I always have mixed feeling towards the International Motorcycle Shows. While they can have a lot of cool and interesting stuff, there are years it all feels like the same old tired things. Large crowds, uninteresting bikes, and booths of, well, crap, as far as the eye can see.
I haven’t been since 2010, and since Motochat was nice enough to give me a couple of tickets I thought it would be a fun way to pass a day.
Blue was excited to be off on a road trip again. This winter has been long.
We “cheated” and used my truck to head into Chicago. It’s not the best way to travel, but I understand the attraction.
The show was held at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center – actually the same venue as past years. While I used one of the attached parking structures in years past this year I decided to use an open air lot with a shuttle bus (avoiding the somewhat infamous “Hamster tubes” to get from the parking structure to the venue). The weather was actually pretty nice by the time I parked, and the shuttle bus ride was shorter (time, wise) than the walk.
I managed to arrive 15 minutes after the show opened, since I knew (attending on a Saturday) the crowds would only get worse as the day went on. As I had hoped there weren’t that many people there, most of the ones on the shuttle bus were apparently heading back after spending the night before at the show. I will admit spending more than one day at the show in years past, mainly when I was assisting at a booth. Maybe my feelings have changed in the years past, since the idea just didn’t appeal to me now.
The show is broken into three areas. One has the big motorcycle manufacturers (mostly the local dealers), one is a series of small booths which are rented out to venders selling things, and one is set aside for presentations (and a stunt show). There is some overlap – there are vendors with the motorcycles and between the stages. The major paths through through the show had bikes for the show spaced along them, which caused little knots of congestion later in the day.
Honda was right inside the door, though I was sad that most of the new 500s weren’t there.
Blue, of course, had his favorites he wanted to stop and look at.
I went and looked at the new bikes, mostly the little ones though I couldn’t resist sitting on the new NC700. It felt pretty light, I was surprised. The guy who came over knew nothing about the bike, though, and wasn’t helpful. Friendly, though. The CB1100 looked like a well restored classic on first glance, and had a crowd all day.
I went over the Yamaha booth, hoping to look at the new XT250, but they didn’t have one. I asked and was told there wasn’t room in the truck from the dealer, though they had one there if I wanted to go and look at it. They did have 4(!) Super Teneres. No TW200, though, either. I guess it’s a matter of where the dealer earns their markup. I heard about a dozen times people mentioning they liked “those adventure bikes.”
I also heard in the triumph area a person trying to move interest from the 800 to the 1300, pointing out “there are times you want the extra power.” I was good and didn’t say anything.
Blue kept finding bikes to sit on.
Speaking of Blue making friends, he posed by the Gecko for this picture –
Which caught the attention of the booth workers, one of whom offered to let him sit on the (very expensive looking) armed forces custom bike they had on display. They took the “No one sits here” sign off the bike, and helped Blue up.
It took a couple of poses to get it right, I think he was just playing to the crowd.
One thing I noticed about the show bikes was the amount of, well, weird stuff.
Who does this to a Goldwing? Makes this one –
look ordinary (sorta).
There was also a cool two wheel conversion on a KTM.
And this sidecar set up that made me a little uncomfortable.
After wandering around the bikes for a while, and with the crowd starting to thicken up some, it was time to head into the vendor areas.