Paris and Tokyo – CMG show reports

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Words & pics: Marc Cantin (Paris) and Costa Mouzouris (Tokyo) unless otherwise specified.
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It’s a busy week for international shows with the Paris Motorcycle Show and the Tokyo Auto show both occurring. So what you ask? Well, CMG blew* its entire 2012 budget and sent two special envoys to cover these events for our beloved readership.

First up, Marc Cantin sends us a report from the hustle and bustle of the Paris Motorcycle Show, followed by a report from Costa Mouzouris from Tokyo. Hope you enjoy it as we now have no more money for articles until 2013 – see you then!

* Blowing is a big word. No Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a big word, but you’ll be pleased to know that we didn’t actually blow our budget, the guys were going anyway and we just scavenged the reports on the cheap, only blowing half of the 2012 budget. More features to come in June … 🙂

Paris Motorcycle Show

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The “Dolly Birds” were out in force on Press Day earlier this week. After two indignant “Get Lost” looks, I found a riding instructor who posed next to the nice Moto Guzzi.

Held every two years, the SALON de la Moto, SCOOTER, QUAD 2011 had been cancelled in 2009 as the industry was cutting back on marketing expenses due to a sales turn-down at the time. Although things are not much better business-wise these days, manufacturers and accessory principals heard the cries from buyers and dealers, and the show has been resurrected for 2011.

The 2011 edition spreads 374 exhibitors over 80,000 square meters of floor space, across three buildings. Held at the Porte de Versailles in Paris, the show is easy to get to by metro, bus and regional train, and by two-wheeler naturally. Funky parking laws in Paris are pretty much “Grab what you can”, so you can find bikes strew about all around the exhibition grounds.

The show serves as the official launch of new models specific to France (as virtually all the new stuff has already been announced in Milan, two weeks prior), though Husqvarna saw fit to unveil their new Strada, and that is where I’ll start.

Strada

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Will the Strada be a winner?
PIC: HUSQVARNA

I spoke to the guys at the Husky booth about this unexpected addition and they are in just as much in a fog as everyone else. Apparently the bike was dropped off by a BMW truck just before the show and they were only given the basic information about size, availability and pricing.

The bike uses the all-purpose G650 single from BMW, somewhat excited by Husky engineers, and the relatively short suspension travel points at an emphasis on paved surfaces, with smooth dirt roads and trails also a possibility. One thing is for sure, the Motocross-narrow saddle will make longer rides mostly uncomfortable.

Husqvarna seem to be taking dead aim at KTM, and the Strada comes across as a bitza thrown together for the show as an answer to KTM’s 690. Pricing will be in the 5000 Euro range (about C$6900). The Strada is scheduled to arrive in French dealerships in 2012, though there’s no word on Canadian availability.

BMW C600 Sport and GT scooters – two very different birds

bmwscoots_front.jpgThe sport (left) has a narrow profile and low windscreen. The more tour orientated GT (right) has a wider body, more aerodynamic profile a la R1200RT. Same goes for the bike!

You already know about these new models that are creating quite a stir at the show, especially in this city where scooters outnumber bikes 3 to 1, thanks to riding year round, and expensive gas. Quick scoots and great protection will do this to a market.

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Triumph retro models are a going concern in France.

The two BMWs look like distant cousins from the side, but we are talking chalk and cheese when viewed from the front, as you can see from the
pictures.

“Slightly Modified” Triumph Thruxton

Triumph retro models bring back memories and a few French dealers put their money — lots of it — where their heart is to build some spectacular machines.

Just looks at this redone Thruxton, complete with an upside down adjustable fork, twin front disks, CR race caburators instead of the stock electronic injection, a pair of adjustable Öhlins at the back, and a lightweight Akopovic pipe. And to crown it off, a black-with-gold-striping full JPS paint job. Sweet!

Harley-Davidson VR1000 Superbike

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The legendary VR1000 racer.

Both Miguel Duhamel and Pascal Picotte rode this beast in AMA Superbike, or at least tried to get the best out of it. The team was managed by Steve Schiebe, an ex-Rouch engineer and amateur bike racer who believed that he knew it all – including the need for an ultra stiff chassis and suspension combo.

We know better today that some lateral flexibility improves cornering at full lean, and Pascal and Dale Rathwell (local suspension and chassis guru) knew that some flexibility was badly needed. Schiebe soon realised that the pair was gradually sawing through the swingarm brace covertly, and he could see that lap times kept improving.

He became so frustrated with this that he would leave the team work area whenever he saw Pascal and Dale approaching the bike with tools in
hand.

Yamaha TZ750 – the game changer

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TZ750 was in a league of its own.

