Walter takes in the View from his motorcycle
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Motorcycle Shows - See Motorcycles Up Close in a Show Setting

As motorcyclists we are doomed to ride as often as we can and when we can't ride because of the winter season, we put our motorcycles away and dream of a new bike for the spring. Well, the various motorcycle shows are well aware of this phenomenon and try everything they can think of to attract us to their winter motorcycle shows across the country and elsewhere in the world.

The Cycle World International Motorcycle Show is probably the biggest motorcycle show. It's traveling to many cities this winter to show off motorcycles you'll want to see.

A few years ago, my wife and I decided to attend the New York motorcycle show held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. We drove up the New Jersey Turnpike to Weehawken near the Lincoln Tunnel. There we took the ferry across to a dock just a few blocks away from the Convention Center. Usually we have to stand in a long line waiting to get in at 10 a.m. This time we took advantage of a special offer whereby you buy the ferry ticket and the admission ticket to the show before you board the ferry. This was a very good deal and saved us a lot of waiting.

The show is getting bigger every year. BMW had the coveted location just inside the entrance to the show. Visitors saw BMW when they entered and when they left. Now I don't know if this location had anything to do with how busy they were but their reps were talking with visitors constantly (I even came back several times during my stay there and the traffic was still heavy). They had numerous reps everywhere demonstrating each bike. Their touring bikes got a lot of attention.

Whenever I walked over to the Honda exhibit and went to the area where the Gold Wings were displayed, there was hardly anyone there. You could immediately get on a bike where at BMW you had to stand in line. The Gold Wing design had not changed much in the last 10 years. This was its 25th year of production. (Note: Since then, Honda has introduced its 1800 Gold Wing, thereby making the Wing competitive again.)

Biker Billy was there with his cooking show. He was traveling with the motorcycle show and also promoting his book, Freeway-a-Fire Cookbook: Life's Too Short to Eat Dull Food. You could hear Billy all over the show when he started making some of his famous dishes that always include hot peppers.

The Indian Motorcycle Company was there with a large display of motorcycles. These bikes were a little hard to find at dealer locations but they had seven or eight at the show. They were nice to look at. I sat on one and couldn't get over how wide the handlebars were and how massive the headlight looked from the saddle. They used S&S engines and it sure looked like it would be a major problem getting to the wheels and tires with those massive fenderskirts. (Note: Since then, Indian has gone out of business. Read my article, Indian Motorcycles, for the history of Indian.)

I saw a mix of people at the show. There were a lot of families there pushing babies around in strollers. I saw one woman with her two kids, a young boy about eight and a girl no more than four years old. She took the little girl and sat her down on the seat of an 80cc Yamaha -- the wave of the future.

There were also a lot of women riders at the show. There were the usual group of men getting on the front and the wife getting on in the pillion position. But there were many women getting on the bikes as riders and talking to the reps about features and financing. They are becoming the biggest growing segment in motorcycling.

The Harley-Davidson display area was filled with people but the contrast between the traditional style of H-D and the cutting-edge designs of almost everyone else was pretty apparent. I saw quite a few people wearing H-D jackets but sitting on Yamahas and BMWs. Some were even remarking at the differences.

The nice thing about going to these shows is that you get to compare the various machines in the same place. No, you usually can't take them out for a test ride but you can get a feel for the differences among the various bikes. It's easy to get fixed on one brand and not want to look at anything else. I know. I've always owned Hondas but I try to see the differences among the brands. That's what the show does.

When we were heading out of the show, we trailed behind a group of young men who were all heatedly discussing the various bikes they had seen at the show. Many had now made up their minds about the next bike they were going to get in the spring. The show seemed to have helped them make a decision.

How about you? Did you attend a motorcycle show this year? Will you be going to one of the remaining shows? If you haven't decided yet, take my advice and go. Maybe you'll find that bike you've just been dreaming about.

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