Author: site admin
Category: Bike reviews
Last year I did a review of the Cycle World International Bike Show. Since I did a preview for this year’s expo back in November I guess I should finally get around to doing a review of the 2006 Cycle World show.
First, the good stuff:
My wife and I flew to Atlanta, GA for a friend’s wedding the same weekend as the Cycle World International Bike Show was in Denver but we scheduled our return flight for Sunday morning so we still had some time to take in the show. One of my stated goals for this year’s show was to find a couple of things my wife and I needed for the upcoming riding season. One of those was to get my wife some electrics to replace her old Widder vest that finally shorted out this Fall. Gerbing’s Heated Clothing had a booth at the show and were prepared to size and sale all their products at the show. Jonna picked up a heated jacket liner, thermostat, Powerlet wiring harness and a storage bag. She is happy and if the wife is happy, I’m happy.
The second reward from our visiting the show was my finding a great deal on the enduro jacket I’ve been price shopping all summer. A shop up in Ft. Collins called Beemers and More Motorcycle Works had a booth in the vendor area. They also had a sales rack which had most of the First Gear jackets including the Kilimanjaro Air Mesh jacket that I wanted for my upcoming Costa Rica trip. They didn’t have the size and color I wanted but agreed to order me one for the price listed on their sales rack. Good folks and a very good price for exactly the jacket I wanted.
Next up was having the opportunity to lust after the MV Agusta bikes in person. The highlight of their booth was the F41000S Corse bike but all of their product line are equally incredible. The Italians know how to build a beautiful bike and the folks at MV exemplify that. Even the routing of the brake lines is carefully planned out to run parallel to other lines of the bike so even the smallest details are visually cohesive. The F4 should be prescribed by doctors as a cure for ED…
Another cool bike to see in person was the historic 1980 Yamaha OW48 500cc Grand Prix bike once raced by Kenny Roberts Sr. This was on display next to Kenny Robert’s Jr’s 2000 Suzuki RGV 500cc GP bike which I’ve now seen three or four different times…Suzuki’s marketing department is sure getting their money’s worth out of that bike. Anyway, having the two bikes together made for a interesting compare and contrast moment, not to mention the thrill of seeing two historic Grand Prix bikes up close and personal.
Next up was getting to see the three new Ducati Sport Classic bikes on display. The marque bike of this line is the Paul Smart Replica and it is even cooler in person than in the photos. The green/silver paint job is a stroke of genius as it looks drop dead gorgeous. The big surprise for me was how much I liked the GT which had looked pretty ho-hum in the magazines. Finally, the Sport 1000 is really just a Smart replica without the big fairing but it is still a good looking bike. Any three of these would be a fun bike to own. I’m glad to see Ducati coming up with designs that aren’t following the styling trends of their recent bikes like the Multistrada, the 999 and the Supersport. I’m also glad to see another manufacturer coming up with modern retro-themed bikes to compete with the Triumph Bonneville series.
Finally, it was great to see some of the interesting new bikes for this year like the Kawasaki ZX-14R, the Aprilia SVX, the re-vamped Aprilia Tuomo, the Yamaha R1LE and the Moto Guzzi MGS/01. It also gave me another chance to sit on all the liter bikes from the major Japanese companies so I can continue my new bike shopping. The R1LE is the first Yamaha that pegs my meter in a long time but I’m still more likely to whip out my checkbook for the Kawi ZX-10R or the Suzuki GSXR. Surprisingly, the ZX-14R didn’t really excite me and the MGS/01 did. Perhaps it is because the Kawi was pretty much what I was expecting but the Moto Guzzi was so different from their other products. Finally, the SVX and Tuomo were seriously amazing to see in person. I knew I’d like the SVX but I’ve always hated the looks of the Tuomo so was shocked that I liked the 2006 model so much. Both are now on my list to be revisited when its time to put the new bike in the garage.
Synopsis: The show gave me a new jacket, a wife that is again excited about riding and a lot to think about in my quest for a new bike.
Now the negative things from the show…
First, KTM didn’t have a booth at the show. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog postings, I’d buy a KTM 990 Superduke tomorrow if they were available in the US. I was hoping for a chance to talk to a KTM rep in person to see if there were any plans to import the bike in 2007. With the dollar valued so low compared to the Euro surely the cost of a booth at the Cycle World show is about the same blow to their Marketing department as putting up a single poster for the Paris show. Whatever their motivation, not showing up is probably going to be their loss and some other company’s gain.
The second raspberry for the expo was that there was no Triumph booth at the show. One of the bikes I wanted to see the most was the new Triumph Scrambler which I think is dead sexy. For some bizarre reason Triumph decided not to include the Cycle World shows in their marketing budget this year. While I wanted to see the Scrambler for its sheer coolness factor I also wanted to check out the new Speed Triple as another bike that is on my shopping list. Oh well, at least Triumph has one up on KTM by actually having their bikes available for sale in this country…
Another disappointment was that BMW didn’t have their new 2006 models like the F800ST, K1200R, R1200GS Adventure and R1200S at the show. I’m not particularly interesting in buying any of these but it would be nice to see the new parallel twin motor, their boldest bike ever, the new and improved GS and BMW’s new boxer based sport bike. Basically, its another sign of how little importance the European bike makers place in the show that they aren’t putting for an effort to get their new bikes to the US in time to show them to customers at this time.
Another change for the worse was that so few of the booth had interesting race machines. In past years there have been Grand Prix bikes, factory superbikes, trick endurance racers, hand built supermoto bikes, desert racers and lots more on display. This year the pickings were slim and decidedly lacking in exotic hardware. For example, Kawasaki had Hayden’s Supersport bike, Yamaha had Disalvo’s Superstock bike and Honda had Duhamel’s FX bike. Yamaha also had Burkhart’s Supermoto Lite bike. In the off-road arena Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki all had their factory Motocross bikes on display (Windham, Reed and Stewart’s bikes respectively). Still, nearly all of these bikes are production based machines being raced in nearly stock form. In contrast, there were loads of crappy choppers all over the place which means there was probably more titanium on custom show bikes than on race bikes. A disgusting turn of events!
The final disappointment was that AMA racer Eric Bostrom was only at Racing 2 Save Lives booth on Saturday but not Sunday. Since I couldn’t get there until the final day I missed a chance to talk with him about his 2006 deal with Yamaha. Getting a few first hand comments would have bee a nice addition to the blog. Oh well…
Overall, I was happy with the show but I’m still disappointed that US market in general, and the western states market in particular, has such relatively minor importance to the marketing departments of the major manufacturers. I’d hoped that things would continue to grow as the Cycle World show entered its fifth year but it seems to have taken a step backwards this year. Hopefully 2006 will be a big enough year for the European manufacturers like Triumph and KTM that they will join the show next year. Hopefully, the interest in the US generated by the ‘05 USGP will raise the awareness of racing here in the US so that the Big Four (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki) will again use race bikes as their booth eye candy rather than mangled, nonfunctional cruisers. Hopefully, the US market will be important enough to all the bike makers that a greater emphasis will be put on getting new models to the States in time to put in the Cycle World show rather than just rolling out the 2005 models for us to see. There is still room for improvement!
[image from my photo collection.]