International Motorcycle Show: Long Beach, CA

The parking lot began to fill up early at the Long Beach Convention Center as motorcycle enthusiasts of all kinds rode in to catch an early glimpse of what manufacturers are offering for 2010.

Among displays by the Japanese Big Four and Harley-Davidson were those of Ducati and BMW, which both were packed with fans eager to see their new models. BMW´s SS1000RR drew much attention, with convention-goers lining up to throw a leg over the new superbike. Equally crowded was Ducati´s all-new Multistrada 1200. People lining up to see BMW´s sportbike, and Ducati´s adventure-touring bike? The times they are a changin´´.

Rotary engined Norton. Nice looking bike, but suffering from development problems.

Further indication of the changing times came from the Bikes n´ Beats stage. Surrounded by entries in the custom-bike contest, the stage featured live hip-hop performances, dancers, and the 2 Wheel Tuner cover girl search. This area was sponsored by popular clothing line Tapout, who´s nearby VIP lounge never seemed to empty out.

While UFC fighters signed autographs, the nearby Women´s Boutique had a guest appearance of their own, in the form of professional road racer Melissa Paris.  Surprisingly engaging, Paris shared stories of how she entered road racing on a dare, as well as her efforts to raise money for breast cancer research with the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (www.firstgiving.com/melissaparis), and her aspirations for a top 20 finish in the 2010 Daytona 200.

The vendor area allowed the shopaholic a chance to find deals on any number of products, from track days to custom leathers to the latest obnoxious T-shirts. Children´s charity Toyride (www.toyride.org) was at the show again, with a raffle and giveaways.

A few short steps outside would allow fans to take in the Ducati Freestyle Stunt Show. With the convention center on three sides, the sound of V-twins roaring and tires howling echoed throughout the alcove.  As the brief show ended, the sound of motorcycle engines could still be heard coming from the demo ride area.

All manner of bike were on display, including this unusual sidecar

Rides were available from Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Star, Yamaha, Victory, and Can-am, which brought their 3-wheeled Spyder roadster. Also available for a demo ride was Campagna´s T-Rex 3-wheeler, for those who prefer a steering wheel as part of the experience.  Lines were longer than last year, giving a seat-of-the-pants feeling that the upturning economy might be reaching the motorcycle market. One of the longest lines was at the Victory trailer, who´s bikes start in the $14,000 range. If we aren’t buying big, at least Americans are dreaming big!

While in the demo ride area it never hurts to make another pass through the parking lot. Some of the best bikes to look at are actually out here, on the road. Everything from a worn out Katana to a pristine CB400SS to a Ural sidecar could be found outside. Bikes once owned, lust objects, rat bikes, and all manner of custom bike sit next to each other in a sea of steel and aluminum. I even came across a Ducati Monster 900 customized the exact way I had planned to  set up mine before I traded it (so much for thinking my individual taste was so unique).

With the weather getting gloomy and the temperatures dropping, the International Motorcycle Show by Cycle World is a great way to keep the fire alive. Even in ¨sunny¨ southern California, there are quite a few riders that either drastically reduce their riding, or park the bike altogether  for the winter months. Bench racing with friends, looking at a purchase for next year, or grabbing a good deal on some heated gloves are all good ways to spend an afternoon. For more information check out www.motorcycleshows.com.

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