Real Rider: Thom McIlhattan

Real Riders -


Real Rider: Thom McIlhattan

Meet the latest Real Rider – Thom McIlhattan. Harley-Davidson motor Oil is in Thom’s blood even though he’s been known to throw a leg over other manufacturer’s bikes as well. In fact, his first motorcycle was a Horex 500 Single that he acquired in Munich, Germany as a freshman in high school where his father was stationed in the military. We questioned Thom about his riding background and his passion for two-wheeled transportation.
When did you first start riding?
I actually started out tooling around on mopeds at about age 14 before graduating to the Horex – my first real motorcycle.
What’s your everyday rider now?
I generally ride my 2010 Harley-Davidson FLTRX Road Glide on a daily basis. I love it because of the fixed fairing and the stability that it provides. I upgraded to a six-speed gearbox. The powerful, rubber mounted motor is smooth and makes long trips a pleasure. I also own over 30 other Harley-Davidsons ranging from bicycles to a Destroyer Drag Bike. In addition, there are some non-Harleys as part of the McIlhattan  Collection. My wife rides a Harley Police Road “Queen” (King). The gem of the collection is a 1909 Harley-Davidson 5A Single-cylinder (magneto model) – one of only 54 built.
1909 Harley-Davidson 5A Single-Cylinder Thom McIlhattan
Where’s your favorite place to ride?
I have a couple of favorite ride routes – 0ne along the Russian River and back down the Pacific Coast. Another favorite is up Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail and into Angwin.
What would be your Dream ride?
My wife Honore and I have actually experienced a couple of “Dream Rides”. We’ve done three Cross-country rides, done the Sturgis Rally several times and most recently a two-week bike excursion (on BMWs) as part of an Edelweiss tour through the Swiss Alps.
Why do you like riding and what does it do for you?
I’ve always loved riding motorcycles, and even raced back in the early ‘60s for a San Francisco based Yamaha dealership in the 250 class. My philosophy has always been “If you find something that you love to do, then Do it”.  Early on, I sold H-D Stuff (even have an “HDF Stuff license plate) and then the opportunity came up to purchase a Harley-Davidson dealership in 1990 – Harley-Davidson of Vallejo, CA., which my wife and I ran for 17 years before selling it and retiring. Now I simply enjoy the wind in my face and all the spiritual goodness (smells and sounds) to be experienced on the road. Bikers are good people and you meet lots of them when cruising – it’s part of a brotherhood/sisterhood thing.
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  • William Connor

    Definitely like these articles. Cool to learn about other riders. Very nice early HD.

  • Larry

    Finally, a forum for middle aged guys and their Harleys. RideApart, what happened to you?

    • Davidabl2

      Given the historic focus of HFL it’s more like exploring diversity than anything else.
      Last profile was a guy just eating into racing in a serious way, but on a shoestring budget.
      Given these two as the beginning of a series-hopefully- I very much doubt that the next one is gonna be the stereotypical middle-aged guy with a leather vest and a late-model “hog.”

  • Michael Howard

    “I also own over 30 other Harley-Davidsons…”

    Doesn’t get much more “real” than that. I only own one bike so I have to ride it a lot more to add up to that many bikes, right?

    • MichaelEhrgott

      Yeah, nothing says “real rider” like 30 bikes.

      • Clint Keener

        Hey now, I’m sure he has a team of guys to keep them running.

  • Joe_Bob_Einstein

    Enjoyable read…. thanks!

  • Bill J

    After you whippersnappers live past 50 and have ridden 30+ years, come back and show us how snarky you are.

    • Michael Howard

      Living past 50 and riding for over 30 years is what MADE me snarky. ;)

  • Strafer

    i’m in the wrong business

  • Ben

    I miss Wes………..