Rick’s Gentleman’s Express Blog

Motorcycle news and opinion

Black leather and grey hair

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It is the winter bike show season in Canada – a chance to blow out some cobwebs and gawk at all the latest bikes and gear. I went to the Toronto “Motorcycle Supershow” on the second Friday of the new year with an old riding buddy. While shuffling our way interminably through the lineup toward the one entryway I had a chance to do some mental demographic analysis (yes, it took that long). The typical showgoer appeared to be a male, fifty plus+ years of age. We appeared to fit the demographic.

Once inside we began winding our way up and down the aisles, stopping to take a picture once in a while or straining to swing a leg over one of the bikes on display. Although I will probably never own one, I can see why low-seat cruisers and step-through mega-scooters are becoming more and more popular as the average age of motorcyclists increases.

Some of the more interesting bikes were at the Polaris/Indian display. Polaris has established a foothold in what was considered exclusive Harley territory by doggedly working on improving and promoting their big Victory cruisers and pushing them out through their existing snowmobile network. Their dealers have probably been happy to have something to sell during the tough sledding months. Polaris is also the most recent in what has become a long line of optimists willing to try to revive the Indian brand. It might work this time. I liked the “Scout” line of mid-size V-twins, despite their miniscule solo seats. Have seats gotten way smaller or is it just my butt that has gotten bigger? I always preferred the original Scout to the bigger, heavier Chief, even before they were called cruisers. The bike I found most intriguing at the Victory display was the Empulse TT, an electric sport bike developed at the Isle of Man.

empulse

My buddy admitted he was not really interested in the vintage bike section and I admitted I had no interest in the custom bike section so of course we had to see both. Looking at the painstakingly restored old oil-leakers and the block long chromed showboats got me thinking about how much time people seem to have on their hands these days, not to mention the money it must take to build a custom trike with a roof and turn signals made from fibreglass cobra heads with LED eyeballs. I would love to pull up in/on something like that on a first date. The latest custom craze appears to be stretched and slammed scooters. Who knew?

slammed scooter

While wandering around, my buddy and I kept bumping into people we knew (all of whom fit the demographic). Thinking about it later I realized that I had known some of these people for twenty years or more and the one connection we had was bikes. In many cases the only time I see them is at bike shows and other motorcycle events.

One of the halls we entered was filled with deafening engine noise. I thought someone was doing dynamometer runs. We milled our way closer and eventually found out that it was someone doing a stunt riding demonstration. We never did actually see anything, as the crowds were too deep. Not sure why open pipes were necessary. I suppose it added to the drama. I felt sorry for the folks who got stuck with booth locations in the area, as it was almost impossible to communicate with any of them, even when yelling directly into each other’s ears.

The “Supershow” is not the squeaky clean new bike show downtown with official manufacturer displays. The show by the airport is mostly dealers, clubs and small vendors and has a bit more of a bad-boy edge. Included here is a “fashion show” (the bride wore leather) and a smattering of “booth babes” wearing skin-tight tights and skimpy tops – even a few bare midriffs. I don’t think that many of them were actual riders but they did occasionally drape themselves over a bike for photo-ops. Decades ago when my buddies and I were mostly single, such displays would ratchet up the testosterone level a few notches. Nowadays I find old grey-haired guys ogling girls young enough to be their granddaughters kind of sad.

Eventually our feet gave out and we braved the Friday afternoon traffic home. When my wife asked how the show was I went on a long philosophical rant about how motorcycling was dying out, how there were no more young people at the shows, no new riders to carry on, that me and my buddy were probably the last generation of motorcyclists. I left out the part about the booth babes. My wife listened patiently (she has had lots of practice) and then reminded me that me and my buddy had attended the show on a Friday afternoon – a privilege reserved for pensioners like us – and that the kids would probably be there on Saturday and Sunday.

I really must be getting old.

Written by admin

January 31st, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized