Rubber-Side Down

Helming this magazine for the past 11 months reminds me of when I rode a 1942 Indian Scout a couple of years ago. I have ridden more than 900 different motorcycles, but stepping aboard and operating an ancient hand-shift, foot-clutch two-wheeler was a new experience for me – it transformed a familiar activity into one that demanded my full attention.

And so it was when I jumped into the captain’s chair here last April. I had been a motojournalist and editor for nearly a quarter century, but Thunder Press is nothing if not unique. Not only is it one of the last monthly print motorcycle publications, it also has a particular mix of content. Our tagline, “The journal of the American V-Twin community,” isn’t something to be taken casually.

Rubber-Side Down Anniversary Party
The anxious feeling of releasing the clutch pedal on McQueen’s old Indian was oddly similar to the nervousness I felt taking a seat in the Thunder Press editor’s chair. Immensely grateful to Daniel Schoenewald for seat time aboard his precious heirloom.

Kinda like that old Indian. Not only did it deserve respect for being a 70-year-old survivor, this one had once been in the stable of the king of cool, Steve McQueen, making it nearly priceless. I respectfully and cautiously planted my butt in the saddle of that old Scout and this venerable publication, and I rode away with as much grace as I could muster.

I have tremendous reverence for the founder of this publication, Reg Kittrelle, who boldly launched Thunder Press three decades ago. Reg has graciously offered a column for each issue I’ve produced. And I have deep respect for Terry Roorda, whose wit and creativity took this publication to a higher plane during his 17-year reign. We’re grateful to again have his musings in this special anniversary issue.

My predecessor, Mitch Boehm, had brought Thunder Press to a new level befitting the subscription model the publication now uses. Sadly, gone are the days when advertising dollars could support the considerable costs of not only printing magazines, but also shipping them around the country and providing them free of charge.

So, if we’re not giving away Thunder Press, then we need to pack it full of evergreen content that’s as entertaining five years from now as it is today. Feature stories like the history of H-D’s Softail suspension and Springer fork written by motorhead Kip Woodring are timeless.

And speaking about time, our deep dive into the history of Crocker motorcycles has become reference material for enthusiasts of that exotic American V-Twin. And our retrospectives on American motorcycles have ranged the gamut, from the single-cylinder 1903 Thomas Auto-Bi (the first bike with front and rear suspension) to the W-3-engined Curtiss, to the entire lineage of 4-cylinder American bikes. Historian Tod Rafferty’s wisdom and experience has also been invaluable when producing these features.

These are stories that demand research and insight, so they’re pieces you’ll seldom find elsewhere. You can enjoy them today or have your kids appreciate them years from now. Keep ’em on your coffee table or your bookshelf for convenient access.

Rubber-Side Down Anniversary Party
I had to reach back to 2006 for the last time I squeezed into a full set of leathers for a ride on a Harley. The V-Rod Destroyer viciously catapulted down the quarter-mile, and my best ET of 9.54 seconds was the quickest time recorded with a journalist in its seat.

While we look back, we more often look ahead, bringing you the latest news and products around the V-Twin industry. And we’ll continue providing beautifully illustrated coverage of the best rallies and events from around the country.

The internet has changed the ways many of us consume motorcycle news and info, but we have a loyal cadre of readers who prefer holding printed paper in their hands. I’m a faithful member of that club. At the end of a workday spent staring at a computer screen, I’m anxious to disengage from the digital hamster wheel and be entertained by a publication that I can enjoy on the couch, at the park, or wherever.

The web’s ubiquitousness has cut into the importance of our Events Calendar listings, but many of you have told us you aren’t interested in going online for this info. We’ve responded by expanding our calendar to two pages to help you plan your rides and destinations for all the rallies that are important to you.

We, along with many of you, appreciate products made in the USA. From Harley and Indian, to Vance & Hines and National Cycle, we believe it’s worth paying for stuff produced here on our own soil. We proudly write, produce, and print this publication in America.

Riders of American V-Twins often have smiles on their faces. Riding Kyle Wyman’s championship-winning King Of The Baggers Road Glide pasted a big grin on this old dude. Stay tuned next month for my ride report on this astonishing beast.

Thunder Press continues to evolve, and yet it remains the journal of the American V-Twin community. We will continue publishing the best stories about American motorcycles and the people who ride them.

We’re proud to have you along with us, and we hope you encourage your friends to subscribe so they can also be part of the cool club we’re in. See the Last Page of the April 2022 issue (page 50) for a peek at a new look from us. America, let’s ride!