Mark Zimmerman, Technical Editor

Our Technical Editor, Mark Zimmerman, is just continuing a life-long romance with motorcycles and other internal-combustion devices.

Almost from birth I was totally fixated by anything with an engine in it, heavy construction equipment in particular. Growing up in rural NJ, there was plenty of it around, so my early years were spent crawling all over anything I could find, a fixation that eventually led, at the age of seven or so, to my trying to hijack the neighbor's HD-9 Allis Chalmers dozer. Fortunately for all concerned, I couldn't quite reach the clutch pedal, so I got busted before I could get the machine into gear and cause any serious damage.

At the age of ten I discovered motorcycles when a neighbor's son came home from the Coast Guard riding a new 1963 BSA A10. It was the first motorcycle I'd ever actually seen up close, let alone touched and I was fascinated by it, unfortunately, he left the next day, before I could try and cadge a ride. But it was a life-altering experience for me, and from that day on I considered myself a motorcycle enthusiast.

About that time my parents divorced and my mom packed us off to the Philadelphia suburbs, I hated it, but quickly discovered that there were five motorcycle dealerships within walking or hitch hiking distance of our new home, although one was actually a Sears showroom that sold the Puch brand under the Sears-Allstate label, so I'm not sure if that actually qualified as a motorcycle shop. Nearly every day after school and on most Saturday mornings, I'd be off to one shop or another, sometimes all five in a day, if I were feeling ambitious. I'd pester everyone there with incessant and inane questions, especially the guy at the Velocette shop, where I was enthralled by the Thruxton displayed in the showroom window.

By thirteen I'd managed to learn to ride, and by 16, I'd horse traded my way from a rigid framed mini-bike, purchased with my savings from a dishwashing job, up to a Suzuki X-6 Hustler, about the fastest thing under 500cc at the time. I'd also begun to write about motorcycles whenever I could figure out away to work them into the framework of some required essay.

Now that I could legally ride my bike I became even more of a nuisance, often visiting the same shop(s) two or three times in a day. Finally, one of them, a Norton, Suzuki, Yamaha dealer, offered me a part time go-fer's job, figuring I suppose that if they couldn't get rid of me, they may as well put me to work. One of the mechanics there was a fellow named John, later Dr John, Wittner. John, who went onto much deserved fame, if not fortune, for his work with Moto Guzzi, took me under his wing and quite literally taught me what motorcycles were all about, he also taught me much about life in general, but that's another story. Without his early influence I'm quite certain I'd either be robbing gas stations for a living, or worse, working for someone like Orange County Choppers.

One thing led to another and I eventually made my way to present home in Connecticut, where I've spent the last 32 years of my life working on every imaginable type of motorcycle. As far as riding goes, in addition to knocking off about 10,000 street miles a year, (a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the MC staff,) I'm a fairly serious off-road rider and racer, participating in everything from hare scrambles to Flat track and TT. In the winter, which seems to grow longer every year, I race indoors and ride the ice.

In the early eighties I began submitting some of my scribbling to local magazines, and had the first one published, sometime around 1986. It was a horrible piece, but its publication gave me the encouragement to keep writing, and I got a year's free subscription. Ultimately Old Bike Journal, a vintage bike rag, picked me up and I eventually became technical editor, before moving over to the same position at a magazine called Motorcycle Tour and Cruiser, and while I was there, I began to write a series of motorcycle maintenance books. One of my book's editors d mentioned that Jamie Elvidge at Motorcycle Cruiser was looking for a technical editor, and almost in the same breath that she was beholden to no one, an attitude I found extremely refreshing. A few weeks later Jamie brought me in from the cold. Where I hope to remain for as long as she'll have me.

I currently make my home in Danbury, Connecticut with my wife Brenda and a large unruly German Shepard named Anya. At 52, I'm still racing, and despite the peculiarities of New England weather (it could be worse—at least it's not San Francisco) riding year-round. Although motorcycling takes up 99 percent of my time, I also enjoy fishing, and gardening, and I'm member of the Connecticut Antique Machinery Club. I've been known to stay up all night talking about anything motorcycle-related, especially when if I've got a bottle of Canadian Club by my side and a fistful of cheap cigars.

Vital Information

Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 230 lbs.
Glove size: Extra-Large