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Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:33 PM

Daytona Bike Week 2010
I spent most of this week in Daytona. Here are some impressions and photos from the event, I hope you enjoy them.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:39 PM

Kawi Demo Rides
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The Kawasaki Z1000 backs up it's looks with a wicked motor that is glass smooth from 1000 to 10000 rpm. This is the Cobra of motorcycles; the motor and frame combination look like a body-builder stuffed into a tee shirt three sizes too small. I got to demo the Z with about 6 other guys. Kawi knows how to do a bike demo; they found an excellent route with every possible combination of straights, tight curves, and long sweepers. Within the first two corners the demo group had broken into two groups; the trailing group that was taking it easy, and the "Type A" group who were whipping the bikes for all they had. I belong in the trailing group; I've never had a single formal lesson in riding, but I threw self-preservation instincts to the wind, and brought up the rear of the Type A group. The "A" guys I was desperately trying to keep up with were using techniques that got them around the curves fast and smooth. Compared to and sloppy. Of course, we were all put to shame by the Kawi rider, who managed to leave even the "technique" guys at every turn. On a Ninja 650. I also got to demo the C-14. The minute I rolled away from the start I knew this was the bike for me. I felt completely comfortable pushing this bike to the peg feelers. The Concours package is perfect for what I need: an hour or two a day commuting and 3 to 5 hours a month taking weekend rides. The engine is a tad rough, no where near as revvy as the Z, but it's at home at 2 - 5k revs; where the Z starts rolling at 7k. If the new VFR weren't on the scene, this bike would be unchallenged for my next ride.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:42 PM

Victory Vision Ride
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Victory had a decent presence; they were doing lots of demo rides; mostly on their new Touring bikes, but you could ride a Hammer as well. I signed up to ride a Hammer, but at the last moment snuck on to a Vision...sort of guiltily...hoping no one I know saw me. What a bizzare bike the Vision is. You sit back, way back, down low. Angling up ahead of you is a center console / dash setup that looks like a set from a cheap sci-fi movie. The handlebars are about 8' long, the floorboards are about the same. The whole impression of futuristic, Buck-Rogers technology works right up till you crank the motor and let out the clutch. Then you're aboard the Amazon Queen, with a one-lung diesel banging out 200 rpm while it belches clouds of black smoke. Seriously Victory, couldn't you find something better to power your flagship touring bike with than that miserable lump of steel? Those vibrations and racket were fine on a '77 Shovelhead, but this is 2010, and that's supposed to be your state of the art ride. At least it has heated grips and an adjustable windscreen. Wait..the C-14 does too, with a real motor.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:46 PM

Harley Davidson
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I didn't go to "Destination Daytona" this year. The image of Bruce Rossmeyer riding into the side of a motorcycle trailer at Sturgis are still too painful. Ok, the real truth is that I wasn't with HD Mike, who insists on going every time he comes along. I hate that dump, the Dinny Whirl of Harleydom. However, Harley had a big setup along the river in front of their old dealership that I visited. They were featuring dark bikes; acres of chrome replaced by acres of wrinkle black. SSDC..Same S--t, Different Color. The good news from Harley is you can now buy idiotic LED kits for everything from your floorboards to your air cleaner, straight from "The Factory." And, they have the finest cleaning and polishing kits money can buy.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:50 PM

Honda and the VFRs
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VFR! VFR! VFR! Did I mention VFR? Honda was nice enough to bring out a few of their new VFRs, but not nice enough to give any demo rides. Which is a shame, because that is one fine looking motorcycle...fine enough to get me thinking that maybe a bike payment wouldn't be such a bad thing. Everything you've read about the build quality on this bike is true in spades. It's like Honda woke up one day and said "oh yeah...we're the guys who changed motorcycling forever with affordable, high-tech, high-quality machines for the masses. Let's do that again." Every nit of the VFR has been picked, every seam has been ironed to razor crispness, every panel, every fastener, the plastic, the alloys, are all perfect. Absolutely nothing I've seen from Honda in decades. If the bike's ride lives up to it's appearance... As much as I lust for the C-14, I won't go into debt for it. If Honda had been foolish enough to let me ride that VFR, I probably would have either stolen it, or I'd be at Riva Motorsports on Tuesday, writing a deposit check.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:53 PM

