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John Maxwell Graduated from MMI and Then Became a YouTube Star

UTI Profile Image Universal Technical Institute Mar 22, 2019 ·

Curious about what kind of gear you should take with you before you head out on your Harley? Want to know the essential equipment to keep in your toolbox and garage? Need a great pair of sunglasses for your next ride?

There's a YouTube channel for that. The Harley Tech, aka John Maxwell, is a Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) graduate who teaches more than 97,000 subscribers all about the latest and greatest in Harley-Davidson and motorcycle worlds with his weekly YouTube video uploads.

John is also a certified technician working for Chattahoochee Harley-Davidson in Columbus, Georgia, a spot where he often films video footage for an inside look into what it's like to work on motorcycles.

John is a magnetizing on-camera personality. He draws viewers in with his laidback sense of humor, relatable personality and obvious genuine appreciation for the subjects he talks about. John loves interacting with people, but working on a bike in the shop all day caused him to seek an alternative outlet where he could connect with other motorcycle enthusiasts.

The Harley Tech's First YouTube Video

He filmed his first YouTube video in August 2017, showcasing 2018 new Harley model releases. While he had the thought of starting a YouTube channel a few months prior, he had no idea that first upload would grow into the successful channel and community of passionate supporters it is today.

“The first video was me having fun and goofing off more than anything else,” says the 33-year-old. “The video got some stupid amount of views considering I'd never uploaded anything before, so I brought the camera back a couple days later and set it up and started working. Everyone asked what I was doing, and I said I was going to start a YouTube channel.”





Now more than 110 videos later, John has a fervent following who ask him questions about everything from manual labour to recommended gear. He even has fans who visit him at the shop – and some bring him gifts.

It All Started with a Magazine

John's first glimpse into the world of being a motorcycle professional was on a trip to Europe, when he was 13. John says he perused the magazine rack at the airport, looking for the thickest form of reading material to keep him entertained on the long flight. He saw a giant magazine celebrating the 95th anniversary of Harley-Davidson. From there, he became a fan.

Growing up in Columbus and Savannah, Georgia, John had ridden his step-father's dirt bike, so he had some experience of being on two-wheels. For his 8th grade research paper and end-of-the-year speech, John decided to dive deeper into the world of Harley-Davidson. He researched, wrote and talked about the company, his first formal education about his future career. 

After high school, John worked in the food service industry, as a manager, server and bartender. He bought his first Harley-Davidson Sportster when he was 23. It was a model he decided on back when he had read the magazine, and he still has it today.

John says because he often worked nights, he would spend his days riding, sometimes jetting off a couple hundred miles away to grab lunch and enjoy the view during the ride. John says he probably put 10,000 miles on his bike the first year he had it.

While working in the restaurant industry was fun because John got to chat with customers, with a kid on the way, he decided it was time to look for another form of work so he could avoid working nights. He didn't want to give up the bike, though.

“If you're going to have a job and have kids, you don't get to ride your motorcycle as much, that's the rule,” John says. “A lot of people would trade their motorcycles in and give up their bikes, but that's not the life I wanted.”

His restaurant employer T.G.I. Friday's sent John and his flair bartending skills to a competition in Orlando, Florida. That's where he learned about a vocational school called MMI, which he would attend shortly after.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-Cxvlobuk8

Working with an Icon

When John enrolled at MMI, he had zero technician experience. As a student, he got a job at a Harley-Davidson in Orlando, working in general merchandise.

When he graduated and moved back to Columbus in 2012, he picked up work right away at the  Chattahoochee Harley-Davidson, where he had bought his Sportser. John says he loves the Harley-Davidson brand because of “the American heritage, the surviving tough times over 115 years and not quitting when it was tough.” Plus, he says, the usability and power of Harleys is a lot of fun.

Another great aspect to working for Harley-Davidson is that the brand provides no shortage of engaging content for John's YouTube channel. As a full-time technician, John gets a unique look into Harley-Davidson developments. Working on bikes makes him a trustworthy authority on all things Harley.

“This year I definitely plan to do more of the new bikes stuff, because that's what keeps me interested in this job,” John says. “Every year there's something new, whether it's totally new bikes, or they change how something works. There's a freshness that comes to this industry, so I want to showcase that more on the channel this year.”

Spreading Harley Knowledge

John fulfilled his dream of continuing to ride every day, even with a growing family. He says the sense of freedom you get from being on a bike is priceless.

“It's definitely different from being in a car, moving forward in a direction, and you don't know who you're going to see or who you're going to meet,” John says. “A simple stop at a gas station might lead into a 30-minute conversation and a new friend you met in a country stop.”

John Maxwell is a Harley-Davidson technician and a graduate of Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Florida MMI

While John continues to work full-time as a technician, he wants to keep growing his channel. He's heading to the Harley-Davidson dealer show this year to film for the dealership, and he hopes to start uploading more than 1-2 videos a week on his channel. John is completely self-taught in video shooting and editing, researching tutorials and recommendations on YouTube for gear and the filming process.

John has already experimented with new camera equipment and content ideas. He says sometimes he has some sort of plan for content, but often a job he's working on that might be interesting to others is what inspires him. While he has made some money from advertising on his videos, this one-man production is in it more to help people than anything else.

“I would have never guessed it would get to here,” John says. “It's kind of like riding a wave. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and enjoy making the videos for myself and enjoy the feedback I get from other people. That's what keeps me going. The amount of feedback I get is incredible. All the videos get tons of comments, and there's appreciation for the work I put into it.”

For MMI students who might have their own YouTube dreams, John advises to surround yourself with supportive people and put in the work to make your vision a reality.

“Be honest, work hard, and don't listen to the naysayers,” John says. “With both motorcycle school and starting a YouTube channel, there were way more people who said I couldn't do it than who said I could. Work hard, and carry through with what you say you're going to do.”

Learn more about MMI Orlando, where John attended, here.

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