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Sunday Edition


The Industry is Kicking Ass

by Bandit with photos by The Edge, KRB, Rogue and Rogue's Son

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I landed in Dallas, Texas and expected Rick Fairless to bring me a cup of coffee. Then I looked at the large ominous connecting flight screen and tried to find my gate. We are like meth-head ants scurrying around this metal maze looking for our assigned queen bee to take us to our chosen destination. My queen didn’t show on the screen.

I dug into my Indian motorcycle canvas briefcase and pulled out my itinerary. It said Dayton, Ohio. Oops! I went to visit the American Airlines desk and to call my lovely AAA travel agent. Both sprang into action. It took me 22 hours to reach the beach in Daytona, Florida, but I was cool. I just needed to pick up a new 2018 Roadmaster Indian in the morning and make it to the Tropical Tattoo Bike Show by 11:00.

Nothing to it. The cabby who delivered me to the temporary Indian Fleet Center was most helpful. In each case, as the week unfolded I asked my current Daytona representative where the hell I was going next and they helped with perfect directions and advice. The cabby told me how to find Willie’s Tattoo Parlor on Ridgewood Boulevard.

Steve at the Indian fleet center popped the massive tour-pack off the new Roadmaster and proceeded to tell me about all the options, accessories and electronics, including the adjustable windshield, heated grips, GPS system, heated seats, you name it. I told him to keep it simple, yet one night I tried the heated grips and ventilation sliders. Amazing.

I told him about my 2014 Classic Chief. “The Chiefs haven’t changed at all from the first year,” Steve said. “All the parts are interchangeable but not so with the touring models.” That statement said mountains about Polaris. What company can develop a new make in a year and roll with it for four years without a change? That’s fucking amazing.

The Roadmaster’s electronics were similar to my Chief and it was easy to catch the vibe and get rolling. I always recommend riders take demo rides on Indians, even if you’re not in the market for a new motorcycle. It’s difficult to explain the level of stability and handling ease. Suddenly, you’re just gliding along and enjoying life, even without whiskey. I told Steve my first Harley was a new 1969 XLCH Sportster, and this Roadmaster was a similar color.

I arrived at the jammed Tropical Tattoo show corner and was immediately confronted by a large staff security guy, who pointed toward more parking down the tree-lined lane. The place was already crammed and I was early. I immediately started to run into folks I knew.

You wouldn’t think that stumbling into mutts in a crowd of beards would be educational, but it is. One of my first conversations was with Jeff Cochran from Speed King. “It’s all about engineering and physics,” he said as we discussed his frame modifications, swingarms, seat area castings and front ends. I learned something on every topic.

We talked about master cylinder bores for single and dual front disc brakes. When the factory went to dual disc brakes, they upped the diameter of the master cylinder, but when I replaced my grandson’s Dyna single disc with a 49 mm dual disc, folks told my grandson to switch the master cyclinders for a larger bore. I warned against it.

Dual front disc brakes can stop on a dime, but are notorious for causing a panicked rider to high-side or worse. The smaller bore would prevent that by just softening the touch. Jeff completely agreed. “Almost acts like anti-locking brakes.”

We discussed my Salt Torpedo project and the rear brakes. I plan to run Jeff’s system of a large rotor and two calipers on the rear. He displayed a recent build with this system and three calipers. One caliper was connected to a master cyclinder on the handlebars. Interesting.

I spoke at length with Bill Dodge of Bling Cycles at the Tropical Tattoo show, then at his Beach Street location. Unfortunately the community that grew behind Bike Week wants to take it away and eliminate bikers and vendors on Beach Street in the future. I discussed Twin Cam performance with Bill, and later models versus early-modified models. We discussed carbureted twin cams versus fuel injected.

We are in the process of building our JIMS 135-inch Twin Cam with one of Carl’s Typhoon carbs and I need a simple ignition system. Bill had the solution nailed from a European group.

