The excitement is back! After many years of somewhat somber motorcycle shows, the 2015 Long Beach International Motorcycles Show (IMS) did not disappoint. The crowd was large, the vibe was great, and the manufacturers brought lots of new machines to dream about.
Though EICMA occurred just last week, many of the bikes that were introduced in Milan had their American debut in Long Beach. Not only that, but the manufacturers upgraded their displays with new materials and concepts that made viewing more enjoyable.
The overall feel of the show was one of positive energy and excitement. It felt as though the post-recession doldrums are finally subsiding within the motorcycle industry.
The manufacturers pulled out all the stops for IMS, bringing some of their top executives for media presentations before the show opened to the public.
Dominique Cheraki, soon-to-be-former-CEO of Ducati North America presented a number of their new models including the Multistrada 1200 Enduro, Scrambler Sixty2, XDiavel, Hypermotard 939, and 959 Panigale.
Polaris also had a strong presence at IMS with the Indian and Victory booths both generating a lot of buzz. Indian presented its Scout 60 to the press, with Polaris Motorcycle President, Steven Menneto and custom designer and fabricator Roland Sands, presenting the new machine. Sands also displayed a number of his Scout based Super Hooligan dirt track racers. Very cool!
The good energy continued at the Victory booth, where the brand’s new emphasis on performance was displayed with their Project 156 racer and the new Empulse TT electric bike.
Motorcycle designers Cory and Zach Ness were on hand to discuss the Project 156 and Ignition concepts, and how they might apply to future Victory models. Expect to see a new Zach Ness designed concept called the Combustion at the New York IMS show, in December.
Honda developed a lot of excitement with the US introduction of the Africa Twin, their much anticipated ADV model. There was a constant crowd around the new bike, as people waited to have their picture taken astride their dream machine.
Two versions were on display; one with the Dual Clutch Transmission and a full range of travel accessories and one with a standard transmission in striking red, white, and black.
Honda’s dual-sport emphasis continued with an updated NC700X and CB500X, as well as the VFR1200X, which is new to the US this year. The newly updated CB500F rounded out the new model introductions for Big Red.
Yamaha had many of their bumble-bee themed 60th Anniversary models on display, led by the new XSR900 neo-retro street bike, which is based on the popular FZ-09.
Yamaha’s Director of Racing and AMA hall of Fame inductee, Keith McCarty, was on hand to talk about Yamaha’s recent successes, both on the product side of the house and in their racing program. Racers Cameron Beaubier and J.D. Beach also added to the 60th Anniversary buzz.
Kawasaki displayed the new H2R in their new booth, which they fondly call the Mothership. The H2R has a new slipper clutch and updated paint called “Mirror Coated Spark Black” – the 2016 H2R retails for $53,000.
Kawasaki also showcased their Vulcan S line of midsize cruisers and the new Ninja ZX-10. Fans who like the green brand were also treated to an autograph and photo session with motorcycle stunt legend Jason Britton.
Triumph had an interesting booth that focused solely on the new line of Bonnevilles. The new Thruxton R, Bonneville T120, and Street Twin were all on display.
The new designs are impressive, with very clean lines, hidden control cables, and new exhaust systems made for Triumph by Vance and Hines. Though the rest of the Triumph line was not present, the retro themed display still generated a tremendous amount of interest.
KTM continued the expansion of their street motorcycle offerings, displaying an updated fifth-generation 690 Duke and the Super Duke R Special Edition.
KTM’s strong presence in the large dual-sport segment was also well represented with the 1290 Super Adventure, 1190 Adventure, and 1190 Adventure R. The “Ready to Race” manufacturer also showed their commitment to the future of American Roadracing with their RC390 Cup racer.
BMW’s two-story display area was a popular destination for street and dual-sport riders alike. Vice President of BMW Motorrad USA, Kris Odwarka kicked off the product introductions, which included the S1000XR and updated C650GT and C650 Sport scooters.
Odwarka also discussed the new BMW G310R and R NineT Scrambler, which unfortunately, were not present in Long Beach.
Besides new product intros, the iconic German brand’s line was well represented, and their strong emphasis on adventure touring was very evident with the full range of 650, 800, and 1200 adventure bikes on display.
Suzuki continued the gradual revamping of their product line with teasers of the 2017 SV650 and GSX-R1000. Suzuki also continued to emphasize their GSX-S750 and GSX-S1000 naked standards as well as their V-Strom line of dual-sports.
Besides a large number of motorcycle introductions, the other encouraging sign at this year’s Long Beach show was the larger number of vendors. The vendor area was bigger and the types of products were more varied than in the past.
You could find a great range of apparel and accessories. Additionally, motorcycle clubs, touring outfits, riding schools, and track days were well represented. A lot of happy shoppers walked out of the show with new gear and new farkles for their bikes.
Besides the activities inside the show, the demo area outside the show was hopping. Yamaha, Star, Honda, Suzuki, Indian, Victory, and Harley-Davidson all offered demo rides.
To give you an idea of how busy the show was, the Honda demos started at 9am and were booked for the entire day by 9:45 with customers queuing-up as early as 7:30.
Lines were long at the other manufacturers as well, but the time in line also served as a great time to meet other riders and share thoughts about the different offerings at the show.
All in all, the Long Beach IMS was an excellent event. After attending this show for the past ten years, it’s encouraging to see the crowds get back to pre-recession levels.
Long Beach is typically the largest of the Progressive IMS events and is a good barometer of the industry as a whole. Let’s hope the increased enthusiasm and strong attendance continue long into the future.
Photos: © 2015 Andrew Kohn / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved