Cycle World International Motorcycle Show at Long Beach

MO checks out the state of the motorcycle industry


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The glitz of a motorcycle show has a way of diffusing some of the doom and gloom surrounding the dismal economy and its effects on the two-wheel industry. Manufacturers, custom builders and the supporting aftermarket companies set up shop to woo and excite die-hard enthusiasts.

And there were plenty of them at the Southern California edition of the IMS show held on December 4-6 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Show organizers report attendance of 47,903, down slightly from 55,702 in 2008. Not bad considering the shape of the economy. In other heartening news, OEM demo rides were booked solid on Saturday and Sunday.

The weekend began on Friday for a media tour prior to access for the general public. Sadly, OEMs like Triumph, KTM and the Piaggio Group (Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa) were MIA. Here’s what we saw.

Plenty of media on hand during the media tour held just a few hours before opening time on December 4

Victory Motorcycles

Along with the new Cross Roads and Cross Country baggers, the latter of which we tested here, Victory announced the availability of special prices for U.S. military in a campaign titled Full Throttle Salute. In conjunction, the company has built two custom bikes to benefit families affected by the tragic shootings at Fort Hood last month. A U.S. Army-themed Kingpin 8-Ball cloaked in olive-drab paint joins a Hammer S with a modern military theme in an eBay auction to be held next Spring.

Here’s the Kingpin 8-Ball done up in military garb. This bike joins a custom-painted Hammer as part of an eBay auction to support military families suffering losses in the Fort Hood massacre.

“We at Victory Motorcycles and Polaris Industries are proud to support those who have made the greatest commitment to this country, and we thank them for their dedicated service,” said Mark Blackwell, Vice President of Motorcycles. “It was a unique experience to build these two American motorcycles that represent the freedom, quality and lifestyle of our country that our Armed Forces protect each day.”

BMW Motorcycles

The IMS show marked the North American debuts of the Boxer-powered 2010 R1200GS and R1200RT, both with new double overhead cam cylinder heads and revised styling you can read about here. They will be available at the end of January 2010 and have about 10% more power, “but you can multiply the smile factor,” commented Pieter de Waal, BMW Motorrad USA VP.

BMW's R1200GS Adventure joins the RT in getting new double-overhead cam

The show also offered attendees a look at the production version of the radical new S1000RR superbike we tested last month in Portimao, Portugal, that received a glowing review. The new RR, with a massive 193 crankshaft horsepower, will begin arriving to dealers at the end of January.

“Despite the hard times,” said De Waal, “this is an important time for our future.”

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Honda

The Red Wing company showed off its new flagship, the V-4-powered VFR1200F, a blend of sportbike and sport-tourer we recently tested in Japan. Honda says it “brings MotoGP technology to the street,” and it finally announced an MSRP of $15,999 for the base model.

Here’s a Honda Fury customized by Cobra Engineering.

Also making its debut is the NT700V light tourer we wrote about here. It’s powered by a 680cc V-Twin and includes an adjustable windscreen, shaft drive and highly integrated saddlebags. It retails for $9,999, while the ABS version costs $1,000 extra. Fonzie will be testing it next week, so stay tuned for our ride report.

Honda’s display also included the Shadow Phantom, a blacked out version of the Shadow that adds fuel injection for greater efficiency to its 745cc V-Twin. Built to evoke the popular bobber image, the Phantom has a modest retail price of $7,999. The new Shadow RS uses the same powerplant and looks a little like a Harley Sportster. It retails for just $7,799.

In addition, Honda showcased its most recent new-model announcements of the Sabre, Stateline and Interstate we profiled here.

The Sabre is a new cruiser built off the platform of the splashy Fury chopper. It uses the same fuel-injected 1312cc V-Twin but in a pro-street styling idiom. It will be available in March at a base price of $11,799. The Stateline ($11,699) is similar but with larger fenders, while the Interstate adds a windshield and leather-covered hard saddlebags starting at $12,749.

Cruisers dominated a lot of Honda real estate, but the new-to-the-U.S. lightweight sport-tourer, the NT700V, was also on display.

Also on display was a Fury customized by Cobra Engineering. It features custom paint featuring gold leaf inside red pinstriping, a polished swingarm and small clear-lens turnsignals.

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Ducati

The big news from the Italian manufacturer was the debut of the Multistrada 1200, a Latin hybrid of an adventure-tourer and sport-tourer. “We said to our race engineers, build a bike you’d like to ride on the street and throw everything at it,” said Ducati North America CEO Michael Lock. “It’s the adventure-touring equivalent of our superbike.”

Lock added that it’s a strange world when BMW comes out with a superbike and Ducati unveils an adventure-touring machine. More info about the 150-hp Multistrada can be found in our profile found here.

Ahh … Finally, it’s here!

The Ducati display also included the recently announced Hypermotard 1100 EVO and EVO SP, plus the 796 Hypermotard Pete tested here.

Also on display at the Ducati section was a fashion show highlighting the Ducati Apparel Collection.

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Harley-Davidson

Notably absent from the H-D booth was the Buell brand. Sad. Not much new since the 2010 models were unveiled last summer. We’ve already given you reviews of the latest Harleys, including the Wide Glide and Fat Boy Lo, the Electra Glide Ultra Limited, and Road Glide.

Added to the display was a cool “Fit Shop” in which you can see how H-D’s accessory pieces will alter riding ergonomics to various bikes. Also, a flag was laid out for people to sign, which Harley than will be sending to our military overseas.

