Motorcycle USA set off for San Mateo with a mission. It was time for the first International Motorcycle Show of the year and the majority of manufacturers were congregating
Most major manufacturers were on hand in San Mateo for the first International Motorcycle Show of the 2011-2012 season. Visitors to the show got to be some of the first people to get an up-close-and-personal view of the hottest 2012 motorcycles, like the revamped Ninja ZX-14R below.
inside the San Mateo Event Center to allow enthusiasts the first opportunity to see the 2012 line of motorcycles up close and personal, to try them on for size or take them out for a short demo ride. We also had to deliver the 2011 Honda Fury we’re providing as a giveaway bike as sponsors of the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show
, the Fury project a crash-course in customization with a three week deadline. We arrived to see rows of big rigs lined up waiting to unload as manufacturers erected displays inside, forklifts bustled about the place and The Smage Bros were busy setting up the props for their riding show outside. Despite the grey of the clouds hovering overhead, a buzz surrounded the grand opening of the IMS season.
The clouds were still hanging around when the doors opened Friday evening. This didn’t stop the brave riders of Supermoto USA from ripping off rounds on the slick asphalt course set up in the parking lot outside of the event center. Though conditions looked sketchy from our side of the fence, competitors jumped over wet wooden ramps, landing on rain-slicked pavement as they practiced for the weekend’s races. Supermoto USA wrapped its Nor-Cal Championship series at the San Mateo IMS with title sponsor Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca putting up a $3500 pro purse. Stockton’s Ryan Kearns would win the Unlimited Pro class to pocket the $750 prize money, beating out AMA Pro Road Racers Bobby Fong and Joey Pascarella.
While it was fun watching them slide around corners, we soon opted to get out of the rain. Heading inside we stepped right into the Dream Pavilion, a collection of coveted motorcycles, from Italian exotica to American muscle bikes. On one side of the display a middle-aged man reached for the bars of an AMG Edition Ducati Diavel
while checking out the stretch to the ground from the saddle. Next to him a young guy was busy ogling Brass Balls Bobbers’ Brawler GT3. Not far away, a father set his son down so he could climb aboard Erik Buell’s 1190RS
, then smiled as his wife took a picture of him sitting in a full tuck. Attendees were enjoying the interactive IMS experience, taking advantage of the ability to sit on bikes while dreaming about riding them.
Venturing into the main building, a dizzying array of larger-than-life displays awaited, logo bearing-banners flying the colors of the major manufacturers. Motorcycles spread out in every direction as video screens flashed high energy images and up-tempo music pulsed from hidden speakers creating sensory overload. From dirt to street, there was something for everyone, but of course a few motorcycles drew more attention than most. Triumph’s 2012 Tiger Explorer 1200
ranked as one of the top hot new bikes at the show. It’s a burly looking ride, especially the version we
Triumph's 2012 Tiger Explorer 1200 was one of the bikes creating the most buzz at the 2011 San Mateo IMS.
saw which had additional off-road crash protection, engine guards and extra halogens. It’s a big bike with a big engine and we can’t wait to whack the throttle on the 1215cc Inline Triple in the near future. In the Kawasaki camp, the 2012 ZX-14R
was the center of attention. Everybody’s curious to see how its revamped engine will translate in quarter-mile times, especially with the addition of its traction control system. We’ll soon find out as we’re headed to the press launch of Kawasaki’s vaunted hyperbike at the end of this month, so stay tuned for a first ride article in early December. The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR
constantly gathered a crowd as well as people formed opinions on its new 12-spoke wheels and more aggressive bodywork. On the cruiser side of things, we headed over to Star Motorcycles and asked representative Mark Womack what he thought would be the hot bike in the Star camp this year. He didn’t hesitate to direct us to the 2012 Star Raider SCL
, the factory custom version of the Raider. The bike’s Blazing Orange paint is attention-grabbing, and details like braided stainless steel cables and custom five-spoke wheels add to its custom-like quality. We’re big fans of its big pushrod-operated 1854cc V-Twin and love the power of this stylish cruiser, but a 2012 VMax decked out in Star accessories nearby is the true horsepower king in the Star camp.
The enthusiastic guys over at the Support Our Troops Foundation soon caught our attention. Don Winchester is on a mission to help out the men and women who dutifully serve our country. His organization strives “to provide care packages that may include, but are not limited to; clothing, food, toiletries, blankets, as well as ‘tokens of appreciation’ to troops coming home who are rehabilitating from injuries received during war and serving.” Stand up guys with big hearts, I dug a few bills out of my pocket to support the cause and encourage any who runs into Winchester to do the same because he says they will be at all 12 stops of the IMS and I trust he will make sure the money goes directly to supporting our troops.