The Roadmaster worked like a champ to stash my helmet and gloves when we arrived and the bag lids locked easily. When the Daytona sun started to kick ass I could stash my 5/8 sleeve, 5-Ball Leather Jak shirt in the other bag and lock it.

The big beautiful bike easily ran me from one location to another. It held securely balanced at long traffic stops and rolled efficiently through the gears on city streets or in the countryside. Only twice, on each side, in close parking lot maneuvers, did I find my boot and my ankle treacherously snagged by the rear crash bar. I mentioned it to Steve at the fleet center. It needs to be addressed. “In the meantime, you need to keep your foot out of harm's way.”

During the tattoo show we even held a mystical Bikernet editorial meeting deep in the wooded area behind the tattoo shop while a blonde bombshell in cat leotards played the blues sax. We discussed Bikernet Baggers editorial, techs, the VA and health issues while drinking Twisted Tea with the lovely Dmac and Rogue, the most senior biker journalist on the planet. He is now the Supreme Editor of Bikernet Baggers and everyone leans close as he speaks. A hush fell over the crowd as he slipped me a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels.

As the Tropical Tattoo extravaganza winners were being announced, I hooked it ups with the SmokeOut Crew for some chow on the water, only a couple of miles up Ridgewood. Daytona is interesting. There are the new slick streets and ultra-modern gentrified areas, and then the older areas of town with slightly worn buildings and bars. Then suddenly you can find yourself on the outskirts of society, where we bikers thrive. Where the nights are dark and evil creatures scurry across the highway and keep you on your tingling toes.

There are waterways where salt water and ocean brine mix, where alligators roam the banks and share the river with a lost dolphin from time to time. The bush is deep and the channel wide. The small teetering wooden shack rested next to the Tomoka River and lacked signage, but the brothers knew it was the place for fish and chips.

Commander Edge and Willie.
Commander Edge and Willie.

They don’t sport a liquor license so they give away beer for a donation. Commander Edge, the boss of the SmokeOut rode down from South Carolina with his head of security George, the Indian Prince Najar; his other son-in-law Will and Will’s sister, the lovely Caroline Smarr. It took me a while to make the connection.

Who the fuck is Roadside Marty and the esteemed Commander of the SmokeOut.
Who the fuck is Roadside Marty and the esteemed Commander of the SmokeOut.

The commander (retired Army intelligence) may be in charge of the wildest biker event on the planet, but he’s a devoted family man. The connection is sort of abstract, but if you attend a SmokeOut in RockingWorld, South Carolina you’ll get it. Everyone has a blast. There’s not a bastard or a mean spirit on the staff. And if you need anything, they’ll treat you like family. It doesn’t matter if you encounter a flat tire or drink a bottle of white-lightening and fall on your ugly face in the mud, but don’t raise your voice with a tinge of disrespect.

So we ate giant cardboard boxes of seafood, crab legs, lobster, shrimp, terrific spiced potatoes and corn on the cob. Amazing. At that point, I split from the group, headed north for a minute to find a spot for a U-turn and then trudged back into the cluster-fuck of society gone bananas.

I live in Los Angeles, so I know traffic. I wish Al Gore understood what he created, an evil religion against all mankind. Suddenly cars were evil and the notion was taught to schoolchildren everywhere. Slowly everything representing fossil fuels became evil, including our infrastructure. Government quit fixing roads. Hell if someone was going to outlaw car traffic in the next couple of years, we don’t need to prepare for larger traffic patterns.

Then the punishers gained strength. No longer is it our right to a peaceful drive on a Sunday afternoon. No, we should be ashamed, so install more lights and more encumbrances to travel in the name of safety and zero tolerance. So, there you have it, one light after another causing us to burn more fuel in cities than ever before.

But I’ve got to hand it to the brothers and sisters on the eastern seaboard. Except for giant big wheel bagger sound systems, and one or two loud pipe nuts revving their bikes incessantly, thousands of bikes idled respectfully from stoplight to stoplight, patiently waiting for their turn to reach Beach Street or the bridge over the Halifax River to Main Street.

