet over a motorcycle sitting there (because it was an early prototype of the Heritage Springer Softail; their hands were slower than my eyes), and that there was yet another locked door between myself and the archives. This wasn't Fort Knox; it was the inner sanctum of KGB headquarters!

Susan used a third key and key code to open it, and there was Marty Rosenblum standing there, big grin on his face, holding his right hand out for me to shake and handing me a pair of bronze H-D wings with his left. "Wow, I'm really in," I thought. Then, I looked closer at the wings and really cracked up. They said, "Mission Accomplished." I felt like Maxwell Smart, and I've treasured those wings ever since.

While there, I got to see their books of the available photos. Funny thing, though, on every subsequent trip to the archives, the books kept incrementally shrinking as Harley "sanitized" them of photos that they didn't want anyone to see.

I also got to see all the motorcycles I wasn't supposed to see (that's a long story) that are in the Harley collection. The highlight was to sit on one of the three Nova prototypes (Porsche Design penned V-4 engine from the early 1980s). Few people have ever seen a real one, and there I was, sitting on one. That got me interested in the Novas. A lot of the information I found on the Nova is in the Evolution book, because it was pertinent to that story. You'll see the newer Porsche Design Harley V-twin pretty soon, so it's still pertinent today.

4. In doing the research, what did you learn about Harley engineers and the constraints they are required to work under? Do you think they get a little antsy having to use guidelines that are more predicated on looks and the past, other than performance?

I could write a book just on that alone! But, to be fair, engineers in any company and all industries chafe under the constraints placed on them by their marketing and financial departments. Engineers tend to be very "mission-oriented" and strive for perfect solutions to whatever design challenges they're faced with. After coming up with the optimum suspension geometry or whatever, they don't like being told to compromise its functional qualities to make it look better or to save a few pennies. It just does not compute, for many of them, though most engineers do realize there is value in the push-pull dynamic between engineering and marketing.

Harley's engineers are no different. The original FXRS gives a good example of the dynamic. If you read the book, you'll hear the whole story, but here's the condensed version: A bunch of the engineers at H-D liked performance bikes. They rode very hopped-up Sportsters or European sport bikes and some of them raced on the weekends. After being given the mission of designing a rubber-mounted sport machine based on the then-new rubber-mounted FLT chassis, they took the "sport" part of the equation as far as they could, telling the styling and marketing folks at H-D "so sorry" whenever the dictates of function clashed with the dictates of style. The result was the 1982 FXRS, a very good handling bike, but which was saddled with (pun intended) a higher seat height and "compromises" of the Harley look as a result.

The irony is, while the engineers certainly succeeded in making the FXRS a great handling motorcycle, it took the marketers to turn it into a great i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">selling motorcycle by forcing the engineers to take away all its sporting prowess by lowering the suspension.

Moral of the story? For Harley, it is this: It's OK if the bikes handle well, but they won't sell unless they have the traditional Harley look. Harley eventually learned the lesson, after failing the test on the 1979 "Disco Sportster," the 1980 FLT Tour Glide, the 1982 FXRS, and the 1983 FXRT, but now the lesson is so well-entrenched that it may be a hindrance to The Motor Company at some point in the future. Who can deny, though, that it has served them well in the last half of the 1980s through today?

5. Do you feel that the Japanese companies have been able to go places with their designs because they are not married to a legendary past in the cruiser marketplace?

With but a few exceptions, the Japanese cruisers of today are such blatant attempts at copying the Harley-Davidson look that Willie G. Davidson and Louie Netz (second in command at H-D Styling) have to be absolutely livid at—and at the same time flattered by—all the imitations put out by their oriental disciples.

I remember just about puking at one of the Cycle World shows a couple of years ago when Yamaha had on display a cutaway engine from their latest big pushrod twin cruiser (the Road Star, or some derivative name like that). Yamaha's engineers had designed this nice, compact transmission for it. Problem was, the output sprocket was on the right-hand side. "That won't do," I can imagine the Yamaha marketing department saying, "Our new cruiser must have its sprocket on the left, like the Harley does." So Yamaha's engineers had to design this big, obtrusive box attached to the rear of the transmission, the only purpose of which was to turn the output 180 degrees so it could be on the left, as on a Harley big twin. If you're gonna work so hard, why not be original?

So, to answer the question: No, not at all. There are exceptions, of course, but in the quest to maximize the sales of their cruisers, the only place most of the Japanese companies have been able to go is where Harley has led them. The ever-so-ironic result? Most of these Japanese companies are more constrained by Harley's past than Harley is. Willie G. and Louie N. must be laughing their asses off!

