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2014 Daytona Beach Bike Week First Report

Monday, March 10, 2014
It started with a whimper instead of roar. Rains pummeled Central Florida Thursday, a soggy precursor to the start of Daytona Beach Bike Week 2014. Friday followed suit, the morning misty while heavy gray clouds blocked out the sun, temperatures never creeping out of the 50s. But by Saturday morning, glorious Florida sunshine graced the skies and bikers flooded the streets. Main Street once again became the epicenter of the motorcycling universe, Supercross fans filled the stands of the Speedway, and universal order returned to Bike Week 2014.

Motorcycle USA hit the ground running with a 170-mile ride with our friends at Harley-Davidson. The Motor Company did a mid-year release of two new motorcycles, bringing back the popular Low Rider and outfitting a Sportster for light touring duties in the form of the Super Low 1200T. Harley went over the 2014 Low Rider with a fine tooth comb, updating its suspension, bolstering its braking power with dual discs on the front, then spooned its 1690cc Twin Cam 103 engine inside so it has plenty of both rock and roll. Harley also added varying degrees of adjustability to its rider’s triangle to give it mass appeal. The targeted demographic of the Super Low 1200T is a little narrower as it has one of the most compact rider’s triangles and easy-to-reach bars around. Saddlebags and the addition of a removable windscreen give the Sportster the capacity to be more than an around town motorcycle. We thumbed our nose at Friday’s inclement weather by riding the bikes hard through Spanish moss-draped groves and over countless waterways. Taking a spin on the new Harleys was a great way to kick start our 2014 Daytona Beach Bike Week experience.

The following day we headed for the Speedway to talk with flamboyant custom bike builder, paint master, and owner of Strokers Dallas, Rick Fairless. Fairless had the honor of building the Allstate Insurance Sweepstakes Motorcycle this year, putting his spin on a Victory Vegas 8-Ball. The result is one mean machine as Fairless created some wicked engine guards for it, something we hadn’t seen before. The custom Vegas 8-Ball features plenty of drilled-out tidbits, like the front pulley cover and chain guard, and a mean two-into-one exhaust. The build also features a variety of aftermarket Victory parts Fairless has created and offers through the retail side of Strokers. But the best part is that the winner of the Allstate Sweepstakes bike gets an all-expense paid trip to Fairless’ shop in Dallas where they’ll get to brainstorm with Rick on a custom paint job for the bike. Fairless’ artistic vision and what he can do using a motorcycle for a canvas is right up there with the best, as Rick’s skills ranks with those of Arlen Ness and Ron Finch.

Saturday night we took our first trip down Main Street. That initial adventure down the world famous avenue is always sensory overload, from the crush of bodies to the rumbling of engines. Indian Motorcycle Co. was holding a party at the Full Moon Saloon, giving Indian owners the VIP treatment with a special area set aside and tickets for a couple of free drinks. American Picker and Indian spokesman Mike Wolfe mingled amongst the crowd. Wolfe is a kindred soul, always greeting fans with a handshake and smile, never refusing requests for an autograph or
Meet Donnie Donahue of Hot Springs  Arkansas  aka The luckiest man at Bike Week 2014 after winning the loan of a 2014 Indian Chief for a whole year Saturday night.
Meet Donnie Donahue of Hot Springs, Arkansas, aka 'The luckiest man at Bike Week 2014' after winning the loan of a 2014 Indian Chief for a whole year Saturday night.
Mike Wolfe  a spokesman for Indian Motorcycle  has a rough job sometimes.
Mike Wolfe is a spokesman for Indian Motorcycle when he's not out pickin'. He has a rough job sometimes.
photograph. Soon Indian’s External Relations Manager Robert Pandya climbed on the Full Moon Saloon stage along with Wolfe to announce that a new Indian Motorcycle Riders group was being formed.

But that was just the beginning. Indian was also holding a contest where people could sign up to win the lease of a 2014 Indian Chief for a whole year. There was one simple rule – you had to be present to win. People were given one minute to fight through the crowd to get to the stage if their name was called. So if you’re name is Pete Gerer or Lori Morris, you should be kicking yourself in the butt right now because you were the first two names called that night. This worked in the favor of Donnie Donahue of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who was the luckiest man at Bike Week 2014 after winning a 2014 Indian for a year. Clad in his leather chaps and wearing an Indian pullover, Donahue admitted he hadn’t ridden a new Indian yet but was all smiles as he took the stage in a state of disbelief.

Getting to bed late after celebrating with our friends from Indian Saturday night, we cursed the hour lost springing forward for daylight-saving time and our early morning wakeup call Sunday morning. But we had a date with Victory Motorcycles at the Speedway to be among the first to ride the 2015 Gunner. We proceeded to spend the afternoon flogging Victory’s latest cruiser around Daytona Beach and beyond, dishing out healthy blasts from its Freedom 106 engine at every opportunity. The Gunner is even lighter than the Victory Judge, tipping the scales 11 pounds leaner, and the 1731 V-Twin really rockets this bike. Sitting behind the bars in its low-slung seat, it is the type of bike that wants to be ridden fast and hard. We’ll bring you details of our ride at a later date, but know that it’s one fun bike to ride.

