Buffalo Bike ​

RK and The Buffalo Bike

Ron Stratman once said, “I am not a philosopher. I am just a man who loves what he does. I am a father of seven, a grandfather of twelve, and a great-grandfather of four. I am not an MBA, but I am a graduate of life, a self-made man, and a born salesman. I am not a suit; I am an ex-racer, a motorcycle rider and lover of the open road”. RK Stratman Inc., founded in 1969, became an official Harley-Davidson Licensee in 1983, is now into its third generation and is still wholly owned and operated by the Stratman family.

In 1990 Ron created the infamous BUFFALO BIKE, (pictured above) a 1980 FLT draped with buffalo skin, which has become a staple at the Sturgis Rally and at dealership events all over the country. The Buffalo Bike was inspired by an attention grabbing cowboy who rode a buffalo down Main Street during the Black Hills Rally. Not to be out done, Ron rode his own version of the Buffalo, who he named “ole Buff” the following year. To this day the Buffalo Bike creates a buzz and is likely the most photographed bike in the world.

R.K. has been involved with Sturgis & Black Hills Harley-Davidson since its inception. In 1987 Black Hills Harley-Davidson opened a second location for the Rally and Ron along with Laverne (who now manages Sturgis Harley-Davidson) ran the facility selling quality Harley-Davidson apparel and products.

One of the best selling t-shirts at the Black Hills Rally is our very own “Sturgis Genuine” printed on the Hanes Beefy-T which is exclusive to RK Stratman. “Sturgis Genuine” was originally designed 20 years ago and continues to evolve. Our artists find inspiration for the Sturgis designs through many outlets. Some have traveled there to experience the Rally first hand but for the most part the designs come from good old fashion Teamwork. Vendors fill out questionnaires regarding shirt styles and designs. Terry, Laverne and Melonie “know their crowd” and submit their ideas to the art team. Their input is essential, as they know first hand what people are buying and what they’re looking for. There are several categories our artist focus on to ensure all the rally goers have something to fit their style. Our team of artists and garment designers focus on the Harley-Davidson rider. In fact many of those working at our factory ride and we feel we know more about the t-shirt and the Harley-Davidson feel than any other licensee because we ride the ride and live the life. Of course, RK Stratman Inc., not only provides shirts for the Black Hills Rally, but is an official full time licensee for Harley-Davidson providing quality and customized apparel to Harley-Davidson dealer’s worldwide for almost 40 years. RK Stratman’s success might best be summed up with one of our t-shirt slogans and a phrase Ron uses to describe his passion for Harleys: “If I have to explain. You wouldn’t understand.”

The Buffalo Gallery

RK Stratman Inc. • 680B Parr Road, Wentzville, MO, 63385
Phone: 636-332-5636 or 1-800-536-3631 • Fax: 636-332-6553 or 1-800-381-0329 • email:sales@rkstratman.com

Map to RK Stratman Inc

In Memory Of
JUNE 21, 1936 JUNE 14, 2020

Memorials may be made in RK's name to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Few men leave a mark so deep on a community. Ronald Kenneth Stratman, forever known as RK, did just that. As a visionary, rebel, and leader in the motorcycle industry, everyone who knew him had a story about him. Whether it was the Buffalo Bike, his work as a licensee for Harley-Davidson, or doing burnouts for on-lookers, everyone can remember something unique.

An avid motorcycle enthusiast he set out to make his passion his life. Ron began racing competitively and at the same time had a growing family.  Eventually, his son, Carl, began racing and it became a family affair. His first wife, Barb, and their daughters tagged along selling iron-on patches and decals to support the boys' racing habit. Over time, the family's weekend venture turned into a successful business that, in 1983, was granted one of the original 12 Harley-Davidson Motor Co. licenses.

Chances are that if you worked in any dealership across the country, at some point you probably received a call or a visit from “the old guy” to see how everything was going at your Harley-Davidson dealership. Touring the country as often as he could, Ron would stop on by to see how things were going and what he could do to help. Throughout his years RK was known to help dealers out during difficult times making sure they always had products to sell. He cared about people and built his business on relationships. Whether you worked in a dealership or just passed through one, you knew him and you loved him. Ron just had a way with people. Those relationships were not limited to his external business. Ron was also loved by his work family. In fact, he would regularly take walks through the plant and talk to everyone. He wasn’t the best printer (he left that to the experts - his son, Carl, and son-in-law, Larry), but he loved being around the team. So much so, that, even well into his 80s, Ron would pop into meetings just to remind people that he was still “above ground” and could give his input on whatever he wanted!

Ron was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame in 2012 for his lifelong commitment to motorcycling and his world-famous most photographed bike, the Buffalo Bike. Beyond the Buffalo Bike, for most of his life Ron also enjoyed collecting bikes of all makes and models. He was a devoted supporter of flat track racing for over 40 years and was the 2019 Grand Marshal for the Springfield Mile. Ron's love of motorcycles and life on the road fueled the success of his family-owned and operated screen print company, RK Stratman Inc.

Together with his children and extended family, Ron grew the business that just celebrated its 50th anniversary. At some point, nearly every family member worked alongside RK in some capacity. It was often hard to tell if a family gathering was business or pleasure because the two were synonymous. Ron loved teaching his boys how to race, inspiring new designs, and sharing stories of his time on the road, but some of the best family memories included Mexican lunches, couch talks, and watching him play with giggling great-grandchildren.

RK leaves behind an incredibly large and loving family with many memories and stories of this amazing man. His spirit is carried on by his wife, Martha Stratman; three surviving siblings, Gary (Debbie) Stratman, Jay (Sue) Stratman, and Cheryl Russell; six surviving children, Vicki Lederer, Rhonda (Greg) Thompson, Carl (Laura) Stratman, Andrea Norris, James Stratman, and John Stratman; 12 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, a great-great-granddaughter, and an extended family of relations and friends too large to count. He was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Mable Stratman; his brother, Larry Stratman; his daughter, Tammy Stratman-Brown, and his son-in-law, Larry Lederer.

Those who knew Ron and followed his journey know that he never stopped living his dream. He was a self-made man from start to finish working tirelessly until he could no more. Even at age 80, Ron, Martha, Carl, and Greg completed the Ididaron - Ron's version of the Iditarod race - riding their motorcycles across the country from Florida to Alaska. Ron's passion for motorcycles led him through life full throttle and can only be explained by one of his favorite sayings, "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand."

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