January 25, 2020
Home / New England News / Opinion: Kaplan Mixes Bad Brew Of Beer And Bikes

Opinion: Kaplan Mixes Bad Brew Of Beer And Bikes

VERNON, CT – With only a week to go until Rockville Motorcycle Mania, Ken Kaplan (aka “Kaplan America”) took to Facebook on Saturday night for a more than five-minute live promo on the event that’s set for this coming weekend at his New England Motorcycle Museum

Nearly one-fifth of his message was devoted to touting that beer will be sold. “It’s going to be the best event of the summer at the museum. We’re breaking out all the stops for this one,” Kaplan proclaimed.

“We got Hooker Brewery coming … with not just one but two trucks this time so (there will) be twice as much beer this time. I’m subsidizing it. I’m actually buying four kegs – $250 a keg they’re charging me to bring their craft beer there and charge dollar brews. So we’re going to have dollar beers. They’re bringing over 30 kegs total – four of ‘em are going to be dollar drafts.”

Screenshot of Ken Kaplan on Facebook Live

He reported that two kegs of $1 beer will be sold Friday night and another two kegs of $1 beer on Saturday night. He then moved on to talking about the lineup of bands before returning to the subject of beer. 

“I got a special deal for you guys. If you happen to drink too much, you can leave your bike at the museum. The first floor is done. I’m going to have it cleared out, so if you drink too much we’ll get you an Uber home. You can leave your bike there. Don’t worry, we’ve got a $50,000 security system. There will be armed guards on duty watching your bikes if you want to leave them overnight, so don’t worry about it,” Kaplan stated.

Rockville Motorcycle Mania Is Friday and Saturday

After ticking off some of the activities planned at Rockville Motorcycle Mania, which runs from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and 12:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Kaplan circled back again to talk about the beer blast aspect of the show and seemingly contradicted himself. 

Having earlier said the event will feature “not just one but two trucks this time” and promising “twice as much beer this time,” which suggests that beer has been sold previously, he then crowed, “We’ve got beer. We haven’t had beer at any of our events and a lot of people have complained about that.”

Screenshot of Ken Kaplan on Facebook Live

Kaplan then thanked the town for making it possible for the sale of suds and for what sounds to be as much a brew fest as a bike meet. 

Beer And Bikes Are A Dangerous Mix

The problem is that beer and bikes don’t mix.

While responsible riders routinely say, “If I’m riding, I’m not drinking and if I’m drinking, I’m not riding,” many other riders aren’t as wise. The results of their poor judgment can be seen in statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alcohol is a factor in 25 percent of all motorcycle fatalities, more than any other type vehicle. 

Courtesy of Governors Highway Safety Association

It’s not so much the fact that beer will be sold, rather that Kaplan is pushing it so much. The fact that he’s opening his museum to let drunken riders stow their motorcycles overnight compounds the problem as it actively encourages over-imbibing.

And, let’s face it, how many blotto riders with false bravado brought on by booze will simply choose to try and ride home anyway? 

Will the Vernon Police Department have sobriety checkpoints? Might be a good idea.

Granted, Rockville Motorcycle Mania will probably come off without a hitch, and that’s certainly the hope. It’s just that the optics of Kaplan’s Facebook pitch are horrific. As of late this morning, Kaplan’s video has more than 2,000 views and has been shared 94 times.

Rather than set an example and promote safe riding, he’s sending the wrong message and urging just the opposite: Drink up! Ride on!

About Bud Wilkinson

An award-winning print and broadcast journalist, Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" vintage car feature for the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. He studied journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University where he received a B.A. degree. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville.


  1. This guy has gone through a strange transformation since this museum business started. He went from clean-cut businessman to a “Guy Martin, Muscle-head Wannabe”. I’ve seen him at a few bike shows and he wanders around with the “1000 yard stare”. Maybe he’s trying to earn “Street Cred” with the biker community, but he appears and acts nothing like he was five years ago. People attend bike shows to see bikes, they frequent drinking establishments if they prefer alcohol. Drunk and Stupid are two things you don’t want to witness, especially when motorcycles are involved. Added to that, the latest push by the State of CT to implement a helmet law. Certainly more fuel for that fire if less than cooler heads prevail at such an event. Very irresponsible advertising on Kaplan’s part, but to be honest I’m not surprised.

  2. It may have been more productive to express your concern to Ken privately first.

  3. I really can’t believe that Kaplan is promoting drinking at his motorcycle museum. It sends such a bad message that drinking and riding are OK. I don’t care if you only have 1 or 2 beers, science has shown the speed of your reactions and your judgment are diminished. Period! It injects a risk factor that doesn’t need to be there. I can only hope that the town will never again provide a temporary license to this facility. The town sanctioning drinking and motorcycling could subject the town to a law suite should someone get hurt. It shows such poor judgment by the town.

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