Presidents and Motorcycles
Which U.S. President Was a Rider?
Googling around to see which U.S. presidents rode motorcycles, we found only Jimmy Carter, and he seems to have given it up when he entered politics. Several governors, most famously Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and now Mike Pence of Indiana are motorcycle enthusiasts.
Governor Ann Richards of Texas got her first motorcycle license when she was sixty! The folks at Harley-Davidson heard about that and gave her a motorcycle for her birthday.
So, we found governors and other politicians, like John Kerry, but no more presidential motorcycle enthusiasts. Still, we kept digging and did find some presidential connections to motorcycles.
When he was Police Commissioner of New York City in 1895, Teddy Roosevelt commissioned a “Scorcher Squad,” riding bicycles, which caught 1,366 speeders in horse-drawn carriages in its first year. The squad added its first motorcycle in 1905.
But there’s no evidence Teddy ever road a motorcycle.
Bill Clinton was photographed on a Harley while he was a governor campaigning to be president. But, as far as we can see, he just sat there. So, he rode it, but he didn’t ride it.
George W. Bush went a little further. He had a motorcycle build for his 2004 re-election campaign by Jeff Nicklus, who owns Desperado Motorcycles near Houston. The autographed bike has been displayed in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
It’s a 2005 model Jeff Nicklus Signature Series Desperado Motorcycle with a specialty built TP Engineering 124-cubic-inch, 145-horsepower polished engine and six-speed transmission. It sports chrome wheels in the shape of the “Lone Star.” and is painted red, white, and blue. George and Laura Bush’s signatures, along with those of other notables are below the Preamble to the Constitution, which is airbrushed on the tank.
Though the motorcycle accompanied Bush wherever he went after the nominating convention—even to his inaugural ball—he only rode it once. And that was inside the bike’s tractor trailer! Yes, he just rode the length of the trailer. That’s all the Secret Service would allow. It seems President Bush had banged himself up just the week before falling off a bicycle.
Ann Richards may have lost the governorship to George Bush, but she takes the crown as a motorcycle enthusiast.