I was blown away, and occasionally dipped off the main street for a side path past some of the traffic, bobbing and weaving to find a more exciting path or her apartment. I just needed a shot of whiskey and a redhead and then in the middle of the night I could slip back to my motel.

This Bike Week represented a special occasion, the 40th anniversary of the Hamsters. The notorious group started in 1978 in Daytona after a bunch of bike building brothers got drunk and Susan Perewitz drew Hamsters on paper plates and tagged them to their motel room doors. The group consisted of Dave Perewitz, Arlen Ness, Donnie Smith, Barry Cooney and Arlin Fatland. I may have missed someone, but I’m close (see below).

Over 60 Hamsters hauled ass to Daytona to celebrate and at least I made one party on the coastal side of the Halifax River in a cool corner home owned by the realtor girlfriend of Billy the Hamster. Edge and I rode over snagged some chow and hung out. Edge is interested in becoming a member so I introduced him to a bunch of the rodents. “Don’t look at me,” Arlin Fatland said, “I can’t help.”

Hamsters USA Being inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame: The Hamsters is a worldwide organization of custom motorcycle enthusiasts, founded in Daytona Beach in 1978. Founding members are Steve Allington, Barry Cooney, Ed Kerr, Jimmy Leahy, Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz, Susie Perewitz and Donnie Smith. Members make the annual trek each year to the Sturgis Rally for their annual gathering for custom bikes, fun and to give generously to local Black Hills charitable organizations.

Although many individual members have been inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame, the entire group is being inducted into Sturgis Hall of Fame this year for the philanthropic deeds that the Hamsters USA have collectively donated to the Black Hills and South Dakota community over the years.

The next morning we had two missions: cruise over to Carl’s Speed Shop and to hit Main and 2Wheelers. As it turned, out we also walked to the Boardwalk for the 15-year-old boardwalk bike show.
Carl Morrow and his family have set 104 records from drag racing to Bonneville and he is currently working with Mike Corbin to create a new hot rod Sportster with an S&S D carb housing three Thunder Jets and a modified float bowl. Doug, his son will take this puppy to Bonneville while his dad retires at 80. He’s been involved in performance motorcycles for 45 years.

His shop originated outside of Los Angeles, but he moved to Daytona some 25 years ago and set up the perfect location across the street from the inland waterway on Beach Street. He was one of the first to make this daring move and never regretted it. During that time I did a bit with him and his son on the 50th episode of Monster Garage, along with Mike Harmon, John Reed, Jesse James.

Carl’s Wife, of over 50 years, Diane, has been the soft glue holding the operation together. When I walk into a stellar business that’s been around for 45 years, there’s something special in the air. It’s the air of survival through wars, changing technology, relationships, you name it. They survived, thrived and set plenty of records. We could all learn something from this family.
 We are planning to run one of Carl’s monster Typhoon carbs on our next Bonneville effort, but more on that in the near future.

Not far away, we rode over to Bling Cycles to find Bill Dodge. Bill was back in the Beach Street mix two blocks away on Beach, just down and across the street from Carl’s Shop.
We hung out and discussed Dyna Glide performance and Bill his it nailed with unbelievable results for his customers, but he’s generally a fan of carbureted ’05 and earlier Dynas and of course Twin Cams in FXR frames for handling, seating position and the best rubbermount technology.

As I sit here writing, I’m thinking about all the FXRs I’ve owned and rode. A brother on the east coast still has my original, ’88 I built with the help of Harley, Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz and Bartel’s Harley-Davidson. What a great bike and it still sports the original Perewitz paint job.

We rode to Main Street and his lunch spot overlooking the beach. I couldn’t believe my luck at finding place. I pulled alongside a woman to ask directions. She didn’t know, but we had the name wrong and were basically stopped next to the Daytona Deck. Great place looking out at the beach and Atlantic. Our waitress had bubbly cleavage to die for, the menu contained every beach burger you could imagine, including fresh avocados and jalapenos, but the final product was over-cooked and lacked luster.

