10 Photos From 2018 Daytona Bike Week

Brian J. Nelson captures motorcycling’s annual spring party

Daytona Bike Week means a lot of things to a lot of people—a lot of different things. I’ve been crossing the country every March to attend, on and off, for nearly 30 years. First time, I hijacked my college roommates’ spring-break plans so I could watch the famed 200-miler—Cycle World Technical Editor Kevin Cameron was the AMA tech inspector at the time—a race I had seen previously only on the pages of motorcycle monthlies.

This year, I arrived in Daytona four days after the Supercross race and was back home in California before the warm-up lap for the 77th running of the 200, won for the fourth time by Danny Eslick. I spent most of my days on a big twin, jam-packed with thousands of others—including Daytona TT Grand Marshal Freddie Spencer—on the sun-bleached roads for what the Orlando Sentinel deemed the "world's biggest motorcycle festival."

Kevin wasn’t able to make his annual trek to Daytona. “Snow has rubbed out everything,” he explained in an email. “After working through alternatives, I’ve canceled my itinerary and will not be in Florida. I’m sorry to miss the meal, the beer, and the routine.” That’s too bad, as Kevin would have relished the dinner conversation with Spencer and four-time AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes. As they say at the speedway, there’s always next year…

A short cruise from Daytona Beach, the 34-mile Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail—known locally as “The Loop”—is a popular destination for Bike Week attendees.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Bubba Blackwell kicked off the Daytona TT by successfully leaping, Evel Knievel-style, on a Harley-Davidson XR750 over a row of cars and trucks parked side by side on pit road.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Byron Hines was busy this past winter, R&Ding DOHC heads for the factory Harley-Davidson XG750Rs raced by Sammy Halbert, Brandon Robinson, and Jarod Vanderkooi.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Three-time world champion Freddie Spencer, winner of the 1985 Daytona 200 Superbike race, returned to the speedway for the first time in nearly a decade.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Four-time AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes borrowed JD Beach’s Yamaha YZ450F for a few laps of the Daytona Short Track. To say Hayes misses racing is an understatement.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
According to American Flat Track, the FansChoice.tv broadcast of the second running of the Daytona TT attracted nearly 44,000 viewers, a 53-percent increase over 2017.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Starting from pole for the Daytona 200, Valentin Debise crashed on the 10th lap of the race. The Frenchman fractured his third lumbar vertebra but expects to make a full recovery.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Arai introduced two new helmets in Daytona, the open-face Classic-V (shown) and the full-face Defiant-X. Indian’s Chieftain Dark Horse generated many thumbs-up.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
It’s easy to get lost among the thousands of customized bikes that flock every spring to Daytona, but you can never go wrong in that crowd with flames and chrome.Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Four-time Daytona 200 winner Danny Eslick is flanked on the victory podium at the speedway by second-place-finisher Cory West (left) and Robertino Pietri (right).Photo by Brian J. Nelson