Worse, being practical Japanese companies and without a long heritage, they can't go as far with it as Harley can. The best example of this is the Springer front end on some of the Softail models. As you'll read in my book, Harley execs had long wanted to bring out an updated Springer front end but were held back because they couldn't find bearings for it that would give modern reliability to that old fork design. As Vaughn Beals told me, "Jeff [Bleustein; Harley's then VP of engineering, now CEO] will tell you that I chewed his ass on that one lots of times because it seemed to me that it wasn't beyond our engineering abilities to do it."

When Harley engineer Tom McGowan finally came up with the solution to the problem (half-spherical Teflon bearings), Vaughn Beals appointed a special engineering task force to bring it to market as quickly as possible.

Can you imagine what the look would be on the face of Honda's lead engineer if he were ordered to design a springer front end for the new Shadow? Rather than appoint his best people to the task, he'd probably opt to thrust a real katana into his own gut and end the madness.

Thing is, the Japanese have some heritage they could draw upon, but they don't do it. I'd love to have a bike that looked like an old Honda Dream but that had handling and brakes like a modern machine. Ditto for a Black Bomber.

It isn't just the Japanese, unfortunately. The Europeans have dabbled in the copying, too, but have been less blatant about it. Moto Guzzi's California EV and California Special are a bit derivative in styling, but no one could ever mistake one for a Harley. And Guzzi didn't compromise performance one bit to get the cruiser look, so if I had to have a cruiser and absolutely couldn't afford a Harley, I'd buy an EV, especially because Seattle has the best Guzzi dealership in the country: Moto International. To its credit, Ducati has blazed its own styling trail after a few failed attempts at cruisers in the 1980s. The BMW R1100 cruiser? That one actually shows some original thought, so I kinda like it

Worst off of all are the US makers of cruisers, especially those who built their businesses and bikes around copies of the Evolution motor. They are now stuck trying to sell brand-new bikes that cost as much as a Harley but are powered by a copy of Harley's last-generation engine, while the new Harleys big twins are all powered by the Twin Cam 88 (Twinkie) engine. Former engineering VP, Mark Tuttle, told me that the Twinkie and counterbalanced TC 88B engines were designed to be a "one-two punch" to make all those Evo-rip-off machines obsolete. It's working as planned, too; these companies are already falling by the wayside and it will only get worse because those companies can't copy the design of the Twinkie engines until the new patents expire in about fifteen years. Doom on you, Titan, and Indian, and all the others, unless you can come up with your own engine design.

And as proven in the case of Excelsior-Henderson, succeeding as a US manufacturer of big twins isn't as easy as Harley makes it look, even if you have your own engine design. Both Excelsior-Henderson and Polaris started with clean slates and lots of money, and what they came up with were motorcycles that looked a lot like Harleys, with supposedly high-tech engine designs, and supposedly great chassis, but the result was they didn't look enough like a Harley to be really successful and didn't have enough of a power or handling advantage over a Harley to give them any advantage in the marketplace. The same could be said for almost all the Japanese cruisers, except that the Japanese are getting very close on the looks. Harley deserves a lot more credit for business savvy than they're getting.

6. Most of your photography in the book was done outdoors on location. What was the reason for this and why did you forfeit shooting indoors under more controlled light and backdrop circumstances?

As I said earlier, all the photos for the first draft were destroyed by water. I had taken these over the years and all over the country. I had everything I needed. Suddenly, they were all gone and I had to replace them, in a hurry, with no money or time left for travel. Thus, I had to find what I could locally and shoot them in a hurry.

The result was a few months of "run-and-gun" photography where I'd search out the bikes in the parking lots at races, bike shows, poker runs, and Taco Thursdays, leaving notes on bikes I liked. If the owner called me back, I'd shoot the photos as soon as the weather and the owner's schedule allowed. I usually strap my camera bag and a tripod onto my bike and ride to the shoots, so I can only take minimal gear. Often the owner was unwilling to take them anywhere away from where they were stored, so I had to be a bit creative in making do if the location wasn't attractive, but just as often, there was a surprisingly good background nearby.   I think a whole book of studio photography looks monotonous.

7. What sort of equipment was in your standard arsenal for shooting most of the bikes in the book? Camera type, film type etc...

I use a Nikon 8008s and my favorite lenses are the 80-200 f/2.8 and 35-70 f/2.8 lenses. The discontinued 8008s was a vastly under-rated camera, much lighter than the F4 and F5, rugged as hell, and easy to use. It even survived a horrendous crash on a Sportster, coming home to Seattle from Sturgis in 1994. I was sold after that. As for film, I prefer Kodachrome. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find good Kodachrome processing nowadays, so I often shoot Fuji Velvia. Proudly made in Japan, and nearly the equal of Kodachrome 25.

