Just in time to break up the incessant east coast snowstorms, the New York International Motorcycle Show (NYIMS) took place from January 21st to 23rd at the Javits Center in NYC. Bitter cold, Ice and slush in the streets, a wind chill well below zero coming off the Hudson river, and NYC parking rates could not deter me or the multitudes from attending. At the same time , the New York Boat Show takes place, so cabin fever and garage fever are in sync. I have declared January 21st to be the Moto Equinox, a time when the earth's tilt is briefly at 24 degrees. While most humans simply compensate, it causes the brain of all gearheads in the north to become imbalanced and it triggers an acute hunter-gatherer reflex, when they should be hibernating.
The show is the two-wheeled equivalent of a winter cruise vacation. The food is extraordinary, what with overpriced pretzels and overpriced overcooked hotdogs in the New York tradition. It is complete with scenes of tropical tours, tanned faces, mesh jackets, and booth babes. Combined with the hunter-gatherer reflex, this is a dangerous mix, very similar in nature to the La Brea Tar Pits. Less than two minutes into the show area, and I was ensnared by a race-winning Honda dessert racer. After pulling myself free, I was captivated by a board track racer display which had a 1928 Harley, and a 1931 Indian. There was nothing for sale there, but I caught a scent and moved on to the Vin Moto display.
The show is also a good barometer of what is in style these days, and what is out. Compared to the last few years, there was far less of the ultra-blinged-out Hyabusas and ZX14s. They were there, but you would have to conclude walking around that they are more of a niche. The same was true for the custom choppers. They were everywhere a few years ago, and now they were also more of a niche at best. Perhaps the economy has just taken its toll on these high end machines. Then again, maybe not, because the Cafe Racer is in. It is the new thing. Besides TV shows and magazines, many booths had a one-off cafe racer style bike on display. They ranged from a vintage BSA, to a Guzzi, to any number of CB750-based creations. Cool and interesting stuff. The interesting thing about the Cafe Racer is that it is based in frugality. You used what you could scrounge up, and bits and pieces of different makes and models. Anything is fair game. Perfect for the times. But despite my bias toward them, you can't help but wonder if this is another passing fad.
But make no mistake, the NYIMS is about new bikes, not old. It is the place where manufacturers of bikes and accessories show off their latest wares and entice buyers, causing them to emit ooohhs and aahhs, which then attract others to the tar pits. Two kinds of motorcycle manufacturers were at the show; those who make cruisers of various kinds, and those who make almost all kinds of motorcycles. Harley-Davidson, Victory, and Indian (the new new Indian) are in the former camp. While Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, Yamaha, Ducati, and BMW are in the latter. Of those that make cruisers, the continuing trend is to try to make them more like the custom bikes mentioned earlier. I thought that Victory was impressive in showing bikes that looked like they were one-offs. Honda with the Fury was an honorable mention.
In the we-make-almost-everything group, there is an interesting split. The Japanese makers all have cruisers in their lineup, while the Europeans do not. What they all do have are impressive entries at the low end of the market. Even BMW and Ducati have bikes in the $7K-$8K range with spectacular mileage and utility. A true sign of the times, and an attempt to get young people into the brand early. Speaking of signs of the times, BMW had their Concept C scooter as the centerpiece display!! They also all have an Urban/Streetfighter bike which is powerful and devoid of bodywork. Ducati's Monster (and the very VMax-looking Diavel), Kawasaki's B-King, Triumph Speed Triple, etc. Another interesting split is in the Adventure bike category. The Europeans have had them for a while, and now the Japanese are coming after them. Everyone is gunning for the benchmark BMW GS in this category, and the competition is heating up with the new Triumph Tiger XC, the Ducati Multistrada, and the Yamaha Super Tenere.
All of this was fun to look at along with the miracle cleaning products and the stunt show. Some great apparel was on offer, and I stepped into the edge of the tar pit by purchasing some Rok Straps, and caressing some super bright LEDs from Twisted Throttle (they had no booth babes). It got so warm that I had to buy an overpriced ice cream.