Two years ago I was fortunate to have Editor 'Arris at Canada Moto Guide set me up with a media pass for the inaugural AIMExpo. I was down on business and could take in the show, so Rob sent me on a mission to scope it out, and report back.
Once you are on the media list, they keep adding you year after year, so with the quick reply to an email, viola I was in again.
The show is held at the massive facility known as the Orange County Convention Centre. It's huge. Unlike the first year when only Suzuki and Yamaha showed up, this year a few more decided to tag along. Honda, BMW, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Kawasaki. It would have been nice to see more Euro brands there. Especially Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Aprilla, MV Agusta, and Vespa since there was a booth from the Italian Trade Agency.
One of the benefits of having a media pass is that marketing folks tend to gravitate towards you and are more likely to spend time just chatting. Everyone I talked said the same thing......the dealer part of the show was quiet. The first two days are restricted to just industry insiders, manufacturers, dealers, media, etc. It's closed to Joe Public. This is a chance for the manufacturers to peddle their wares to the dealers. However not many dealers are showing up anymore. Most think it's the economy, and how online superstores are killing the apparel and accessory business for the dealer.
Unfortunately most dealers are too small to stock everything, so if they have to order something you, why not just do it yourself online, and get it faster.
I hit the Yamaha booth first, and I was excited to see the 60th anniversary editions. Love the retro paint, especially on the Super Tenere.
Ever wonder what the inside of an R1 looked like
New concept dirt tracker
New competition in the woods for KTM
Some not so new competition for KTM in the woods.
Honda was next up, and I won't tell you my disappointment of the absence of the new Africa Twin. I mean the big news was the new CBR500R's cosmetic changes. I didn't even get a picture I was so bummed.
However if you have a spare $184,000 in your pocket for a 101hp restricted super bike, you can this.
Personally I think my next Honda is going to be a trials bike. I love this, and it's available in Canada.
I did however get a really cool demonstration of how DCT (direct clutch transmission)works. It's Honda's no shift, no clutch lever bikes. It will be an option on the Africa Twin, and is available as an option on the NC700 series in the US.
Unlike what most people think, it's not at all like a scooter transmission. It shifts for you, or you can do the shifting, like paddle shifting in a car. For urban dwellers facing a lot of traffic everyday or those of us with arthritic hands it would be a nice option to have. I was impressed on how it worked.
Walking around the massive hall of the show, I was struck by how much the adventure bike market has grown and took over. Cruisers and choppers were almost nowhere to be seen, fully loaded ADV bikes, showing off the latest gadgets, luggage, helmets and riding apparel were everywhere.
Even in the parking lot, there were more ADV bikes than Harley's and that is a rare thing.
There was a custom bike show, with a couple of choppers, like this useless to ride thing
However most were very cool scramblers like these.
More to come later from the show.