8.  Reflection is always a problem when shooting a lot of chrome. Is it second nature now to get out of the way of the shot, or does it still require lengthy time to find a sweet spot to place the camera?

At first it did, but now it's reflexive to make sure my body's not reflected in the chrome. If you're creative, you can still get almost any shot you want, but you just have to avoid some angles.

9.  Who are some other photographers who have been influential to your work?

I've never really studied photography, so I don't really know enough about any individual's work to have been overtly influenced by it. Brains are like sponges, though, so I'm sure I've absorbed a vocabulary of shot angles from photos of motorcycles I've seen in other books and in magazines

10. What was the most interesting story you have about the shoots?

There are many, but the most enlightening to me was one I did for the Panheads book.

I lived in Minneapolis, then, but was coming out to Portland to attend a wedding, so I decided to set up some photo shoots while in the Northwest. I found a guy, not too far from Seattle, who had one of every year of Panhead. I arranged to drive up to his house the day after the wedding.

Well, I get near his area but couldn't find his house. When I stopped to ask a couple walking along the road if they might know how to get there, they pointed up a road and said, "Oh [I don't want to give his name], the president of the Hell's Angels; he lives five kilometers up that way."

Though my informants had said it just as calmly and as without bias as if they were saying "Oh ----, the president of the Chamber of Commerce . . ." I gulped and climbed into the truck with some trepidation. I had hung out with some Angels in the past on a few occasions and had always treated them respectfully and been treated respectfully in turn; this time, though, I was thousands of miles from home, out in the middle of nowhere, and had thousands of dollars worth of camera gear with me.

After driving through a then-unfamiliar Northwest monsoon, I found his house. And what a house; it was huge and sided in slabs of petrified rock, with a large guest house and a two-semi garage off to the side. I was impressed!

Then he came strolling out to meet me. Certainly he didn't fit the mold I was told all Angels were cast from. He was tall and athletic looking, clean-shaven, and immaculately groomed. Maybe that guy really had said "president of the Chamber of Commerce" after all?

And he couldn't have been nicer. He insisted I stay in the guest house, and pumped me full of beer as we looked over all his really impressive hunting trophies and talked bikes. The next day, he took me into the shop and showed me all the bikes, his semi-trailer machine shop that he uses to keep his Harley drag racers winning, and talked about his obsession with the sport of golf!

In all, I stayed at his house two days, got some great shots, and really experienced the new face of the Hell's Angels.

11. Most of the photos were done in and around Seattle. How did you go about selecting the locations you used?

As I mentioned earlier, I was at the mercy of time and the bike owner's schedule, so the best I could usually do was show up a few minutes early and find the best location in the area. As a result, I missed out on what could have been some really cool shots.

A good example is the shoot of the 1990 Fat Boy. Most of you may not be aware of it, but the silver-on-silver look of that first-year Fat Boy was meant to be evocative of the Boeing B-29 Superfortresses that dropped the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What's that got to do with the name Fat Boy? Well, the second nuclear bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, was named . . . you guessed it . . . Fat Boy. That first (1990) Fat Boy was a figurative nuke from Willie G. and Louie N. to their oriental imitators, so I wanted it pictured with the B-29. The owner of the 1990 Fat Boy I was finally able to find, didn't have time, though, so we shot the photos in his yard.

12. Your research is exceptionally detailed in the book. As both a writer and a photographer what other journalists have influenced your writing and research styles?

I think Allan Girdler (author of many books and former editor of i >Cycle World) has been an influence, although our writing styles are very different. Same for Hunter S. Thompson. I'd also like to think Stephen Ambrose's books have had an influence. I love Girdler's and Thompson's conversational style, but what I really hope I've picked up from them is the balance they and the very few really good journalists there are display: They can be enthusiastic about their subject while still maintaining enough detachment from it to say the truth, even when it's uncomplimentary to the subject. To mix metaphors: That doesn't mean you dig for any "skeletons." You dig to uncover the story, but if there's a "skeleton" in the way, you tell about it as it pertains to the story.

There's no way I can really hide it: I like Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I always have. My dad had a 1956 KH before he married my Mom. He bought us a Harley-Davidson snowmobile to ride in 1972. My brothers both ride Sportsters. I had a Knucklehead briefly, and a Sportster until a few years ago. That doesn't mean I think everything Harley-Davidson does is righteous, that Harley builds the only real motorcycles, or that I'm wholeheartedly supportive of the whole Harley "lifestyle" thing. Thus, when I found out the embarrassing truth about why Harley i >really asked for a tariff against Japanese motorcycles in the early 1980s, I revealed that truth because it pertained directly to the Evolution story.

