I like to go to motorcycle shows, because…. well…. I like window shopping for the things I can’t have. I also, apparently, enjoy getting bags of free swag I’ll never use and stacks of brochures of which I’ll toss 90% of.
On November 30th, 2018, I went to the International Motorcycle Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. Now let me start by saying I go to New York City once a year, to remind myself why I don’t go to New York City. I couldn’t hate it anymore than I do… But there were motorcycle’s that needed gawking at and sitting on, so I pushed on like a good soldier.
Although the “Media Tour” started at 9:00 a.m., I kinda knew I wouldn’t make it on time. It’s a process, painful and long beginning with the driving commute from south Jersey to the Metro-Park in Edison, a delay filled train ride into Penn Station, then the brisk chilly 6-ish block walk to the Jacob Javits Center. The walk from the front doors of the JJC to the registration booth was probably another city block but I did that at a leisurely pace to catch my breath and de-sweat as I opened my jacket to air out and hit the potty.
The nice lady at the media registration booth gave me all of my paperwork and then informed me that the media tour would be at the Yamaha booth. I looked at the schedule and saw that I just missed the Harley presentation. Drat!.
I like cool stuff, I like functional stuff, I like practical stuff, I like cool functional practical stuff. Yamaha, had hit two of those three marks with me as they went on and on about their Niken (phonetically pronounced N-eye-ken). Cool, yes, point. Functional, I guess, point. Practical, uh, no-but-wait-how-what-why. My response was similar to that of Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Vacation movie, when the Griswold’s were at the Grand Canyon and Clark insisted they get moving (after he robbed the cash register in the gift shop). Clark turns and looks at the massive canyon, head bobbing two or three times in impatience, “okay, let’s go”.
I immediately made a B-Line to meet with former Motorcycle Men Podcast Guest and super rider Long Haul Paul who is on a quest to
ride a million miles to raise money and awareness of Multiple Sclerosis. It was good to finally meet this amazing man.
Then I just followed along with the media bunch around the show. Stopping at all the major manufacturers and all were showing off new bikes. Most did their very best to impress, but sadly, for me at least, only a few were able to achieve said goal.
First on that list would be Royal Enfield. These guys don’t make huge bikes, they make bikes that go and they make a lot of them. Think of a lot and triple that. They were showing off their new 650
and of course their Himalaya. But you know, they were some good looking bikes. I was impressed.
We then moved on to Kawasaki. They didn’t impress me. Introducing 4 new bikes that I found myself tapping my foot and itching to move along to the next floor. So no, I wasn’t impressed. But honestly, their bikes aren’t for me.
Hello Honda. Never been a real Honda fan. I mean they are okay and sure the Grom is cool and the Africa Twin is on the cool board and the Goldwing is a really pretty bike, boring but nice. So I go with the flow to see what they are chatting up and oddly enough it was all about their side-by-sides and although I would like one for my farm, I could buy a nice motorcycle and trip to Disney with the money for one of those. So I’m there to see the Monkey and the Super Cub. Thankfully, the presenters are limited to 15 minutes each to give their spiel. I suspect if someone dropped the timer, the Honda guy would have went on for an hour. I look at the Monkey, I look at the Super Cub, picture, picture, big sigh, move along. Meh.
BMW, Suzuki, Energica all had cool stuff boring move along nothing to see here… zzzzzz… huh? Did I nod off? Suzuki is reinvigorating a bike I had back in the 70’s.
I was cool to see it again, but I don’t remember it being that ugly. Meh, move along.
On the way to Energica, I ran into another former guest of the podcast. Our good friend Steve Lita of American Iron Magazine. We chatted for a while and then we sort of drifted apart during the media tour, but great to
see him again.
Ducati wasn’t to be left out of the “We got new bikes too” category. They were showing off their brand new Diavel and Scramblers, which I now have a great new appreciation thanks to the MotoAdventurer Blog, thanks Drew (damn you).
Ducati then let loose the huge unveiling of their flagship 235 HP V4 Panegale. Now to be honest, it’s not my kind of bike. I’m not a sport bike guy, never was, never will be. They have a place on a the track and whatever, but it’s not my thing. But I have to ask…. 235 HP on a street bike? Because……. But I will say that did love the scamblers. Very nice, very impressive, I don’t want one but I like them.
