Cleveland Motorcycle Show, 2004
I was able to make it over to the Cycle World / Toyota Motorcycle Show at the IX Center in Cleveland, Ohio over the weekend. It's only about 100 miles from my home in Luckey, Ohio; so it's about as local as such events get.
Not a Jean-Luc weekend, and my g/f has been to the Cleveland show before, so I soloed it.
I didn't get there early, and I didn't get in free. Some years Kawasaki mails out free tickets to customers for a Continental breakfast and free admission at 9:00 AM, but I didn't see anything like that this year. Instead I slept in, then played a game of checkers with each of my Twin nieces (born on my B-day, doncha know?íK), then took off for the IX Center. Gotta take time for the important things, as well as for motorcycle shows.
I didn't ride. This area has been suffering from a week-long, low-intensity, chronic snow infection. Never bad enough to close businesses, but bad enough to require salt and snowplows daily. Some places along the way had clear roads, other places had slush, still other places had blowing and drifting snow, while others had snow on top of a layer of ice. Every year I think that maybe I can ride this year if I can just get the bike out of the driveway, and every year I fail to do so, and every year I'm glad I failed after about 10 miles.
This year I was glad at the 10 mile mark (due to seeing road conditions), and at the 20 mile mark (when my car's heater finally overcame the 0F ambient temps, and began to deliver actual heat?íK).
Arriving at the IX Center, and the entire parking lot is a thin layer of snow over a thick layer of ice. If anybody rode in, they'd have needed studded tires to negotiate the parking lot.
Arrived about 11:30 AM, paid my $7 for parking and $11 for admission, and went in to look at all the stuff?íK.
First thing I noticed was the crowds. The IX Center was packed. The line to buy food, any food, was very long; so I blew off lunch until a less busy time. The line to the Men's Room was long, but at least it moved quickly, and I really couldn't just blow that off?íK
Then, finally, in to see the bikes.
The first stop was the BMW display, as it was very close to the entrance, and because I like the brand. An outline of the high and low points of each of the manufacturer's displays:
* No R12gs on display, the sales rep explained that since it's just debuted they didn't have one to show yet. Fair enough?íK
* The best video and display. Video of ABS and outrigger bike, crashing with the ABS turned off, then staying upright with the ABS turned on.
ÔÇ×* Rest of display was well-done placards tracing BMW's history of motorcycles. Showed all the great ones: R100rs, the GS line, K line, etc.
* Salesman said the R1150rs will never get the new motor from the R12. Said it's perfect as is, doesn't surge anymore with the new twin-plug heads. Then adds that he has a first-year R11rs, and it never surged, none of them ever surged?íK
I owned a first-year R11rs, mine didn't surge either, and I absolutely loved the bike. But his endless denials seem odd, for something that never happened. And the salesman's claim that the R1150rs is perfect as is, and will likely never be updated, well?íK. I tend to believe people until they say something really stupid. Once they say something ridiculous, nothing they say after that is believable. So I really didn't learn much of anything about the BMWs?íK.
Then over to the Kawasaki display:
* There's EFI on the Z1000. I thought it had carbs originally? I'm not really sure either way, as Kawasaki and others transition into the brave new world of motorcycle EFI.
* Black Concours on display, and lots of folks around it.
ÔÇ×h Nice cutaway of a Vulcan 2000 motor, protected under Plexiglas.
* The Vulcan 2000cc is a huge motorcycle, and a very passable clone of a Big Twin Harley.
* V-Strom 650 had a lot of interested people around it. So did the 1000. Suzuki had several, some with Givi bags and some without. Drawing quite a crowd?íK Amazing how Harleys and the Japanese and Italians and all become more and more similar over the years, with everybody building a V-Twin or several.
Then off to a KTM dealer's display, Laidigs, where I saw:
* A pair of Adventure 950 V-twins on display, an orange one with hard bags and a sliver one without. Both look incredible, and are perhaps the most interesting bikes (to me) that I saw at the show. Bags are totally water-proof, look like beer coolers, and can be used as beer / soda coolers in a pinch. That bike really got to me?íK a cross between a Harley Sportster, a V-Rod, and a BMW GS. A totally functional machine, and yet totally a toy. That's what I want!