From Stephen Ambrose (author of many great books) and Ken Burns (creator of extraordinary documentaries on the Civil War, the Lewis & Clark expedition, and others), I picked up a love of bringing history to life through the words of those who were there. Who knows better what happened and why it happened than the guy who was there? Of course, relying on human recollection brings some risks of inaccuracy because not everyone's truthful or has a perfect memory. Despite that risk, I think a narrative, liberally seasoned with first-person narrative, makes for the best history.

One thing that drew me to this approach is that I've always been suspicious about many of the stories and legends that get repeated again and again in books that seem totally implausible. For example, the magazines and books all said that one day at a Harley Owners Group (HOG) rally, Vaughn Beals saw the home-built Softail ridden there by independent engineer Bill Davis, liked the idea, and then bought the rights to it from Davis. I never believed that story because the Harley-Davidson Softail was first shown to journalists in June 1983, just a few months after H-D started HOG. There just wasn't time for Beals to see the design and Harley engineers to refine it and get it ready for production in that time frame. As you'll read in the Evolution book, Beals calls that story a "fairy tale," and the real story is much different from the one everybody "knows." Another big one's discussed in i ">Moto Guzzi Big Twins. Everybody always said the Guzzi V-twin engine was derived from a tractor engine. I asked the guy who designed both the tractor engine and the motorcycle engine, and it ain't so.

13. You credit Eastside, Cycle Barn and Downtown for their assistance in this book. There are a few photos where the Downtown logo shows up. Were there photos that also included the Eastside and Cycle Barn logos that were never used?

No. All those dealerships were just great with helping me find bikes and even supplying a few themselves. The showing of the Downtown logo happened because the sun was right to use the back lot of Downtown's old location while shooting some bikes they supplied. In the cases of the other dealerships, it just didn't work out to get their logos in the shots.

14. A series of FLTC photos appear with a Liberty sidecar in tow. Why did you opt to use a bike with an aftermarket rig instead of one with an authentic HD Sidecar?

That was a chance shoot. I went to the guy's house to shoot his 1984 Softail, but he also owned the sidehack rig, so I shot it, too. I do prefer the look of the Liberty hacks to the Harley hacks, though, so I was fortunate on that account, too.

15. Tell me how you got started doing photography and what led up to the type of work you do today?

I started taking photographs when I started writing books, in 1994. I had been an editor for Motorbooks International for about six years. I decided I'd rather create my own literary messes than fix others' messes as an editor, so I quit my job, moved to Seattle, and became a free-lance writer and photographer. That was in 1994, and I'm still at it.

16. How did you get started as a writer?

I started as a technical writer for the Military Avionics division of Honeywell, in Minneapolis. There, I worked on some really curious projects such as a set of nuclear-flash-blindness-prevention Ray Bans for B-1B bomber crewmen. When the nuke goes off, they supposedly go totally dark for a few seconds and save the crewmen's eyesight. But how do you test such a thing? I know I didn't volunteer my eyes! One consolation is that the technology "trickled down" (in the argot of the Reagan era) to those cool automatic-darkening welding helmets.

By mid-1988, I could see that all those limitless defense dollars were going to dry up as soon as Ronnie was out of office, so when I saw the ad for the editor's job at Motorbooks International, I took it. I was forced to take a hell of a pay cut, but the work was far more interesting to me. Plus, at Motorbooks I got paid to do cool stuff such as attend the Tailhook (Navy carrier pilots) Convention in Las Vegas and the Oshkosh air show. As you probably remember from the news reports of the time, those Tailhookers sure know how to tear up a hotel!

17. Now that you've done three books on Harleys and one on Moto Guzzi's, what's in the works for your next books?  

Right now, I'm working on expanding the Knucklehead and Panhead books into larger hardcovers, and on a hardcover book just about the Softail Harleys. I'm also writing four chapters for a large 100 th-anniversary tribute to Harley-Davidson.

18. What other books would you like to do that are just on the blackboard for now?

I'm discussing a big hardcover on Nortons. That should be fun. I'd also like to do a real hardcore, unauthorized history of Harley—not shying away from all the dirty tricks and hardcore "competitive" tactics that have defined the way the company approaches business, from the days of the founders through the interchangeable "suits" that run the company today.

