Eighty-year-old Jack Schraft has ridden Harley-Davidson motorcycles most of his life and is still going strong. Schraft sent a letter to the company explaining how Harley-Davidson motorcycles played an important role in his life. During his thousands of rides, his passion grew into a love with which he rides, today.
Schraft started riding in 1940 in Queens, N.Y., on his first set of wheels, a 1940 tricycle. “That was my first trike. You should’ve seen the smile on my face,” Schraft said. He quickly learned he loved riding, but after his ride with a police officer, he wanted to trade in his pedal bike for a motorcycle.
Walking home from school in 1945, he saw motorcycle police officers parked by his home in Long Island, N.Y. He reached out and touched one of the bikes. “One of the officers saw me mesmerized,” Schraft said. “He asked, ‘Would you like a ride?’ Without hesitation I said, ‘Yes!’ And away we went. He let me steer, and I was smiling!”
When Schraft was 17, he bought his first motorcycle for $75, a 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. “My dad said I couldn’t have one, so I left it at the gas station across the street and rode it at night. I loved that spring seat,” Schraft said.
In 1963, Schraft married his wife, Geraldine. “One day she said, ‘Let’s buy a Harley!’” This led to decades of riding together. “We belonged to motorcycle clubs, traveled many miles, made wonderful friends and enjoyed sharing the thrill of motorcycling,” Schraft said. “I’ll always remember when I forgot to put my kickstand down and ended up in the driveway with the bike on top of me. She came home and asked if I was okay…and then started laughing.”
When Schraft loves something, he sticks with it. He’s been married for more than 50 years, he’s lived in the same home in Valley Stream, N.Y., since 1969, and he’s ridden Harley-Davidson motorcycles since the early 1950s. Riding is simply part of his life.
“I’ve had a life full of stories. We used to do all sorts of things on our motorcycles. We’d ride over a plank eight feet in the air like a seesaw just to see if we could do it. Or, I’d wake up in the morning and decide to ride to get coffee in Ohio,” Schraft said. “We just did things like that. If we were in the mood for lobster, we’d head out on the bike and go to Massachusetts.”
Schraft owned many bikes in his life, and now he’s come full circle. Trading in two wheels for three, his newest bike is a Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra. “That smile is still on my face,” Schraft said. “I’ve always loved the sound and feel of my Harley-Davidson bikes. But, you have to polish the chrome if you own a Harley. You always have to polish the chrome.”
Although Schraft keeps his bikes polished, he believes they’re made for riding. He rides through rain and snow and even has a riding suit for subzero weather. “There’s no reason for me not to ride, no matter how cold,” Schraft said. “All I need now is a coffee maker built into my bike, and you’d never hear from me again.”