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First Million-Mile Harley-Davidson

Ridden by the Amazing Dave Zien

By Tony Sanfelipo with photos from Rogue and Barb Kutz
6/11/2010 9:10:41 AM

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Million Mile Harley-Davidson

Former Wisconsin State Senator, Dave Zien, completed his 18 year journey and record breaking attempt by accumulating one million miles on his 1991 FXRT. Zien and his entourage rode into the parking lot of Hal’s Harley-Davidson, New Berlin, Wisconsin, amid the cheers and flags of over 300 enthusiastic well wishers.

Left to right: Scott Walker, County Executive of Milwaukee county, Mike Hupy, Dave Zein and Rex Hupy. Arriving at the dealership with Michael Hupy riding behind him for the millionth mile.

At the event, Zien thanked Attorney Michael Hupy and Hupy and Abraham law firm for sponsoring his ride and making this all possible. In return, Attorney Hupy thanked Dave for his service to his country and presented him with a check in the amount of $5,000.00, payable to the Wisconsin Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Zien was an outreach director for the VA after he came stateside, and helped veterans get loans for housing and schooling.

Tony Sanfelipo, ready to ride.

Rogue, and news camerman, ready for the open road.

To cap off the final leg of his voyage, Zien decided to invite long time friend and fellow Sturgis Freedom Fighter Hall of Fame member, Tony “Pan” Sanfelipo, on a 3,000 mile round trip ride to Florida and back. There, they would pick up photo-journalist John “Rogue” Herlihy, another Freedom Fighter Hall of Fame member. Joining the ride was also Dan Stephans, another friend of Zien’s and Iron Butt competitor. The foursome left Space Coast Harley-Davidson in Palm Bay, Florida on a return trip to Wisconsin fraught with bad weather, torrential rains, tornado warnings and flash floods.

Dave with the Space Coast H-D group.

Even in a storm, Dave looks to the positive things in life, and even within set backs, like engine failures or missed appointments or opportunities, instead of anger he calls it, "Blessings in disguise. Bikers," he says, "have "courage, creativity and charisma."


After passing numerous cars pulled over just outside of Nashville, the group came upon an overturned semi-truck blown off the highway. Just north of Nashville, two lanes of I-65 were closed due to flooding. It was a memorable ride back, leading up to an even more memorable world record. In fact, Michael Kneebone, president of the Iron Butt Association, presented Zien with a special certificate on April 4th. He explained that they had an award category for riders who reached one million miles, but they never had anyone do it on a single motorcycle.


Zien and Tony Pan spent the morning, of the landing party, riding in the hills around Pan’s home in Waukesha County. They calculated the last 30 miles needed to reach one million. They rolled into the staging area with only two miles left to go, which was the exact distance from that spot to Hal’s Harley-Davidson. Riding behind a flag escort provided by Patriot Guard Riders, the FXRT rolled into Hal’s just as the odometer rolled over to all zeroes. Perfect!


When Dave speaks of riding a motorcycle, he evokes a spiritualism from deep within his soul. He often talks of bikers saying they are today's freedom fighters and, "Red blooded American patriotism is alive and well deep within us. For some, we show it."


Two days later, on April 6th, the group pulled up at Harley’s corporate headquarters at 3700 W. Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee. There, Steve Phillips, VP of Quality and Dealer Relations, handed over the keys to a brand new 2009 Road Glide. Phillips joked that he had to give Zien a new bike because they couldn’t find any technicians who would work on the FXRT anymore.

Tony Sanfelipo, long time freedom fighter, and Michael Hupy investigator, was cold that day.

When something does upset him, like anti-biker legislation, his response is a call for effective activism.

Vickie and Dave
There's the lovely Vicki Sanfelipo on stage with Dave. She runs Accident Scene Management seminars all over the country. Education saves lives.

"Plant the see, set the stage, bait the hook. Stand up, speak out and fight back."

These sayings are wholly owned by Zien, to the point they are referred to as Zienism. He's famous and somewhat notorious for these exclamations. He ends almost every speech with this: "May you have hunger in the heart, fire in the belly, and your soul is absolutely on fire."

From the left that's Kirk Willard, the president of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, Dave and ...

These are some of the passions he wears on his tattered leather sleeves and so selflessly shares with anyone who will listen.



