~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

At The Cycle World Show

The Cycle World show was good, not great. It still doesn't meet the all time standard for great bike shows that was set by the San Diego Antique Motorcycle Club with their "Del Mar Concours" back in the early and mid-90s: Great customs, classics, vintage bikes, swap meet, Sat. night vintage flat track races, Sunday mile track races, and tons of famous racers from the past. Now THAT was a bike show.

The CW show had lots of exotic Italian bikes in evidence, and by exotic I don't mean Ducati. Ducati is nice but are like belly buttons, everybody has one. Ducati does win the award though for having "Booth Babes Most Likely To Get A Husband Elbowed In The Ribs." Yowzer! Sorry, no pictures; Wife has sharp elbows. The Duc stuff was nice though, especially the SR decked out Monster, but where was the Desmosedici RR??

Someone old enough to know better wrestles with MV moto-lust

I hope he gave in!
Outside there was a large area with plenty of demo bikes from KTM, Victory, Kawasaki, Can Am, and others. It would have been easy to spend the whole day just riding demo bikes, didn't even seem like there was much of a wait as the show appears to be poorly attended again.

KTM seems to do things very well these days and with a style that is their own and not borrowed from anyone else. The KTM Super Duke looks edgy and brutal, like some evil device you would like to own in order to frighten other people. I was going to take a photo of the bike but the lighting was so poor I didn't bother. The bigger mistake on my part was not going back today for a test ride to see how it compares to the Aprilia Tuono I rode last year.

The new Victory Vision touring bike was much in evidence and just as bizarre in person as in the pictures. I still think the thing looks like the accidental love child of a weekend fling between a Harley-Davidson and a BMW 1200LT. It's one of those bikes that is more impressive and better looking with the bodywork off than on. And even at that, the appearance of the aluminum castings is not a nice as what's seen on the Italian bikes like the Benelli.

I spent a few minutes talking to Dennis Manning whose Bonneville bike set the land speed record for motorcycles last year at 350 mph with Chris Carr at the controls.

Manning is an interesting fellow, very successful outside of racing too, and with plenty thoughts on what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of that sport. I asked him "Ergonomics notwithstanding [Manning is a big guy], do you regret not being able to run the bike yourself instead of having Chris Carr do the job?" His reply, paraphrased here was an emphatic "No! The goal was to set the record. To do that you have to use the very best of everything or you compromise the effort."

He pointed to the Manning, Riley & Rivera LSR bike from 1970 and said he ran it a few times himself and when the team decided Cal Rayborn was a better choice as a rider, he had to agree and the results showed it.

In 1970 going 200+ mph was a little less complicated than 350 mpg in 2006

If you've seen the movie "On Any Sunday" you've seen this bike.
If you have not seen the movie, shame on you.

For you young whippersnappers, Cal Rayborn was was of the best dirt and pavement racers of the 60s and early '70s.

You can click on the image to read the sign text.

Manning's '70s orange stripped LSR bike ran a record 265mph with Rayborn at the controls and if the goal is to set motorcycle land speed record, Manning told me " 'Something old, something new,...' isn't how you get it done." Apparently that lesson stuck and 36 years later Chris Carr was the best to get the job done and it worked again to the tune of 350+ mph. I asked Manning if they were going to run the bike again and he said they'd done parachute tests this past summer. "Going to shoot for 400mph?" I asked. He replied with an uncontrolled smile "Well, we were the first bike to 350mph so why not?"

I'd be happy to drive it but I out weigh Chris Carr by about 100lbs.
There may be other reasons I'll not get the job.

Joe Petrali's 1937 speed record bike stands next to the BUB 7.
60 years and 200 mph+ is the difference between them.

I didn't see any great deals on accessories or goodies this year as there were last year or maybe I didn't look close enough at the booths selling chrome lightning bolt jewelry or magic mending tape or overpriced home sites in vineyard country. I did wind up buying a new pair of Lee Parks deerskin riding gloves ($80) to replace my old ones that I bought from Thurlow Leather works in Sandy Eggo when I was over there for the now defunct Del Mar Concours. I paid $65 for the Thurlow's and they lasted about 10 years so I guess that's not too bad a return on the $. I heard that Thurlow is out of business now and I know the website is gone. Too bad, Mr. Thurlow's stuff was the best, somewhat better than what I bought yesterday if thickness of the hide and placement of seams is any indication. If I'd have taken better care of the the Thurlow gloves they might have lasted another 10 years. We'll see if Lee Parks' stuff is as good as what the gumpy old biker guy used to make. I do hope so because a nice pair of deerskin riding gloves is wonderful thing to wear.

The number of vendors seemed to be way down and the people staffing the displays seemed mostly uninterested or perhaps just discouraged by the low attendance. If the show comes back next year the promoters will need to do something to juice it up a good bit or the turn out will be even worse and then that will be that for mainstream motorcycle shows in Arizona. Hard to believe that in a metro area the size of Phoenix that a something besides a RUB Harley show cannot be successful. I blame promoters who don't know really understand motorcycling and a local motorcycle community that is too shallow in their love of motorcycling.

4:30 on Saturday and the park lot is nearly empty

The AMA had a big, empty booth there with a few people standing around hoping to add to the membership. The layout and organization of their displays and vintage bikes was such that it did little to draw people in to sign up. Buying an AMA membership is about as inviting as buying term life insurance and the long, imposing AMA display with little in front of it to entice people closer wasn't much more inviting that your typical insurance office.

