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Tom BurnsApr 1, 2019 (Updated Nov 25, 2019)CommentShare

A Stealthy Approach To The 2019 IMS

Most people attending the Progressive International Motorcycle Show bee-line toward the new bikes they’ve been reading about and drooling over all winter. We can finally see the real deal, not just a 2D image on a computer screen or in a magazine. We can finally jump on it, grab some brake, check the ergonomics and petition the vendors with all the pertinent questions.

A lot of IMS attendees scan for bike manufacturer’s booths upon entering the show. Not me, I put my excitement in check and head straight toward the back of the room. Most everything in the back is an afterthought. That’s the space all the farkle vendors and bedazzlers occupy.

I like to make my way up and down these aisles while I still have some patience. There are some good equipment vendors scattered about. It’s paid off previously in discovering the amazing Uclear helmet speakers and procuring an amazing deal on a Sena S-20. There are also some serious vendors worth spending time with like Total Control and No-Mar Tire Changers.

*All International Motorcycle Show photos taken by Tim Clarke

2019 marks the first year at IMS where I did not discover any new gadgets or find a great deal on gear. I did however help a new rider friend avoid making rookie mistakes I used to make. By scoffing at some tempting deals, I persuaded him to get quality gear instead.

Another reason I hit the gear vendors first is to prevent spontaneous purchases. If I snatch up some gear early on, I have to lug it around all day and keep my eye on it while I’m sitting on bikes. If something piques my interest, I defer to come back later after I’ve reconsidered if I really need it.

Events and Presentations

This year was a little different as the far back of the room was occupied by “Discover The Ride”, an interactive installment with 5 riding zones:

  • non-licensed riders could ride Zero electric bikes with instruction from Total Control staff
  • battery assist balance bikes allowed toddlers to “zoom” around a track
  • a wheelie machine
  • Yamaha electric power assist bicycles to ride
  • a dyno where riders could start the bike and shift through gears

The installment also included videos and live presentations to educate new riders called New to 2. Topics ranged from basics like safety gear to locating group rides. My hat goes off! Discover The Ride is exactly the vehicle this industry needs to start luring kids back into the fray.

Electric bikes being at the core of the experience is brilliant, as younger generations are more intrigued by all things that lessen our carbon footprint. The only downside is that anyone at the show is already a prospective rider or gaining exposure through their parents. I’d like to see this type of installment at non-motorcycle themed events to set the bait for those who might otherwise not be exposed to the thrill of the ride.

Backcountry Discovery Roads had an impressive “Adventure Out” IMS multimedia exhibit. Newer ADV riders had the opportunity to cross pollinate their passion with more experienced purveyors and check out gear, parts and accessories. Their exhibit had a storytelling slideshow presentation going on but nothing you can’t see on YouTube.

When I reached new cycles at the IMS, my patience was dwindling a bit … not a bad thing.

I once heard if you want to be happy with your stereo, stay out of a stereo store. This applies double to bikes. When I spend less time on each bike, it’s less likely I’ll get attached. I was disappointed not to see the Harley Davidson Livewire and other electric bikes I’d read about.

IMS Featured Favorites

The Indian FTR1200 is the production version of their 750cc flat tracker. There’s a base model and an upgraded ES model with 5 accessory packages. I liked the touring package best but a single sided saddlebag limits what I can carry and also throws off the balance a bit. I suspect there was no way to accommodate a second saddlebag with the offered exhaust.

Honda’s Super Cub is just the cutest damn bike and best selling bike of all time now equipped with some modern accoutrements like ABS, LED lighting and a key fob.

Kawasaki’s Z900 naked bike has perfect ergonomics for me and looks like it wants to eat up the competition. I’d still be obsessing if it were more practical for sport touring.

Yamaha’s Tracer is basically the old FJ-09 with many of the upgrades FJ-09 owners needed to make and then some, making it a stellar sport touring choice.

Suzuki’s Katana harkens back to the original ’82 model that had a groundbreaking design and incorporated a (then) futuristic front fairing. I also liked that the new version avoided the bodywork of later years that completely shrouded the engine.

The honorable mentions for this year’s International Motorcycle Show bring vintage aesthetics to modern design. This includes every bike in the Triumph classic line and Royal Enfield prototypes.

However, the retro highlight for me was the FTR1200. I love that Indian listened and gave the people what they want. I’d still like to see a sub 1000cc version as well.

What Motorcycle Products Are You Eyeing For 2019?

There are a lot of great items on the market this year. Which do you prefer? What do you like about each and why? Your input is invited. Post an article!

This is the end!
Tom Burns

About Tom Burns

Tom Burns is a long time sport bike enthusiast who's love of travel is surpassed only by his drive to obtain time to do so. His current flock includes a Honda Superhawk and VFR Interceptor.

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