19. Tell me a bit about your publisher, MBI.

MBI Publishing Company, LLC is what used to be called Motorbooks International of Osceola, Wisconsin. The company was founded in 1965 by Tom Warth, an expatriate Brit living in Minneapolis who wanted subscriptions to all his favorite European magazines, so he set up a company to sell subscriptions to like-minded enthusiasts in the United States. That spread to selling books through a catalog that became the Classic Motorbooks catalog, and then to publishing its own books. I was hired there in 1988 as the company's first aviation editor. Then, we published something like 20 books a year; now, they publish well over 150, on everything from cars to steam trains.

20. What's in your own motorcycle collection?

Right now, I'm down to two and a half motorcycles.

My regular ride is a 1973 Moto Guzzi Eldorado police model, updated with the disc brakes of a 1974 model. It's my regular ride because it looks like a vintage bike but it runs and performs like a pretty modern machine and is equally at home in town or on the freeway. I've also got a very hot-rodded Guzzi LeMans. That one's no fun 'til you're in the twisties.

The "half" is an engine from a 1997 Guzzi Sport 1100i and an Eldorado frame. I'm going to bolt that late-90s fuel-injected motor into the early-70s frame, by way of the torque converter and high/low transmission from a late-70s Guzzi Convert. I'll have a mongrel that'll look like an Eldorado, go like a Sport 1100, last 100,000 more miles, and one I won't have to shift or fiddle with the clutch on when I'm stuck in Seattle traffic. It'll be the perfect bike, and I won't have much money in it, either.

Bikes I'd buy if I could afford them include a pearl white Fat Boy for squirting around town, an early 1990s FXRT for those long, high-speed trips, a Guzzi Quota for fire-road scouting, a Guzzi V11 Sport Rosso Mandello for a living-room centerpiece, and an RC-51 for wheelies and mountain-road fun. If money was not a worry, I'd buy an MV, a 1939 Knucklehead, a 1936 Crocker, and any Cyclone I could get my hands on.

21. Are you available for hire on a case by case basis?

Aye, if I'm interested in the project.

22. What's your history of living in the Northwest?

As mentioned earlier, I moved here in the summer of 1994. Pulled into town in a big Hertz-Penske truck with my LeMans and V7 Sport in the back (I left the Sportster in Minneapolis to ride home to Seattle later, by way of Sturgis).

The first stop was in the Fremont neighborhood to visit a friend, and as we trolled past the Buckaroo Tavern, there were a couple of Guzzis parked out front. Later, we stopped in for a beer and fell in love with the Buck and Fremont, so we got an apartment there. We lived in Fremont until September 1999, when we moved near Green Lake.

My first real contacts with the motorcycle community here were through a real local treasure and super enthusiast named Tom Samuelsen, who at the time was the spark behind the local chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. A few years later, that club imploded during a very heated dispute amongst some of the officers, and I ended up being president for a time. When my term was up, though, I shifted my enthusiasm over to the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts (VME), which seemed to have a greater ratio of fun to politics. A few years later, they asked me to be the club's librarian. I took the job and am still at it two years later.

The VME's a great club. I invite anyone who hasn't checked it out to join in at one of the club's meetings, held first Wednesday of every month at Teddy's Tavern, at 65 th and Roosevelt.

23. What are some of your favorite Northwest rides?

We're blessed with great roads in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, it takes a full hour and a half of dodging over-caffienated, sleep-deprived, and shockingly inept Northwest drivers to get to any of them from where I live. I love the North Cascades highway, there are many great roads in the northeast corner, and many more all throughout the state, but my absolute favorite is near Lewiston-Clarkston, called The Spiral Highway—ten miles down and ten miles back up of the curviest road this side of the Alps. Freshly paved a couple of years ago, too.

24. Producing a fine motorcycle book does not always bring fame and fortune.

What other things do you do to make a living?

Rarely brings, and hasn't yet, in my case. I do a bit of free-lance editing, for publishers and even for a while for a local software giant. I also manage a small apartment building, which pays the rent so I have one thing I don't have to worry about when times are tough.

25. Do you still own your 1972 H-D Snowmobile?

My dad still has it. It was a really good sled, no kidding. We lived in a small town in Wisconsin and the three Field bros rode the Harley and our two Johnson sleds every day there was snow on the ground. It was new in 1972, and that machine was as good as any other of the era.

26. Have you ever gotten laid while attending Sturgis? A VME Meeting?

Yeah, in Sturgis, but I brought my own, so to speak. Never yet at the VME, but then I've never heard of anyone getting laid at a VME meeting. How 'bout you?

For more information or to purchase H-D Evolution Motorcycles CLICK HERE .

Interview by TM/Spring 01

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