Bike Week

March 12, 2013

All Posts, Editorials, News

Daytona Bike Week started last Friday and it will continue through this Sunday. Guess what. Like every other, major biker rally, attendance is down – again.

The other day the Daytona Beach News-Journal quoted a campground owner named John Seibel who said, “The Harley crowd is what makes up Bike Week, and that Harley crowd (in Daytona) is diminishing. I think for the future there’ll be a diminishing of biker activity and coming to rallies.” You can read that story here if you want.

All due respect to the News-Journal but the graying of the biker counterculture in America is hardly a scoop. Attendance peaked at Laconia in 2004 and at Sturgis in 2005. Greed, time and the metastasizing police state are suffocating the whole scene. Really, this biker thing should have been over by about 1995. But here we all still are because the simple fact is that there can be no America without bands of bold and defiant men roaming the countryside on 19th Century style motorcycles. Whether the ATF and the FBI like it or not, the Americans who fight the wars and still remember how to make and do things prefer fast and loud and they are convinced that it is their birthright to pick and choose their own laws and destinations.

What is happening in Daytona this week is tee-shirt sales are down and antique-style motorcycles continue to persist. The two major American motorcycle manufacturers just announced new models here. And the interesting thing about that is that those two manufacturers have the same names they had 60 years ago – Harley-Davidson and Indian.


Harley introduced a new model motorcycle called the Breakout – again. The Breakout was test marketed as a factory built, limited edition custom bike – Harley calls them CVOs for Custom Vehicle Operations – last August. Last Friday in Daytona the motor company announced the bike had gone into production and the price had gone down.

If you ride a lot this new bike might not be your cup of tea. It is a Softail with chopped fenders, drag bars and a nine and a half inch wide rear tire. It looks beautiful when it’s parked. The 103 cubic inch engine is choked at both ends to appease the pollution police and the noise police so it can only run with electronic fuel injection. The big engine makes about 73 horsepower which is about as much as a 1980, 82-inch, AMF Shovelhead.

The bike can probably beat the last of the Shovels if you replace the wiring harness and slap a CV carburetor and a pair of Thunderheaders on it. But, not many buyers are likely to do that. Harley’s target audience doesn’t ride very much and scrupulously obeys all laws when it does. Like all Harley products, it is overpriced but it is chock full of magical symbolism.

The Breakout glistens when it is freshly washed and waxed and parked. You will look great leaning on it. Women will regard you with lust when you do. Harley describes the bike as an “urban prowler.” The cheapest one lists for $17,899 plus shipping and tax and license and registration. But your new, edgy image and the easy women you will attract are probably worth at least that much.


The same day Harley announced the Breakout, Indian announced that starting with its 2014 models all its bikes will be powered by the company’s new “Thunder Stroke 111 Engine” which is a full eight inches bigger than Harley’s 103. No, that’s not a pickup line. Obviously the Thunder Stroke continues the trend of ever larger bike engines to compensate for the inefficiency mandated by pollution and emission controls. More interesting is the fact that Polaris, which manufactures Victory motorcycles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles is really bringing back the Indian brand.

While Harley has concentrated on screwing its employees, catering to women and developing the important new Asian market, Polaris has been trying to build a better motorcycle. Whether the Indian will be a better motorcycle than the Victory remains to be seen. That’s not what the Indian is about, anyway.

The point of the Indian is to sell a motorcycle called the Indian, which Polaris describes “as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands.”

The cheap and simple motorcycles that footloose war veterans bought in the late forties have now been transformed into expensive symbols. Nothing says the good old days better than an Indian motorcycle. The next time somebody asks you how the country is doing, if anybody ever asks you what you think, tell them you have been thinking about the new Indian.

Maybe the News-Journal got it right. Maybe there is no future for bikers and their rallies. Or maybe the Florida paper got it wrong. Polaris just bet a lot of money that what comes next is way back there in our collective long ago. Maybe that idea will catch on. Maybe the next Cadillac will have tail fins. The future is not yet written so all things are possible.


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26 Responses to “Bike Week”

  1. Ol'LadyRider Says:

    I’ve always enjoyed AZ Bike Week, but I don’t stay in town so that might be why it’s still fun for me. After my experience with Sturgis last summer, I have to agree that the big rallies are catering to a crowd I don’t belong to. A couple of the clubs around here have overnight events and events the last an entire weekend, and those are a blast – a much preferable environment to any of the large rallies IMHO.

    GlennS, so sorry to hear about your domestic turmoil. I am hoping she will find a way to embrace the bike and the way it has changed your life in such a positive way. It’s hard for me to imagine, as an ol’ lady, not supporting something that makes my man so happy. I hope it works out.

