January in Ohio is a cold, grey, dreary place; fortunately it’s also the month that the Progressive International Motorcycle Show (IMS) comes to visit Cleveland. This year is my second trip up to Cleveland for the show; a long drive, but a day well spent. For anyone unfamiliar, the IMS is basically a trade show for motorcycles; All of the major manufacturers bring a handful of their newest models and custom bikes, local dealerships also bring bikes and merchandise, vendors sell various motorcycle “wares”, there are custom build bikes on display, and there’s beer. Did I mention there’s beer? The Cleveland International Expo Center (I-X Center) is pretty massive; the IMS is huge and I don’t think it even takes up a quarter of the expo center. The show takes place over two and half days, includes all of the before mentioned items, along with motorcycle stunt shows and live bands. If you’ve not gone to a local show before, I recommend spending the $15 a person and going at least once.
Having gone last year, I had big hopes this year of visiting the Yamaha, BMW, Ducati, and Triumph manufacturer booths; mostly hunting down a comfortable adventure bike to replace my current ride. The top contenders on my list were the two BMW GS models, the new FJ-09, and unquestionably the new 2015 Triumph Tiger XCx; I had big plans for sitting on each one, two-up, but also getting a closer look at the new Indian Scout and the new Ducati Scrambler; the IMS didn’t disappoint, and even included a few unexpected surprises.
I’m going to try to cover the details over the next few days but I figured I’d drop a few highlights:
1. Show up early: unless you enjoy stereotypical heavyset biker chicks in leather, or Willie Nelson lookalikes in patches invading your personal space (What smells like skunk?). Show up early, take a long lunch, or drink more.
2. Italian Supermodels, on a budget: The Ducati Scrambler is everything I hoped it would be, and more. There was a line to sit on a demo model, but worth the wait. In fact the wife agrees it’s probably the best “new bike” for her someday (well, almost, more on that later). I’ll save up all the hipster jokes for later.
3. Yamaha has everything: Of all the motorcycles dealers in the U.S., I feel that Yamaha has more models to choose from; including something for every type of rider. From a 300 cc sport bike to the new MotoGP inspired R1. Oh, and Did I mention they have those sweet new triple cylinder engines, and an “Adventure” Bike, a Sport Touring Bike, oh and that new FJ-09 thing that’s kind of both?
4. BMWs are sexier in person: I like BMW motorcycles, but I’ve never pictured myself owning one. Having sat on a few, they grow on you; and those heads… wow look at the size of them. I now understand the allure of the GS bikes, perhaps someday I’ll even get to ride one.
5. The Indian Scout: There’s this odd familiarity between the new scout and the Victory Gunner (wonder why), but man do I want to ride one. I don’t think I’ll be trading my Speedmaster for a new cruiser anytime soon, but I have high hopes for the new Indian.
6. The big cat is everything I thought it would be: The massive seat height on the new 800 XCx wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, and I think it might even be growing on the wife. More to follow.