Belgian Life Member Jean Balis Explains how he become one of the first H.O.G members in the world, and how H.O.G. is still a major part of his life.
I became a member of H.O.G. in 1983, when I attended the Sturgis Rally in the United States. Harley-Davidson were presenting their new ‘Evolution’ motor, their new Softail model and a brand new club, the Harley Owners Group. I registered for this new club immediately.
However, my connection with Harley-Davidson goes back much further than that. At the age of
Whenever I saw a Harley, I was in awe of it. One weekend in 1964 I was gazing in the window of the Brussels Harley-Davidson dealership when I saw a poster advertising the Harley-Davidson Jamboree (they weren’t yet called ‘rallies’ in those early days) at Tremeloo, 30km from Brussels. I was 18 and the decision was made instantly – I had to have a Harley! I took a second job and saved hard, and in 1965 I pushed open the door of the Harley dealership and signed the order form for a 1955 1200cc
The following year I shyly asked to join the club that is now called the Belgian Harley-Davidson Riders Club. I was the youngest member; at just 19 years old I had to work hard to pay for the club outings and for the accessories for my bike – panniers, mirrors, passing lamps and luggage rack.
For many years I rode my Hydra Glide in
This year I will participate in the European 115th Anniversary event. But it was back in 1967 that I first discovered Prague when I rode to the Jamboree that year on my Hydra Glide – a trip of 900km in one 22-hour ride, including a
This year it will be 53 years that I have been riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and 35 years as
I have been a member of the Capital of Belgium Chapter, the Brussels Chapter and now the Namur Chapter in Belgium – as well as the Arizona East Valley Chapter in the USA. H.O.G. was even responsible for my marriage – in 1993 I rode to Milwaukee with a young lady who would later become my wife, and who has given me two beautiful children. During those years of
What do I love about Harley-Davidson and the Harley Owners Group? The camaraderie, mutual respect and the sheer joy of motorcycle road trips. I can honestly say that H.O.G. has radically changed my life. And I am by no means ready to stop yet!
Jean Balis - Life Member since 08/83
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