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Motorcycle Show

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International Motorcycle Show 2011 Minneapolis

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the word-count on this article is going to be very high. The International Motorcycle Show was at the Minneapolis Convention Center Friday through Sunday, February 4th through 6th. I went on Sunday, yes Superbowl Sunday, thinking I'd avoid the crowds. I could not have been more wrong (a common occurrence for me, just ask my wife). At noon on Sunday, the first parking ramp I hit was full. Luckily I know of some good metered spots near the Convention Center and found a spot only one block away. I went inside, picked up my "press" credentials, and headed into the show.

I'll admit I had some trepidations about this show - a fair number of manufacturers were obvious by their absence from the exhibitor's list. No Ducati, Triumph or BMW. Less-known brands like Hyosung were also missing from the list. Luckily for Ducati, a new dealership Ducati Minneapolis had a booth there. No such luck for Hyosung. No non-Japanese scooters either - Kymco, Genuine, Piaggio/Vespa and CF Moto were absent. In my opinion, this is a mistake being made by these brands seeking growth in the US market. The powersports market has been VERY down the past couple of years and relying on dealerships to build market awareness of a brand is unfair (to the dealer) and unwise. There are some very fine machines being built by companies like Hyosung, but they have next-to-no name recognition in the US market. They won't "get there" by ignoring large consumer venues like this one. And this was a LARGE venue, over 36,000 attendees over the three days. The place was packed - even on Superbowl Sunday. I've "worked" at many of these shows and Sunday is generally the slowest day of the event. That was absolutely not the case this year. I hope this is an indication that this spring will bring a strong sales season for motorcycles and scooters.

Busy Sunday at the Motorcycle Show in Minneapolis

Yamaha Booth at the Minneapolis Motorcycle ShowAs I walked through the main entrance, I headed over to the Yamaha booth to seek out the new Tenere. Apparently I wasn't the only one interested in this bike as there were quite a few people hovering around it, waiting their turn to swing a leg over and check it out. It took some patience to get a picture of the bike WITHOUT someone sitting on it. This theme was to repeat itself throughout the show. I also saw a few BMW-owning-adventure-riders that I know checking out this bike. Hmmmmmm.

Yamaha Tenere

From there it was off to the Indian booth to say "Hi" to Art Welch (the owner of Indian Motorcycle Twin Cities) and peek at the bikes. Again, this was Art's dealership booth, not a corporate Indian booth. Nice bikes and there was an attractive young lady posing for pictures on a bike.

Indian Motorcycles at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

Ducati MinneapolisI wanted to see the new Ducati Diavel and searched out the Ducati Minneapolis booth (a dealership booth, not a corporate Ducati booth). Yes, they had one. No, I couldn't get a decent picture. There was a steady stream of people waiting to sit on this new power-cruiser from Italy. This was not true for the poor, lonely Yamaha VMax. The original power-cruiser, set largely ignored by the crowds.

Ducatci Diavel and VMax

Ooops, I said "Yamaha", didn't I. Sorry, just an old man fondly remembering the 1980s motorcycle scene. I meant Star (Yamaha's cruiser brand) of course. The Star booth was another nice one with good traffic and a lot of cool bikes.

Star Booth at Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

Honda CBR250R at Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

Also on my list of must-see bikes was the new Honda CBR250R. I make no secret of my fondness for small-displacement motorcycles and the Kawasaki Ninja 250 has been just about the only player in town in the sporty-bike category for decades. I'm really glad to see Honda bringing this machine to the US market. Again, there is a crowd around the machine, mostly women and younger guys. Yes, I asked the pretty young lady in the image shown if it was OK to take her picture. Trust me, her smile is for the bike, NOT for the old man with the camera.Honda PCX 125 Scooter at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show Honda had a huge booth with hurts-my-eyes yellow carpet. You just couldn't miss it. I also spent some time looking at the new Honda PCX 125cc scooter.

There were a lot of female riders (and riders-to-be judging from the conversations I overheard) at the show. This rapidly growing segment of the market was given special attention in a booth dedicated to women riders. As I was chatting with some people at the booth a seminar was taking place. My wife Beverly started riding when she was.... 29 (ahem) and it's great to see the manufacturers and accessory companies paying more attention to the needs of the female rider.

Women Ride Booth at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

Kawasaki Booth at the Minneapolis Motorcycle ShowKawasaki had a nice-looking booth, and a visit to the Ninja 250 confirmed that it and the Honda are priced identically at $3,999. I think I saw some of the same people from the Honda booth looking over this bike. It's going to be a good season to buy a high quality liquid-cooled fuel-injected 250cc bike.

Along those lines, I wandered over to the Suzuki booth to have a look at the TU250. This classic-styled bike was also arousing interest and I found out that if you stand by a bike with a camera held up in front of you people will let you snap a few pictures before they jump on the bike. I ran into some friends at the Suzuki booth and we chatted for a while about the show. They shared my opinion that the crowd was big and that the general attitude was one of optimism for the coming riding season.

Suzuki Booth at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

Harley Davidson Booth at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

Harley Davidson had a large booth that was jam-packed with people. I noticed that the XR1200 was drawing a crowd, especially with its below-$12,000 price tag. A lot of people that might not ordinarily consider a new Harley were giving this machine a very close look.

Victory Booth at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

My favorite booth of the show so far as visual impact is concerned was the Victory booth. They had a sort of man-cave-garage-workshop set up inside their booth complete with ancient TV and a boombox. I'm pretty sure they took that layout directly from one of my friend's garages, I just can't remember who's.

Can Am Booth at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

The Can-Am three wheeler was there and had a lot of people checking them out. There was also a four-wheeler, all set up for a Minnesota winter complete with snow-plow. When I took the picture, there was a young family inside and I overhead SEVERAL mentions of how handy a machine like this would have been this past year. 

Custom Builds at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show 

Running the length of the main aisle was a collection of customs that never failed to draw attention. You'll notice the high number of camera-wielding people by the bikes.

Antique Motorcycle Club at the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show

Off the main path was a booth more to my own taste - the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (Viking Chapter). Yes, there it was, just behind the rope, a gorgeous old BSA. A BSA Goldstar was one of the first "real" motorcycles I owned waaaaaaaaaaay back in my misspent youth. After a couple of hours of looking at all the wonderful new machines, I got to bask in the glow of some vintage British iron.

In addition to the dealerships and brands represented at the show were numerous vendors. I noticed that the "Skinny Wallet" place was pretty swamped, and a lot of the accessory booths seemed to be enjoying a steady stream on inquiring visitors.

I hope you had a chance to get to the show and enjoy this wonderful mid-winter opportunity to revel in the world of motorcycles and scooters. Even here in Minnesota, winter just CAN'T last forever, and I know the show got me pumped up to ride. 

David Harrington


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