We peeled onto crowded Main where the action jammed to many sounds of music, motorcycles and conversations. The weather warmed and the city set up comfortable off Main parking areas and we slipped into one and started to walk through the crowds to the historic 2Wheelers shop. Once a motorcycle shop, it has evolved into an old school trinket shop and mudflap girl headquarters. Donna designs apparel and Arlin Fatland at 75 coordinates moving the shop from Denver to Daytona, then Sturgis every year, amazing.

Arlin Fatland of 2Wheelers fame. Not bad for 75.
Arlin Fatland of 2Wheelers fame. Not bad for 75.

More than a few times, Arlin helped me out with rally issues or breakdowns. He doesn’t rent out this shop for the rest of the year but lets it set closed until he’s ready for the next rally. We had a blast discussing the rally’s ups and downs, the past, vintage bikes and Donna’s shoe collection

We walked down Main, bought t-shirts for pals at home and hit the boardwalk show. My mission was to judge the state of the industry and it looked good, better than good. The streets were jammed. The folks were young and old. Sure, it’s no longer crowded with wild 30-year-olds tearing it up and jumping every half-naked girl in the street, but the spirit was supremely alive.

Hell, I turned 70 at Bike Week. Could hardly blow out the candle...
Hell, I turned 70 at Bike Week. Could hardly blow out the candle...

The market grows every year with more bagger riders, HOG members, racers, and bobber builders, touring riders, all terrain enthusiasts and vintage fans. Everyone had a great time and there was action for any rider of any style of affiliation, from club guys to flat track racers.

My last day, Saturday held two missions. The main one was to attend Billy Lane’s Sons of Speed vintage races at the New Smyrna Beach Raceway. Again, I asked the taxi cab driver directions the night before and he hooked me up. My second mission was to find the Indian fleet center on Anita Avenue by 4:00 and turn in the stylish Roadmaster.

I slipped onto International Speedway for less than two miles, passed the Daytona Speedway buzzing with vendors, including Indian, sport bike riders, and race fans. I slipped passed highway 95 to Tomoka Farms Road, hung a left and it was mostly smooth sailing along an open wooded two-laner until I rolled up to the Cabbage Patch camp area packed with bands, wall of death riders, vendors, and the party was on.

I slipped passed the lights, cops and suddenly there was the New Smyrna Beach Raceway. The Indian handled the dusty gravel roads and sandy parking lot without an issue. I was scheduled to meet the SmokeOut brothers, Woody from the Buffalo Chip and Marilyn Stemp from Iron Trader for a Sturgis Trike show meeting. I found my way to the center pit area and ran into Billy Lane.

“Your 45 flathead class is alive and well,” Billy said as if giving me some credit. I beamed and waited for the race to begin. The 45s were very impressive except for the bobber with whitewall tires. It couldn’t keep up as some of the 45s flew around the track, damn fast for old flatheads.

Billy explained the track beautifully, “New Smyrna Speedway is a 22-degree banked, asphalt 1/2-mile track. It's the closest available track that I have been able to find to the banked wooden tracks of a century ago.

“Because we are racing on banked asphalt, there is no sliding through the turns, and the racing speeds are considerably faster than on flat dirt tracks. If higher banking were available, we could easily get the board track bikes well into the 100-mph speed range. The hot, 61-inch board track bikes are running in the mid-90-mph range now, and the fastest 45 flathead racers are going over 100 mph.

“The bikes in both classes were originally designed to travel 30-50 mph. I'm focused on improving the pace of the event, so that we run one heat immediately after another, with no down time. We will be racing again in Sturgis in August at the Full Throttle Saloon's Pappy Hoel Campground Race Track, and in October at New Smyrna Speedway during Daytona Beach Biketoberfest.”