Our tenure on the 2015 Gunner lead to De Leon Springs State Park, rumored to be where explorer Ponce De Leon believed the “Fountain of Youth” was located. Looking at my greying temples, I was thinking I could use a shot or two of the magical waters myself. The area is home to some of the most magnificent oaks around, trees with centuries old histories. People sunbathed on the green grass surrounding the spring, children playing in its shallows while scuba divers explored its depths on the other side. The area is rife with history, from Seminole Indians to the Civil War, and it once was the home to a thriving sugar cane mill. Now it’s home to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House, a unique little eatery with griddles in the middle of tables where you get to make your own pancakes. The staff brings out pitchers of batter and goodies like strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips and bananas and everyone proceeds to create their favorite pancake. It proved a great pit stop during our Victory Gunner ride.

Rick Fairless worked his magic on this Victory Vegas 8-Ball for Allstate Insurance. One lucky winner will win this bike along with a trip to Strokers Dallas for a one-off paint job courtesy of Fairless.
Rick Fairless worked his magic on this Victory Vegas 8-Ball for Allstate Insurance. One lucky winner will win this bike along with a trip to Strokers Dallas for a one-off paint job courtesy of Fairless.
Yup  me and Rick Fairless are from the same generation. We met Rick at the Speedway to talk about the Allstate Sweepstakes motorcycle he customized.
Yup. Me and Rick Fairless go to the same stylist!
Our day ended with a trip back to the Speedway. There’s heavy construction going on at DIS, new stands are being erected, which required rally organizers to shift the standard arrangement. All of the demo rides are now at a separate area, down between gates 50 -70. Many of the OEMs who formerly set up outside the front gates are now squeezed inside the Midway and offer shuttle rides down to the demo area. Even with the newfound OEM presence, the number of smaller vendors at the Speedway feels light in comparison to years past. But there’s still plenty of good stuff to see. We got a chance to inspect the EBR superbike up close for the first time and found the version with the carbon fiber treatment to be particularly fetching. Over at the Yamaha stand, custom builder Jeff Palhegyi has already put his touch on the brand-new 2015 SR400, making a wicked cool scrambler out of it.

While Bike Week 2014 has been all fun-and-games for the most part, sadly the first fatalities have been reported. According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, a West Virginia man was killed in a single-vehicle crash Thursday in Bunnell while a Springfield, Mass. man has also died after crashing in New Smyrna Beach, with speed and alcohol feared to be contributing factors. We relay this information because we want rally attendees to squeeze in as much fun as possible in Daytona Beach, but party smart and be safe. If you’re going to drink, park the bike for the night because we want everyone to get home to their loved ones once it’ all said and done.

Bike Week 2014 is just beginning, so check back for more stories and photos from the scene throughout the week courtesy of Motorcycle USA.

Daytona Bike Week 2014 Photos

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donnie71913   March 19, 2014 09:38 AM
What an amazing week!!! I owe it all to my bro(Byron Efird) for making me get up and register. What a surprise!!!! Thanks again Indian Motorcycle and Daytona Bikeweek for an awesome week. Donnie Donihue
ChicagoCyclist   March 12, 2014 04:52 PM
If someone is interested in viewing AMA racing. Check out www.fanschoice.tv, all events will be available to view live, online. Other then that we're SOL. But, that's much better then nothing. However, for myself, that's way more convenient. I can lug a tablet or cell phone around anywhere but, not so much a TV.
Poncho167   March 11, 2014 03:20 PM
It is kind of funny being that hockey makes it to TV and there is not that much audience for that being a niche sport. I would think Daytona would have much better ratings than that.
customaudiodesign   March 11, 2014 02:21 PM
Where is the TV coverage of the Daytona races? No one seems to know, and I can find nothing about any schedule. Last season, the announcers and even Chet Burks, said more than once during the last couple race broadcasts that the AMA races broadcast rights had been secured by CBS Sports for 2014. That includes Daytona, AMA Pro Racing. CBS backed out? Oh, it might be on the internet through streaming, but it's Tuesday and the supposed website isn't even active yet. My friends and I have gotten together for decades to watch motorcycle racing...on a proper TV, not huddled around my laptop's 16" screen. Even the old TNN network aired Daytona before Speed took over. For the first time in all those years, it seems we won't be watching Daytona together on a REAL television. Unless we want to squeeze together at the kitchen table and squint to watch it on the internet on my laptop. Not everyone has the speed/connection to have a reliable streaming viewing experience, including me. I tried last year and even this year to stream the feeds. WSBK on beIN Sports showed the Supersport race on their streaming site. It constantly buffered, locked and glitched with stop/start issues. They said it was my ISP, ISP said it was the site, DirecTV blamed them both. Lots of pointing fingers, which means no one does anything and offers no solutions. So AMA Pro wants to further reduce the viewing audience with internet-only viewing, I thought the idea was to expand the audience, get more folks to watch and try to stop the downhill slide into obscurity that has become the norm for our own motorcycle racing series. I know so many fans that have given up on DMG's "vision" of motorcycle racing in the USA. Even riders and teams have bailed for properly-run series in England and other European countries. British viewers can watch the series on their regular TVs, but we get relegated to internet-only? This is ridiculous. If my only choice this season is unreliable streaming on a 16" screen, they can count me as one who has finally given up on our once-proud racing series. I've endured mismanagement, piss-poor excuses, riders going to other series to have a chance at success, only 5 race events this year, and now the icing: no TV coverage in 2014 that was PROMISED last year. Thanks DMG, if you'd quit blaming the economy and let someone who understands that motorcycle road racing is not nascar and never will be, start emulating other successful series' rules and class names, maybe there would be progress. No TV coverage this year is a huge step backwards.