New York City has been getting pounded by snow this winter. But it still didn’t stop motorcycle enthusiasts from showing up in droves for the annual Progressive International Motorcycle Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Final attendance numbers were huge, with 67,772 people checking out the three-day event according to Spin Communications Shelbi Okumura.
Motorcycle USA got a jump on the show when it traveled to New York City to attend the official press launch of Harley-Davidson’s newest Dark Custom, the 2011 Blackline, at Don Hill’s in SoHo Friday night. The Blackline is The Motor Company’s latest Softail and has the lowest seat height of any Harley at 24 inches. The signature rear fender of the new Softail is cut shorter and has been lowered. Harley also removed the fender strut cover and simplified the look with cosmetic forgings. The Blackline has new split-drag bars, a new top triple tree and speedo and the bars are very narrow. The after party was crazy fun and even Willie G. hung out at Don Hill’s into the wee hours. It was a perfect way to kick off the New York IMS. The Blackline would make its debut to the public Friday morning at the show.
It was a fun time at Don Hill’s in SoHo for the 2011 Blackline press launch the night before the New York IMS. The Blackline would make its debut the next day at the show. (B)
The venerable Willie G. painted the town red the night before the New York IMS.
We had barely put our heads down when it was time to get up to catch the opening of the New York IMS. Six inches of snow had blanketed the city overnight and the roads were slush on the cab ride to the convention center. During Media Day, each manufacturer has 15 minutes to talk about their new lineup of motorcycles and to discuss the company’s plans for the upcoming year. Besides Harley’s Blackline, several other motorcycles also made their debut at the show.
One was Ducati’s 2012 Monster 1100EVO. John Paolo Canton took the stage and talked passionately about the new Monster. The 1100EVO is the first air-cooled production Ducati to put out 100 hp and is the first Ducati the company is marketing with what it calls the Safety Pack which includes Ducati’s Traction Control and anti-lock brakes. Ducati did it up in style with thumping techno music and a high-energy fashion show featuring the latest Ducati apparel. Its espresso stand was also a big hit with bleary-eyed journalists in need of a shot of jump-starting caffeine.
Victory Motorcycles also introduced a 2012 model at the show, the Victory High-Ball. The throw-back styling of the High-Ball is new territory for the American cruiser manufacturer. The motorcycle features high-rise handlebars that are two-way adjustable, a chopped front fender, small, chunky spoked-down wheels with whitewalls and the bike’s frame, fenders, and most of its components are blacked-out. Victory’s Director of Design, Greg Brew, was stoked about the project because for them working on the High-Ball “is more like doing your own bike.”
Custom builder Roland Sands was also on hand at the Victory display and talked about how Victory is a great canvas for customization. Sands looked to hot rod culture for his version of the High-Ball he customized called “Ol Vic” and wanted to “keep it clean, keep it simple” so he converted it to a suicide shift, ran an internal throttle, and simpliflied the front of the bike. He added a handful of stainless steel pieces to it and powdercoated the wheels in a color called “camel.” “Ol Vic’s” tank, fenders, and side panels are all stock. The High-Ball Sands tricked-out is his fourth project with the company.
Royal Enfield, with claims to the oldest motorcycle manufacturer around, introduced two new 2011 models, the 500 Classic Chrome and the 500 Black Bullet. True to its name, the 500 Classic Chrome is a beautiful bike with its highly polished chrome fenders, oil and fuel tanks, engine covers, exhaust and headlight nacelle. A sprung seat and a kick-starting single-cylinder engine add to its classic character. Royal Enfield CEO Dr. Vinki Padmanabhan talked about the romantic qualities of the oldest motorcycle company in the world. In India, there is a nine month wait for a hand-built Royal Enfield from the date a buyer plunks down their down payment. Dr. Vinki also discussed the company’s big plans for the future, including the release of a Café Racer in 2012. Royal Enfield also intends to introduce a Parallel Vertical Twin in the 650-750cc range in a couple of years in addition to a diesel-powered motorcycle called the Himalayan Touring within the next three years.