  2. Grumbler Says:

    @Dirty Dingus McGee wrote Leather is RECOMMENDED as riding gear … I’d definitely recommend leather for PROTECTION, but not when it comes to price, maintenance, and comfort.

    Textiles have improved in quality, comfort, and protection (armor padding) over the years although they usually have to be replaced after a crash.

    Leather jackets, as we know, are available in different levels of thickness. The thicker the leather, the more protection and the heavier the jacket which makes it less comfortable especially while on long rides in searing heat.

    I recall getting caught in a heavy rainstorm one night while riding from San Mateo to San Jose in full leathers. My jacket and chaps were thoroughly soaked with water which chilled me to the bone. Was on the verge of hypothermia when I arrived home. Hanged them in the garage to dry, and that took a week before I could wear them again.

    At any rate, I’ve a thick leather jacket with vents and removable liner plus a mesh tex jacket with a removable liner. Am usually wearing the latter as it’s a helluva lot more comfortable and have room for extra layers of clothing.

    Sold my leather chaps after getting a pair of mesh tex pants with armor padding as they’re more comfy and offer better protection for my ass – lol. My mesh tex gear is black as I’m not into colorful gear.

    While out riding on Feather River Hwy 70 between Oroville and Belden Town a whole bunch of years ago, I went downhill to the river and got stuck trying to return back to the highway.

    I removed my leather jacket and put it under the rear wheel for traction. Didn’t work, and managed to burn a large hole in the back of that jacket. Fortunately, was able to get it repaired by Just Leather in San Jose where I originally got it. Had to have the bike towed out.


  3. Phuquehed Says:

    @GlennS – The bike will *always* be there for you (at least so long as you try to keep it running well mechanically), whereas a woman can *never* be completely trusted. Yeah, there’s good women, but even the good ones sometimes forget when to STFU.

    I consider myself one of the few ‘smart’ guys ’cause I’ve never been married. Most of the chicks that have been around with me for any amount of time find I’m usually just a little too wild, too honest (they really hated if they asked me how they looked and didn’t always like my answers, or just other stuff not to do with them at all honest) with anything I say, and besides…I’m an atheist jew heathen thus I don’t believe in marriage as I think it’s just another way of giving some stranger fucker a little more control over your life.

    Not knocking the ones who have great marriages, good for you – your a rarity, in my experience – it’s just the way I see things and do things which most people find is really fucking weird and fucked up, but I ain’t here to make them happy, so I most of the time don’t care, heh.

    It’ll all come out good man. Stay tough and like Cap’n Bill said, stick to your convictions, because it’s *your* life not anyone elses and no one else can make you ‘long term’ happy but you.

  4. Cap'n Bill Says:

    Congratulations Glenn! You can ask the ol if she wants a ride somewhere or is gonna walk…
    As long as you stick to your convictions, you’ll be OK.
    Same to you, Mark. Happy trails!

  5. Glenn S. Says:

    Mark, I got my first bike (a Sportster, traded for a Superglide a few months later) at 50 (I’ll be 54 in a few weeks). I’m not a RUB (you gotta be rich to be a rich urban biker and I work on machines for a living). For the most part, I’ve either been in prison or on hard drugs most of my life, which is why I didn’t get a bike earlier. Looking back, the bike was the second biggest life-changing-for-the-better experience I’ve ever had (the first being getting off the dope in ’97). I’ve been fortunate that I was acquainted with some serious lifestyle bikers before the bike (they were the ones that encouraged me to get one and learn to ride it and then helped me do so). My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t start riding when I was younger. I’m no longer bored, I’m at peace with myself and with the world around me, and I feel young again. I’ve become friends with some of the best people I’ve ever met. That’s a whole lot more than a broken down old crook like me expected out of life at 50.

    The one trade-off: Looks like the (3rd) marriage is not going to last. She’s already told me that it’s “her or the bike” a few times, and backed off. But she’s getting more and more pissed and tells everybody she’s going to leave me. She says that she didn’t fall in love with a biker, doesn’t really like to ride, tired of all of my time, energy, money going to the bike, and I suppose that’s fair. But I won’t give up the bike. No fucking way.

    Get the bike, Mark. You’ll find the right people to ride with. Water seeks its own depth.

  6. Frequent Flyer Says:


    I would rather people didn’t like me for what I am, than to like me for what I’m not.

