2008 Los Angeles International Motorcycle Show

First looks at the latest production and custom bikes!


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The Cycle World International Motorcycle Show made its annual stop in Long Beach, CA, on Friday, December 5, 2008

Starting off the media-only portion on the first day of the show was the Motorcycle Industry Council’s (MIC) announcement of some preliminary data from the 2008 MIC Owner Survey. The biggest news from this on-going survey is that more people are using two-wheels for practical reasons and not just as recreation, and the presence of women in motorcycling continues to grow. And scooters are the hottest two-wheel segment, up 50.6% over the first nine months of 2008.

The IMS show was packed with journalists on opening day when many new production and custom bikes were unveiled. Seen here is the North American debut of the Ducati Streetfighter.
Blinged-out sportbikes continue to be popular at the IMS show. Here, Speed TV’s Jason Britton pulls the wraps off a Kawasaki ZX-14 customized by Nick Anglada at Custom Sportbike Concepts.
Longtime Yamaha collaborator Jeff Palhegyi created this custom V-Star 950.
Though final tabulations from the survey, loosely referred to as a “census of motorcycling,” won’t be available until spring 2009, the MIC is reasonably confident in the running data collected. According to the MIC, during the first three quarters of ’08 the survey reflected a 29% increase in the percentage of female owners, compared to 2003, the last time a similar survey was conducted. In 2003 women owners comprised 9.6% of the market; the majority of 2008 is showing that percentage now at 12.4%.

Other interesting numbers coming in from the report show that the average age of bike owners may be at a plateau. In 1990, owner average age was 32, and in ’98 it rose to 38, increasing again in 2003 to 41. Interestingly, in the last five years the average age has only increased to 42.

The survey also reports on another average age, that of motorcycles. The average age of a bike owned by a rider is down to 10.8 years, suggesting an increased tendency by riders to purchase new machines. The average age of an owned bike in 1998 was 13.2 years.

It wasn’t all dry numbers in Long Beach. A few new models, as well as some jazzed-up existing bikes and scooters, were unveiled for the first time in the US to the general public. Here are some highlights from the show:

2009 Vectrix Vx-1
Electric scooter maker Vectrix presented the company’s 2009 Vx-1. This electric scoot, the top of three Vx models coming soon, has a claimed range of between 30-55 miles on a single charge, a top speed of 62 mph, three different height windscreens and weighs in at a claimed 515 pounds. It also seats two, can be charged from 0 to 80% in 2.5 hrs (add one hour for full charge), and employs a regenerative charge system that can add up to 12-18% charge in certain situations. The Vx-1 is targeted at the 650cc market and is expected to retail for $10,495, but if you live in California, the California Air Resource Board is offering a $1,500 rebate.

We can see some advantages to a scooter like this, but in a sprawling city like Los Angeles, a range of less than 60 miles isn’t exceptional, and having to wait almost three hours to go again is a bit of a killjoy at the pace of life in the Big City. Still, this is a step in the right direction, especially when gasoline gets back up to $4 a gallon. Look for the Vx-1 in dealers by January 2009.

Jeff Palhegyi Modified VMax
Star Motorcycles presented a Jeff Palhegyi VMax, a very subtle but tricked tweak on the impressive 2009 VMax. Additionally, Star presented Baxter Eaves, a commercial airline pilot, lifelong rider and general VMax lover from the early days, with a special badge designating him clearly as owner number 0001. As the very first purchaser of VMax numero uno, Eaves also received a special wrist watch and a $1,000 certificate toward accessorizing his VMax.

Kymco Yager 200i
Kymco unveiled a new 176cc liquid-cooled scooter with EFI called the Yager 200i. The CVT automatic scooter is set to retail for $3,149. The company also presented a brand new air-cooled four-valve 150cc parallel-Twin motorcycle. Yes, that’s right, a sporty looking, fully-faired bike. Called the Quannon, it features 17-inch wheels, a single disc brake in the front and rear, five-speed tranny, 31-inch seat height and is set to sell for $3,199. We doubt the Kawasaki Ninja 250 will be trembling with fear at this budget-mined Kymco, but we’ll also bet getting your hands on the Kymco will be a helluva lot easier than trying hunt down the wildly popular Ninja.

The “Freek Triple” is a Triumph 675 customized by Zero Gravity Racing.

Zero Gravity Racing Triumph Daytona 675
To celebrate 20 years in business, Zero Gravity Racing built a customized half-naked Triumph Daytona 675. Dubbed the Freek Triple, the Daytona features numerous high-end components from various aftermarket product companies like Woodcraft, Ohlins, Galfer, LeoVince, Dynojet Power Commander, and of course, Zero Gravity.

Harley-Davidson XR1200
Harley-Davidson unveiled for the first time to the U.S. public the lusted after XR1200. Finally! (Look for a ride report on this new-for-the-U.S. Harley model in the coming days from Motorcycle.com)

Here’s our first close look at BMW’s upcoming S1000RR, seen here in its racebike prototype form that will enter World Superbike competition in 2009. A production version is slated to hit dealers late in ’09.

BMW K1300S, K1300GT and S1000RR
Also a first-look in the U.S. was BMW’s K1300S and K1300GT, and the company’s World Superbike effort in the form on the inline-Four S1000RR. Though looking very much like its Japanese competition in this race iteration, the production RR will look different, and some unusual technology is promised in its cylinder head (the rumor is desmodromic-style valve actuation).

Tricked-out Suzuki Burgman 400 scooters
Suzuki showed a couple of tricked-out Burgman 400 scooters. Todd’s Cycle of Huntington Beach, Calif., was the guilty party that crafted one of the scooters in glam disco fashion, replete with sparkly powder-blue and white paint with matching white seat. Another Burgman was made out to look like a long and low GSX-R by an in-house design team. We first spotted this sportiest of sport scooters at Suzuki’s 2008 dealer show.

BMW Motorrad head designer David Robb  uncloaks his latest concept at the IMS show. A Boxer motor is the basis  for a machine that can be customized at the factory to be a anything  from a cruiser to a muscle-bike.

Ducati 1198S and Monster 1100
Ducati brought for the first time to this country the highly anticipated 1098 superbike-based Streetfighter, the new 1198S superbike (be sure to read our world intro report on the 1198 from only two weeks ago!), and the Monster 1100.

Roland Sands - Designer Extraordinare
Roland Sands and his RSD creations were seemingly everywhere at this year’s show. The Architects of Inspiration is a display featuring a number of Sand’s customized bikes along with work by other artists, designers and general bike nutz. Sands joined forces for a third time with Ride for Kids, Cycle World, and Advanstar to create a bike called “The Mission.”

Cycle World publisher Larry Little talks about an RSD customized bike that will be raffled off to benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. In front are three kids from Youth Road Racing USA who were riding pocketbikes on a circuit at the show to also benefit that charityHonda donated a 2009 CBR1000RR for Sands and his RSD team, amongst other contributors, to craft a customized machine that will be given away in a drawing on May 1, 2009. All proceeds from tickets sales will be donated by Ride for Kids to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Funds generated from last year’s bike, also a CBR1000RR, totaled over $84,000, a new record at the time. “I was amazed to hear that we set records with last year’s bike,” said Sands. “With ‘The Mission’ we have a chance to record the greatest amount of donations for a giveaway. And all for a cause I truly believe in.”

For more info on “The Mission,” Ride for Kids and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, visit http://www.rideforkids.org/, and click on the International Motorcycle Shows image.

For many more pictures and information from the IMS show, please click on the gallery link below.

Related Reading:
EICMA 2008 - Milan Show Wrap-up
2007 International Motorcycle Show

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