Saturday, January 7, 2012

Motorcycle Show

This weekend, we Detroit types got a look at the traveling motorcycle show that many of you may have already seen. I went along to throw my leg over things I don't usually see and to try on helmets and such.

Part of the fun is the old and custom bikes on display. My favorite was the Scott Flying Squirrel, an early water cooled motorcycle and just a really cool look.

The variety of bikes was much better than seen over the last few years. I got the chance to sit on a Buell Racing 1190RS Carbon, a Ducati Diavel, an MV Augusta F3, an Aprilia RSV4, a Moto Guzzi V7 cafe racer, and a Norton Commando 961 Sport. Naturally, I forgot my real camera and found myself fighting the limits of a cell phone camera in poor lighting conditions. The Buell is a very purposeful and pretty bike. Too bad the picture of the whole bike turned out blurry. Nice carbon fiber, though.

Those bikes may be more exotic than most, but of course, I didn't fit on any of them. Just like I don't fit on the vast majority of normal bikes at the show. I'm always disappointed that Honda never has any bike that is both interesting and a reasonable fit. Of course, I have leg room on many Harley's, but am not comfortable with the leg forward riding position of the Harley group.

I wanted the Triumph Thruxton to fit, because I think it's a very pretty bike, but no go. The air cooled Triumphs are interesting, however. They have a really minimal approach to what is in front of you. The handlebars are low and so are the headlights. It seems like the only thing in front of you is the speedo and I felt like I could see the ground in front at about a foot in front of my toes. It must be an interesting feeling when riding at speed.

In the end, there were only 4 bikes that fit and moved me. Not surprisingly, they were a lot like my KLR. The practical ones are the V Strom (either 650 or 1000) and the updated Versys. Both are very capable, nice quality bikes for a very good price. They are also a slightly aquired taste in appearance.

Opps, how did that girl get in there? The update on the Versys is better than the old one, but still a little strange.

I keep thinking back to the Yamaha TDM 850 (1991 - 2001) that I saw out in Arizona and how it is the same class of bike but with a better look.

I have to admit that I am enamored of the Triumphs. The Triumph Explorer 1200 is a new "heavy" competitor for the BMW GS. It fits nicely and has a real good look. Also appears to be quite a bit lighter than the Bimmer. A very nice "big" bike potential. Big price, of course. The bike in the picture is probably the bike I played with. Apparently, there is only one in the country and it's traveling with the show.

The Triumph Tiger XC 800 is more my speed and would be just about perfect if I could raise the seat an inch. I talked to a couple of Triumph owners at the show and they talk about how nice it handles and how reliable the Triumph's are. One of these guys had previously owned a GS and now had a Tiger 1050. He considered the Triumph to be both a better and more reliable bike. I think he said he had 60k miles without any trouble at all.

Beyond that, I got to try on Schuberth C3 helmets. Also Arai, Nexx, and current Shoei. The Schuberth is nice and the Nexx is very light, but I suspect I'll end up with Arai when it's time for a new helmet again.

Overall, a nice Saturday afternoon. Now it's time to get serious about work.

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