2018 Long Beach International Motorcycle Show Recap

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This weekend I visited the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. As it’s geared towards consumers, I enjoyed it much more than my recent experience with AIMExpo. Admittedly, I ended up spending so much time chatting with friends that I didn’t get to see everything I was planning to, but I still wanted to share some of my personal highlights from the show to motivate you when IMS shows up in your part of the country.

At Long Beach, they open up the show early on Friday for press/media. I had to get some work done in the morning so I showed up after a few companies had already made their presentations. Most of the major OEMs were present, though I was disappointed that KTM/Husky decided not to show off their wares (especially that new 790 Duke).

My personal experience started with Yamaha, who focused on a new R3, updates to the FJR platform, and their new three-wheeler, the Niken.

The Niken will be available in two versions – standard on the left, GT on the right. The standard has already sold out of its US production run (the rumor I heard was less than 100 units).

In March, Yamaha will open up reservations for the GT model, which has an upgraded front suspension, center stand, heated grips, and other touring features like a larger windscreen, comfort seats, and luggage.

If I put a deposit on the base model I’d probably be annoyed that this better version was almost available. Sounds like Yamaha thought it through as one of their representatives told me that they would allow customers to transfer deposits to the GT model.

Next stop on the media tour was Moto Guzzi, and it was instantly obvious that the motorcycle industry is very excited about the upcoming V85 TT.

It’s in there, I promise.

I got up close for a detailed look, but I was so focused on the bike that I didn’t notice Ari Henning’s photobomb until he came up to me later and told me to take another photo.

I’m sticking with this as I figure there are plenty of photos of this bike, but none with Ari flashing the peace sign.

Kawasaki unveiled four new models, including an updated H2 SX SE, Versys 1000, the rebirth of the W800, and…

…the Z400, a naked version of the new Ninja 400. I was surprised to see that they went with red for the debut color, especially as the next stop on the media tour was the Honda booth.

Kawasaki updated the H2 SX SE with fancy features like self-healing paint. Problem is, the new paint scheme is horrible.

One cosmetic improvement was the design of the “supercharged” logo, which now has a little more flair than the solid black of last year’s model.

Ari Henning and Zack Courts have left Motorcyclist to see if they can expand their reach with the increased budgets of Motor Trend. They’ve got a new show coming called Throttle Out, and the first episode is of them riding the new Honda Monkey for 1,000+ miles in Baja. The Monkey looks so good when it’s dirty.

If you’re interested, here’s a preview of Throttle Out – the first episode debuts this week!

Nathan had to sit on the Monkey for himself.

I really enjoyed the Honda CB300R, but I was hoping that Honda was going to make a mid-sized version with the 500 motor. Good news – they made a 650 version!

Even better – it has headers that pay homage to the CB400F’s “waterfall pipes”.

Indian brought all four different accessory packages for their new FTR1200, though I only took photos of three. The “Rally” looks great in white…

…but it’s the “Tracker” that most people will presumably be excited about.

Weirdly, my favorite package might be the “Tour”.

BMW showed off the new S1000RR. I’m bummed that the front is no longer asymmetrical because it no longer looks like a BMW to me (that was also one of my complaints about the G310R). Still, I like that the brake light is now integrated into the turn signals. BMW’s idea is that it makes it much easier to strip off lights for track days.

The new F850GS looks great in the white/red/blue scheme. First Ride reviews have recently trickled out – here’s Spurgeon’s thoughts over on RevZilla.

Suzuki is bringing the Katana back, and this was the US debut. What do you think of the styling?

They had Kevin Cameron give an introduction to the bike, which ended up becoming a somewhat detailed history of Suzuki in general. Note the original Katana on the left!

I got an email from Suzuki’s Press Relations department this morning which said [emphasis added] “Unlike competitors who style and equip retro models with throwback technology and looks, the 2020 KATANA is a sportbike that has elements of the original, iconic Katana and blends them in with thoroughly modern styling and performance.”

Yet the next sentence was, “Just like the original Katana had a connection with the GS1100E, this new KATANA is built upon the proven, extraordinary performance of the long-stroke GSX-R1000 engine and the solid stability of the GSX-S1000 chassis.”