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Suzuki

Senior Communications Manager Steve Bortolomedi led with news that Suzuki has recently been posting some positive financial reports. They claim a 31 billion yen profit over the first six months of 2009, and profit expectations for 2010 have also been raised.

Some of the bigger news from Suzuki for 2010 is a new off-road model.

Not much new in terms of new models except for the dirtbike lineup. New to the lineup is the RM-X450Z enduro bike replete with fuel-injection like its MX brother, and a revised RM-Z250 was also on display.

Suzuki also highlighted Suzuki’s 2010 race teams, now managed by the Yoshimura race shop that has a longstanding association with Suzuki you can read about here. Tommy Hayden and Blake Young rejoin the Yosh superbike team, while Ryan Dungey, Matt Moss and Austin Stroupe will represent Suzuki’s motorcross/supercross teams managed by the legendary Roger Decoster.

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Yamaha

Here’s a custom job we can get on board with. It’s an R1 with graphics by Aldo Drudi, the artist behind Valentino Rossi’s famous helmet designs.

The tuning fork brand didn’t offer up much in the way of new models, with the new YZF-R1 Valentino Rossi replica getting the most attention. Battling for coolest bike on display with Rossi’s M1 GP bike and Ben Spies’ championship-winning R1 was a custom R1 built to benefit the excellent Riders for Health charity which was shepherded by the Daytona-winning racer Don Emde..

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Star Motorcycles

The new Stratoliner Deluxe bagger was the star (pun intended) of the display, overshadowing a freshened version of the V-Star 1300 Tourer.

But for a pure visual statement, nothing could top the Nick Anglada-built custom Star Raider, a baseball-themed bike to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr. organized the project, and it includes baseballs inset in the bike’s fuel tank signed by the Seattle Mariners slugger plus Hall-of-Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, number 2 and 4 respectively on the career MLB Home Run. It will be auctioned next year to raise funds for charity.

Baseball-themed Star Raider.

“This motorcycle represents a lot of committed people coming together and making a difference for the children served by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America,” said Nick Anglada, owner of Nick Anglada Originals.

Kawasaki

This dude doesn’t look excited as us about the all-new Z1000. Get him off there!

In a show lacking substance, a show dominated by rolling art work and in-yo-face lifestyle parades, it’s nice to know we can at least count on leading names like Ducati, H-D, Victory, Honda, et cetera, to give us something we can sink our teeth into when they showcase all their new machinery – even if it’s already old news by now.

Oddly, Team Green didn’t make a presentation during the media tour. However, it had all its 2010 bikes on display to whet the appetites of potential buyers.

We’ve already ridden and reported on the touring-biased updates to the Concours 14, as well as Fonzie’s fun ride aboard the KLX110 models. But the bike we’re only days away from riding and eagerly anticipating is the all-new 2010 Z1000. At least we (and you!) can now see, smell, sit on, and even taste El Zed if you like – when no one is looking, of course.

Insider ride reports coming in don’t gloss over the potency of the new 1043cc inline-Four powering the Z, but it seems the sweetest cherry is the Z’s new chassis. Word is, the stiff new frame finally allows the rider to fully access and exploit the full potential of the big mill.

Let’s just hope U.S. riders don’t once again blow a golden opportunity to show Europe (the Z’s target market) and Kawasaki that we appreciate nutzoid nakeds! – Pete B.

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Norton

The reborn Norton was shown at Long Beach. The naked roadster is an update to the Kenny Dreer design that struggled to reach production a couple of years ago. Now with fuel injection fitted by its U.K. company, the air-cooled parallel-Twin is said to pump out 80 horsepower. Initial production will consist of 50 numbered bikes to be brought into the U.S., and American importer Matt Capri says he expected all of them to be spoken for by the end of the show.

TapouT

The lifestyle brand associated with Mixed Martial Arts competition and founded by Punkass and Skyskrape showed off a tribute Suzuki Hayabusa built by VooDoo Industries. The TapouT display will be a part of the remaining 10 stops on the IMS tour as part of the “Bikes & Beats” stage. If you’re a fan of UFC fighting, you’ll have a chance to meet TapouT-sponsored UFC fighters.

TapOut was a significant part of the Long Beach IMS.

Cycle World Magazine

The show’s title sponsor for many years had a display of various bikes that included the latest project to benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. The 2009 Ride for Kids Project Bike “The Good Fight” was built by Roland Sands Design as a streetfighter version of Honda’s CBR1000RR. It’s the ninth PBTF project bike from Cycle World and the fourth in a row from RSD.

California Superbike School

In a bit of a shocker, Keith Code’s iconic riding school lost its Kawasaki sponsorship after a 30-year association. But Code landed on his feet when BMW stepped up to the plate by supplying the CSS with its new S1000RR superbikes. The school has 48 events scheduled at race tracks around the country beginning in March. More information about CSS can be found at www.superbikeschool.com.

Cycle World International Motorcycle Show Schedule

  • December 11-13, 2009, Qwest Field Event Center, Seattle, WA
  • January 1-3, 2010, Rock Financial Showplace, Novi, MI
  • January 8-10, 2010, Carolina First Center, Greenville, SC
  • January 15-17, 2010, Washington Convention Center, Washington D.C.
  • January 22-24, 2010, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, NY
  • January 29-31, 2010, I-X Center, Cleveland, OH
  • February 5-7, 2010, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • February 19-21, 2010, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Chicago, IL

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