Demo Rides

Harley-Davidson riders go for a demo ride on the 2019 Harley Davidson bike at Thunder in the Valley on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

What’s Thunder in the Valley without motorcycles?

The event in downtown Johnstown is giving rally attendees an opportunity to take demonstration rides through the area on bikes from Yamaha and Harley-Davidson.

Kim Knupp, national motorcycle events manager for Yamaha, said people will be able to take guided rides in a group on area streets to experience a Yamaha motorcycle.

“We have an approximate 10-mile ride that leaves from the parking lot,” she said.

Instructors conduct the rides during which they do a lead-and-follow with each other.

In order to take a demo ride, riders must have a valid motorcycle license and proper gear that consists of a helmet, closed shoes, long pants, long-sleeved shirt or jacket, gloves and eye protection.

“We will take a maximum of 10 motorcycles in the group on the ride,” Knupp said.

Yamaha is making its 12th appearance at Thunder in the Valley, and Knupp said it’s a perfect event for Yamaha to show off its motorcycles.

“We want to give the rider an experience on the motorcycle so that they can become familiar with the way it operates and works, and that they’ll ultimately enjoy the ride with us and go and purchase a Yamaha motorcycle,” she said. 

“We’re here because a lot of consumers don’t have the opportunity to be able to test-ride the bikes, and this gives them the perfect place and location to enjoy the bike and to also talk to factory representatives on any technical questions they have.”

She said people can experience different styles of bikes to see what fits them best.

“We have a lot of the 2019 models that you wouldn’t be able to find at the dealerships, so this is a great opportunity to come down in a safe environment to ride,” Knupp said.

Harley-Davidson has a fleet of its motorcycles in varying makes ready to go for demo rides.

Jan Yingling, marketing coordinator with Zepka Harley-Davidson, said it will provide rides from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, weather permitting.

“We have 17 of the 2019 models that people can take for free test drives,” she said.

Those wanting to ride must have a current motorcycle license and be 18 years of age.

“You need to have proper riding gear that includes a helmet – if you don’t have a helmet, we can provide one – long plants, closed toe shoes and protective eye wear,” Yingling said.

Passengers also will need to wear proper gear.

The guided route is about a 6-mile ride out of town on a scenic ride that will give the rider a feel for the motorcycle.

Yingling said Zepka Harley-Davidson has been involved with Thunder in the Valley since its inception, and on good years, it has seen 500 people take demo rides over the course of the event.

“There are a lot of motorcycle enthusiasts in this area, and this is what we do. We like to make the community aware of the features and benefits of riding these motorcycles, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said. 

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.