I am wandering around the massive building that is the Orlando County Convention Centre taking in the first ever American International Motorcycle Expo.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by CMG editor Rob Harris to attend the show on their behalf since I was going to be in Orlando anyway for my annual pilot training. Since I am a wanna be moto journalist, videography/editor, I figured I'd channel my inner Peter Parker and write about the show. The writing part was my idea, Harris was basically using me to get media contact info so he can continue to build the CMG empire, and he never had to fork out any cash for hotels and airline tickets. I'll have to remind him........you get what you pay for.
I not only got a free pass to the show, but a media pass, which more or less said I worked for CMG, and I would be treated like moto journalism royalty. I also scored another media pass for my work partner John Harrigan, a fellow Vstrom rider. I actually think he was more excited about the show than I was.
The AIMExpo is a five day affair, the first three are closed to the public and only for the big wigs in the industry, dealers, media, etc, and the last two days are geared towards the consumer and opened to the public. I unfortunately never arrived in Orlando to take in the first three days and to really get the chance to flaunt my newly aquired media status, so I had a full day and half to mingle with the common people.
The show featured about 400 exhibitors. The big ones were Suzuki, Yamaha, EBR (Erik Buell Racing) and Kymco, and except for EBR, they offered free demo rides.
If I was a good reporter I would write about everything new at the show, but that would take pages, and let's be honest, I only really want to write about the stuff that I like. Yes it as all about me, just ask my wife or anyone that knows me. However I will say, it appears that the adventure riding market is growing very big, and most of the vendors catered to that segment of the market in one way or another. The Harley market and culture was almost non-existant.
Suzuki's big buzz was the release of the new VStrom 1000, a bike dear to my heart, and the new one looks really nice, well everything except for the beak, not a fan of the beak, looks too much like a Foghorn Leghorn beak. However it's not enough to stop me from buying one. The rest of the improvements more than make up for it.
New clutch, which hopefully means no more dreaded chudder. The seat is a new design, it is wider, and for the 3.5mins I sat on it, it felt good. The handlebars are swept back more, feels like my old strom with the bar risers. The new windshield is a all new design, and the one hand adjustment is awesome, no fiddling with knobs. Front and rear adjustable suspension. The front forks are beefy, so I'm guessing no more need for a fork brace. New ABS and traction control. The Adventure model comes with the luggage, crash bars and metal skidplate. Seems like Suzuki was listening. I am very eager to test ride it. I am guessing the price point in Canada will be in the $14-16K range.
Also they announced a new scooter, the Burgman 200, looks like the other Burgmans, but a little smaller. It would actually make a good scooter for my wife to upgrade to from her Aprilla.
Pricing had yet to be released from Suzuki.
Yamaha, had a huge Bolt display, with custom design models. They were rafflling off a signed Kenny Roberts edition. I have yet to ride one, but I do really like the Bolt. The Harley purests will rag on me, that it is a Sportster copy, but then again the Harley guys rag on the Sportster riders too, and just about everything else on two wheels.
If Yamaha released a version of this it would be hard not to buy one. That and the new Vstrom would look good in my garage.
Believe it or not, all custom Bolts.
What other manufacturers have a winch as an available option on their adv bike? For $600 Yamaha can add it to your Tenere.
One of the nice things about the show were the displays of vintage japanese bikes, brought back a lot of memories from my youth, or just reaffirmed how old I am getting. Most of these looked liked they did when they first rolled out on the showroom floor.
Around 4:30pm we decided to pull the plug and head back to the hotel. We had been awake since 4am to catch our 5:20am flight out of Saint John, so we were pretty knackered, and our beer low level lights were on. It was still 90 degrees outside, so it was time to hit the pool bar.
More about the show on the next update.