Kick Back, Look Back

Editor John Zamora talks about the Hot Bike Editor's Choice 2016 issue

John Zamora on the 2016 Hot Bike Tour.

John Zamora on the 2016 Hot Bike Tour.


I can’t believe an entire year has passed us by once again. What a year it has been! This year, the V-twin market has dominated the motorcycle scene as a whole, as many of the former metric riders from all genres have seen the way of the V!

The performance crowd is at an all-time high from my perspective of 22-plus years of riding. First-time motorcycle buyers are opting out from small foreign bikes and buying American. I’ve seen firsthand the migration from sportbikes to V-twins from my continued involvement in both. This year marked the year riders saved up for exhaust, suspension, bars, and more in an effort to make their machines match their unique personality and perform at a higher level.

Touring bikes in 2016 have gone from a fashion statement back to functional proper motorcycles with the intent to get from Point A to Point B as fast as they can. Bags might be mocked by those who never had them—until you have to carry something. Having a bike that keeps up with the hot rods and still goes the long distances just might be the best of both worlds.

Classics, well, they never go out of style. The Knuckles are unattainable, Pans are impossible to find, Shovels are the new cool-guy affordables, and Evos will be the next big thing. That’s right! With the release of the new motor from H-D, that officially pushes Evos into cool-guy status. Better hurry up and start buying because they are still cheap at the moment!

This year also marks the official commercialization of the classic SoCal lowrider look. While the trend of flash, wires, chrome, and fishtails has been a part of the Chicano culture for decades, it appears that the style is on the verge of going mainstream but with a twist. Proof is in the pudding, as Dirty Bird’s John Shope just won his third Hot Bike Tour Grand Championship with his Mexican-inspired custom Softail. He not only won the championship but swept the crowd’s popular vote all five nights, in the Deep South! Finally, rumor has it that the spin-off to Sons of Anarchy is near airing, this time focusing on the Mexican riders. When it does, this will introduce the general public to this style. The wave is coming!

With races evolving from cones set up in a dirt field, to the main event at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, face it: 2016 was the year of the tracker. While the pro-level flat-track riders have never gone away, it was the rise of the hooligans that took center stage in 2016. As their rockstar status grew to new heights, so did the competition level and big-name riders following. When former AMA pro roadrace champion Jake Zemke hopped up on a basically stock Ducati Scrambler to race in the Hooligan class and won, that was a telltale sign of how high the level of attention was.

On the new bike front, after 19 years Harley-Davidson released a new powerplant in the form of the Milwaukee-Eight to rave reviews. With classic looks and modern engineering, H-D might have finally found a way to please the masses, both fans and critics.

Finally, on a personal note, I grew hair in 2016, including one horribly patchy and poor attempt of a beard and nothing short of an afro up top. I don’t know why. I really don’t.

A lot has happened in 2016. So kick back, look back, and check out our picks for some of the products that made a difference into this life we call Hot Bike. HB