Little did Harley-Davidson know how fully professional skateboarder Greg Lutzka would embrace the “Taste of Freedom” it gave him. Lutzka brings the same passion and energy he has for riding his board to motorcycling. And energy is something he has no shortage of as Lutzka lights up a room with his infectious zeal for life.
His immersion into motorcycling began a few years back. Harley-Davidson was looking for five “influencers” from different walks of life for its Taste of Freedom Tour and thanks in part to his partnership with Rockstar Energy, Lutzka got to be one of the five. The group also included hip-hop artist Astronautalis, UFC fighter Mike Chiesa, artist Ray Frenden, and Instagram sensation, photographer Cole Rise. The common denominator. None of them knew how to ride.
Over the course of one summer, Lutzka and the “Furious Five” were drilled and grilled on the finer points of riding a motorcycle. It started out with Harley Boot Camp in Montreal, Canada, where they were introduced to The Motor Company’s range of motorcycles and familiarized with basic controls as part of H-D’s Jumpstart program. But you could tell by the wry smile on his face and gleam in his eye soon as he climbed out of the saddle of the V-Rod used as the Jumpstart bike in Montreal that Lutzka was bitten by the bug.
The second stage of their training took part in Los Angeles where the group took Harley’s Rider’s Edge course, a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-bike training. The program provides all the necessary tools for operating a motorcycle safely. The tour continued with a run up the curvy mountain road up to Big Bear, California, to hone the skills they learned, and culminated with a trip to Milwaukee for Harley’s 110th anniversary. It was a special occasion for Lutzka who grew up in Milwaukee. He got to see family and friends, toured the Harley-Davidson Museum, Miller Brewery, and the Pilgrim Road factory in addition to enjoying other 110th festivities.
At the end of the tour, Harley presented Lutzka with the keys to his first motorcycle. In one year, he flogged it for 20,000 miles, rumbling around Santiago and Live Oak Canyons, and on Ortega Highway making the run over to Elsinore. He just scored a new Dyna Low Rider and continues to storm around SoCal on popular jaunts to Malibu Canyon, the Rock Store, and Julian. Cook’s Corner is practically in his backyard. Living in Southern California gives him access to plenty of places to ride pretty much year-round so he takes full advantage of it.
“I ride my bike every day so it’s awesome. I really enjoy it. It’s opened a lot of new doors for me and new places and I get to meet new people. It’s just a lot of fun,” said Lutzka.
Little did Harley know the dividends its investment in Lutzka would provide. He’s a natural brand ambassador. He now owns two Harleys, he just got his brother a Sportster, and his roommate is rolling too on a Dyna FXDX.
“A lot of my friends went out and bought bikes after I got my bike, like my roommate went out and bought a bike and I’ve got three or four friends that went and bought bikes. We got a little bit of a crew.”
Lutzka was in Austin for the recent X Games where he made a guest appearance at Cowboy Harley-Davidson of Austin along with fellow X Games gold medalist, freestyle motocrosser Lance Coury. He also paid it forward by manning Harley’s Jumpstart Experience set up at the X Games.
“We actually helped people learn how to ride so I was there teaching people how to use the clutch, how to use the brake, and signing autographs for kids.”
As much as Lutzka loves riding his Harley now, it’s ironic that he grew up in Milwaukee but didn’t start until a few years back. Even more so considering his father is a rider. Growing up where it snows pretty much half the year, he played ice hockey and snowboarded instead. Between the ages of eight and nine though he discovered his true passion – skateboarding.
“I kind of knew when I was young, about 11 or 12, I always dreamed about being a pro skateboarder. Then they started having competitions in my hometown at the skate park and I started getting like third place, then started winning them,” he said.
Lutzka put himself on the skateboarding map after shredding the Tampa Am in Florida, which helped catapult his career. Sponsorships came soon after and he moved to Southern California at age 16 to be where the industry was and in the epicenter of skateboard culture. In 2003, he won the Globe World Championships, and by the ripe age of 19 he was already an established pro. His extensive resume includes winning the prestigious Tampa Pro three times in addition to two X Games gold medals. Throw in several top finishes in the Dew Tour for good measure. The technical skills of the goofy-footed skater have also earned him the cover of Thrasher magazine.
While talent will take you far, which Lutzka has no shortage of on his deck, he acknowledged that hard work, timing, meeting the right people, doing good in contests, and branding himself well helped land sponsors at an early age. Magazine features increased his marketability. You don’t get your own line of shoes and score sponsors like Onnit, Darkstar, Harley, Osiris, Ricta and Rockstar Energy without being a savvy enterpriser.
Lutzka continues to be one of the hardest-working riders around. This weekend he’s been invited to compete in the Dew Tour Street Session in Chicago, set to air on NBC. He recently signed on with Blast Motion as “Action Sport Ambassador.” Blast Motion makes wearable motion capture technologies that measures metrics like how high a skater goes, how fast they’re spinning, and hang time. The technology overlays the metrics over video clips shot on GoPro Hero 3 and 3+ cameras and makes the footage easy to share on social media. Lutzka has a huge social media presence, from 840,000 Facebook followers to almost 70k on Twitter. He’s also working on a video game for the iPhone, Skate Party III featuring Greg Lutzka, set to launch in March, 2016.
But when it comes time to get away from it all, you’ll find him on his Dyna Low Rider, wringing its throttle in the canyons of SoCal. Wonder how long it will take him to put 20,000 miles on his new bike. We’re wagering not long.
- Greg Lutzka catches big air while showcasing the skills that have earned him respect in the professional skateboarding ranks.
- Sometimes you've got to sacrifice for the sport you love.
- Greg Lutzka sits on his new ride, a Harley Dyna Low Rider.
- It's a biker's life for pro skateboarder Greg Lutzka.