How a Honda Sabre club became the best known Sport Touring Organization
by Dana L. Sawyer - Founder - Member #0001
In the spring of 1982 I placed a notice in most major motorcycle magazines suggesting an association be formed around the notion of sport touring. Texan Dave Nicolson wrote back, “If you're going to start a club, I'm ready to join.”. When Dave became member #0002, he assumed the duties of Vice President. We discussed things like a logo, name, newsletter name etc. We gave some thought to calling the club the (Honda) Sabre Owners Club, but abandoned that idea in favor of letting (Honda) Magna owners join also.
The Honda Sabre, introduced in 1982, was a motorcycle designed for long distance yet remarkably agile while offering the torque delivery of a freight train. It was a perfect sport touring machine, with its sibling the Magna having all the same characteristics except for a more relaxed seating position. We thought that Honda would manufacture V-4 engines for a long time, and opted to name the club Honda V-4 Sport Touring Association. Our first newsletter in August 1982, declared the following: A Greek philosopher once said that a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. That step was taken last March when I became the proud owner of a 1982 Honda Sabre! Someone else said that when two Americans meet they form a committee right on the spot, and, if three or more meet, they start a new organization! Well, we do have a club; it is alive and well, and we welcome each one of you (and those that certainly will follow in the months to come!)
During the first fifteen years we remained identified by sport touring and the Honda vee configured four cylinder engine. The club had nine members listed in that first newsletter, and close to one hundred when the second newsletter was mailed in October,. 1982. A bank account was initiated with a $25 deposit, six regional directors and a technical advisor were appointed, and paperwork was initiated to incorporate the Association. Seven state representatives were added in December, 1982, and our initial members meeting was held during 1983 Daytona Bike Week. Plans were being formulated for our first National Rally, which was held June 13-16, 1983 at Prairie Creek near Rogers, Arkansas.
Our newsletter, which had originally been called the Sabre Tattler for the 1982 issues, was changed to the V-Fourum beginning with the February 1983 issue. Our May 1983 issue showed that we had 296 members in 44 states and 3 foreign countries, plus 120 prospects in 37 states and 5 foreign countries! We had nearly 100 persons at that first rally, with Gary Christopher and a couple of other folks from American Honda, plus Joe Boyd from Honda R & D. Gary's wife, Peggy, was our unofficial photographer for that first rally! We registered folks at an open picnic table, and most folks camped. We performed technical sessions showing members how to adjust valves, steering head bearings and other similar tasks. Spearheading work in preparation for this rally was Moose Musteen (Yep! We even had a Moose way back then!), South Central Regional Director and member #0004.
Locations for subsequent STAR (Sport Touring Association Rendezvous) events included Aspen, Colorado in 1984; Galena, Illinois in 1985; Lake Tahoe, California in 1986; Cruso, North Carolina in 1987 (our first rally with Honda demo bikes); Fairfield, Pennsylvania in 1988; Wakefield, Michigan in 1989; Kerrville, Texas in 1990; Mammoth Lakes, California in 1991; Avon, Colorado in 1992; Helen, Georgia in 1993, Nashville, Indiana in 1994; Avon, Colorado in 1995 and Davis, West Virginia in 1996. Incidentally, the name STAReview for our newsletter was suggested by Ohio member Jack Woodruff, and the new name was used beginning with the January 1987 issue.
The V-4 designation was dropped from the club name in December 1986. We began to shift our focus to include not only other Honda models but also other brands. Here's what Ambassador Alex Dudley had to say in the December 1986 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...for now we have to attract new members in a changing environment which appears to be evolving, both in terms of what Honda has pending for 1987 introduction and what the other manufacturers are producing, into a growing interest in SPORT TOURING and sport touring machines. Nor should we strictly limit ourselves to members who own one brand of motorcycle. We have learned the value of having members who are not Honda V-45 owners. The most important qualification for membership has to remain an interest in sport touring and in sharing that interest with other riders. However, I don't think we can afford to discount the tremendous importance that a brand affiliation has to our continued success. We need to maintain our affiliation with Honda.
Another Name Change
In 2009 the membership again changed its name to the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association or MSTA. The change was simply a reflection of the open arms members had for all motorcycle brands and a desire for inclusion with all sport touring riders, regardless of type of motorcycle. Nothing had really changed, except the name. As described by original member Dana Sawyer, a core value will always prevail in this association of motorcyclists: an excuse to ride and lasting friendships."Through the years, the members that have stayed with us have been those that have become involved in some way in the Association. Canadian Ambassador Ray Snowdon once called it pushing the boat out. If you have been relatively inactive, resolve to change that, starting today. Write or call a member; arrange a meeting; or attend an event located near or far away. As motorcyclists, we are always looking for excuses to ride. Become a more active member and you'll come away a winner!"
The most important aspect of the MSTA is our membership! Whereas other organizations tend to be corporate, stiff and impersonal, the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association is informal, friendly and full of wonderful members who would like an opportunity to meet you! My wife Lynn and I count many of our very best friends among the MSTA membership, and through the years we have shared numerous experiences that we will remember always!
Where are we going? Continued progress depends upon each of us, and the time that we are willing to invest in participating in club activities. Here's a comment from my first newsletter article in February 1983: A person with true friends is rich indeed. My association with motorcyclists through the years has endowed me with many wonderful friends, some of who I see only once in a great while. However, this is truly one of the benefits of riding out into this country of ours! I hope to meet each one of you in the coming months (and years) and I trust that you will form some lasting friendships as a results of belonging to the Honda (V-4) Sport Touring Association – now known as MSTA.
Be real careful out there, and God bless.
Dana (the Fossil) Sawyer...and Lynn also!
The MSTA is proud to be a sanctioned AMA Road Riding Organization