My local Starbucks has changed: a couple just got up and left a half-eaten box of chicken, a lady in the back is breastfeeding a baby, and a homeless woman is guzzling a Venti drink as she furiously works on a smartphone with a blank screen. It feels like a movie scene, even so, I enjoy a hot cup of joe and some time to review the news before I dig into the day.
I’m just about ready to pull the pin and head out when I get a call from Noah and Mike of Suspension Technologies to meet them down in Daytona for a couple of days documenting the Suspension Technologies’ Black Hills Series shocks and Elite Technologies’ reverse at Destination Daytona during Bike Week.
Daytona Wide Shot
I get into Daytona early. Aside from a few work crews assembling stages and vendor booths, Daytona is quiet. That changes on the 1st Friday when the rumble of motorcycle exhaust pipes heralds the official opening of the 78th Annual Bike Week.
Chopper on Main Street
The Daytona Beach Bike Week rally started as the Daytona 200 race on January 24, 1937. This first race was a 3.2 miles beach and pavement course. It was won by Ed Kretz from California riding an Indian motorcycle with an average speed of 73.34 mph.
This year we kicked off Daytona Bike Week at The Sons of Speed race at New Smyrna Speedway's half-mile, paved, banked racetrack, with nine riders in several different heats.
Jody Perewitz Takes the Checkers
Although this year’s event, which concluded on March 17, offered the traditional diversions — people-watching on Main Street, daily concerts, vendors and motorcycle demos — it felt rejuvenated. Maybe it was because the rest of the nation was experiencing bomb cyclones and polar vortexes while Daytona Beach was experiencing 80 degrees of balmy, laid-back weather.
Getting to Daytona wasn’t easy. I had to pull out Plan C. Not long ago I traded an engine for a 1995 Dyna from a good friend Pat Jansen of Sin-Central. A few months after the trade, the DYNA engine blew, and now I was just getting a new mil installed by Widowmaker Custom Design and Repair. I had 3 days to break it in and get 500 miles on it before heading South.
So along with the engine, I had Widowmaker install a couple of 11 inch Black Hills Series shocks to give it a good stance and a sports car handling.
I get the bike set up to travel. I’ve installed a set of removable LeatherWorks Inc. saddlebags for my video and photography gear. I’m mapping out my first 50-mile heat cycles, then 100 miles. And as I start, the weather hits 37 degrees, and I realize I not going to make the required mileage. Below 45, my hands don’t work so good. And I’m fighting a flu/cold and pushing myself now will make it miserable in FLA.
So, I get on the horn to Edge, promoter of the Smoke Out Rally, and he sez that it’s not a problem. Get to Columbia, SC, and he has a Sporty for me. The day before we leave for Daytona, I grab my gear and hop a train and catch up with him and the other guys heading South to the sunshine state.
The Hard Knock Custom-Ride to Daytona
The 1994 Sportster is built from the concept of a Hard Knock Custom. Meaning it is customized from necessity and with a lot of bartering. A pistol was traded for a D&D Bobcat exhaust pipe. Paint was supplied by Ron Harris of Chop Docs. Hellcat laid down the pinstriping. Engine work was bartered for promotional consideration at the Smoke Out Rally.
The Hard Knock Custom - Ride to Daytona
In years past, Daytona has been an ice box. This year, it is blue skies and mid-80’s. Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona is packed with people and enthusiasts crammed around the Suspension Technologies booth for the entire week.
Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson celebrated its 25th anniversary with live music, concerts, food, Bike Week vendors and festivities. The facilities are beyond busy. Suspension Technologies sold out of certain models of Black Hills Series shocks and reverse products on Thursday. The demand is the highest that the team has ever seen.
Mike Talking With Customers In Daytona Bike Week
Why Black Hills Series Shocks for FLH bikes – Mike Alex of Suspension Technologies talked about what riders experience on Baggers Black Hills Series shocks, and he discussed a few problems that are fairly consistent with Harley Bagger riders.
Installing Shocks In 8 minutes or Less in Daytona
The Wobble in the Corner - One is an oscillation or wobble in the rear when a rider takes a long sweeper turn to the right. This doesn’t happen when turning to the left. This is because the factory doesn’t manufacture a matched set of shocks. The left side of the bike has a true shock and the right side is a spring.
Modify the Shock by grasping the cups and turning - no tools required
Suspension Technologies match their Black Hills Series shocks on a dyno to ensure the shocks are identical and within 2% of each other. This provides consistent damping on both sides of the bike. It also allows the rider to run into a corner with greater speed and with more control. It sounds like a typo, but these shocks provide the rider with greater control at elevated speeds while running through a corner.
What Does NASCAR and NHRA Have to DO with It - The reason why the Black Hills Series shocks deliver increased control is because of the technology inside. Mike Alex utilized a technical transfer from NASCAR and NHRA and applied it to the Harley-Davidson-specific Black Hills Series shocks.
Installing Elite Technologies Reverse
The booth setup had a different look this year due to the new logos. The Yelvington name was replaced with Elite Technologies USA name. Suspension Technologies’ logo got an update too. The logos were designed with a similar color scheme so you can tell they are in the same family, but they have enough distance between them that they have a distinct personality.
We Got Happy Harleys - The Daytona booth setup was designed to accommodate reverse and shock installations. And the boys were busy from 10 AM to 5 PM for the entire Bike Week. By Thursday all the reverses were sold out and the majority of the 11” and 12” shocks were fitted to happy Harleys.
Motorcycle suspensions are equal parts art and science. Mike has the unique ability to boil it down into understandable terms. He utilized championship-winning racing knowledge in NASCAR, NHRA, and Road Racing and applies the knowledge to Harley Shocks.
If you have a question about suspension, then we encourage you to go to #AskMikeAlex on the website as he is fielding questions about suspension.
Better shocks make you safer in the saddle. As stated previously, when upgrading the front end and installing new shocks, enthusiasts find that they can go through a corner faster and with greater control. Riders also notice that their passenger has a better experience. Because the shocks make your bike smoother over bumps and provide smoother transitions from side to side and when accelerating and decelerating, it is a much better experience for the passenger.
The reason the shocks work so well is that they are built for the rider. When you order online, the site records your answers to questions that allow the engineers to custom build the shocks to the model, riding style and weight of the rider, gear, and passenger. It requires that the enthusiasts share the type of riding they do, 80% of the time.
Lifetime Warranty - The Black Hills shocks have a lifetime warranty. And if something happens within the first two years, Suspension Technologies sends out a new pair.
By Jeff Najar, Horsepower Marketing