2016 Daytona Beach Bike Week Review
Motorcycle Rally Review:
It blew into town like a Category 5 storm, a whirlwind of bikers a half-million strong, the 75th anniversary of Daytona Beach Bike Week attracting “bigger crowds than they’ve had in years” according to merchants and local officials in a Daytona Beach News-Journal report. American Iron (AIM) editors rolled into town before the big show even started to hitch a leg on the 2016 Indian Springfield and the highly anticipated 2017 Victory Octane, then hit the ground running to cover the scene from Destination Daytona to Main Street. While first ride reviews on the motorcycles are forthcoming in American Iron Magazine, Editor-in-Chief Buzz Kanter provided a little insight about the new liquid-cooled Victory.
“I love it and consider it one of the best American muscle bikes on the market. Fast, agile and fun.”
American Iron also got to see “The Official 75th Daytona Beach Bike Week Motorcycle” it helped build find a new home at the rally. John Buchanan of Independent, Missouri, is a happy man about now after winning the Daytona Chamber of Commerce’s “Daytona Springer” raffle bike. The customized 2008 Harley Softail Springer is the current cover bike of American Iron Magazine, with good reason. The fine folks at Woodstock Harley-Davidson of Kingston, NY, did a bang-up job of helping turn the stock Softail into a true collectible. According to AIM’s Associate Editor Tyler Greenblatt, the stock Springer fork has teardrop rocker and end covers added to its axle and articulating bracketry. The front end has been dressed with a Hollywood-style handlebar from Biker’s Choice and classed up with white Harley Vintage grips and braided brake and throttle lines from Magnum Shielding. The stylish Springer sports Ride Wright Omega 40-spoke wheels front and back. While the H-D Twin Cam 96 is primarily stock, it barks a little louder thanks to Vance & Hines dual exhausts. John Dills of Dills Paintworks from Cullowhee, North Carolina, gave it a touch of class with its black and white paint scheme while Mark Peters of Peters Auto Art handpainted the American Iron logo on the oil tank and the 75th Daytona Bike Week logo on the gas tank. We hope to see Buchanan in Bike Week next year riding around the rally on the new customized Softail Springer he won.
In between bike launches, press conferences, and industry parties, American Iron’s new editor Steve Lita was a busy man. Somehow he still found time to make it over to Harley-Davidson’s Editor’s Choice Bike Show at the Broken Spoke Saloon last Wednesday. The Editor’s Choice Bike Show is attended by just about every major publication, with respective editors each selecting a winner. While singling out one bike in a sea of worthy builds is a daunting task, Lita awarded Michael Lewis’ custom 1941 Flathead 80 bobber AIM’s Editor’s Choice. Keep your eyes out for a full color feature on Lewis’ Flathead in an upcoming issue of American Iron Magazine.
As one of the newest members of the American Iron team, it was a pleasure to be one of the panel members of Allstate’s Bike Week Moto Masters Roundtable. The Roundtable consisted of a diverse cross-section of industry personalities. With almost ten years’ experience riding and reviewing motorcycles and covering the rally scene, I represented the media side. The custom scene had two well-known representatives, third-generation builder Zach Ness of Arlen Ness Enterprises and one of the hardest working, most colorful customizers in the business, Rick Fairless of Strokers Dallas. Joining us on the panel were the always energetic MotoLady herself, Alicia Elfving, and bright and bubbly vintage motorcycle racer Brittney Olsen of 20th Century Racing fame. Allstate Insurance sought to bring a taste of Bike Week to people who couldn’t attend the rally through its live-streaming event as we talked about a range of subjects, from current trends in the industry to safety tips to our favorite routes to ride. Allstate continues to be an active supporter of the motorcycling community through avenues like its “Once is Never Enough” program and by installing “Watch for Motorcycles” warning signs at dangerous intersections across the U.S.
