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Swapmeet: Buying and selling at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days

PICKERINGTON, Ohio--Larry Klein has been buying and selling for years at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. The classic motorcycle book dealer will set up his booth alongside hundreds of other vendors at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 25-27, in preparation for the 60,000-plus motorcycle enthusiasts expected to descend on Swapmeet™, presented by Motorcyclist Retro magazine, in search of rare motorcycle bits and pieces, paraphernalia and memorabilia.

An admitted antique-bike addict, Klein will be peddling dozens of highly sought-after books about motorcycles, riding, racing and wrenching at the 16th annual gathering, billed as the world's largest motorcycle swap meet. He does a brisk business, as do the like-minded dealers of complete bikes, rusted frames, obscure wheels, scarce 30-year-old clutch baskets, "new" old engine parts, faded plastic fenders and more. It's an old-fashioned marketplace that rewards hagglers, collectors and bargain-spotters.

"I'm an old dog, and I've learned that being selective is better than getting a killer deal," said Klein. "When I walk the swap meet, it's not so much looking for things to resell. It's an opportunity to find things that I want to take home."

Observers once speculated that the Internet would kill the event, but that's not the case.

"The Internet has changed everything, but Vintage Motorcycle Days keeps going, and it's stronger every year," Klein said. "I think the difference is the allure of the flea-market atmosphere, how vast it is, and the thrill of the hunt--getting on your knees and going through boxes."

Given the ever-increasing attendance at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, he's not alone in that feeling.

"There is just a pleasure that comes from riding an antique or classic motorcycle. There's the challenge of building one or even restoring one. And if you get it right, you get to ride it at the end."

In addition to the sprawling Swapmeet, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days features many more activities.

Triumph is the featured Marque of the Year for 2008, and co-grand marshals Gene Romero--1970 Grand National Champion--and seven-time AMA Grand National Enduro Champion Bill Baird will be on hand signing autographs. Triumph motorcycles from past and present will be on display, and there will also be a Triumph-only bike show. An added bonus is the Vintage Triumph Roadshow with Triumph expert and Baxter Cycle owner Randy Baxter, who will appraise classic Triumphs and Triumph memorabilia.

Other activities include:
  • Bike shows featuring American, British, European and Japanese bikes.
  • Motorcycle demo rides provided by Triumph, Buell, Can-Am Spyder, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, KTM, Kymco USA, Moto Guzzi and Vectrix.
  • Motorcycling seminars sponsored by Kymco USA, featuring noted world travelers, authors, writers, builders and experts such as Zack Coffman, John Healy, Don Hutchinson, Clement Salvadori, Mike Seate, Alice Sexton, Ted Simon, Bob Vail, Craig Vetter and Mark Wilsmore.
  • A special display by the North American Laverda Owners Club, featuring Laverda founder Piero Laverda.
  • The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Auction of vintage bikes and memorabilia.
  • An extraordinary painting, created by renowned motorsports artist Tom Fritz, on display at the MotorHead Café before it is sold at the museum's auction.
  • 2002 World Champion Triumph stunt rider Kevin Carmichael, Team FMX Freestyle, Team Extreme Motosphere and Ryan Young's Trials Stars Show.
  • Guided rides of the rolling countryside around Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

All proceeds from AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days benefit the non-profit Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in nearby Pickerington, Ohio. Advance tickets to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days can be purchased at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - Lexington, Ohio. Racing and Driving School. or by calling (800) MID-OHIO. For more information, visit 2008 AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.

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