Issue 167

I’m Crazy

We lost a great leader, teacher and young woman who empowered others to stretch the boundaries of their imagination while achieving things they never thought possible. The world of motorcycling is better for her achievements while she lived on the edge. She gave others the inspiration to do what they wanted to do; not what others thought they should do. 

Jessi Combs died on a dry lake bed in Oregon while piloting the North American Eagle and trying to better the two-way average speed of over 531 miles per hour she had just set. Two days before that she said, “It may seem a little crazy to walk directly into the line of fire. Those who are willing are those who achieve great things. People say I’m crazy. I say thank you.” 

The life of Jessi Combs was celebrated at a special event held on September 21 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles during a memorial that will pay tribute to her achievements in the world of racing and allow fans to pay their final respects to the star.

These boots are made for riding

Some 13 years ago I penned a story in HEAVY DUTY about the jacket and boots that Marlin Brando wore in the movie The Wild One. Nothing ever seems to changed so now I share with you an updated version of the Engineer boot.

When you see a Harley rider more likely than not they are wearing the classic motorcycle boot, or as it is known, the “engineer” boot. But what is the classic motorcycle boot? As in the previous issue of Cybercycles we looked at the Brando jacket’s history. Now let’s look at the appearance of the Engineer boot at the end of World War II.

What sets the Engineer apart from all other motorcycle boots is a buckle around the instep and across the top of the arch of the foot with no laces to catch fire. The Harness boot has a loop or some other form of attachment. The English riding boot is plain and the old style motorcycle racing boot was usually laced. 

I guess you could say the real classic Harley boot was the one that the Davidsons wore. But these guys were all “suits.” When you go back to Willie G’s book, 100 Years, you don’t see the Engineer boot until 1950. Before then it’s all horse riding lace-up boots. 

On the webpage you can find an Engineer boot in 1946. In 1952, there is a picture of Willie G and Arthur Davidson wearing Engineer boots. 

Today you find the Motor Company calling the classic Harley boot a performance boot made by Wolverine. I see in Wikipedia that in the 1930s that steam locomotive firemen/engineer first wore them for their non-flammable protection.

The oldest Engineer boot makers I could find are Chippewa ( and WESCO ( 

The single best source for the history of motorcycle boots is a site created by Jerry Palmer at From there you can find his links to jackets, boots, and lots of trivia. Jerry posts a letter from Chippewa where they say “the Chippewa Engineer boot was originally developed way back during the Depression days.” Jerry also notes that Sears distributed Chippewa Engineer boots perhaps as early as 1938. 

Engineer boots were also sold under the brand names of Harley-Davidson, Easyrider, and Jammer. Today just about everybody makes Engineer boots including Johnny Reb Boots in Australia (but these are the square-toed Harness style ( 

WESCO said in its official history, that ship workers were calling for Wesco’s “engineer” boots in the 1930-40s ( 

While the Brando jacket was a defining moment in time, the classic motorcycle boot seems to have just appeared and continues to evolve.

Long Way Up LiveWire

Man, are things a changing in the Harley riding gear as I write. It seems that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are now riding the Long Way Up from Argentina to Los Angeles. And on electric LiveWires like Brumby rode earlier this year. 

The LiveWires (there are evidently four of them) are greatly modified with increased suspension travel, wire spoked wheels (with a 19in on the front instead of a 17in), dual sport tyres, bigger mudguards, engine guards plus a strengthened subframe with luggage racks. Then there are non Harley soft saddlebags, headlight grilles, hand-warmers and a tall windscreen. Obviously they are made for off-road not city regenerative charging for increased range. 

I am only guessing that two of the LiveWires are carried in the Mercedes Sprinter 4Matic vans and are perhaps being DC fast charged. The support electric Rivian R1 T pickups can also fast charge them. There are some Ford F350 6.2 litre V8 pickups with tandem trailers to lug support equipment too. We will just have to wait and see what gets aired in the final cut.

The Davidson Legacy

My daughter and son-in-law who live in Scotland surprised my wife and me while we were visiting by taking us to The Davidson Legacy at Netherton Cottage, Aberlemno, Angus, Scotland. There we were given a personal tour by Mike Sinclair of the restored family home of blacksmith Sandy Davidson who with his wife Margaret and their six children emigrated to America in 1857. 

It is amazing the care and authenticity of the restoration of the Cottage where you can even stay overnight. This is a must visit for all Harley riders when in Scotland.

Plan for Growth

As 2019 closes I wish you a very Merry Christmas. My present to you may be a piece of coal or a lucky guess as I gaze into my Harley crystal ball. 

Actually, the Motor Company has just published its gaze into the next three years with its Accelerated Plan for Growth. This is an updated plan for kick-starting Harley’s financial future. While it may not be all inclusive in all the models of bikes it is intending to bring to market, I think is has to be spot on and honest. The investors think nothing less. Maybe we will get lucky and there will be the release of the Rushmore II or new single shock Touring model. But right now this is what they are planning:

For me the bottom line is that Touring models are not being mentioned in the Plan above, and will remain much the same through Model Year 2022. 

Thus I am looking at getting my complimenting little day rider High Performance 1250 Custom “Revolution Max-Milwaukee USA” in 2021.