Zero Motorcycles
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I signed up for a demo ride on a Zero DS a few weeks before Bike Week. When my appointment time came, I went to the back of the Daytona Convention Center, where Zero had set up a short "track" of about 1/4 mile. They had 2 basic types of bikes; street legal bikes with about 40 miles of range and the required lighting, and strictly off-road bikes that were for trail riding or motocross. I rode their stree-legal DS model, which was really more motard than dual-sport from my perspective. The Zero guy briefed me on the bike: no brake pedal, both brakes are on the handlebars. No clutch, there is no gearbox. The key enables the bike, then there is an ON switch on the right handlbar. Once the switch is on, watch the LED display and it cycles through a systems check and when the "Fuel Gauge" lights up, you're ready to go. By the way, there is "Zero" engine braking, so watch it. I pulled onto the track slowly and started getting a feel for the bike. It felt more like a bicycle than a motorcycle, in part due to the extremely light weight, and also due to the controls (or lack thereof). The track was so small that I could only get to about 20 mph or so, then a hard U-turn to go back down the next section. In all there were 4 sections with 3 U-turns. Frustrated at the lack of room to get moving, I skipped by the cones at the ends of sections 2 and 3 and started making big circles. Finally I got the bike moving, but came into what would be Turn 3 too hot. That's where I was reminded of the lack of engine least the disks work. I locked up both ends of the bike and just missed dumping it. As much as I wanted to like the Zero bike, I didn't. It's clearly a "Gen-1" product, no where near ready for what I need a bike to do. The build quality reminds me of a really good science project. It doesn't look like a finished machine to me; more a hand-built one-off with a lot of rough edges. The Zero DS might be fun to ride up to the grocery store (if you put some bags on it), and if you lived in a small country town, it might be a commuter. But taking that bike out in South Florida traffic would be insane...not enough power to dodge cages, too light to handle a semi's wake on the highway. The price, just under $10,000, is a lousy value compared to almost any gas bike. If you're rich and want a toy, call Zero. If you need a motorcycle that can take you places for real, go buy a gas bike. But that's ok, the first automobiles weren't that good an alternative to a horse and buggy. The electric bike's day will come, it's just not today.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:55 PM

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If you ever want to round up a crew to go out and save the world, get the guys from the Givi tent first. Every year Givi shows up with their bike accessories for sale and on display. And I manage to find something for the bike every year. Givi (it's GEE VEE, the most asked question at every show) has a real knack for producing stuff that looks great, works great, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. My tank bag from last year looks good as new, and my saddlebags have taken two bike drops (garage stuff...duh) and shrugged off the impact. This year, I decided to get a tail case so I can leave the saddlebags at home and split lanes during rush hour. Not only did the Givi guys cheerfully install the kit for free; they also removed my Stealth backrest and spiffed up for my pal Les, who bought it from me. They have a very trick windshield coming out in the next few months that is going to be hugely popular. It is the slickest height-adjustable setup I have ever'll be able to tune the height on the fly without much more effort than a power-windshield setup. Luckily the VStrom is near the top of the list of bikes they're making them for; I can't wait to get one for my bike.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 02:58 PM

Is Two Weeks Too Many?
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The motorbike boom is over, seriously over. But that's a good thing, and not just because it's easier to get a room or a meal in Daytona. For one thing, manufacturers and distributors should notice that the audience they're playing to at Daytona, while not as large, is far more serious. They are there to pick their next bike, purchase accessories, or even attend seminars on tires and bike electronics. There's still the party crowd, drunk from Monday to Sunday, but they were not the majority as in years past. Riders were getting to the track at 7 am, to stand in line in 40 degree weather, for demo rides. Vendors selling anything from crash bars to suspension parts were packed.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 03:01 PM

Dedicated or Stupid?
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It was a damn cold week in Daytona this year. The nighttime temps were in the low 40's or even upper 30's. Daytime highs were in the mid-60's. But, it was sunny and clear most of the week, and the last rain came through Tuesday, 3/2. The wind was tough at times, I had to beat against a 30 mph headwind for 200 miles; often getting blasted from the side as well when riding over bridges and overpasses. I did a lot better than dopes I saw in Palm Beach County. There were 6 guys on CVO Harleys with leather jackets, fingerless gloves, and no helmets or hats at the Turnpike service plaza where I made my first stop for gas. They were riding out as I rode in. I had to see what it would be like to ride bare-headed in 40 degrees, so I went the length of the service plaza with my helmet in my lap. It was about like plunging your head in a bucket of ice-water. except colder. These guys had 3 hours of riding still to go. I passed them less than an hour later, pulled to the side of the road, all of them talking on cell phones. Probably trying to find a wife or SO who'd drive up with some headgear.

Kenneth_Moore 03-07-2010 03:02 PM

The End
The demographic of the Bike Weekees is changing in some interesting ways. There is a very predictable aging population attending; bringing truth to the now cliche statement that Harley is in desperate need of opening a new market sector. Aside from the geriatrification effect, there are two other notable changes. Blacks are attending in greater numbers than I have ever seen. There are two Black subgroups: older guys on bigass cruisers (Goldwings, Ultras) and younger guys and gals on extended swingarm Busas. Or Ninjas, or Gixxers. The second group tends to wear colors, and enthusiastically goes about violating the traffic laws with utter abandon. There were also substantially more women, again in two distinct subgroups. There were Sportbike girls in pink helmets and white leather Icon jackets, and there were Harley girls in leather everything. Both types were always with men, with one notable exception. There was a troupe of meanass looking Black Swingarm girls who looked like they were ready to crack walnuts with their...bare hands.

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