A friend and I performed our late January ritual of attending the Cleveland Motorcycle Show yesterday. It's usually interesting, though show quality varies from year to year, this year was pretty good. Many motorcycles written about on The Kneeslider were there so we had the chance to see them close up.
The new Victory Vision touring bikes were there and my impression was the styling did not look as different or radical as photos make them out to be. They are very comfortable to sit on and the low seat height is noticeable. The rear trunk on the touring model, surprisingly, did not look large enough to fit 2 full face helmets though you could probably get two open face helmets in there if you were careful. Since two up long distance riding would be the norm on this model, it's something to think about. Overall quality of the Victory models on display looked really good and recently J.D. Powers found Victory owners extremely satisfied with their bikes. If Victory keeps this up, they could be a real contender in many market segments. Now if they would just put that engine in some sporty street bike, Buell would have their hands full.
The Piaggio MP3 was on display and after all of the photos we've seen, it looks quite normal. The local dealer rep said they were accepting deposits for March deliveries at $6999 for the 250cc model. He stated the 400 would not be available for another year or two, though he may have been speaking beyond his actual knowledge there and just guessing. But the MP3 seems to be on the way soon so time will tell how much demand we really have in this country for the tilting scooter.
The Ural display was the usual cross section of the two wheel drive sidecar rigs and they look interesting. They have a video of the bike in action in some rough terrain showing how well it handled the off roading, but something became very apparent after my friend pointed it out to me. Whenever there is some real turning involved, the rider manages to lift one wheel, which makes perfect sense when you realize there is no differential on these bikes. Unless the terrain allows slippage of one wheel, turning could be tough. So anytime you come up to a dry patch of road with good traction you'll have to make sure the 2 wheel drive is disengaged. Maybe some Ural owners could jump in here and add their comments.
Steve Carpenter's Honda CB750 cafe racer was on display and it looks really good up close. I would have no problem tooling around on that bike for a while. It's neat. It was displayed next to a Moto Guzzi given the cafe racer treatment though not quite as completely as the Honda. Nice bikes.
Matt Hotch was there with several of his bikes including the V-Lux and the Vinnie. Really good looking, especially the Vinnie. That front wheel is a 26 incher! Where do you get tires for that? Matt Hotch's semi trailer was set up right next to the display where they were selling t shirts and other items and it was staffed by a couple of fellows, one of which was Matt Hotch. Cool.
There were a number of nice vintage displays with early bikes grouped together like Hodakas, Husqvarnas and Hondas or early road bikes of various sorts.
Suzuki really focuses their display on the Boulevard line. They have some nice customs set up, one custom M109R, a Cobra/Sammy Hagar version, looked interesting. The M109R does seem like it could be a pretty nice bike with a lot of custom possibilities.
Conspicuous by their absence was Triumph. They opted out of the show entirely. Not a Triumph in sight anywhere.
The show was very well attended, we always get there early because by noon, the parking lot is packed and it's a really big lot. If you get a chance to see the show in your area, it's worth the trip. The bikes and displays vary a bit from show to show, local bikes and vendors are always on hand but it is a great way to see everything in one place. Check the schedule to see if you still have a chance go.