This past past past Saturday saw your humble manboyservant partake in the forbidden fruit that is the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. This particular fruit was plucked from the tree of knowledge, tried for its taste, and then spat upon the ground so as not to anger the motorcycle gods.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone because, as evidenced by this review of the 2008 show, nothing changes and everything stays the same. There is one notable difference this year and that was the appearance of SAIL co-worker and motorcyclist extraordinairio Tommy Dreamer, in puffy longcoat no less. The word of the day was once again plastic because every single bike is sheathed in it, like candied sweets dipped in every color of the rainbow replete with tribal or lightning bolt looking designs on them.
And we all know what that inspires: a Ducati fashion show set to techno music.
Yes yes of course, there were the retro throwback machines like Ural and Royal Enfield AND on the plus side, the build quality of the Ural is way up, as they feel and look much stouter than the ones on display three years ago. That is not saying much however, as a cursory inspection yielded rust spots inside a tool box affixed to the back of one of the Ural sidecars. On a brand new bike no less. The Urals overdo it with old timey craftsmanship and everything on those bikes is made of heavy steel. One feels that they would make the windshields out of steel also, if it was thin enough to afford translucency. This is way too much weight for an antiquated engine. Tommy kept repeating that one is not advised to cruise at speeds in excess of 65 mph.
This brings us to the Royal Enfield. Know that the RE’s are simply gorgeous machines to drink in with the eyes.
Mototip: Royal Enfields are made in India and should never be bought.
Do not buy a Royal Enfield because they are shoddily made. Do not be fooled by their old timey gorgeousness. The new models have fuel injection now, which will probably fail. This is like putting lipstick on a piglet or fuel injection on a Ural. The Urals and Royal Enfields are wonderful looking and romantic bikes, however they cannot be trusted. On a side note, the Royal Enfield sidecars are way more adorable than the Urals, although they are designed more for large dogs and/or small framed women than for manchildren. And while beautiful, their suspension of choice is a bunch of rubber bands. All of this comes in a neat little package for the low sum of 10,000 American dollars, assembled.
The antithesis of the two aforementioned motobrands is BMW, a maker who crams all of the latest bits of technology with a shoehorn into nearly every nook and cranny of their bikes. In Germany, creating a well-balanced motorcycle takes a back seat to the pursuit of electronic wizardry which in turn takes the act of motorcycling out of the hands of the rider and drops it into the silicon lap of an on-board computer. Why does one need a wheelie prevention module? Everyone loves wheelies, right? Even Tommy Dreamer, who had concerned the BMW off-road touring bike his dream machine, was heard to lament the top heaviness and lack of feel inherent to the beemers. Marlo brands them “dad bikes” because dads are the only ones who really care about such technology and have the coin to partake in it.
All hooligans agree that a better alternative is the Yamaha Tenere, a similar bike that is cheaper and better in most all respects.
Moving on, we come across the little Honda CBR250. One had heard rumblings about this new model, billed as a miniature CBR600 designed to tear up the streets and deliver euro-spec corner carving prowess. A quick inspection revealed a single exhaust pipe hidden beneath the extensive plastic fairing. Why make this a single cylinder devoid of power? Why not throw a little 4-cylinder 250 in there instead that one can rev the fuck out of?
Awful, just plain awful.
And at 4500 kopeks no less.
The crowds pushed and pulled and one was forced to go with the flow. Like it or not, the 2011 International Motorcycle Show of Greater New York was made for the masses and the masses turned out en masse. There was a stunt show but the crowds were too great and Thomas would not let me on his shoulders for a better vantage.
Keeping moving, curiosity drew the manboy to expensive American cruiser manufacturer Victory like a moth to flame to rest his ass on one of their muy expensivo motobikes.
Poor build quality yielded disgust.
Brake levers should not be loose and should never be perceived as an afterthought. They should be one of the most stout parts of any bike because stopping depends on them. Also, footboards should be strong because you put your weight on them and should not be made of cheap plastic. For shame, Victory.
Regardless, as with any motorcycle extravaganza, the real treat of the day were the motorcycling aficianadoes. And as such, our last stop brought us by the Progressive insurance booth, where a Harley D was set up in front of a green screen. Our boys watched as first a mentally challenged man with a small head and buck teeth cavorted beneath the Eiffel Tower while bouncing up and down on the seat and then, waited their turn as a bubble butted man in skin tight jeans and Thats What He Said top giggled and cooed as his master nodded approvingly.
What was there to do? Tommy Dreamer agreed that we are all the sons of one God.