First, a little bit of history, The first annual Biketoberfest was held on October 16-18, 1992 and was originally named “The Daytona Fall Tour.” I was there among 5000 bikers, mostly from the local Florida market, with activities centered around the Main Street merchants. The name Biketoberfest became popular after a marketing campaign in Germany (where Oktoberfest is a national celebration) to attract bikers who wanted to escape Europe’s winter weather and enjoy a fun-filled Florida holiday. In 1993 the name Biketoberfest® was registered with the US Trademark office, marking it the first US trademark registered motorcycle event in the country.
Today, Biketobefest events have spread around Daytona, to Ormond Beach to the north, to Orlando to the west… and to the Keys to the south for those looking for a long weekend scenic ride. Daytona Main Street, Daytona Beach Street, the International Speedway and Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach are ground zero for motorcycle manufacturers and custom part vendors selling everything you can dream of to make your bike look and run better.
For this 21st annual Biketoberest weather could not be more perfect (blue skies until Sunday with temperatures from 70 F to 84F.) Although Biketoberfest is not a ticketed event and consequently it’s impossible to know the exact number of visitors, it looks like attendance is slightly up, demonstrating again (like during the recent Sturgis Rally) that the motorcycle industry continues to recover. New Baggers and Sportsters (in black) continue to overwhelm other models on the road and in parking lots. The custom culture is well and alive and the merchants of custom accessories I talked to reported to me very good business.
To notice, a huge empty lot at the International Speedway vendors area where Harley-Davidson canceled all demo rides due to the massive recall and “do not ride notice” of 29,000 2014 models affected by an hydraulic clutch issue. In addition, some new Harley touring models seem to be prone to coolant leaks around the heads (at this time, not an issue subject to recall.) At the Indian Motorcycle display, long lines all day long for demo rides with the Chieftain being the most requested Chief model (followed by the Heritage and the Classic) for a 10-mile test ride. Many bikers have stated to me that today Saturday or tomorrow Sunday, they will ride to the Orlando Orange County Convention Center to check out other vendors set up at the new AIMExpo.