Alistair Maclean's Web Site
The NYC Bike Show 2000 
Back The New York International Motorcycle Show, February 4-6th 2000

It's a cold clear day. There is ice on the Hudson River as the ferry pulls into the 38th Street Ferry Port. A throng moves quietly through the cold air, crossing the West Side highway, trying not to be run over by the cabbies. A small collection of bikes sits outside the Javitts Center where the show is being held. This ain't the Birmingham NEC Bike Show, where many turn up on bikes to enjoy the show, this is New York in winter and there is a foot of snow on the ground in nearby areas. It's a brave soul that rides in.

A jewelry show is being run alongside the motorcycle show. I often wonder what these trades people, loaded down with priceless gems, think about all the leather clad apes along the hall.

In the last year the Motorcycle Industry in the USA has continued to grown, we are on the crest of a four year boom in motorcycle sales. The show is packed with people and new models. There is an air of confidence.

BMW is showing off its new Ducati inspired R1100S models. They look good. The stand is full of models in a variety of configurations, not that many models but you get to see all the options. A K1200 full dresser, seat adjusted up, seat adjusted down. The 'custom' models, the sports models, the touring models. Each model well presented. It's a scene spread through much of the show: smaller product lines, many more options, slick presentations. Except in one, large corner.

The rise of the American Bike Industry was prominent this year; Harley-Davidson (perennial player with booming stage), Victory (New!), Indian (New - yes, new), and Ultra (surviving Kyle Petty's promotional activities). These are big (and I mean B-I-G) bikes, mostly tourers and low riders; all feet forward, some with ape hangers, but flat bars and wide bars in evidence; massive bikes with large billet pieces for clutch and brake reservoirs, transmission covers, headlights, you name it. An Indian was being looked at by a prospective punter, his Marisa Tomei (See "My Cousin Vinny") like girlfriend in hand, asked the representative "Ha much?" and got "20,000" back. The girlfriend spate something out about "You gonna spent that much on dis?" Her body language said "Buy me a nu coat and I might think abatit!"

Two (yes, 2) MV Agusta F4's were propped up on a bench. An Oro and a Strada. The Oro was sold, the Strada was $18,000. They looked nice. What more can I say?

The Ducati, Aprilia and Triumph stands were in close proximity. I have no need to drool over 996's any more, but did try out the Aprilia Mille RSV. It must be something about Italian wrists, the Mille has the same odd handlebar position as the Ducati 996, a Marquis De Sade inspired position. A neat little Aprilia 125 sat in a corner, its not for road use in the USA, virtually no two-strokes are, but it looked very trick. The Triumph 955i grabbed Lois's eye. For a biggish displacement, this is a well balanced bike. There were several 955i engined models, one in a Kermit-inspired metallic green paint job.

Over in the corner with the Rising Sun, Honda had a very low key stand: a single RC51 (a.k.a. VTR1000) twin whirred round on a stand, almost unnoticed by most; the new CBR 929 sat unattended in another corner. Yamaha had festooned their stand in R1 and R6 models and were getting much attention. Suzuki had two Hayabusha's in new colours (a blue/gray and a maroon), and a GSXR750 with a poorly mounted mannequin that looked like a rider after being squashed by an 18-wheeler. The Kawasaki stand has a single ZX-12, which I have to say was almost indistinguishable from any other Ninja, only the winglets singled it out. From a sport bike stand point, while Japan still owns the roost, they are suffering from imagination fatigue. The punters were not looking at sport bikes with Japanese names on the tanks, they were looking at custom bikes with Japanese names on the tanks.

The Japanese sport bikes were often crammed into small areas on the floor stands, but the custom bikes had large expanses. They needed the space. The Japanese custom bikes, like their American originators, are large bikes, but the punters are also upsized too. The girth of the average custom bike fancier was, erm, impressive.

  • Most important bike in show: Buell Blast - tiny little thing but priced right, targeted at none motorcycling Gen-Xers.
  • Slickest presentation: BMW.
  • Fatest Catalogue of parts: Harley-Davidson.

Till next year, happy riding.



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