|The NYC Bike Show 2007|
The New York City International Motorcycle Show, January 19th-21st 2007
Of Speed Holders and Champions
On a brisk, sunny morning with snow on the ground, we head for the ferry, and the Bike show. The wind makes us realise this really is winter as it blows hard and chills to the bone, very quickly. This year I am heading in with two fellow motorcyclists, my wife having to go elsewhere. Dave and Pete would just have to put up with me snapping away. We had decided on an early start, and walked into the halls just after opening time a little after 9am. There were no lines, and the crowds were initially quite small, but it was not to stay that way for long.
The show this year followed some of the trends of recent years, namely lots more lower slung and raked out choppers, sportier sport bikes, and masses of scooters. There was clearly a large contingent of vendors selling everything from jewelry and questionable underwear, to helmets and leathers, to performance parts and motorcycle bling. Most of the manufacturers were there, with the exception of Triumph, and we even saw representations from a couple of new Asian vendors, in particular a low key display by Hyosung - the leading edge of a Korean and Chinese tsunami of motorcycle imports.
The year has been good for the record books, Chris Carr blasted into them at 350.884 mph on a streamliner, and Rosey Lackey went there on a stock MV Agusta. Both men were in attendance, and two nicer humble individuals you could not hope to meet. I am sure that with helmets on they are eagle eyed and steely professionals, but in the cavernous halls of the Javitts Center, both with eminently approachable and talkative. Both men will be back to Bonneville later this year with the aim of going faster, I wish them the best of luck.
I asked Chris Carr about how he coped with the sun at the Bonneville Salt flats, as I could barely look at anything when I visited the Salt flats a number of years back. He said just wear long sleeved everything, lather in sun screen, and be careful.
Also at the show was one of the great characters of British motorcycling history, Peter Williams. In the early 1970's he rode the iconic John Player Nortons, that he himself designed. The bike at the show, designed and ridden by him was a monocoque chassis Norton F750 racer. Peter subsequently had a racing accident that deprived us of further racing action, but he stayed within the motorcycle industry. I had the good fortune to pick his Kawasaki dealership in Southhampton, England, way back in the early 1980's, for a repair job on one of my bikes.
The most eye opening custom cruisers at this years show were even lower and longer than before. It has to be wondered what these things actually ride like. Several were hardtails, but also hydraulic systems are being introduced more regularly to allow the bikes to site lower to the ground, or even on it, when at a stop, and then be raised to a more realistic height for running.
In addition to the length, the most extreme customs are also now using the most bloated of rear tyres. Typically, unless you are a wimpy builder you have to be putting in a 300 section tyre. If the long forks, questionable geometery, and strung out seating positions don't add up to hairy handling, these tyres really put the icing on the wobbly cake!
With that said, I am well tempted to try one of these creations, they are gorgeous bikes to look at, and I guess in the right circumstances could provide one with lots of company.
I noted one odd feature of the Custom world; a continuing fascination for Late Indian Larry. Tee-shirts were everywhere, along with other momentos. In a fairly short period this guy built a large cult following.
In the Red Corner
The Italians have always loved the style they bring to the table, and this year just like pretty much every previous year they have tugged at our heart strings and laid on the form and function trowel really well. In the Ducati corner, the new 1098 sport bike looked sylphlike, though with muscles tuned to 160bhp. There were three colour schemes on show, a simple red, and red and gray, and the stunning tricolor paint scheme. This latter scheme only available on the most expensive model though. Drat!
Also on show was the Desmosedici, a road going version of the V-4 MotoGP bike. While the 1098 is intended for the general public, the Desmosedici is strictly "for collectors only", and priced accordingly.
Ducati is also trying to spread the good word into other areas of the motorcycling market, and displayed outside their booth was the new for 2007 (probably an early 2008 model - what does that mean really?) Super Motard prototype. This bike is inspired by the Super Motard racers that are so popular in Europe and still raise the blood temperature here. Super Motards are designed to go well on dirt and pavement, but mostly pavement, by the simple expedient of lots of power and little weight.
Not to be out-shone, MV Agusta, one of the more famous names in Motorcycling history, is on the process of making a major comeback to America. Efforts like Rosey Lackeys Production speed records, and the new Fast By Ferracci Superbike program, raise the awareness of MV Agusta, and put it well and truely on the map. This years show highlighted the recent F4 1000cc machines, and the newer Brutale, but also smacked us around the chops with possibly the most expensive "production" motorcycle you can buy - the F4CC - yours for a cool $120K. Now we know where some of those Wall Street bonuses will be going. This bike is essentially hand assembled, with most body work plastic parts replaced by carbon fiber. The CC stands for Claudio Castiglioni, the owner and founder of the Cagiva group. Making 200bhp, this should be enough competition for the Desmosedici - now that would be a race worth watching down at the local watering hole!
One little note about the photos. This year I dragged (drug??) the new Nikon digital camera along to the show. I got a little over-zealous with the speed rating of the sensor, sticking it at 3200ASA (equivalent). This meant that though I could take shots, hand held, in the show, even in quite difficult lighting situations, the snaps kind of came out a little on the grainy side. Messing with the settings in Photoshop Raw allowed me to hide some of the worst excesses of this, but in general don't take a really close look at these photos as they are a tad low quality.
©2007 A. Maclean
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