Next up was a trip to the Honda display where American Honda’s Jon Siedel talked about the company’s excitement over its entry-level sportbike, the 2011 CBR250R and the release of the 2011 CB1000R to the American market. Honda also had the three custom motorcycles based on the VT1300 series on hand and we got a chance to go over some of the features of the 2010 Sabre “Switchblade” with its designer, Edward Birtulescu. He gave the custom Sabre a Pro Drag makeover, converting the back end to a sportbike-style tail section with a single-sided swingarm and swapping out the shaft drive for chain. Three-way adjustable Ohlins suspension, race-spec Brembo brakes and lots of carbon fiber trim complete the conversion. Birtulescu said he did receive some grief from co-workers about placing the suspension dials in the cut-out located in the middle of the seat but says he has ridden it and guaranteed us it doesn’t damage the family jewels. Honda also had Cobra Engineering’s RS750 Scrambler and Tracker on hand to further demonstrate the company’s potential for customization.
The mood at the Yamaha display was upbeat as the company revealed that motorcycle sales were up a bit in the U.S. in December in comparison to the same time last year, the first time they’ve been up in the U.S. market for quite a while. UFC fighter Diego Sanchez looked ready to rumble as he was super-pumped to receive his custom 2011 Star Stryker customized by Chris Hagest and the crew at Low and Mean. The bike fit the personality of a man who pummels people for a living, with Low
and Mean’s Reaper Front Fender, lowering spring, and performance air intake. Sanchez, who was the winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality series and competes in MMA as a welterweight, later signed autographs at the Star Motorcycle Display. Yamaha unveiled another killer custom too, a YZF-R1 built by VooDoo Industries Rob Ueker for Rap artist T.I. and his A.K.O.O. clothing line.
Our visit to the BMW display was highlighted by the introduction of the company’s new inline-six sport tourer, the 2011 K1600GT. BMW talked about the challenges of mounting the inline-six in the bike and emphasized that at 226 pounds it is “the lightest and most compact six-cylinder engine in serial motorcycle production.” We’re looking forward to riding the K1600GT in South Africa at the end of February, so be on the lookout for a full first ride report around the first of March. We also got a chance to check out the Concept C Scooter, the first production scooter for the Bavarian marque. In person, the Concept C’s combination of high technology and aggressive BMW styling make it a scooter I wouldn’t mind being seen on. BMW Motorrad’s Vice President, Pieter de Waal, said “Our main idea was to find a good combination between the particular features of a scooter, which is agility and handling, with the particular features of a motorcycle which is stability and of course, joy of riding.”
Triumph came with its most ambitious lineup of motorcycles in its 109-year history. Its adventure-touring bikes, Tiger 800 & 800XC, are poised to compete with BMW’s best-selling F800GS. We got a chance to preview the 2011 Thunderbird Storm, Triumph’s latest cruiser which we get a first ride on next week down in Phoenix, Arizona. The company also had its redesigned Speedmaster and America on display, two other bikes we hope to sample next week.
The AMA Roadracing paddock was well-represented at the New York IMS. Eric Bostrom was at the Kawasaki display talking about getting the opportunity to ride the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R this year. Bostrom is looking forward to riding the Team Cycle World Attack Performance Kawasaki ZX-10R next month in Daytona. Up-and-coming riding phenom J.D. Beach was also at the Kawasaki display and is equally excited to ride in his first Daytona 200 aboard a Ninja ZX-6R. The baby-faced Beach doesn’t even look old enough to own a license, yet the kid can ride the wheels off a sportbike and has the skills to hang with the big boys in March.
Another young, promising rider, AMA Supersport’s Elena Myers, was at the Suzuki Motorcycles display where she discussed her recent agreement to compete in the 2011 AMA Supersport championship aboard the GSX-R600. Myers will also spearhead a new social media project on facebook called Suzuki Scoop Fans. Suzuki is looking to boost its social media efforts and there’s no one better to represent those efforts than an inspiring teenage girl. Myers will select a fan’s comments from the Susuki Scoop Fans page and display them on the tank of her GSX-R600 on race day for inspiration. AMA Daytona Sportbike champion Martin Cardenas was also on hand to receive a commemorative award from Suzuki in appreciation of his winning the 2010 Daytona Sportbike Championship.
Being in the Big Apple, celebrities were bound to pop in for guest appearances. Paul Teutul, Jr. was scheduled to be there Friday but got snowed out. He made up for it by showing up on Saturday to meet-and-greet with fans. Ice T and CoCo were also in the house on Saturday. It was funny to see somebody who started out as a hard-core rapper snapping photos with middle-aged housewives who were smitten by the charismatic man they know from his role in NYPD. I’ll wager they’ve never listened to the songs from his days with his band Body Count.
