|The NYC Bike Show 2001|
The New York International Motorcycle Show, February 23-25th 2001
A slow drizzle, that had been a very early morning ice rain, met us as the large huddle of people we were in made there way up the ferry ramp toward the Javitts Center. Another Bike Show. There were almost no bikes on the pavement to the side of the exhibition halls, truly a sign the weather was nasty. The car park at Weehawken had been mostly empty, so it was a surprise to find the Bike Show hall swamped with people. There seemed to be a very large turn out, making the show a little less likeable than some previous years due to the cramped conditions and seething throngs. This was a clear sign that the 5 or 6 years growth the motorcycle industry has seen, has brought in many new buyers.
We were checking out the new Ducati Monster S4, when a 'mature' woman came by and start to talk about the Monster she had just bought. She didn't look to me like the type of person that would be seen dead near a motorcycle a mere decade ago, but now the 'sport' has been infused with much new blood. This is a good thing. The Monster S4 looked a hoot, that 916 derived motor, the radiator and the beefy chassis all come together to gently redefine what the Monster line is about. It should be a great bike, if a tad expensive.
The show had its far share of black leather clad Harley-Davidson enthusiasts. The H-D factory stand was replete with a multitude of bikes having names I have no clue about deciphering. I did note that the Deuce is still in the 2001 line up - another good thing.
Harley were not the only cruiser manufacturer present; Victory had a nice stand, with a couple of heavily customized models on show. Since last year, too many of these makers have gone under. I suppose there is only so many people that can afford a $25,000 bike, one that is used only a handful of days a year.
The Blue Corner. Suzuki were not trying too hard to show off the new GSX-R's, but there was a heaving crowd that wanted to see whatever was on show. I heard a tiny tidbit here: the show bikes are crushed at the end of the tour, there is just too much liability involved in selling a machine that has been pawed by a million people. The new 1000cc was on a plinth and unreachable, the 600 was on the ground and could be fingered. The 600 struck me as being a big-ish bike, made so by its family ties to the 750, though it does posses light bones.
Kawasaki had little new to show off, the main exception being a bike I like: the ZXR-1200 which this year is available in bad-boy-black and silver, as well as the familiar racing lime green. As big as this bike is, it has a lot to offer: it's cheap; it's more than fast enough for 55mph use; it has a real seat; and 1200cc of torquey stomp. And to make it even more appealing all the tuning goodies people have festooned the old ZZR-1100 with are compatible with this motor.
Honda was showing off the new Wing (Lead/Gold: what's the difference when something weighs this much and has a sticker price this high). I have to admit that I am sorely tempted to see if I can find a test ride on this beast - I am not getting any younger, and one day the 996 may not seem such a good tourer.
In the Red corner, the Italians were doing their own thing. The new Aprilia Mille-RS looked nice, though it has never had the drop-dead good looks of a 916. It now has a bit of a rework to clean up its profile and give it a few extra ponies. It still gets one thing from the 916/996, which is that it has a torture rack for a seat.
Ducati had many lovely 748's and 996's on the floor. I didn't see a 996S, the bike with the new "Testa Stretta" (narrow head) motor. However they did have the Monster S4 as mentioned at the top. Ducati is doing very well in the USA, sales have been good. It will be interesting to see if they can weather the economic uncertainties we now face with as much aplomb.
Triumph were showing off the new Bonneville, and a fancy little bike it is. I have seen many of the originals, and this is quite faithful in look to those bikes. The fit and finish seemed to be good, so it should be a pleasing bike to own.
BMW's were lined up with Teutonic precision. I had another fitting on the R1100RS, it is still a wonderfully styled bike, though I read that there seems to be more to its style than its substance. Front and center was the K1200LT. This is a behemoth of a Beemer it is, however, the bike that made Honda update the Wing. The LT is high style on a bike, it is well appointed with toys, it is also well equipped to hustle you and the significant other down almost any paved road in a plush, fine handling manner.
Just to prove I can spot a bargain amidst all the hyperbole, we managed to trip into the Royal Enfield stand. Here museum peices are being sold, factory fresh, to you the punter. I say YOU, as I am of too delicate a constitution to be able to ride one of these fire breathing monsters. 500cc's of unadulterated horsepower, straight from the 1930's. They do look the part - they are the part! And in this period, when we find Big K making the W650 retro twin, Triumph bringing back the Bonnie, here is Royal Enfield able to service your needs with no more than their current top of the line models.
This years show was notable for the large crowds, a notable lack of direction in any category - with the possible exception of sportbikes, and large dirt bike family that I generally avoid.
Rickey Gadson, the Kawasaki drag racer was on hand.
Chris Carr was present signing autographs.