About the 1-Million Mile FXRT

Some little know facts about Zien’s FXRT and the wear and tear of a million miles.

The bike has original fenders, gas tank, oil tank, triple tree, handlebars, primary and tranny case (the main shaft is original but the gears have all been replaced).


There is no kill switch on the bike (ok, for the newbie bikers, that’s the on/off switch)
No kickstand (he had to lean the bike on curbs, against trees, etc)
No neutral or oil lights, tachometer doesn’t work, no horn and the odometer worked but the speedometer arm was broken so he guessed at speeds.


He had the motor rebuilt 10 times, with a remanufactured motor being installed last October in Yuma, Arizona at Bobby’s Territorial Harley-Davidson. The bolts holding the lower cases together had metal fatigue and have tyme serts holding them in.


The bike utilizes a roach clip jumper cable system from battery to coil for hard to start cold mornings. It has as an auxiliary 6-gallon fuel cell with John Deere petcocks to increase mileage on his endurance rides. On one leg of this journey he ran 31,000 miles in 31 days for another record.

bags 2

The transmission was overhauled three days before his last leg ride to Florida. Due to excessive pressure buildup, the primary was drilled and vented one week before the final leg journey. Although the bike has a kick peddle, Zien uses a Phillips screw driver, which he inserts into a hole drilled in his starter, to bring the beast to life.


The bike has seen 105 rear tires and 65 front tires, 17 stators, 9 seats and Zien has worn out 13 pairs of engineer boots while riding Suzanna Ala Sha-Luck A Lay Ya, the name he affectionately calls his bike.

An old tradition with him, he also named his rifle Betsy-Sue, while serving in Vietnam with L Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He even remembers the guns serial number, 549909. Like his gun, which he depended on for life, his bike kept him alive and vital.

Dave and vikie

Congratulations Dave Zien on a record that will stand for many years, and best of luck on your next million miles.

The Dave Zien PR Newswire photo distribution was picked up by the Reuters sign in Times Square and the Clear Channel sign in Las Vegas. Attached are photos of the webcam snapshots.

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Reader Comments


Nigel 'Snidge' Drummond
Tauranga, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editor Response He's one of the most passionate men in motorcycling and a former Wisconsin Senator. He never stops...
Good lord, 10 engine rebuilds in 1 million miles???? He might be bragging about his mileage (and no doubt it's a considerable and impressive amount of miles to ride), but he shouldn't be bragging about the bike, considering he basically got a new motor several times over!

Search "The 400k Mile V-Strom" on Google. This guy had a 370k mile Harley previously that he had to rebuild every 100k miles. His V-Strom hasn't had the head off, EVER. It's only ever been opened for a stator replacement, impeller, and valve adjustments. THAT is something to brag about.

Cali, CA
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
This is not the first Harley to get one million miles. The Enthusiast Magazine profiled a guy years ago who hit one million miles. The motor had never been apart. The factory bought it back and gave him a new bike

VIC Kaelin
Everett, MA
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Editor Response That's incredible. I would love to see the Enthusiast piece. Thanks for the catch.
Congratulations! I own a black 1984 FXRT also. These are great riding motorcycles. Mine has 48,000 miles on it.

It runs great. This is my first Harley-Davidson and the first year for the Evo engine I believe. I am the second owner. The first owner was flat tracking on pavement when he hit some gravel. He broke his ankle bad. That ole girl needed a new home. He gave up riding.

My bike now, she is a sexy old lady. I have test ridden newer bikes and liked them but my old sexy lady feels better. When riding to big gatherings sometimes I feel envious of all the new Harleys. Just about every time some seasoned biker will walk up and give the old girl a compliment, that makes me feel good. One time on a run at the coast we pulled into a dealership( which was one of the poker run stops) all that chrome and polished bikes filling the parking lot.

Three mechanics were standing outside taking in the sights on break. They walked past all the other bikes to check out my ride. They pointed at things that I machined and custom built. Good feeling. So when I look at the million mile Harley Davidson , I know what Zion is feeling. He has my utmost respect. I`ve got some riding to do to wear my old lady out. :)

Ride free

Bob Fegles
Springfield, OR
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Editor Response FXRs forever, forever FXRs!

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