The Moto EquinoxJust 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.

La Brea Tar PitsThe 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 that 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 were far less of 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 a 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 overpriced ice cream.

9 Replies to “NY International Motorcycle Show”

  1. Dear Wayne:

    If I had been in better shape, it would have been worth the agony in my knees just to walk in there and see BMW's Concept C Scooter.

    Great report.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  2. With all this snow we have had lately, I don't expect to be doing any significant ridding anytime soon. The next best use of my time is reading one of your reports.

    Well done as usual and always entertaining.

  3. A friend who attended said the show was small compared to past years. But maybe he was measuring the chests of the booth babes 😉

  4. I did not see KTM at the show. That is a bad sign for them. And no Husquvarna at the bmw booth. Thought I would see both….

  5. Dear Jack,

    It was shocking to see a scooter center stage, but there is no doubt that it was a BMW. I'd love to test ride it.

  6. Dear Todd,

    Thanks for your comments. I rode on Jan 1st, and thought that set a good tone for riding more this winter. Boy was I wrong !!

  7. Dear Colin,

    It was certainly smaller, but I think that is to be expected in these times. That said, the vendors seemed to be busy. I can verify that although there were fewer than in past years, the booth babes were not smaller 😉 Cheers

  8. Dear Propper,

    Although you and I like to see everybody there, I think some brands are being more selective about what shows they attend. BMW was only at CA and NY this year. KTM and BMW seem to be focusing on Demo Days (a much better method for actually experiencing the bikes). Thanks for your comments. Cheers.

  9. Thank you for all the great work.

    It is my understanding that the traditional cafe racer has no fairing, a single seat. and clubman bars. Clubman bars get you over the tank in the same way that clipons do. Here is an example of clubman bars installed upside-down. I can only imagine why: Here is an example of clubman bars installed correctly:

    The first image would be an example of a vintage touring bike, and the second image would be an example of a semi-naked with a supermotard style fairing (a number plate). Touring bikes and racing bikes looked almost identical back then. Cafe racers may, or may not, have a number plate, but they do not have a large fairing, although true grand prix racers did.

    Here is a vintage cafe. It's non-traditional, because it's a Honda, but it has most of the right stuff; the builder substituted true clipons for the clubman bar, but the bike looks so cafe that I am going to use it as an example anyway:

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