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2017 International Motorcycle Show

The report from Long Beach

Years ago Seattle had a basketball team. You remember the Sonics? Aside from watching an actual game courtside, the most entertaining part was watching the mascot, Sasquatch, throw himself into a human net and launch back across the court, shoot baskets from an ATV or the most bizarre was when he shape-shifted into a large bubble and bounced across the court. Ahhh - the days.

Photo: Indian brought their "Spirit of Munro" to the show for all to see. The bike ran on the salt flats in Utah this past summer.

We also had the International Motorcycle Show that paraded through the Puget Sound annually. Helmed by the major manufacturers, the show brought together the latest models along with national and local accessory vendors. Ahhh - the days.

For basketball now, you could fly to Los Angeles and get an eyeful of the Laker Girls performing excessive jazzercise for all. Not quite like watching old squatch's freak show.

For an annual motorcycle show of the glamorous kind we recall, you will need to travel to Long Beach California, since that's the closest location to Seattle to catch one. Chances are, this year, you didn't. But we did, so enjoy our take on this years' event.

Baggers Galore

BMW, having just shipped its new bagger to dealers, provided one such unit in their display for show goers to experience. Despite the delay on Yamaha's new Star Venture, the bike was available for all to mount and get a taste of it's ergonomics. Honda also brought out both of its new Gold Wing models which had their own feature display and were not off limits for test mounts. Harley-Davidson and Indian had every model in their lineup available as well. Although not new to the lineup, Kawasaki's Vulcan Voyager looked good in it's own realm, but drew little attention compared with the others in the house. But, it too is worth consideration if you're looking for a bagger as your next buy.

3 Wheel Wonders

Polaris showed their latest 3-wheel Slingshot models, getting as much attention show-side as they get on the road. A new company in the reverse-trike marketplace is Vanderhall Motor Works. After 7 years of r&d they now make make several gas-powered models as well as an electric model, each running in the $30k - $35k range. Ural made a presence bringing in their well known sidecar units, but this year they come with some nifty paint options. Missing in action: Can Am.

The Vanderhall Venice making a play for the 3-wheel market.

Naked, but not afraid

With all the hoopla surrounding the release of the 2018 Goldwing models, hardly anyone picked up on another new release, the CB1000R. This buck-naked street slayer utilizes a dumbed down CBR1000RR in-line four power plant. While it stands on its own design-wise, we suspect some custom builders are going to embrace this model for the diversity it will hold for interesting variations that may come out of it.

Photo: Honda's recently announced CB1000R

Euro Surprises

Ducati brought it's all new V4 into the show with the debut of the newest Panigale model, explaining why the model as a two-cylinder was dropped from the lineup in 2018. Another debut was the Multistrada Enduro fully decked with aggressive dirt tires and protective add-ons. As this bike has developed over the last decade, one had to assume it would ultimately reach this point. If you've seen the Panigale turned enduro created by Portland's Moto Corsa, there are a number of similarities from paint to tires, but no jawbones.

Photo: Ducati's new Panigale V4

Piaggo took out a large foot print at the event showcasing all their latest models from Vespa, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi. It's not clear if it's a one-off, the Guzzi's newest bagger draped as a salute to the El Dorado that carried the cruiser side of the line for decades look stunning in person.

KTM's display spelled it out. Big orange is a contender in all the popular categories with street, adventure, dual sport and dirt offerings. Anyone remember when the only thing these guys did two decades ago were dirt bikes?

Missing in action: Triumph Motorcycles

Dual Sport Mash Up

There was no shortage of dual sports across the floor. Low cc newcomers like Honda's CRF250L Rally got plenty of attention, as did the new V-Strom 250. Royal Enfield tossed out an interesting take on the category with the new Himalayan 500 (shown).

Missing in action: Yamaha's website teases a prototype of a new Tenure 700. While a previous model has been available in Europe and Japan, we have yet to see it stateside. Having the prototype on hand at the show could have helped in making the decision whether or not to make this bike a reality in the US.

Beyond the OEM's

There was no shortage of custom or vintage bike displays when the show toured through Seattle. Long Beach offered a Vintage display well stocked with Ducati's from the Moto Doffo collection and several other club entries.

The J&P Cycles display was the largest we've seen from the aftermarket accessory powerhouse and included more than 60 entries on the floor. Sadly, the company, together with its parent, MAG (Motorcycle Aftermarket Group) has just filed for Bankruptcy protection (see our newsbytes column for a link to details about this). Time will tell if they can make it out the other side and bring more displays on the road in the coming years.

Progressive Insurance ran an interesting foot print which featured a presentation stage for guest speakers, as well as free coffee and haircuts for card holding customers.

The vendor area was large, most likely several thousand linear feet worth of rows, but we forgot to pack a tape measure. Touratech USA anf Trail Tech were on hand as the sole Northwest vendors.

Innovations were few and far between as most showed items we've all seen before - after-market lighting, sunglasses, wallets and helmets. It was good to see Lee Parks Design on hand debuting their newest glove, the Sumo (shown above) which features knuckle and top-hand protection that won't backfire when called into action like many of the stiffer options in the market.

In Conclusion

The motorcycle industry remains in a contractive state. Until its own internal economy rises up, don't look for an International Motorcycle Show in the Puget Sound anytime soon.

It's quite a financial undertaking for some to make the trek out of the region to see a national motorcycle show, but the Long Beach version did have its share of new product and knockout vintage and custom displays. If you're missing our event that is no more, you have several options.

Your first is to plan to hit the Southern California show in 2018 when it returns.

Another option is to hit the more grass-roots event, the Inland Northwest Motorcycle Show coming up in March in Spokane is a well done show, but lacks the glamour of the OEM's since it's mostly helmed by the local dealers. Some people actually prefer this.

Or, you could just stay at home and look at pretty pictures on the internet. But you know that's just not the same thing.

And let's all not forget this: As for test riding some of these new models, you don't need to wait for a massive event opportunity. Better area dealers are happy to provide any qualified buyer with a demo bike experience. Call ahead to find one's who do.

SR!/December 17


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