Jody Perewitz devoted most of her rally time to the pits working on a 1919 Harley for the race and to help other riders prepare for the asphalt board-styled track. The slanted track allowed riders to scream around the track without concern for leaning into curves, just like the Daytona Speedway, only smaller.

This event was comparatively small for a Daytona venue, but it’s growing and gives enthusiast a major window into the past. Plus, the pits are a gathering of some very knowledgeable vintage minds who know how these bikes actually work and have the resources to make restoration projects, performance mods, and parts come to life.

As I weaved through the traffic trying my best to guide the big Indian back to its temporary home on Anita, just a couple of blocks east of Ridgewood, and north of International Speedway by a couple of miles, I thought about our industry. I had no directions, just my memory of the first encounter and a deadline to be there before 4:00.

I pondered the industry and all the folks I met and partied with. Our growing community and the many facets expanding around us inspired me. For some, it’s a challenge to stay focused or broaden and expand your reach. For others, it’s staying true to whatever your code happens to be.

As I tried alternate streets and the big shiny Indian crept closer to my destination, I rolled down strange streets lined with old homes with palm trees pushing chipped wooden fences down or leaning against rusting chain-link fences. I thought about just the folks I encountered in three Daytona Days, the chopper builders, the growing trike crowd, the big-wheeled baggers, the bobbers, the growing race crowd, from sportbikes, to drag bikes, to Bonneville world land speed records, to flat track, and Billy’s vintage guys. I thought about the FXR fans, the Sons of Dyna boys, the Sportster clan, and the classic Softail riders who never give up.

I just scratched the surface as suddenly I turned onto the street where Bill Dodge restored his shop building after a hurricane made a mess of things, and I recognized a directional clue and suddenly found the lovely Anita Street and the Indian Fleet Center. It was 3:58. Helluva rally.

Roadmaster for 2018

Cast Aluminum Frame
Lightweight and exceptionally strong for confidence-inspiring stability and handling.

Engineered for Handling & Control
Outstanding steering geometry for responsive handling. ABS brakes for full control.

Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin Engine
Powered by the award-winning Thunder Stroke 111, delivering 119 ft-lbs of torque.

37+ Gallons of Cargo Space
Protect your cargo in weatherproof storage. Remote-locking saddlebags and trunk. Easily accessible lower storage.

Superior Functionality
LED lighting from end to end, Ride Command® navigation, cruise control, and a push-button power adjustable windshield make the Roadmaster the ultimate long distance tourer.

Adjustable Passenger Floorboards
Spacious passenger floorboards for all-day comfort, even on the longest rides.

Fairing Design Inspiration
Fairing design inspired by the sleek and powerful streamliner locomotives of the 1950s.

Chrome Headdress
The most powerful icon in motorcycling. Since 1947, the illuminated headdress has graced the front fender of nearly every Indian Motorcycle.

Premium Touring Saddle
Plush 2-up genuine leather seat with independent heat controls for long-riding comfort.

The Indian Motorcycle Ride Command System
7” touchscreen for directions, Bluetooth® audio, points of interest, vehicle status, and a whole lot more.

Premium 200 Watt Audio System
Integrated audio system delivering premium sound from high-output fairing and trunk speakers.

Keyless Ignition
Keyless ignition via proximity fob or personal security code. Never fumble for your key again.

JIMS Machine
Sturgis Museum

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Reader Comments

I thought this was very informative and well written story about the status quo of bikers today!!! At time I felt that I was there talking
to all the folks he mentioned in his story. It seems that this level of enthusiastic bikers never gets older only better.

Whenever I read an account of a past happening or looking forward to the next event a familiar saying on a t-shirt always comes to mind, "For some no
explanation is necessary and for some no explanation is possible!!!

Thank you for a beautiful visit on a nasty rainy day in North Carolina

Richard Styers
Grimesland, NC
Saturday, April 7, 2018
Editor Response Thanks for your comment. Well put.

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