The one thing annoying about the Ducati floor was the lighting. It was horrible. They just didn’t seem to have enough lighting and it created a lot of weird shadows all over the place. Looking at these two pictures of the Scramblers and you’ll see what I mean. Of course the Panegale was lit up like a Christmas tree and you could see every nook and cranny in the plastic. Poor lighting dimmed the views of the Scamber’s and Diavel but not the attention.
Knowing Triumph was going to be there was part of the highlight of my trip there this year. Triumph skipped out in 2017 and that left me a little disappointed. I’m a Harley guy, no secret there, but Triumphs hold a very close second among the Harley community and for good reason. With a history and rivalry that stretches back into the 50’s, Triumphs get a nod of respect from the HD crowd more so than others. Maybe it’s just in the circles that I run in, but either way, I love what Triumph brought to the table this year.
I have this new developed fondness for the Triumph 1200 Scrambler, Street Scrambler lineup. I also have a new appreciation for the Bonneville thanks to Drew of the MotoAdventurer Blog and Rachel of the Fuzzy Galore Blog. Both of these people have shown me what a bike totally inappropriate for the assigned task can do. Primarily, go off onto dirt and gravel roads. Until this show, I have never sat on a Bonneville or a Triumph Scambler. Very nice, comfortable and nearly had me feeling as though my Sportster craving ass would right at home on one of these. Good job Triumph.
Indian was showing off their Flattrack bike and as one could expect, folks were fawning over it. I looked, gave it a shrug and moved on. Don’t get me wrong, it seems like a cool bike, looks okay, but… eh. Now if it came with a Philly Pretzel factory lifetime supply, we’ll have a conversation. Other than that….. Oooo look… Vespa…
Who doesn’t have a fondness for a small Italian Scooter that can go virtually anywhere around the world. South Africa to France? No problem. Florida to Alaska? No problem. Around the USA non-stop? No problem. Hell I want a Vespa just for giggles to go places around town and get the wife into it (she had her chance in Key West and loved it). Let’s face it, Vespa’s are just freaking cute and awesome fun.
Just before the Media tour ended, we wound up at the “Discover the Ride” Floor where folks would get the chance to ride a Zero Electric Motorcycle and hear a talk from another Motorcycle Men Podcast Guest Robert Pandya.
So the media tour ended and now it was my chance to head on over to my favorite place… yes, yes, yes… Groan all you want. I went to the Harley Floor. Now I feel at home.
Harley had their big money goods on the floor this time. They had their bling going at full tilt and here’s a lesson to all you exhibitors. Harley, takes the time to make sure they have the best lighting you can imagine and all the properly placed lights make all of their bikes just freaking sparkle. Check this out next time you are at a trade show featuring Harley Davidson motorcycles.
First and foremost, the coolest thing was the rack with all the colors that are offered for their bikes. Seeing the colors on the internet or the catalog is one thing, see all the colors in person is another. I became a new fan of some of the colors.
Big huge thumbs up to the design department on the bikes this year. Holy crap they are gorgeous.
They just look absolutely stunning. The price tags of these bikes are equally stunning. The kind of stunning would make any financial adviser have a coronary event. I never thought any motorcycle should cost over $20K, but with both of these kids coming in around the $40K mark, you can be sure neither of these will ever be in my garage. Unless if the lottery came to town, then we’ll discuss colors.
Harley also had this cool thing where you could hear what your bike would sound like with standard exhaust and the Stage 1 upgrade to a Vance and Hines exhaust. Pick your bike and tap to hear it. The audio in the booth was enough to make you feel as though you need to spend some money on an upgrade.
For me, the shining star was the bike I have been craving since it was introduced in 2015. The Sportster Roadster. The Roadster that was present on the Harley floor was customized with all Harley parts from their custom shop into the form of a cafe racer.
I didn’t think I’d like the cafe racer look and feel of the bike. I loved it. It was set up with rear controls, the cafe tail and sport windshield. The added Stage 1 upgrade gave this bike the extra “Gotta Have it” that my wallet didn’t need to see. With it’s tall stance, rock solid EVO engine and well balanced comfortable feel. Every time I see, sit on and test ride this bike, I want it more and more.
The rest of the show was dominated by a few smaller vendors with helmets, riding gear, accessories and a host of other products. Our friends from Butler Maps and Tobacco Motorwear were there too.
Then of course there were the custom bikes and the boutique bikes that we could never afford to buy. All nice to look at, but I’m of the mindset that if you can’t ride it regularly, then why? Here’s some of what you would have seen and may see at a show near you.
In closing I’d like to thank New Jersey Transit for naming a floor in the parking garage after me. I’m flattered.