Daytona Bike Week was back in full swing, and it seemed like pre-pandemic times, with attendees feeling carefree and enjoying their days outside and on their bikes. It was amazing to be hanging again with riders enjoying sunny weather, beautiful bikes, and a wide variety of vendors. And no Daytona trip would be complete without a few of the area’s traditional pop-up rainstorms.
The typical day at Daytona Bike Week is filled with a full slate of activities, from a trip to the Broken Spoke Saloon for a chopper show to a ride to Destination Daytona for some shopping, followed by a venture to Main Street for some live music. Race fans head to Daytona International Speedway for King Of The Baggers action or the Daytona 200.
There were bike shows going on at countless locations around Daytona, from Main Street to Destination Daytona, to the Speedway, and even most local bars. Attendance at these shows was great, with crowds quickly forming and mingling for hours while taking in all the unique bike builds nearby. There was something for everyone.
Performance baggers were everywhere this year, clearly the hot market in the V-Twin world. This movement was epitomized at Daytona by the V-Twin Visionary Performance Bike Show, the first stop of this national series run by our buddy, Jeff Holt. What makes this show stand apart is the focus on performance-based custom American V-Twin motorcycles, as well as the ability for riders to interact directly with the builders.
As the nights approached, the lure of Main Street grew stronger. While the crowd seemed a little less rowdy than in years past, it wasn’t any smaller. The street was lined with motorcycles in a non-stop parade of people showing off their rides in stop-and-go traffic.
Navigating the busy sidewalks wasn’t much easier, as everyone was typically shoulder to shoulder, smiling, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Crowds routinely clogged the sidewalk while enjoying favorite songs blaring from live bands in bars.
A perennial crowd favorite is the Wall of Death. For the uninitiated, it’s a cylindrical wooden structure about 25 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter, with brave riders circulating inside until they literally ride on the walls.
The audience lines the top of the structure, looking down the wall in anticipation. Suddenly, out pops a rider, Rhett Rotten, the star of the show. Quickly, the cheers are drowned out by the rumble of motorcycles, and Rhett whips his bike around the walls, climbing vertically up to the top to snag dollar bills from the outstretched hands of audience members. As if that wasn’t wild enough, he hits speeds of about 30 mph on one of his vintage motorcycles, including a 1927 Indian Scout, a 1957 Harley Hummer SS, and a full-sized 1949 Harley-Davidson Flathead 45. What an experience!
The Daytona International Speedway is an amazing venue, and it transforms during Bike Week into an all-inclusive rider destination. The outside of the Speedway was full of vendors selling and installing products, food and drink options, and the occasional live concert.
Highlighting this area was the considerable footprint of Harley-Davidson, which sponsored the V-Twin Visionary Performance Bike Show, stunt shows by Unknown Industries, and police riding demonstrations, as well as provided a fleet of Harleys for demo rides.
Once Friday rolled around, Harley moved some of its activations to the infield of the speedway where reps could continue to interact with the crowds and support its King Of The Baggers factory race team. This was the first year the KOTB racers were riding the high banks of Daytona, and to watch Harley and Indian baggers storm the 31-degree banked turns at 160 mph is something truly special.
The first race of the double-header saw Tyler O’Hara pull off a miraculous come-from-behind win on his Indian Challenger over the Harleys of brothers Travis and Kyle Wyman, the latter being the 2021 KOTB champ. Class newcomer (and former MotoGP racer) Jeremy McWilliams edged O’Hara and fellow Indian Challenger rider Bobby Fong at the checkered flag of the second race.
From race action to bike shows to endless parties, Daytona Bike Week is the place to be for bikers looking for a good time.