April 11, 2022
By Keaton Maisano
As the weather turns warmer for much of the country, motorcyclists are dusting off their iron ponies — or replacing tires on ones they’ve been riding all season — and preparing to embark on new summer adventures.
One motorcyclist who is no stranger to making treks and acquiring wild motorcycling tales is AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Dave Barr, who’s celebrating his 70th birthday Tuesday, April 12.
After living the first nine months of his life in foster care, Barr was adopted by Guy and Lucille Barr. His father served in the Navy in World War II and his mother worked in an aircraft assembly plant at the same time, so it’s no surprise Barr became a professional soldier, earning many honors during his service in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
However, Barr’s military career was cut short when he lost both his legs following a landmine explosion in Angola. The life-altering moment did not break Barr’s spirit, though, and he set out to inspire others with one of his passions: riding motorcycles.
Modifying his 1972 Harley-Davidson Super Glide to accommodate for his prosthetics, Barr quickly decided to refocus his life on riding around the world to inspire others.
“Wouldn’t it be something to share this simple accomplishment of riding a motorcycle as a double amputee with disabled people the world over,” Barr said in his book, Riding the Edge. “Perhaps I could be a role model for those people who might someday suffer the loss of good health.”
With trips across Siberian Russia in the dead of winter, around Australia, across China and through the Gobi Desert alone, the California native familiarized himself — and his motorcycle — with the entire globe.
The Super Glide saw a quarter million miles of journeying before Barr switched to a 1996 Sportster 883 — which was immediately tested in his 9,375-mile trip from the Atlantic Coast in France to the Pacific Coast in Russia. Guinness World Records recognized Barr’s trek as the first and fastest motorcycle ride across Eurasia.
Barr was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.