Pre-1916 Motorcycle Ride

Old, old bikes - good 'ol time

| November/December 2008

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    Tod Rafferty
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    Fred Lange gasses up his 1916 Harley Model J at the Pozo Saloon lunch stop.
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    John Parker's 1948 Indian Chief was obviously not liberated from the Policia, but it does get some laughs.
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    Yes, that's a functioning nitrous bottle on a 1913 Excelsior. Owner Mike Vils is more interested in fun than originality.
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    Fred Enstrom of San Marcos, Calif., demonstrates the proper posture and attitude for pleasant country cruising. His 1915 1,000cc Harley V-twin is good for 12 reliable horsepower.
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    The La Paz Police Indian Chief's rear fender pays homage to the Man in Black.
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    Victor Boocock recently revived this 1914 Harley-Davidson single-speed, which he hopes to ride across the U.S.
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    Tod Rafferty
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    A restored 1915 Indian Powerplus keeps company with a barn-fresh Harley twin of similar vintage and a 1946 Indian Scout.
    Tod Rafferty

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Each spring California’s Central Coast comes alive with greening hillsides, carpets of wildflowers — and the sputter-pop-bang of old motorcycles. Really old motorcycles, as in pre-1916 motorcycles.

Under the capable guidance of semi-legendary historian/restorer/author Stephen Wright of Morro Bay, Calif., this year’s annual Pre-16 Ride was also graced with the additional sobriquet: the Inaugural Bud Ekins Memorial Spring Tour. Geezers on Wheezers?

However, not all these guys are in the geriatric category; among the younger was Pete Young of Mountain View, Calif., age 38, on a 1930 Velocette KSS 350. Granted, the Pre-16 rule is loosely enforced at best — the roster also included a 1941 Harley XA opposed twin, a 1936 Crocker, a 1946 Indian Scout and a 1948 Indian Chief. But more than half the bikes were actually Harleys, Indians and Excelsiors built before 1916, some restored and others original, out for a putt in the California countryside.

The original Pre-16 designation came about because events of this type were run in collaboration with the Horseless Carriage Club of America, which adopted the title to cover vehicles built before World War 1. (Thus, in Britain, it was Pre-14.) But now, as that era approaches its centenary, fewer of the pioneering machines remain on the road, which is also true for most of their original riders. Today’s event honors the pioneers of motorcycle design and engineering, provides a fun ride and gathering of like-minded enthusiasts, and the chance to drink beer and eat barbecued tri-tip steak at the Pozo Saloon (est. 1858). 



This year, the meet was again headquartered in Atascadero, Calif., a convenient hub for rides in the coastal foothills through miles of wine country, farms and horse ranches on narrow, entertaining roads — a good bit of which remains much as it was a century ago, but with fences.

Although the word icon has been driven firmly into the tarmac by scribes waxing earnestly over heroes past and present, Bud Ekins (1930-2007) defined the term for more than 50 years. So who better to name a vintage ride for?



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