For decades now the International Motorcycle Shows have toured America (and sometimes Canada) giving riders a chance to see, sit on, and sometimes even ride the latest bikes, before they hit their local dealers. For riders in Long Beach, CA it is nice to see all the new bikes in one place, but not particularly special, since it is 70 degrees and sunny outside and most ride to the show. But when the show stops in New York City, Chicago, or Minneapolis it is always a treat, because if there isn’t snow yet, at the very least it is too cold to ride. For most of the country these shows are a welcome break from a rideless winter.
- Dallas, TX – 1/4-1/6/2019
- Cleveland, OH – 1/25-1/27/2019
- Minneapolis, MN – 2/1-2/4/2019
- Washington DC – 2/08-2/10/2019
- Chicago, IL – 2/15-2/17/2019
Our digital online content editor, Bryan Wood, skipped coming to the office on the Friday before Thanksgiving and took a look at the newest bikes at the Southern California stop. While there were plenty of big heavy cruisers, and the latest laser focused sport bikes, the trend seems to be toward less intimidating power delivery, and bikes that mere mortals can get the most of. Small bore (sub-500cc) bikes of every type seem to be increasingly popular, as are retro bikes that nevertheless perform with 21st-century spec sheets.
The big reveal at the L.A. show was the new Suzuki 1000cc Katana –
The new big bore Katana has the motor from the GSX-R1000, most likely with the tuned for midrange power delivery used in the GSR 1000 naked bike, but still more than 150hp and plenty of torque. What really puts the new Kat ahead of the curve though is its retro style, firmly rooted in the 1980s superbike and not the 1970s or 1960s like Honda, Kawasaki, Triumph or Ducati. Among the now middle aged Gen X riders, and the those younger, this may prove to be a real winner. It helps that the chassis and brakes have not been dumbed down, and the seating position is friendlier than on the hard-core sport bike.
Over on the Kawasaki stand, there was a new naked version of the Ninja 400, the Z400, which joins the Z650 and Z900 in their naked but sporty street bike line. And the surprise of the show, which was the new air-cooled retro parallel twin W800 cafe, a minor update of the W800 which never came to America. Of course the Z900RS retro version of the Z900 naked was there, but that was to be expected.Honda has a new, more retro version of their CB650 naked bike as well, with a stainless four into one exhaust header which is very similar to the one seen on the classic bikes from the 1970s, like the CB400F and CB550F. They also added to their tiddler class, with a new mini Monkey 125 based on the popular Grom, and a reintroduction of the Cub, the most popular motorized vehicle in the history of the world. Our friend Ari Henning was on hand to roll out the Monkey and talk about his epic trip retracing the Baja 1000 course on one.Over at Triumph the bike everyone was talking about was the new Scrambler XC and its more off-road focused Scrambler XE variation. Both feature an air/oil-cooled twin, but the XE has a 21-inch front wheel and genuine Ohlins shocks, plus real dirt tires. If you are on the fence straddling ADV touring and riding a retro cafe racer style bike, Triumph may have just the bikes for you.
If the IMS is scheduled to be in a city near you, you should definitely go. Besides these new bikes, and the dozens of other recently introduced models, there are also demo rides, custom bikes, vintage bikes, gear, and more. What other bike related activities are you going to be doing in winter, in Chicago or Minneapolis? Maybe ice racing?