  7. Dirty Dingus McGee Says:


    There is no problem at all with you wanting to get a bike and get back into riding. Lot of folks have gotten back into it in recent years. Leather is RECOMMENDED as riding gear also. Doesn’t make you a RUB or a wannabe.

    What makes one a RUB is buying a $40K “chopper” and trailering it to various events to look “cool” riding it around. A “wannabe” gets some type of patch for their vest that emulates an MC patch. That can be a bit hazardous as someone who is less diplomatic that I, might take offense and remove the offending item.

    There are a ton of marque specific riding associations, STAR Riders, BMW Riders Association, Triumph Owners, etc. That might be an option if you want to ride with like minded individuals, if you chose not to go the MoCo route. If you DO go the MoCo route, there are many AMA sanctioned clubs, where you might find a fit. There are also traditional MC’s that are not 1% clubs, and are more family friendly, while maintaining a friendly relationship WITH a 1% club.

    Plenty of avenues for you to go with. As long as you don’t try to act like something you ain’t, you should have zero problems.

    Happy trails.

  8. Mark Says:

    When I read through some of these, I always feel guilty. I don’t have a bike and probably won’t for another year. The thing is, when I read some of these comments, I always feel like a “wannabe” or a RUB. Damn, can’t I just get a bike and maybe some leather for protection and just ride? Do you have to be an “old-timer” to be real? Granted, I’m 41 and haven’t ridden anything in 11 years, except for a few hours here and there on a buddy’s bike. The last thing I had was a sport bike and before that, nothing but dirt bikes. I’m not looking to be part of an MC (they’d never take me and I’d never make it past “hang-around”) and I consider most RC’s (other than HOG and VOG) to be in the “wannabe” category. I just want a bike so I can have some fun and forget that I have a job for awhile. Does that make me a “wannabe?” Hope not. And if it does, I guess I don’t really give a damn.
    As far as any of the rallies go, none of them even appeal to me. I can drink and listen to some good tunes at a buddies backyard bbq or go catch a concert.
    Hopefully, I’ll have a bike this time next year. Hope to wave at a few of you.

  9. springerman Says:

    I came back up north it’s been 3-4 months now. Just sayin I would give my left nut to be back in Florida(hot nasty summers and all) again. As far as Laconia I was there last in 2006 and the campground turned into a mudbog!!! But I must be a turnip too because I’ll probably go again!

  10. Dirty Dingus McGee Says:

    Bikeweek has been going to shit since sometime in the 80’s. Once it became socially acceptable to be a biker(or at least what folks THINK a biker is), the whole area has been filled up by the “gotta have t-shirt’s” crowd. That then led to stepped up efforts by the local po-po to extract their “road tax” on all comers. Daytona Beach and Daytona Beach Shores police are particularly hard, more so if you are one of those miscreants that wears an MC patch.

    These days ya gotta get out about 20 miles before you can find bars that will allow “colors”, where the price of a beer and a cheeseburger doesn’t require you take out a payday loan to cover the cost. Anywhere on Main street is out, traffic is a fustercluck of biblical proportions,and all just so you can be “seen”(on the bike you “rode” all the way from the trailer).

    But yet I return every year. Guess I ain’t much smarter that your average turnip.

  11. Base Says:


    Damn, that made beer come out my nose and I’m drinking coffee! Yikes!!!


  12. Austin Says:

    “overpriced but it is chock full of magical symbolism.”
    …that made beer come out my nose. Here’s a picture

    Too F*ing Funny.

  13. Duffer Says:

    It’s a shame because greed has a lot to do with !!! Where do they have the nerve to charge $ 300 dollars for a room n the next week it cost $59 dollars !! They do the same thing on raising the prices on the drinks and food !!! I just stopped going !!! Oh yea one last thing the weather has sucked at Daytona ( cold ) n Laconia ( rain ) the last few years !!!

  14. jay Says:

    Yeah, love watching those guys kicking stroked shovels, and Iron heads with worn out chuck tailors on…ouch on kickback!! Boots are kinda important if you like your feet.

  15. Stroker Says:

    Still the best in the west. You want old school? You want nekkid womens? No pork (except for breakfast)…..great bands, a few vendors,
    awesome scenery?? Ya wanna camp? Ya want that Bunky? Well Redwood Run still has it!
    Oh yeah, and colors are allowed!

  16. Chief Says:


    I was going to suggest the Smokeout but you beat me to it. This has always been a good time and not to big.

    With Respect,


  17. Tooj Says:


    Your first para says a LOT. I say, “You live by the RUB, you die by the RUB.” There’s a lot of guys who have complained that events have been taken over by these types. Good news, if the lowered attendance consists of those types.

