Interview: Jared Zaugg

Legend Of The Motorcycle founder Jared Zaugg
Jared Zaugg may not be a household name, but he’s the man who put high-end motorcycling on the map. He was one of the founders and the driving force behind the Legend of the Motorcycle concours d’elegance—widely regarded as the world’s premier motorcycle event. It was the show that for the first time put bikes on the same level as collectors’ automobiles. After three successful years, the Legend Of The Motorcycle was ‘retired’ in 2009.

What was the first motorcycle you bought with your own money? Completely mine in every formal way, from the purchase price, name on title, registration and insurance, was a 1970 BMW R60/5 Toaster Tank. And within 45 minutes I was on the open road heading out solo across western America. Foolish in hindsight, but one of those experiences I count among my very best.

What do you think is the most beautiful production motorcycle ever built? I remember being invited to view a private collection of over 200 rare motorcycles in the Alps of Europe. The exterior of the house was purposefully non-descript but when I entered the “sanctum” I was literally overwhelmed. Motorcycles of every era—racers, production bikes, superchargers—the rarest of the rare, even a dozen Megolas (!) were lined up wall to wall in row after row. I was totally overwhelmed and literally stunned. And yet what grabbed my attention among all of this was a 1929 Neander (below).

Neander motorcycle
Uncommon and over-looked, this highly innovative, uniquely styled and achingly beautiful machine was ahead of its time. Lightweight pressed steel frame, powerful MAG motor, pivoted front fork, never painted, always cadmium plated, nimble, fast, graceful and successful at racing (under Opel), this machine transfixed me and I’ve coveted one ever since. To me, this bike ushered in the era of the most beautiful motorcycles, the 1930s.

What motorcycle do you despise? Any theme bike.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I try not to take myself too seriously and I’ve realized that happiness is a collective of moments. I’m always looking for happiness and I always find it—after the fact—in the simplest of things.

Electric motorcycles: Yes or No? Yes. They have their place and that place will continue to grow. Besides, the massive, instantaneous torque is unreal and the silence contributes to that connectedness to the road that only a motorcyclist knows.

What is your favorite journey? One that is born of spontaneity.

Which ‘everyday’ modern bikes do you think will become future classics? The equivalent of the Honda CB750 or Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, if you like? Ducati Monster.

Who are your real-life motorcycling heroes? Tazio Nuvolari. (Painting by Nik Coole below.) One of the greatest motorsportsmen the world will ever know.

Tazio Nuvolari by Nik Coole
Are you optimistic for the future of motorcycling? Yes. And just when it seems like innovation is static along comes a John Britten (V1000 below) and turns the world on its head. Creativity can never be permanently stifled.

Britten V1000 superbike
What is your current state of mind? To quote Nina Simone, I’ve got alotta living to do before I die and I ain’t got no time to waste!

With thanks to M. Charles Lucas.