May 26, 2009

Wisconsinites miss million-mile Harley

Harley-Davidson has upset some Wisconsinites by moving to South Dakota a motorcycle that carried a former state lawmaker for more than 1 million miles.

Former state Sen. Dave Zien, R-Eau Claire, traded his 1991 FXRT to the company last week in exchange for a new bike after his became the first Harley known to have been ridden for 1 million miles, the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday.

The company turned the motorcycle over to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in South Dakota to become part of its exhibit on Zien, who fought against helmet laws during his time in the state legislature.

However, some Wisconsin motorcyclists said they were upset to see the motorcycle leave the state.

To have it tucked away in the Black Hills of South Dakota is, I think, an insult to the state, said Dan Stephans, a motorcyclist and friend of Zien. My attitude is this motorcycle, this million-mile motorcycle, is a significant part of Wisconsin history and culture.

The motorcycle will be back in Wisconsin after the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August when it goes on loan to the new Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

Zien said the final fate of the bike is up to Harley-Davidson.

They can do what they want with it, he said. I'd prefer it be in Wisconsin. Almost everybody who finds out it's going to Sturgis says, 'Why Sturgis? Why not here?'