Mind you, I belong to the AMA because they are all we have worth anything at all in that might be able to keep the freedom grabbers Washington, DC at bay a little longer. That's not a comment on one political party or the other, either. Democrats and Republicans both, in their lust for power and control, will happily ride roughshod over on road motorcyclist's and off-road user's rights. Question for the AMA: How many politicians do we have on our pocket compared to the number in the earth friendly hemp hiking shorts pockets of the Sierra Club? Stop playing nice or you're going to lose. Nice guys finish last, remember?

Some wonderful vintage motocross bikes showed up courtesy of the local racers.

Note to Cycle World: Connect more with the local people for ride-in bike shows and maybe even a bike swap meet ("horrors...how tacky!! They would never do that at Pebble Beach!") . Making it more of a motorcycle event than a sterile bike show might not seem as slick and urbane as press folks dream of the show being but having an empty parking lot and empty booths doesn't seem all that sophisticated either. And oh yeah, at this point in the history of motorcycling, the stunt show out the back door was trite and largely ignored as far as I could tell. Some guy doing big air tricks on a pit bike was not that impressive, it looked more like a filming location for a YouTube.com crash video. You'd have been better off with a good indoor trials bike demo or someone with a top fuel drag bike doing huge, smokey burn-outs, or both. Better: Give Dennis Manning and extra $5,000 to start his LSR streamliner once a day. That should wake up a few people.

Another note to the AMA: Match up the Super Moto series with the Cycle World shows. Goodness knows there's enough empty parking lot space to handle the track and extra spectators and maybe both events will begin to get the spectator draw they should be getting.

There, now that I've groused a bit, let me say that the show was great fun if you most anything with two wheels and an engine. The cool stuff was there but not in great depth. If you're single minded about one particular aspect of motorcycling you were probably disappointed in the show. Your loss.

One of the bikes hard to ignore was the "Revelation." Take a Mazda RX-7 rotary engine, mate it to a BMW transmission and final drive, chop the exhausts short, and the stand back! You have something that is a bit crude but surely must sound like the Apocalypse itself coming down the highway.

The wisdom of building a 250hp rotary engined street bike might be subject to question
and riding the beast (no pun intended) might bring you closer to God sooner than you expected so it's best to be prepared. The builder of the "Revelation" seems to have figured out that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

One hand on the throttle hurtles you down the road and closer to Heaven and your Maker, or at least the undertaker, while your right boot feels the fires of Hell. Kudos to the builder for a clever change from skulls and other worn out, negative images and without going to the milquetoast religious piety of saintly faces with glowing hubcaps behind them.

So there was a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything at the show. However, anyone who truly loves motorcycles (like me) could easily find much to love and drool upon. The level of craftsmanship in the customs, the race bikes, and the one off specials like Roland Sands' KR MotoGP engined tracker was striking.

One of the last street bikes to come out of the old MV Agusta factory.
The new MV Agustas are a work of art but this older generation was blessed by Count Agusta himself.

The current generation of Bimota Tesi.
Old Harley guys and old Triumph guys know what a "Turnip Eater" is and maybe this bike in particular:

And finally, old motocross racers know that the first thing a Husqvarna rider bought for his new motocross bike was a "goodie guard" unless he wanted to race in the "powder puff class" next time out. Yes, they actually made little padded leather covers and sold them under that product name "Goodie Guard."

Those Swedish engineers must have been some tough hombres
to design a bike like that.

If you know bikes you could meet a few famous people, see some very rare vintage bikes, and test ride all kinds of fun machines from the new Can Am Spyder to the KTM Super Duke. How can anyone say that's not worth $12.00? Not me. It could have been a better show if the organizers and Cycle World loosen up a little and remember that motorcycling is about excitement and find a way to build real excitement, not the contrived excitement of stunt shows, into the event. Still it was a fine time and a day well spent. I recommend you go when the show hits your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"The Cycle World Show" Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ October 26-28, 2007

As noted in the logo above, the Cycle World Show (insert long official name if you wish) is coming to Phoenix again this year and that time is just about three weeks away. I went last year and had a blast test riding the new Gold Wing, the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000, and the Aprilia Tuono. Let's just say that the each of the demo rides was run in the finest tradition of each company. The Honda ride was spit and polish and well under control, the Kawasaki guys were a little more relaxed, and the Aprilia guy told us in some indeterminate but not Italian accent "No wheelies, no stoppies, no burnouts. If you get arrested just leave the bike by the side of the road and we'll pick it up." And off we went. The wife delighted in the Gold Wing ride, hated the big Kaw v-twin, and opted not to ride along on the Tuono when she saw the gleam in my eye.

Some local riders thought the show sucked last year. They were wrong. The show was great if you love motorcycles and motorcycle people. This is Phoenix, not Europe and the Intermot Show or Tokyo and the big extravaganza there. You local guys quit your whining and show up so the show will grow and get better each year, otherwise it will get worse each year until it doesn't come back and then all we're left with is the annual "R.U.B. Billet Barge, Pose and Polish Show" up in "Snottsdale."

Hey, last year I got to ride bikes for free, got two or three free t-shirts, yakked with assorted motorcycle people, and saw the then recently triumphant BUB streamliner fresh from setting the motorcycle land speed record at Bonneville (354.832 mph). Dennis Manning, the BUB owner, sat there with his magnificent moto-creation and answered all the dumb questions one could ask.
I have to tell you, that was worth the price of admission just to see the bike, never mind get to talk to the guy who dreamed it up. I understand the bike will be there again this year. I'd go to the show just to once again see the fastest motorcycle in the world.

Tickets to the show can be bought on-line thereby saving you $3.00. The show website is here.

I'm taking Friday off work to beat the crowds and spend less time waiting to ride interesting motorcycles I have no intention of buying. Should be a grand time!

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