Here's why it's so hard to join the one million-mile club
Covering one million miles in a car is hard, so imagine what that's like in the saddle
Wherever you’re going to see several bikes gathered in the same spot, it goes without saying you’ll hear discussions about oil, tires, chains, and mileage. And you’d be surprised to learn that riders don’t talk that much about speed as they do about long way runs.
If you’re unfamiliar with the expression, “iron butt” refers to the capability of a rider to go on long riding runs.
There is even an association related to this: the Iron Butt Association. IBA is a U.S.- based organization dedicated to endurance motorcycle riding that claims it has over 60,000 members worldwide. They describe themselves as the “World’s Toughest Riders,” and one of their most popular slogans is “The World Is Our Playground.”
Today I’ll give you some short stories about people who make the iron industry green with envy.
Case #1: Al Zahrt and his 1,000,000-mile Honda Gold Wing
Al Zahrt, 61, founder of Pro Motor Sports in the Town of Maine, bought a Honda Gold Wing back in 1975 when he was only 19. He chose this model because he wanted a reliable bike. “When you’re 19, you’re not even thinking about the next day, but I wanted something I could trust. And back then, motorcycles weren’t known for their dependability.” In the four decades since, he’s customized the bike to reflect its pragmatic and functional purpose. He wants a bike that works, and that he can rely on.
In the 41 years of Al owning the machine, he’s replaced the engine three times. That’s not a surprise, as he rides an average of about 25,000 miles per year between April and November when the Gold Wing is his primary means of transportation. During the decades of ownership, he also changed eight helmets and visited all 48 of the lower states.
On July 29th, 2017, in Wausau, Wisconsin, Al's Goldwing odometer went from 999,999 miles to 000,000 miles. Now he can sell it as a brand new, zero-mile vehicle. Joking aside, that’s a truly impressive feat.
Case #2: Dave Zien and his 1,000,000-mile 1991 Harley Davidson FXRT
In 2009, former State Senator of Wisconsin, Dave Zien, completed a long 18-year journey by clocking 1,000,000 miles on his faithful 1991 FXRT. On April 4th, Michael Kneebone, president of the Iron Butt Association, presented Zien with a special certificate.
He said the association had an award category for riders who reached one million miles, but they never had anyone do it on a single motorcycle. Two days later, on April 6th, at Harley’s corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, the VP of Quality and Dealer Relations, Steve Phillips, handed over to Zien the keys to a brand new 2009 Road Glide. Zien’s million-mile 1991 HD FXRT motorcycle was put on permanent display at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Case #3: David Swisher and his 1.7 million-mile BMW K 1100 LT
When a customer completes 100,000 miles on a BMW motorcycle, Morton’s BMW Motorcycles dealership presents a special award and a certificate to the rider. To be eligible for the prize, you need to stop by the dealership with the records of your motorcycle, the VIN, and the mileage you've put on it.
Once the dealership has the documentation, they will submit the claim and present the award to you when it arrives from BMW.
David Swisher has broken every mileage record previously set. He rode his motorcycle, a BMW K 1100 LT, for more than 1.7 million miles. That is more than impressive and a benchmark when it comes to long distances covered by motorcycles.
Of course, these three examples are only a tiny part of the riders that are covering huge distances on their motorcycles. Hats off to these gentlemen! Keep on riding!
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