First and foremost Daytona is just around the corner as I am sitting down to write this, and will be history by the time you read this. I had a new knee installed in November and while it is feeling great Doc says it’s OK to ride but not on a long trip yet. Secondly the general economy is on an upswing and consumer spending is up; time to trade in for a new bike at a low interest rate or get those upgrades so you can show off while cruising to the local bike night.
Next thing I know, as I walk into the shop this morning, the place is full. Looks like everyone is getting ready for an early start to a great riding season. The big news in the motorcycle scene is the momentum-gaining return of oval racing from Billy Lane’s Sons of Speed to the Spirit of Sturgis to the American Flat Track series to the Hooligan scene or any of the roundy-round racing that excites us like no other. It is kind of Back to the Future, back to a time, the early 1900s, when all excitement around motorcycling was at the track. The adventurous men and women bikers of the time traveled their own path and stuck together. Thank God the independent nature of bikers is still attracting new riders to the thrills of the road. While we all have our own personal style it is very important to remember we are all two-wheel brothers and sisters and we must have each other’s back no matter what brand or style we ride.
I don’t know what it is but getting ready for Daytona still excites the hell out of me. It will have been my first ride since the knee replacement and I will have some great stories to share with you in my next column. Of course I will report back on the new custom trends and performance upgrades. I will let you know how my new cams worked out and what kind of horsepower and torque numbers we ended up with. The truck is ready for towing duty, and I already installed a shell on the back and helper air springs. I will give you my perspective on the evolution of Daytona over the years. My first trip to Daytona was 1972, as part of Johnny B’s race team. I can’t say I haven’t missed a Daytona Bike Week since then but I can tell you it has only been a few. Yes siree, it’s riding time again.
I know we are not home free yet but the American economy is certainly heading in the right direction. There are incredible deals on ’84–’99 Evos and some pretty good deals on ’06 and earlier Twin Cams. Used bikes are a great way to upgrade without breaking the bank, especially if you find one with many of the accessories you have been hoping for. I strongly recommend to get down to your local dealer or independent bike shop today to avoid a long wait. Dealers are hungry to start the season off strong. Both Harley and Indian have an incredible selection of new V-twin models this year and the rumors are stirring about the reintroduction of some iconic European models. The word is we are going to see some bikes in the 650cc to 900cc range that will look and perform on a new level. American, European and Asian manufacturers are all set on getting you excited again with hot new affordable bikes across the board.
Class C racing—go down to the end and take a left—is about as American as apple pie and baseball. The American Flat Track series kicks off its 2018 season in Daytona on March 15 at the Daytona International Speedway with the continuing battle between Indian and Harley. If you have never gone to a mile race I suggest you go to YouTube and check out some videos, then go directly to thunderpress.net/competition for their schedule and make plans for the mile race closest to you. We are talking over 140 mph down the straights then sliding around the corners at 100 mph inches away from each other. It is just incredible. The Sons of Speed is board track-style racing broken out into three classes, 45 Shootout, Early 61s and Hot 61s. There is all kinds of vintage class C racing from the AMA Vintage Flat Track National Championship Series to a fun day while in Sturgis watching the hand-shift racers at the Spirit of Sturgis slide around. This is the kind of racing that stirred the hearts of our grandparents and requires you to jump up and down and scream cheers for your favorite racer.
I know there are a lot of reasons not to get excited from “the economy is not quite there yet” to “I will wait till the weather breaks; no big deal.” The big deal is motorcycles are alive and well and there are not as many bike shops out there as there used to be. Just like my shop most are already starting to get backed up. Aftermarket manufacturers have worked hard to outfit the new bikes introduced in the fall. You need to visit your favorite shop to check out the new innovations in person or maybe even take a test ride on that new model that caught your fancy. We are the cusp of technology meeting cool head on. Motorcycles are not going away but more importantly there is a paradigm shift in the world of motorcycling. Some OEM manufacturers think they have the right new models to steal the hearts of bikers around the world. Others are crafting new marketing strategies and incentives to attract new riders. What remains constant is what the thrill motorcycling offers and the camaraderie among all of us who ride. For those of you who think you have plenty of time, guess again. Why would you want to miss one day of fun enjoying this year’s riding season? When you do that shop visit, don’t forget to bring a friend with you that doesn’t ride. You may change their life.