HSTA (Honda Sport Touring Association)

Text: Andi Seiler • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

Since its early days, the Honda Sport Touring Association has been based on friendship and the fun involved in riding and meeting nice people. No matter what brand you own, sport touring enthusiasts are welcome to join the club. RR visited the STAR event 2003 in Charleston, West Virginia.

It all started with a bike! In the case of Dana L. Sawyer, HSTA founder and member #0001, it was a 1982 Honda V-45 Sabre, which he enjoyed riding very much. Wondering if other people were having the same experience with this bike, he sent a short one-paragraph letter to the editors of motorcycle magazines. A stack of replies arrived in his mailbox with some enthusiasts asking for the foundation of a club. One of them was Dave Nicolson, a Texan who became member #0002 and assumed the duties of Vice President. Together, Sawyer and Nicolson formed the Honda V-4 Sport Touring Association.

They published their first newsletter in August 1982 with nine members counted in the HSTA fold. That number climbed near 100 when the second newsletter was mailed in October 1982. The initial members' meeting was held during Daytona Bike Week in 1983. For the May issue in 1983, the club counted 296 members in 44 states and three foreign countries. The first National Rally was held June 13-16, 1983 at Prairie Creek near Rogers, Arkansas, attended by 100 people, including folks from American Honda and Honda R&D.

The group's national rally - STAR (Sport Touring Association Rendezvous) - has been convened all over: Aspen, Colorado in 1984; Galena, Illinois in 1985; Lake Tahoe, California in 1986; Cruso, North Carolina in 1987; Fairfield, Pennsylvania in 1988; Wakefield, Michigan in 1989; Kerrville, Texas in 1990; Mammoth Lakes, California in 1991, etcetera. In December 1986, the V-4 designation was dropped from the club name. Ambassador Alex Dudley wrote in the newsletter: "...The Association's greatest appeal, to those members who get the most out of their involvement, is the people we meet and the experiences and relationships we share. The quality of the membership experience has been and must continue to be based on the people orientation of the Association. Without this we will become just another owner's group advertising occasionally in the back of a motorcycle magazine..."

And indeed, the bikes that pulled into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Charleston House for the 2003 STAR event on Saturday night covered a wide range of brands and types. Everything from A to Y, as in Aprilia to Yamaha - cruisers, tourers, sportbikes, enduros, it doesn't matter what you ride! Over the event's four days these people take several self-guided trips together (mainly in smaller groups), enjoying the curves and mountains of West Virginia, participating in seminars, and just having a good time. Other activities included a Poker Walk in downtown Charleston, AMA Risk Management, a real cool demonstration of the Charleston Motor Patrol, and a dual-sport ride.

It's evident everybody is happy to be here, reconnecting with friends, and meeting new ones. The HSTA takes very good care of its new members, too. Several topics on the event schedule are tailored especially for them like the "New Members Social" or "Ride with a Moose, for the first-timers at STAR. Also, the ladies of the HSTA get together for socializing. At the "Closing Ceremonies and Banquet," prizes are awarded for the longest ride to the event or for the largest group to attend the STAR 2003; they recognize those people who've made special efforts on behalf of the HSTA, and introduce new national officers like incoming President David W. Brickner. This year editor Marc Cook loosened up the crowd with an engaging talk about his daily work at the magazine Motorcyclist. And, of course, there is always time for a joke.

Again holding the distinction of being the oldest rider to join this event, Don Clark (84) rode his BMW R1100RS all the way out from Victorville, California. Members range in age from their late teens to late eighties, and the median age is between 35 and 45, representing virtually all socioeconomic strata. And they come from all over the country as well. Besides the national umbrella organization, the HSTA has a network of regional and state officers, and events.

The STAR 2003 event was a big success, again, with 431 participants, and the association impressed us with its friendliness and informality. You meet wonderful people who love sport touring, sharing stories, and spending time with each other. Another nice thing about it: Exhibiting a professional, all-inclusive attitude, American Honda still supports the club and they don't care which brand you ride. To make contact or to find an event close to your hometown, just jump to HSTA's informative website at www.ridehsta.com.

RoadRUNNER talked with the new HSTA President, David W. Brickner, known to all as "Brick," about the character of the association and his personal goals.
RR: Your club has been very successful over the years. To what do you attribute this?

Brick: The members make the HSTA what it is. HSTA is a group of riders of all ages, who have a wide range of skill levels, ride all kinds of motorcycles, enjoy sport touring, curvy roads and the camaraderie of other riders. If you come to an HSTA event you won't see a soul around the event hotel until about 5:30pm. Riders gear up as early as daybreak and disappear in search of the best roads. In the evenings, you will see a crowd of smiling people discussing roads, tires, braided brake lines, where they ate lunch, and just generally having a good time.

RR: What is your membership?

Brick: There are currently about 2,000 members in the HSTA.

RR: What are your plans to maintain or increase the membership in your association?

Brick: Our goal is not growth. Being the biggest is not always the best. We are looking for other riders interested in "Promoting excellence and safety in the enjoyment of motorcycle sport touring." We will continue to offer opportunities to ride on the best roads in the USA and meet some of the most interesting people who ride there!

RR: Is it difficult to meet all the expectations of the different age groups involved in the HSTA?

Brick: Not really. We all seem to have the same expectations. We want to ride as many curvy roads as we can. And we want to do it safely. This is accomplished in the HSTA by attending events held by other members in other locations. It's simple, you show me your favorite roads, and I show you mine. The HSTA is a great place for an inexperienced rider to learn from accomplished riders with many years of experience. The HSTA members also model the need for rider training such as the MSF courses, wearing proper safety gear and by saving the alcohol until the day's ride is over.

RR: Do you think that the fast growing sportbike/sport touring market has had any affects on your rising membership numbers?

Brick: Without a doubt. It's a wonderful time to ride. There have never been as many choices of excellent sport and sport touring motorcycles from which to choose!

RR: In which way do you get support from American Honda?

Brick: We do have a strong relationship with American Honda. Honda provides demo bikes at our annual event, which is called "STAR." We raffle a new motorcycle, for members only, at our annual event and have been able to purchase it from Honda at a great price. We have been included in the Press Introduction rides of new bikes. STAR 2003 featured a focus group meeting, at the request of Honda R&D, to get feedback from the ST1300 owners regarding this new motorcycle's strengths and weaknesses.

RR: Where will the STAR 2004 event be held?

Brick: Our 2004 National event, Sport Touring Association Rendezvous, will be held in beautiful Mammoth Lakes, California, June 20th through 24th, 2004.

RR: Mr. Brickner, thank you for your time and good luck in the future!

Brick: I must say when I first saw RoadRUNNER on the newsstand I immediately thought that you had published a magazine just for the HSTA member. Your publication fits our riders needs and interests perfectly! On behalf of the Honda Sport Touring Association, I want to thank you, and your staff for attending STAR'03 in Charleston, West Virginia.