I don’t care who you are—three-peating anything is a bitch. Repeated success is a two-faced giant that loves you with one glance and wants to kill you with the other. John Shope knows a thing or two about that monster, seeing as how his bikes have been the people’s choice for the best on the Hot Bike Tour three years running.
The bright side is all the recognition that comes with being a dynasty. Men want to be you and women want to be with you. People love your parts and (hopefully) shell out cash to get them for their own bikes. All that love inspires you to keep going for next year. So far so good, right?
The ugly face is the pressure. Can I do it again? What should I do next time? Do I go with what worked or go the opposite direction for the surprise factor? Every competitor faces these questions, whether it’s in poker tournaments, bike shows, or planning a team strategy for the NFL. For the first two years, John gave us two killer baggers. What was the game plan for the three-peat?
This time, John surprised us with an engraved Softail. A green one at that. “I won twice in a row but wanted to go over to the cool side, and we made a parts line from that bike,” he tells us. “I got to do something different and show off these new parts. I came from Softails and choppers, and it was refreshing to go back. I got a nasty Fatboy coming out soon too.”
The big question we have for John: Why do you suppose you’ve won three years going? “Dude, I’ll say it,” he answers. “It doesn’t mean I’m the best. It’s a people’s choice show. If you can deliver something that everyone likes and capture their votes, that’s how you win a people’s choice show. The looks factors on these three bikes are out of control.”
In talking with John about this bike and the industry in general, we got to speculating about the future. Where’s the public eye going to look once Dynas and FXRs top out in popularity? The big-wheel bagger fad has waned into a shadow of its former glory. These are the reasons John went with a Softail for his GEICO Hot Bike Tour entry. Whenever consumers gobble up the cheap bikes, prices skyrocket as supply falls short. Meanwhile, whatever isn’t selling gets cheaper and cheaper until the seesaw tips back in the other direction. If that playground comparison holds true again, John could be right.