The motor Suzuki’s referring to is from the K5 (2005-2008 GSX-R1000), so I guess “thoroughly modern…performance” is from 13 years ago. Still, it’s a great motor that Suzuki’s used in many of their bikes since 2005, and the claimed output in this bike is 150 horsepower and 79.6 lb-feet of torque. When IMS opened to the public on Friday afternoon, Suzuki put on a show that involved Japanese Taiko drummers – here’s a little teaser:

MV Agusta originally released their new Brutale 1000 Serie Oro at EICMA, where it was voted the Most Beautiful motorcycle from the show.

I actually find the design to be too busy, but there are some truly exquisite details.

The exhaust is quite fascinating, as well. For more pictures, head on over to the MV site.

Jason Chinook (CEO of Ducati North America) introduces the new Hypermotard 950. Here’s hoping we can pull that beak off. Lurking under the cover behind him is the SP version, which is the one you want.

But the center of attention at the Ducati booth was the new Panigale V4R. It’s a homologation bike so that Ducati can compete in WSBK, and if you swap the Performance Kit exhaust on then the bike puts down 234 horsepower!

Nathan’s on a quest to replace his Triumph Thruxton, and the Ducati Desert Sled is on a short list of potential candidates.

Speaking of Triumph, their new 1200 Scrambler has also caught Nathan’s eye. This is the new top-of-the line XE.

The XC is more suited for street work than the XE.

The new Royal Enfield twin. Even though the original was called the Interceptor, Honda now owns that trademark so this is officially called the “INT650”.

The chrome tank is gorgeous.

It’s easy to get excited about all the new bikes (it’s a good year to go motorcycle shopping) but there’s plenty more going on at the show. I’m most excited about a program called Discover the Ride, which is all about getting non-riders to sample the joy of motorcycling.

Discover the Ride debuted at the Long Beach show, and it’s the result of a partnership with Robert Pandya. Robert used to work for Aprilia, then he helped re-launch Indian, he’s consulted on other projects, and now he’s all about trying to get more people into motorcycling.

The program has several portions, starting with a Kids’ Zone that introduces young kids to riding with battery-assist balance bikes built by Stacyc. Yamaha has also provided some power-assist e-bicycles so that riders can prove they balance a two-wheeler before they hop on a demo motorcycle provided by Zero. Zero specifically provided modified FXS‘ which are limited to 12 miles per hour and have diminished acceleration. This enables a team of instructors from the California Motorcyclist Safety Program to walk alongside riders and talk them through the basics. And of course, because the bikes are electric, it can all be done indoors. Not a big deal in Long Beach, but it’s a helpful feature when the tour goes to New York in a couple of weeks!

When’s the last time you got to ride on carpet?

No damage to the bike, no injuries to the rider – this will be a great experience for people who want to get their first seat time on a bike but have not been able to for all sorts of reasons.

In addition, Yamaha, Harley-Davidson, and Ducati have provided bikes for a “Dyno Experience”, which lets new riders sit on a bike and try going through the gears and learning how to use a clutch while secured on a dyno.

Lastly, stunters from the XDL have something in store for advanced riders. They call it the “Wheelie Experience”, and it gives you the chance to loft the front wheel in a safe environment.

Remember to cover the rear brake!

I’ve been paying close attention to Wolfman Luggage ever since I used some of their gear for my Royal Enfield Himalayan story. They debuted a new “Unrack” system that’s worth a close look if you like carrying luggage on your dual-sport.

A buddy of mine (who I met teaching GMAT classes, of all things) has started a chain cleaning product. Check it out here!

After the show was opened to the public, someone from District 37 (the organization that puts on LA-Barstow-Vegas) spotted Nathan and I. She asked if we’d take a photo to send to a friend, so we had to go to the Ural booth.

This specific Ural is special – it’s an electric prototype using a Zero drivetrain! I’m hoping I can get some seat time to compare it to the usual gasoline motor.

This photo is from two years ago, when Spurgeon and I did LAB2V on a Ural. That was dumb.

There was all kinds of stuff that I didn’t have time to check out as well. There was a beautiful collection of vintage machinery provided by Moto Doffo, AHRMA, AMCA, and AJMC (I can’t believe I never got around to taking any photos there), lots of demo rides from BMW, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, and Yamaha, and the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show.

One of the crazier entries in the custom bike show. Someone likes music!

There are 6 additional shows as part of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show tour, and most of these same OEMs and vendors will be there for you to check out! Get more information and buy tickets by going to the International Motorcycle Show website.