All this running around was wearing us out, so it was cool to kick our feet up at a new feature called MotoFlix. Films like “Take it to the Limit” and “Route to Glory” were projected on numerous screens while you got to kick back on cushioned seats. I also watched a clip put together by the tourism board of West Virginia. The state reminds me a lot of our home state of Oregon – beautiful mountains and forests, lots of wild rivers and lakes and great rural roads to explore. MotoUSA publisher Tim Clark and his lovely wife Cindy got a chance to explore its country roads in our Victory Vision West Virgina Tour article. My buddy Len Hanger keeps inviting me out to come out to ride and do some whitewater rafting with him and one of these days I’m going to take him up on it.
(R) Royal Enfield CEO Dr. Vinki talks about the passion behind his company’s motorcycles. (C) The Triumph girls talk show off the 2011 Thunderbird Storm. (R) Cobra Engineering was on hand with its custom Honda RS750 Scrambler and Tracker.
The custom bikes in the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show were also a big draw, with big cash prizes up for grabs to the winner. The Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show has three class formats – Freestyle, Modified Harley or Performance Custom. Winners from each stop of the show will compete for the grand prize at the last stop in Daytona Beach during Bike Week for a chance to showcase their talents at the AMD World Championships in Sturgis. Spin Communications Shelbi Okumura came through for us big time by providing the following information about the New York IMS Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show.
Performance Custom – John Loughlin’s bike from FOH Cycle Fab won the Performance Custom class. This is the first time that a Street Fighter has taken the top position in this class. The bike has many unique features including a single-sided swingarm, carbon fiber tail and a front light intergrated into a 2001 Triumph 955i Speed Triple.
Modified Harley – Jason Bochniak took home the winning trophy in the Mod Harley class with Phoenix, a bike that won the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show a week earlier in DC. Bochniak is our first double winner. His sled contains blindingly bright chrome by Freedom Cycle and a hi-performance ProCharger that was fine-tuned with a Zipper’s Thunder Max and a D&D Boarzilla Performance Pipe. He went with super-sized Beach Bars that put you into a very comfortable riding position. The Headwinds billet lighting system supplies the illumination. The 2006 Harley Deluxe rocks it with 50-spoke Fat Daddy wheels with Avon gangster white walls.
Freestyle – George Stinsman of Chaos Cycle came to NY with his ”Lot Lizard” to compete in the Ultimate Builder. He had stiff competition with a 2010 AMD World Championship entry built by Joe Cooper of Cooper Smithing Co, which just missed the top spot by less than a handful of votes.
The start of the ”Lot Lizard” build began with an old Panhead that was raced back in the day by the father of George’s good friend Joey Serrano. STD cases and Harley head cases were the only thing original from his father’s engine that was used in the build. Heads were ported and polished. S&S Flywheel, S&S rods, Wiseco pistons, big bore cylinders, Manley Severe Duty Stainless Steel Valves and dual carbs were used in the update.
The idea was to build something long, low and lean that featured a pumped up 102ci engine. The frame is tight to the motor with fat welds for a tough look.
Freestyle Class Winners –
1. George Stinsman, Chaos Cycle – 2011 Chaos Cycle Lot Lizard
2. Joe Cooper, Cooper Smithing Co – 1999 Harley-Davidson
3. George Stinsman, Chaos Cycle – 2010 Chaos Cycle Coco
4. Roman Levin, FOH Custom Raptor –
5. Eric Schroeder, Tribal Iron Choppers – 2005 TIC
Performance Class Winners –
1. John Loughlin built by FOH Cycle Fab –2001 Triumph
2. Shawn Page, Coleman Powersport – 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa
3. Edgar Rumph – 2006 Suzuki Hayabusa
4. Mark Klein, DAM Motorcycles – 2007 DAM Tech Twin
5. George Fanelli MPS Racing – 2007 Honda CRF450
Modified Harley Class Winners –
1. Jason Bochniak, 2006 Harley-Davidson
2. Gary Edwards, 2007 Harley-Davidson Fatboy built by Tribal Iron Choppers in NJ
3. Jesse Ramose, 1994 Harley-Davidson built by Tribal Iron Choppers in NJ
That wraps up our NY IMS coverage. If you’re looking for a great place to see all of the latest motorcycles from all the manufacturers under one roof, the Progressive International Motorcycle Show is it. Catch it in Cleveland, Ohio next at the I-X Center from Friday, Jan.28 to Sunday, Jan. 30.