Behind The Longest Hour: The Hagerty Insurance 2017 Barber Bike Build

With the Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires fitted, John L. Stein rolls on a new Regina chain in preparation for racing at Barber in 2017.

The challenge sounded easy enough: Find two race-eligible dirt bikes at the 2017 Barber swap meet, fix them, and go racing. What could go wrong? Lots, actually. Yet remarkably, it all went quite well, as we recounted in our feature article, The Longest Hour: Racing Rickman Dirt Bikes at Barber. So what did we learn about preparing for a mad challenge like this? Quite a bit, thank you.

Bike Build Essentials

In an ideal world, preparing for a challenge like this, you’d make up a list of replacement parts, accessories, tools and supplies needed in advance of building a bike. For the Hagerty adventure, we didn’t have that luxury. Instead, we had to make educated guesses ahead of time and ship ahead the items we were most likely to need. And by some miracle, we chose exactly right! Here’s who supported us in our build – and the rugged cross-country race that followed.

Dunlop shipped three sizes of its Geomax MX3S off-road tires and tubes – two 21-inchers, two 18-inchers and one 19-incher. This gave us a good chance of having new knobbies for whatever bikes we ultimately found. And they gripped perfectly in the Alabama woods – a real performance advantage. Go to dunlopmotorcycletires.com

Regina Chain sent us four different Professional Cross Supermoto chain sizes, including 525, 520, 428, and even the small 420 just in case we found the odd little 90cc or 100cc bikes that needed them. The Rickmans both used 428 chains, which we trimmed to size with the easy-to-use Regina chain breaker. Go to reginachain.net

Pro Honda makes a wide variety of lubricants, chemicals and cleaners for bikes, and sent products to support whatever kind of bikes we found. We used HP2 two-stroke oil, HP Transmission Oil, Contact/Brake Cleaner, Carburetor Cleaner, HP Chain Lube with Moly, and Spray Cleaner and Polish (which also helped with tire mounting). Everything worked great! Go to prohondaoils.com

Thinking positively ahead of time, I ordered two sets of Fastlane MX Vintage Ovals printed up with our racing numbers and names, and carried them to Alabama in my computer bag. Super sticky and durable, they are just right for standard 9×11-inch vintage number plates. Go to fastlanemx.com

After putting it all together, Stein rips the Rickman through the woods. He was running third until he ran out of gas!

Ride Essentials

It had been a while since I replaced my helmet, and with racing in the cards I picked the light and comfortable Bell Moto-9 Carbon Flex in Vice Black/White. Among the latest in helmet designs, it protects against the glancing blows that often accompany dirt bike falls. Fortunately, I didn’t get to fully test this feature! Go to bellhelmets.com

Given one other safety item besides a helmet to wear, I’d choose Alpinestars Tech 10 boots. Weighing about 5 pounds apiece in my size (11), they’re not light, but they’re spectacularly comfy, and do they ever protect your feet, ankles and shins from the ruts, rocks, stumps and other hazards found in woods riding. Go to alpinestars.com

A hip gear company based in So-Cal, FastHouse makes a variety of moto apparel – some with a vintage feel – and can print the jerseys with your name and racing number. We picked Stripes L1 jerseys, Grindhouse pants in Navy and Speed Style gloves, also in Navy – a great look for the Rickmans we eventually found. Go to thefasthouse.com

Our thanks to all these great suppliers for making this incredible ride experience happen, to Hagerty Insurance for backing us in the first place, and to Motorcycle Classics for publishing the story. What a ride!

Published on Jan 26, 2018
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