Spent time talking to our friend Jim Guiffra and the AFT Customs girls at the show where we learned they are about to start cranking on their next project which they intend on taking out to the Salt, similar to what they did two years ago with their Honda bobber called Kemosabe. In the booth next to AFT we met Liz Jansen, a dynamic woman who has penned a book entitled Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment.
The book delves into the personal journeys women have embarked on as they became riders and active members of the motorcycling community and talks about how that experience transformed their lives. Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment
includes 50 stories “of adventure and self-discovery” from a cross-section of life. Jansen stated writing the book was a journey for her as well because she didn’t know the majority of the women featured in the book beforehand but was inspired tremendously by their stories.
AFT’s Guiffra recommended we check out the crew over at Clearwater Lights because their high powered LED motorcycle lights are quickly becoming a favorite of custom bike builders. In concept, Clearwater Lights are more efficient than halogens, will last longer, are compact, versatile, and have the added bonus of having an adjustable level of brightness. Not to mention they can be mounted almost anywhere on a motorcycle. Cool stuff from the guys over at
It wouldn't be a good motorcycle industry and trade show without at least a few interesting Urban Moto characters.
Clearwater Lights. Another product we ran across at the San Mateo show we thought was pretty cool too is Silicone Rescue Tape. Many of you are already familiar with Rescue Tape, especially if you were in the military where they call it F4 Tape. This stuff should be in everybody’s tool bag. It’s glue-less, multi-purpose repair tape that’s self-fusing, creates a permanent seal, is waterproof and airtight. They claim it resists fuels, oils, acids, solvents, salt water, road salt and UV rays. This stuff could come in handy for roadside repairs and takes up little space in a tool bag.
Being Motorcycle USA’s Cruiser Editor, I’m always glad to see the S&S Cycle booth at shows. S&S makes the best aftermarket V-Twin engines, from the technologically advanced, EPA-friendly X-Wedge series to Flathead Power replacement parts for Knuckles, Pans and Shovels. For over 50 years the company has worked hard to continue the high level of craftsmanship established by its founder, George Smith, Sr. After talking to S&S reps, we wandered over to Cardo Systems to check out the latest in motorcycle to-motorcycle communication systems. We’ve tested many Cardo products in the past and their systems have proven especially helpful for us when trying to communicate during photo and video shoots. Cardo claims its G4 system “breaks the one mile barrier” in bike-to-bike communication and allows for three-way conferencing between three separate motorcycles. It’s also a great way for a rider to communicate with their passenger and the G4 connects to GPS, mobile phones, MP3 players, and has a built-in FM radio.
The San Mateo IMS also allowed us to catch up with our friends from The Quail Motorcycle Gathering
. The Quail brings together hundreds of vintage motorcycle enthusiasts who gather for a wonderful 100-mile ride through Steinbeck country above Monterey, California, followed by lunch at Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew. A fabulous dinner follows that night, while a full concours and Bonhams’ auction takes place the next day. Motorcycle USA had a blast at this year’s Quail Gathering and are hoping to get back for the 4th annual gathering.
We rounded out our visit to the San Mateo IMS by taking in the Smage Bros Riding Show
. Phil and Pat can do amazing things on their Sherco trials motorcycles. Their riding show combines uncanny skill, showmanship and schoolboy prankism. Even though rain threw in a new level of difficulty and covered all of their ramps and apparatus with water, the boys from Elkhart bucked up and still threw down tricks to the delight of the crowd. Smage homeboy Troy Smalls did his part by laying down on wet pavement in his street clothes so his buddies could jump over him, threatening the future
If you're ever in San Mateo for an event, be sure to stop by our new favorite British pub, The Swingin' Door, for some tasty fish & chips and a cold pint.
generations of Smalls with stoppies dangerously close to his crotch. The Smages are riding a wave of popularity after their stint on America’s Got Talent and are traveling across the country with the IMS tour as the new trials riding ambassadors, and we highly recommend you catch their fun, high energy show if you plan on attending. The Smages were kind enough to grant us an interview while we were there, so keep an eye out for that article to post on Motorcycle USA in the near future.
As the clock struck nine on a Friday night and the doors were closing on the first day of the San Mateo IMS, we headed around the corner to our favorite local watering hole, The Swingin’ Door, where we scarfed on fish and chips and grabbed a cold pint at the British-style pub. Between the dueling piano bar upstairs and the karaoke singing going on downstairs, it was standing-room only in no time. As the night wore on, we drank more pints and talked about the bikes we saw, the old friends we met and the new ones we made all the time smiling with the knowledge that there are 11 more chances to repeat this scene as the IMS makes its way across the country.