* A BMW guy that just wouldn't shut up about the bikes he owned, all while I was trying to look at the Adventure. Hint: if you want to really mae a bad impression with me, make your first question "So, do you actually ride a motorcycle?" Then when I try to answer, interrupt me and don't let me get a word in edgewise while you talk about how many bikes you've owned, all BMW. I don't think it's the quantity that counts, but how you use them. I can't tell him that because he won't shut up. I'm eventually rescued by a salesman asking if he can help us. I politely thank the BMW guy for the conversation (one-sided as it was) and exit quickly. Last I saw of him, he was complaining about the price of KTM parts to the salesman, as he has a friend the pays $30 for an oil filter for his KTM single?íK.
At the Yamaha stand:
* Looked at the FJR-1300, as did quite a few other people. A very nice bike, too. Electric w/s this year, and ABS. I could imagine myself on one, if I got rid of the Concours. More likely is that I'd keep the Concours, and get something from the motorcycle buffet of a totally different flavor, like the KTM Adventure.
* Engine cutaway from the Yamaha sportbike was very cool. Very petite engine parts, it seems every year the metal cases are a smaller and smaller shrink-wrap fit over the internal engine components.
Then over to the Honda display, the highlights being:
* Lots of dirtbikes, including the winner of Baja, still with dirt and oil intact. You could still smell the race on that bike.
* An NS-50 mini-roadracer, for the 50cc class.
* A Dream 50r, which looks like a 1960's Honda GP single-cylinder racer. Limited production, off-road use only, but what beautiful lines. Long gas tank, tube frame, twin shocks, dual megaphone mufflers. Nice to see that Honda as a company has matured enough to celebrate its own unique heritage, instead of just copying English or American styling.
* A Honda Rune on display on revolving platform, which is the HUGE custom bike based on the 1800c flat-six in the Valkyrie and the Gold Wing. It's big, and bodacious. Lurking quietly, blending in with the crowd, and there's a lot of comments on the Rune, both pro and con. No neutral comments while I was there, people seemed to either love it or hate it.
At the Triumph display:
* A cutaway of the BIG new triple on display. Salesman tells a customer that the driveshaft rotates CW to eliminate rise and fall in the shaft-drive system. But I think the real reason is so that the bike has 5 gears in forward instead of 5 in reverse... This salesman just qualified himself in my mind, earning his place next to the BMW sales guy that claimed the R1150rs was perfect and would never be updated again?íK.
* Triumph had some gorgeous factory "customs" for sale, celebrating the late 1960s and early 1970s, based on the modern Bonneville platform. Several had Classic English styling, low bars, rearsets, and beautiful paint; and appeared from 10' away to be handmade works of art. Look closer, and I think they were production units. Some Triumph "chopper" customs also on display, but they left me cold.
* Plastic bikes left me slightly cold, I guess I'm getting old. All sportbikes look just about the same now, there's very little individuality there.
ÔÇ×h Another company that has really got the concept of "factory custom" down pat. Beautiful, deep red paints, beautiful castings, and topped with perfectly machined parts for eye-candy desert.
* A very nice display, with each of their "star" bikes on a revolving pedestal. One of the bikes on a pedestal was the new 1200cc Sportster, with its rubber-mounted engine, done up in Orange. Looking very 1960s-ish, and with lines and color recalling an XR-750 dirt-tracker. This is the Harley I'd like to buy, since the V-Rod is too much money, and many of the other Harleys are just too much weight and bulk for my tastes. Though even the Orange Sportster may have been one-upped by that Orange KTM 950?íK..
Other cool stuff, a vintage bike display:
* A Neracar (get it? Near-a-car?íK.) from the 1920s, with center-hub steering. The Bimota Tesi wasn't the first, by at least 60 years?íK
* Several Harleys and Indians, including more than a couple XR-750 Harleys.