Atlanta IMS Show: Personal Observations Staff
by Staff
Last weekend, I attended the Cycle World Show in Atlanta. Naturally, most of the major motorcycle manufacturers/distributors had bikes displayed there, either through their national company or with local dealers. The notable exception was Moto Guzzi, which was not represented at all, despite there being local dealers present that handle Guzzis. Those dealers did have Ducatis, MV Agustas and Triumphs there, though.

It was cool to see some of the new motorcycles in person that had previously been viewed only in magazine photos( MO's same-day coverage of the opening round --Editor). Among those, all impressed; some positively, some negatively. Here are my opinions on those...

· The Benelli Tornado is gorgeous. I had fallen in love with its appearance the first time I saw pictures. It’s even better “in the flesh.” The green and silver metallic paint is a great combination. The tailpiece, even with the twin yellow cooling fans, is very nice. The front three-quarter view is especially sweet.

· The muffler/tailpipe on the Ducati 999/749 is at least as ugly in person as in the pictures. It ruins an otherwise beautiful design. A year from now, there may not be a single 999 or 749 in the world with the stock pipes. It’s that bad. Vance & Hines, Akropovich, D&D, Termignoni, et al will be working overtime making new pipes for these bikes.

· The Honda Rune is the ugliest production motorcycle ever made! Imagine that the guy who designed the 1975 Cadillac Eldorado had been commissioned to design a companion motorcycle to the Eldo. The Rune would be it. It is an overblown caricature of every bad aspect of fat custom cruisers. It should have been called the HidMo for Hideous Monstrosity.

· The new Triumph Daytona 600 is very cool. Triumph may have finally gotten it right. Unlike the TT600 that preceded it, the Daytona 600 doesn’t look like every Japanese 600 sportbike that came before.

· Victory definitely has a winner in the Vegas. This bike is the best-looking production cruiser in America, hands-down. It is a very clean design and workmanship is excellent. The paint, chrome and design cues are all first-rate. The only thing I would change would be to shorten the mufflers about two inches. The downside of the Vegas’ beauty is that it makes the other Victory models look even more clunky and thrown-together than they already looked.

Other miscellaneous observations:

· Comparing all the Japanese power cruisers, the Kawasaki Mean Streak has the look down best. It also has the least attractive build quality when you start looking at fit-and-finish, frame welds, etc. This seems typical of Kawasaki, as if they ran out of project money when their bikes were 98% finished and simply said, that’s good enough. This is most apparent in frame welds. That is ironic because Kawasaki builds assembly robots that other companies use to make pretty welds.

· While I’m picking on Kawasaki, they really need to retire the Voyager XXII and Concours. These bikes were OK when the designs were new, but they are very dated now. The saddlebags on the Concours look like JC Whitney specials from 1985. In 1993, I was buying a new bike and had narrowed my choices down to a Concours or a BMW R100R. The local Kawasaki dealer honestly advised me to buy the BMW then, saying it was a better bike. The Concours hasn’t changed in those ten ensuing years, but every other motorcycle has…except the Voyager. It’s panel style paint job looks like something George Barris would have done in 1961. It is cheap, compared to other touring bikes, but you’d be better off to find one that’s six or eight years old and buy it for a song. Their resale value is very low.

· The Aprilia engine must be ugly, because Aprilia doesn’t even let it show on their so-called naked bike, the Tuono. They cover up the cylinder head area with reservoirs, hoses and all sorts of junk.

· It’s a little disappointing that Harley Davidson doesn’t have anything new to show for their 100th anniversary. Two-tone paint and another anniversary badge aren’t much to show. Since they are building 2003 models for a few extra months, there won’t even be an exclusivity factor. The V-Rod would have been a great anniversary present to themselves. Product-wise, the anniversary is a non-event.

· The XB9 Buells are very cool. I had read that they were very compact and even small compared to the old tube-frame models. I sat on a Lightning and a Firebolt at the show and was amazed to find that they fit me comfortably. I’m 6’2” tall with a 34” inseam and I had plenty of legroom. I’m looking forward to a couple of test rides during Bike Week in Daytona.

· Indian isn’t going to make it. Their bikes were garnering very little interest at the Atlanta show. Quality-wise, they aren’t as nice as some of the clones, especially Big Dog. They are charging premium prices for an average Harley clone, yet don’t offer anything distinctive other than the Indian name and the skirted fenders on the Chief. Even the new PowerPlus engine still looks like a cross between an S&S and an Evo. From a styling standpoint, Kawasaki did a better job of emulating the old Indian look with their Drifter models.

· There are certainly a lot of cool name-brand helmets to choose from. There are certainly a lot of poor quality third-world imported leather jackets to choose from. Cows in Pakistan and Bangladesh must have really thin skin.

· This is the best time ever to be a motorcyclist, no matter what type of bike you prefer. The models and accessories are the most plentiful ever. Overall, the quality of new motorcycles is superb and getting better.

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