Alistair Maclean's Web Site
The NYC Bike Show 2006
Back The New York City International Motorcycle Show, January 20th-22nd 2006

Customs part deux

(Bimota Tesi 2D [Ducati 1000cc] - that's how it looks, it has no fairing.)

Heady days

You know something is in the air when the weather for the show is assisted by global warming - there is no ice on the Hudson - and even more amazing, the fact that in the 4th Quarter the finacial results from Harley-Davidson make it more profit than ALL 3 of the US automakers combined (a bit of license there as one is actually a German auto maker). How can this be so? How has Harley got itself to the pre-emminent engine builder in all of American motoring? It's amazing. So there we were, a sunny Sunday, a bit chilly, but the Saturday had been a balmy 62°F (16°C), so who was to complain, and a motorcycle show bathing in the aura of finacial greatness. We've been here before, maybe not with H-D in living memory, but the Japanese have seen days like this (The early 80's come to mind), let us hope the party doesn't end anytime soon. I know the hangover is really bad.

Walking with a massive group of warmly dressed citizenary, piling off the ferry into the beautiful new NY Waterway ferry terminal at 38th Street, we all headed over the west side highway in high spirits, taking in the brisk breeze on an otherwise picture perfect day. A quick stroll, some through one of the largest collections of real riders bikes I have seen outside the motorcycle show, and into the Javitts center for the 2006 International Motorcycle show. Not a snow flake in sight, what a relief.

This years show took place, as last year, sharing the Convention center with a Jewelry trade show. It makes for some very strange bedfellows; prim and proper ladies in their fifties, dressed in furs and looking a million dollars, walking around in the main concours with leather clad, tatoo covered, OCC (Orange County Choppers) wannabees. Humm, I think there were some nervous security people at the Bike show... those fur clad ladies can be nasty!


Gas prices have been a little higher this past year, you may have noticed. This in mind, I was expecting to see a little more emphasis on eco friendly motorcycles and to some extent I was not disappointed. There were an unusual number of smaller capacity cycles around, including a very cute Kawasaki Eliminator 125 - a little to eco for my tastes though. Most of the econo-bike stuff came in the form of scooters; from Suzuki Bergman's and Yamaha Vino's, to Piaggio's Vespa's there were many to look at. Some with small engines, some with more muscle, all easy to ride and offering pretty respectable fuel mileage. There is not yet the aftermarket in the US for these, and they are not a common sight on the roads yet, but I guess that could change soon enough. Sell the Hummer, buy a Vespa LS150. Hmmm! Don't know!

Chop! Chop!

One thing was certain though, the show was bulging with custom (choppers, et al) bikes. Well, when I say custome bikes, they have actually morphed a little. There are now untold dozens of small boutique manufacturers of 'custom' bikes here in the US. It's no longer just Harley and Victory (even that is an amazing statement, compared to 10 years ago), there is now a whole raft of mom and pop cottage motorcycle manufacturers... or should I say Bro' and Sister shops? There are now so many people making their own motorcycles it is truely amazing. The price of these bikes is coming down, and the style and workmanship is steadily improving. The whole arena is full of ever more interesting features and options. You want a hand shifter custom, but would rather not have a vintage 1940 Harley with all it's problems? No problem, a custom bike house have a right hand shift, that still allows use of the hand clutch, rather than the foot type of yore, and fits to a modern Evo motor. Cool! In another corner, a young builder was putting together slammed chops with japanese sportbike engines in them. Awesome looking, and with that look only four fire breathing cylinders can give you - a wall of purposeful exhaust pipe.

Elegant brown leather and bronzed chop
Legs. Well, forks really. Low mean and yellow.
Bygone era by Cobra.

More by Cobra custom parts
We're Baaaackkkk! Bimota DB6 with Duke engine.

Ducati in historical perspective mode. Paul Smart replica. And I thought my 996 had a painful seating position.
What a nice machine, Guzzi Grisso (Odd name though). Wonderful balance. 1100cc of Italian heritage.

Perennial Norton Commando.
Rare and new (for US) MZ 1000 twin.

New Yamaha FZ-1 with raised 'bars
Ooohhh! Can I, can I? Kwak 1400 hyper-spacial device. Surprisingly low and well balanced. Wonder what the fuel consumption at 180mph is like?

Nice 750cc sibling for the KZ1000. More likely new bike than the ZX-14.
Rossi's MotoGP Championship winning Yamaha M1.

Jordon (as in Air) Motorsports Gixxer graphics
John "Hoopie" Hopkins "21" on the tail of his lackluster Suzuki XR MotoGP racer

The vendor part of this years show was amazingly big, and active. This is good, we need a viable aftermarket as much as we need healthy and successful primary manufacturers. Items that looked good? Well...

  • a light weigh waterproof jacket and trouser set that fit in a tiny bag,
  • Complete heated accessories from Gerbing,
  • A variety of chocks to stabalize the front wheel of your bike,
  • A little handlebar mounted EZPAss holder by JJ Cycle pass (.com)
And one mustn't forget the very delectable Progressive Insurance ladies, in their one piece skin tight "dresses". Very alluring. Had to look with care as the wife was with me.

So, till next year, when the dreaming can start again, get out and ride a new bike.

©2006 A. Maclean

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