With approximately $400 million worth of renovations recently being completed, Daytona International Speedway (DIS) looks spectacular. Besides its more modern façade, the venue now houses 101,500 seats and is much more fan-friendly thanks to five expanded and redesigned entrances, or “injectors,” that lead to a series of escalators and elevators. These transport people to three different concourse levels, each level featuring large social areas, or ‘neighborhoods,’ along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. Bike Week 2016 at DIS featured a new wrinkle as vendors were moved from the old location in the parking lot outside the Turn 4 tunnel to where the manufacturers set up at the Center Gate. Intermingling the two seemed to bump up foot traffic for everybody. Indian and Harley stoked the flames of a century-old rivalry as both manufacturers had huge displays. The new arrangement seemed to boost the amount of people taking demo rides. Victory’s Octane was a particularly hot commodity as just about every time the Victory demo fleet set out all of the Octane’s seats were filled. And while the new layout benefited most, Yamaha’s tent was located on the east end of the Speedway, along with Kawasaki and Suzuki, and it seemed like less people filtered out to the manufacturers located furthest from the epicenter.
On display in front of Indian Motorcycles’ set-up at the Speedway were the top three custom Scouts in Indian’s Project Scout competition. Indian challenged 36 of its dealers to customize a Scout or Scout Sixty with “no restrictions on the bike’s theme, cost or build style, the only rules being the dealers had to use a minimum of three authentic Indian Scout accessories from the current catalog.” The top three finalists were “Fusion” by Indian Motorcycle Charlotte, “The Rebel” by Indian Motorcycle Winnipeg and “Boardtracker” by Motos Illimitees from Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada. Fans voted for their favorite at a kiosk in front of the display, and when the ballots were tallied, Moto Illimitees’ “Boardtracker” was crowned the Project Scout winner. With downturned boardtracker bars, a barebones back end, and wooden accents, it’s easy to see why it was a fan favorite. Moto Illimitees description of its winner states:
“This bike is a tribute to the legendary Scout who used to race on board tracks. White tires mounted on 26 -inch wheels gives an antique look to this historic motorcycle. Cope pipes and a wood-imitation seat recall the 1920 – 1927 models. We have included many names of Jack Daniel’s because we wanted (to) commemorate their 150th anniversary and 115th anniversary of Indian Motorcycle. The footrest, number plate and handle are worked in high quality white oak.”
And while there was no board track races going on at Bike Week, there was no shortage of other motorcycle racing disciplines at Daytona Beach. Eli Tomac got the party started when he won the Monster Energy Supercross 450 class the opening Saturday night, and Michael Barnes closed the show when he became the oldest winner of the Daytona 200 the final Saturday. Granted, with no full factory support and no affiliation with America’s current road racing regime, MotoAmerica, the Daytona 200 doesn’t have the same luster it once did. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that the 47-year-old Barnes came out of retirement and spanked a bunch of racers half his age. Bike Week also saw the first races of the 2016 AMA Pro Flat Track season on Daytona’s limestone quarter-mile. It was an emotional weekend for Round One winner Sammy Halbert, who rode with #69 on his race plate in honor of his brother Jethro, a fellow flat tracker who passed away last year from injuries sustained in a race at Calistoga. Not only was it Slammin’ Sammy’s first GNC1 victory since the Stockton Half-Mile in 2013, but a memorial service was held Wednesday for his brother Jethro at the racer’s pavilion on the beach outside of the Daytona Hilton. In Round Two, Jake Johnson won his first race since his 2011 Grand National Championship season.
If Daytona Beach Bike Week is any indicator, it should be an eventful year for the American motorcycle rally scene. Ride along with American Iron online as we make the rounds and bring you reports from events across the country in 2016.
American Iron gunslingers Terry “The Titan” O’Brien and “Quick Draw” Ken McCurdy landed in Daytona Beach with deals to seal and hands to shake. With a half-million bikers in town for the 75th anniversary celebration, the best way to get around is on two-wheels.
Luckily, Victory Motorcycles came through like champs. O’Brien, American Iron’s Chief Operating Officer, is a big man who needed a big bike. The Victory Magnum was the perfect choice. Its open rider’s triangle allowed O’Brien to stretch out comfortably, and when it came time for a little fun, the Magnum’s Freedom 106 delivered. A 100-watt, six speaker audio system came in handy when traffic bottled up.
As the man who heads up American Iron’s advertising sales, “Quick Draw” McCurdy mobbed around town on a blacked-out Victory Hammer S. You’ve got to carry yourself with a little swagger when you’re in sales, and the Hammer S has plenty of that. From the 250mm wide chunk of Dunlop rubber it runs on the rear to its inverted fork and dual discs up front, the Hammer S is modern American muscle. McCurdy had fun flexing a little Hammer S muscle on the streets of Daytona Beach.
Thanks for the hook-up Victory! Was a blast rumbling around the 75th on modern American iron.