    Time for some NEW rallies?

    Indian… isn’t that just the shit? Will it matter if it is identical? The new 111 Munro Bonnie copy isn’t the same, but it really looks like a great tribute to what was. What was is gone, so let’s get on with living or dying, right?

  18. PigPen Says:

    The Born Free Show is fucking awesome. Lot of good people go to that one, lot of true bike builders and vendors. I am happy to throw some cash at the one when I have it handy. I stand out a bit because I refuse to wear chuck taylor’s on my bike, and my skateboard has long been retired, but they are all very welcoming. Good folks at that one.

  19. Jay Says:

    There are a bunch of “gettogethers” that have been growing each year and are not commercialized, a few off hand are the Born Free Show, El Diablo run, Love Cycles anniversary parties, Dice parties, to name a few. Here you’ll find QUALITY small shop, and home built bikes and low key modern Iron along with the people that ride them. You’ll find that most of these people can work on thier own bikes and ride ALLOT…careful though, you won’t find half naked women and drunks, many of these people are young and might have been skaters and surfers in thier teenage years and now are in thier 20’s/30’s on FXRs Dynas and Frisco Choppers.

  20. Glenn S. Says:

    I haven’t gotten to one of the bigger “bike week rallies” yet, and most of my friends tell me that its just not worth the hassle anymore for aging working class white trash like me that doesn’t own a trailer and doesn’t want one. Gotta be hyper aware of every petty law I could imagine and some that I couldn’t, violation of any would cost all my play money and maybe my gas money home. Gotta make sure to ride the speed limit. Gauntlets of pigs trying to separate me from my money, and then trying to separate me from my freedom the minute they run my name through their database. I do love the local runs and get togethers. Went on one the other week, about 200 bikes, many ridden by friends and friendly acquaintances, on a cold and rainy day, blew through downtown Greenville and saw a few bicycle cops looking at each other and scratching their heads as if wondering how to pull us over for going 60 in a 35. At “bike week” they’d probably have a tank handy to block the road.

    Maybe I’m being cynical about something I’ve yet to experience. My friends that do go to such events usually bring me back a tee shirt. I’ll wear it, throw it in the wash, and then it’ll shrink to half its size and I’ll give it to somebody’s kid.

  21. WARTHOG Says:

    There are a number of small rallies well worth going to in Iowa and Illinois.

    Check em out and maybe I’ll see ya there.




  22. PigPen Says:

    eh. I always go against the grain on events like these. I have been to plenty, and for the most part, I dig em. but they really are not worth the hassle to me anymore. i don’t need any event t shirt or souvenir mug o’ beer. it’s good to get out, show the flag and meet up with some Brothers you haven’t seen in a while. but between, no colors here, a $10 beer, the pork, the crowds, the yuppies, it just does nothing for me anymore. i’d honestly rather throw a tent and bag on my bike and head out to someone’s property, make a few donations to the beer tub, and just relax the hell out.
    as far as the harley crowd, there will always be a yup, or rub, or whatever the hell term is now a days for it, that will buy every penny’s worth of chrome off the big parts book on the counter with their latest new fad bike there is. the crowds at the events might be down, but they will always be back. there were always be a sea of trailers, spotless “custom” dealer bikes, that shine like a newly pressed penny, with a whopping 237 miles on them, and some of the finest leather anything harley has to offer. i’ll be at the back of the campground, with my 8 year old tent, 2 saddles bags worth of underware and cooler, and my rusty dirty ass bike that is paid for and runs like a scalded dog.

  23. DocB Says:

    @ Phuquehed
    I agree about smaller runs.

  24. Phuquehed Says:

    I miss the kind of partying where we made our own fun! We didn’t need buttloads of t-shirt vendors or beer vendors or food vendors or bike vendors ad nausea.

    Of course, the pigs don’t like anyone having that kind of fun anymore, so one is almost stuck with ‘vendor praties’ and in the crowds of RUB’s and wannabe’s and beeboppers.

    The days of the kind of partying that David Mann portrayed in many of his pictures is almost at an end…unless one is comfortable in the backyard all the time. The small rallies in backwoods areas is still halfway decent too…sorta.

  25. jay Says:

    Rather go to the el diablo run..on an actual indian…don’t forget your pesos

  26. Springerman Says:

    All I know is when bike week comes around I just want to be there! Didn’t make it this time but Laconia is looking good. I have been to Daytona about 25 times and the best place is the porch across from Beach St. Daytona HD. Dollar beers and dollar hot dogs all week long!! Breakfast of Champions !!!

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