Monday, February 23, 2009

The Cycle World International Motorcycle Show 2009

Every year Cycle World runs a series of shows featuring most of the major manufacturer and, at some shows, a few of the smaller ones. There really isn't much for me to say about the show in general. They have demonstrations, stunt shows, product showcases, an accessory marketplace, demo rides from some of the marques, and giveaways.

This year was no different. The closest show to us was held this past weekend in Greenville, SC. A short hop, skip, and a jump away from our home base in Atlanta. Aside from all of the features I've mentioned, the single best thing about big shows like this one is the chance to see almost every motorcycle that will be sold in the upcoming model year and sit on them back-to-back for a great comparison of the various models.

Without further ado, on to the photographic evidence we gathered. This is but a small sample of what you can find here.

Harley-Davidson had a demonstration on how to pick up a dropped motorcycle, in this case a Sportster 1200 which happens to be one of the most top-heavy motorcycles Harley makes. If you can lift this one, you can pretty much pick up any in their line-up. Even the touring models weighing in at 300 pounds heavier.

The stunt show had a trials rider displaying amazing balance and control. He was doing jumps and wheelies on platforms his motorcycle barely fit on.

Another bit of the Harley-Davidson display was the Nightrod Special.

Indian was on had with a line of their new cruisers, I just had to get a shot displaying their attention to detail. Here is the Indian light on top of the front fender.

Kymco had a spot close to the front entrance to show off the full line of scooters and the new 150cc motorcycle (not pictured.)
We saw a nice display of historical motorcycles, including this superb Norton Commando.

Ducati proves that some of the classic styling of motorcycles is alive and well.

Just as Honda shows off some of the newest styling on an bike missing the standard clutch, the DN1 only comes in automatic.

Suzuki takes some styling ques from the wildly successful Ducati Monster in the new for this season Gladius, a naked 650cc.

With these and many other bikes, it is easy to spend hours at the show just sitting on one bike then the next. But that is really the purpose of shows like this one. It gives the manufacturers a venue to show off everything they have and get to people who may not necessarily go to a dealer's showroom for a company they are unfamiliar with and it gives the enthusiast a chance to see all the new models without the sales pressure one might find at a dealership.
The only problem I can figure out with these shows is that now my list of next motorcycle purchase has about doubled.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Motorcycle Exotica

Who out there thinks that a perfect Valentine's Day should be spent going out and drooling over motorcycles with your spouse? If you raised your hand, please continue reading.

I say "exotica" because we weren't going out to look at the common names in motorcycling, well known names but still not ones you see daily on the road. We started the day out with saying we just wanted to stop in at our local BMW dealership. That quickly turned into stops at a massive used bike dealership on the other side of the city followed with a brief stop at a Harley dealership to ask for directions to a Ducati/Aprilia/Moto Guzzi dealer.

Why do I find it important to tell you about this? Simple, as you ride you gain more insight into what it is you want from a bike. Once you have the seat time and the skills to move on, you also have a better idea of what will be comfortable for you. These two things (comfort and needs) are your guiding light for the next bike. The bike's power will be less of a concern, but I still wouldn't recommend jumping on a race replica, 1000cc+ sport bike as your second ride.

Enough of this, what bikes did we like? I found Ducatis to be far more comfortable than I remembered and one like this ST4 would be great for sport touring.

My wife found the Monster series (this and the new ones) to be marvelously light and comfortable.

But lastly, I think she found one that she'll get next, assuming we can find one in our price range when it comes time to buy. I present the unmistakable Aprilia Shiver.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

One thing that needs to be done after a period of inactivity in any sport is mentally and physically prepping yourself to go full swing again. With running it would be talking walks interspersed with stints of running. For soccer it would be a few hours kicking the ball around and doing some practice drills with some friends. With motorcycling it can include parking lot practice to get some of the kinks worked out or taking some short rides on sedate and lightly traveled roads.

Now, short ride has a different definition for each rider. For some it would be a few minutes riding around the neighborhood, others would go meet some friends for dinner at a local restaurant, for my wife and I it meant riding down to the International Horse Park in Conyers and swinging by her barn so I could see where she rides horses. There and back could be a simple 40 mile loop, done in about an hour. Somehow we turned it into 60 miles and about two and a half hours.

We had started out going to a parking lot close to us to warm up, but we both were feeling a little uneasy with our practice and decided to just start out and go slowly. We could always turn around and go home if things felt out of whack. Turns out what we needed to feel comfortable again was to get out and just ride. Sometimes, the mental preparation you need is just going out and reminding yourself you can do it, after all.