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.

Duke’s Den – Notes From Walking Miles Of Aisles At EICMA

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.

Bike shows are great places for rubbing elbows with industry personalities and racing heroes. Legendary flattracker, Chris Carr, and I share a laugh during an impromptu interview at AIMExpo.

Bike shows are great places for rubbing elbows with industry personalities and racing heroes. Legendary flattracker, Chris Carr, and I share a laugh during an impromptu interview at AIMExpo.

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?

Evans Off Camber – I Love Motorcycle Trade Shows

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 feeling’s the same today for jaded adult motojournalist me as it was all those years ago for the green-pea novice biker me attending his first IMS in the Bay Area.

The feeling’s the same today for jaded adult motojournalist me as it was all those years ago for the green-pea novice biker me attending his first IMS in the Bay Area.

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.

2015 AIMExpo Wrap-Up + Video

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.

  • BDan75

    I’d probably agree with the idea that these shows are pointless in the internet era…if it weren’t for the fact that attending one of the Progressive shows on a whim several years back totally rekindled my interest in all things motorcycle. A lot had happened in the 10 or more years since I’d last bought a bike, read motorcycle magazines, etc., and it was really cool to suddenly see all the new stuff in one place (if it gives you an idea how out-of-touch I’d gotten, this was in 2012, and I still hadn’t heard the term “adventure bike”…)

    Anyway, that experience ended up costing me a bunch of cash, but riding is a huge part of my life now, and I wouldn’t go back. I don’t know how common my “born again” experience is, but I’m sure a lot of people get energized by these shows.

  • John B.

    Worst Motorcycle Show Experience: Having my picture taken with an Umbrella Girl and a Yamaha MotoGP motorcycle. I learned proportions are everything in photography. The resultant photograph had great contrast, but little proportional harmony. Enough said.

    Last year, I looked forward to seeing the Kawasaki HP2 live at the Progressive show and came away impressed. The year before last, I enjoyed talking with a BMW executive about the S1000R and its competition from Aprilia, KTM, Kawasaki, and others. Surprisingly, he had great praise for the Super Duke, but criticized Aprilia for manufacturing inconsistencies.

    It wish it were easier to test ride in succession multiple motorcycles from different manufacturers. The Internet enables us to compare and contrast ad nauseum, but nothing separates wheat from chaff like a test ride. Large motorcycle rallies offer test rides in close proximity from multiple manufacturers, however, one must travel a great distance for that opportunity.

    I understand the vagaries associated with test rides give dealers headaches, but dealers would sell more bikes and I would be happier if test rides were more convenient and readily available.

  • Old MOron

    Am I the only one who clicked on this story anticipating funny and enlightening MOronic banter from the panel of experts in the lead photo? I feel a little let down.

    • John B.

      Kind of like the restaurant business I guess. One day the special is chicken, the next day chicken and dumplings, and the third day chicken noodle soup. This article is like chicken noodle soup; and it’s good.