Comfortable shoes. It’s the foremost important aspect of enjoying any large consumer or trade show. Comfortable Shoe Editor, Troy Siahaan, and I had this exact conversation the morning of attending media day at Long Beach IMS. We both rode to the show, but whereas he brought sneakers to change into, I put a new pair of Bates Adrenalin Riding Boots to the ultimate comfort test by wearing them all day during the show (the most comfortable riding boots I’ve ever owned, I might add – full review coming soon).
Of the four big shows this year, MO made it to three of them. Kevin Duke attended the granddaddy, EICMA, in Milan, I flew to Orlando for AIMExpo, and the entire staff (except Duke, who stayed in Italy for the Panigale 959 intro) ventured to the Long Beach stop of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. The only show we didn’t have boots on the ground for was the Tokyo Motor Show, but we managed to cover moto-specific elements of that show even from 5,500 miles away.
Between the three shows and the six attending staffers we walked a lot of miles, because walking is the primary activity at any show, hence the comfortable shoes. The Long Beach IMS is the easy one due to it being a one-day affair and that we have multiple MO editors there to cover everything. I spent two days walking AIMExpo by myself, and Duke prowled EICMA for 2.5 days by himself.
The question is, are these shows, the travel involved to attend, and, especially, all the walking, walking, walking really necessary? Save for a handful of models, most new 2016, and even some 2017, bikes had already been announced prior to these shows opening. Why haven’t all the pre-show announcements and live streaming events dispatched with these in-the-flesh anachronisms from the pre-internet era?
Is it because homosapiens are social creatures who desire shared experiences? That could certainly be part of the answer. Is there money to be made? Forget I asked that. Here’s what I know for certain. Honda’s Africa Twin broke cover a year ago at EICMA. I wasn’t there to see it, and even though in the last 12 months I’ve read various updates, seen images and watched videos, I couldn’t wait to see the bike up close and personal. When I got to Long Beach IMS I noticed in the Honda booth a few covered bikes with a vintage ’80s Africa Twin behind them – a pretty good indication the new Africa Twin was under at least one of those covers. With everything I’ve seen and read about the bike you’d think witnessing someone unmask an already known entity would fail to impress, but there I was all giddy with excitement when the moment arrived.
The same can be said for all the other bikes I had yet to be in the physical presence of: Ducati’s XDiavel, Multistrada Enduro, Scrambler Sixty2, 939 Hypermotard/strada bikes; Triumph’s Bonneville series, KTM’s Duke 690R, Suzuki’s SV650, etc. There’s also all the new apparel, accessories, and performance aftermarket stuff to check out. These shows provide the fix all of us moto-junkies need prior to winter’s long good night.
Whether it’s a webzine or traditional print, nothing beats close-up eyeballing then swinging a leg over the latest and greatest, trying on what might be your new lid for the next year, bagging swag, ogling the talent, or what may be the best experience, bringing your own child to the show and watching their reactions. Even all the walking’s good in a healthy kind of way. So let’s not disparage, but celebrate these shows and their ability to bring the excitement of motorcycling within a reasonable distance to your front doorstep.
We should also recognize and thank all the cogs in the machine that make these shows happen; from the participating OEMs to the guys and gals on the show floor front and center, as well as behind the scenes, who provide the necessary manpower. The IMS, especially, travels North America for a five-month period, setting up and tearing down at 10 different locations. It’s a herculean effort for everyone involved, and an annual appearance that for a lot of motorcyclists would be sorely missed.