They'll Take Manhattan

The streets of New York can be rough for motorcycles. But bikes ruled at the 25th annual International Motorcycle Show

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The 2006 Cycle World International Motorcycle Show brought its 25th edition to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City in late January. This year, in contrast to 2005's white-out blizzard, motorcyclists were rewarded with an out-of-the-ordinary, near-perfect weather weekend. Many bikes were parked in the area surrounding the Javits Center, indicating many motorcyclists were comfortable with riding to the show. An estimated 80,000 people attended the three-day event, according to show organizers.

The show began its run in November in Fort Worth, Tex., and winds down in Atlanta in mid-March. At the New York stop, about 274,000 sq.ft. of exhibition space contained nearly 2,000 exhibitors, vendor's booths, and manufacturer displays. Just about all the big manufacturers from around the world were present. Honda (HMC), Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha, represented Japan, while sleek Italian makes from Aprilia, Ducati (DMH), Moto Guzzi, and MV Agusta flexed their style, along with the scooters by Piaggio and Vespa.


  BMW bikes flashed their high-end German engineering, while under the familiar orange and black banners, the traditional U.S. made Harley-Davidson (HDI) cruisers attracted a huge following. Not to be outdone on the sporting end, Harley-Davidson had their V-Rods and Buell motorcycles on display as well. Another American company, Victory Motorcycles, was there presenting their own cruisers, which seem to get more stylish every year.

For some odd reason, Triumph Motorcycles were not present, and notably missed, leaving Britain unrepresented.

In the sportbike category, it seems that major upgrades and redesigns are required every couple of years if models are to remain competitive in the market and on the racetrack. This time around, most of the 1000cc sportbikes were boasting big upgrades (see BW Online, 1/5/06, "Honda's Sweet New Sportbike").


  Suzuki showcased its new M109, a cruiser that features sportbike technology. But some of the hype around the company's display involved some of their real sportbikes. The redesigned midsize 600cc and 750cc GSX-R models signaled a new trend for Japanese manufacturers, with their short, compact exhaust systems neatly tucked away on the underside of the engine. It's a similar design to what Buell has been using for many years (see BW Online, 1/30/06, "Buell Introduces XBRR Motorcycle").

Another Japanese model following this trend comes is Yamaha's 600cc R6 model. Yet the exhaust system makeover is only a minor item on this heavily redesigned high-end performer, with fly-by-wire throttle control and a screaming redline, rev limit of 17,500 rpm. The technology on this new R6 gives it bragging rights as Yamaha's most advanced production motorcycle.

The Italians weren't to be outdone this year, though. MV Augusta in particular had all their bikes on display, with their new Brutale 910R and F4 1000 Senna in the spotlight. The latter is a special tribute to the late Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. Both bikes are limited-production models, equipped with exclusive high-performance modifications.

The show provided a pleasant sensory overload for those hard-core fans who can gain satisfaction just from catching a glimpse of their favorite model's new alterations and colors. For many, grabbing the bars and throwing a leg over for some seat time, it could be considered their first test ride, albeit a static one.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.