This 145 hp four cylinder two stroke wonder changed racing. It createdNan F1 category all its own, put extra strain on chassis, brakes, tiresNand wire wheels that forced the development of better components, andNsorely tested the courage of racers.

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

British quick man Barry Sheene suffered a tire failure at full blat on the East banking at Daytona. That was enough for the track owners to put in the chicane before that banking, so that bikes did not go into the corner at 170mph.

Hand and foot controls for handicapped riders

A dedicated group has developed different sets of hand and foot controls for various types of handicaps, base on individual needs.

The pictures to the left show controls developed for a rider with a good left hand, a weak right one, and no power or mobility in the ankles.

Pic left: Both clutch (lower) and front-rear brake lever (upper) and throttle on one side. Pic right: This is the power shifter controlled also by the left hand. It cuts power on upshifts and blips the throttle on downshifts.

You Friends – The Law

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The police stand is big, though a little quiet …

Much like in Canada, French bike cops are also true bikers at heart. In France, where various levels of government would rather see bikes disappear, the cops seem to be on our side, as shown by the large display area.

Here at any time you’ll find at least 10 cops around, ready to talk to people, two simulators to teach basic safe riding, and even their Superbike racer that runs in the selected rounds of French Superbike and World Endurance Championships.

Dark Dog Moto Tour

Imagine an 8-day forced ride across France, with road sections linking all-out blinds on closed bit of country roads (all tarmac or brick pavement), with a few runs on local race tracks thrown in for good form.

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Over 200 riders on all types of bikes and sidecars pay 2000 Euro to participate in the 2500 km event
PIC: MOTOTOUR.COM

Open to all kinds of two-and three-wheelers, the event is important enough to attract support from major manufacturers and dealers, with the Gallic equivalent of Isle-of-Man bezerkos in the saddle or sidecar in some cases.

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Serious business.

The front runners prepare their mounts to roughly Canadian Superbike Standards, with fork kits and high end shocks, the usual improved brakes and exhaust systems, and Superbike kit innards to wake up the 1000cc giants.

Roadsters and Supermotard models are popular, such as the front running KTM 990 Super Duke R. The Yamaha supported R1 rider mounted high bars on his R1 for extra comfort and easier handling in tight corners, but left the footpegs at normal height to avoid dragging them in the corners.

It’s Mad Bastard on crack.


COSTA AT TOKYO

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Costa’s favourite stocking stuffer.

Jet lag has got a hold of me so badly that one of my eyeballs feels like it’s going to pop out of my head, and last night I witnessed the execution of about a dozen shrimp as they were placed on a hot plate live, jerking about beneath the chef’s spatula as they slowly turned pink as they seared. Tastiest damn shrimp I’ve ever eaten.

I’m in Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show and you can’t really appreciate the technological focus in this country until you’ve seen it yourself.

Everything electronic here has the potential to talk to you, toilet seats are heated and have sensors in them that begin circulating water as soon as you sit (don’t jump off when experimenting with the bidet features, it makes a mess), and it took me three days just to figure out how to work the coffee machine in my room. But now that I have figured it out I can at least get a dose of caffeine as I write this at 3:30 am.

Nothing really new to report that hasn’t already appeared on CMG but here are a few interesting bits;

Let’s start with some tools. Close behind the Yamaha Moegi in cuteness was this miniature
toolbox. Complete with 1/4-inch ratchet kit, screwdrivers and wrenches, it would make the absolute best stocking stuffer for interminable gearheads like me. It’s made by KTC Tool, and in Japan sells for the equivalent of $280 CDN. I’m sure you could probably get one shipped to Canada if you could figure out how to order one from the company’s
website.

crf250l.jpg The CRF250L has not yet been confirmed for Canada but I sure hope it comes here. It’s not a very high-tech machine, using a steel frame instead of aluminum, but its liquid-cooled single is a huge improvement and it’s a much more sophisticated motorcycle than the current CRF230L.

cb1100.jpgAnyone who grew up watching Freddie Spencer manhandle those early CB750F superbikes will connect affectionately with the CB1100. The concept first appeared in 2007 and it’s the first time I’ve seen it live. Damn, I want one.

mugen_cbr250r.jpgLanguage barriers and no press kit info prevented me from learning if this cool looking CBR250R Mugen was available elsewhere other than in Thailand.

w800.jpgIt’s unfortunate that the Kawasaki W800 isn’t imported into Canada. The original version is a looker, but this Japan market Special Edition beauty is downright outstanding. Done up in black with a matte-black exhaust, solo seat, gold anodized rims and a retro cafe fairing, it just looked right.

moegi.jpgThe Yamaha Y125 Moegi is the cutest thing I saw at the Tokyo Motor Show — aside from the super-cute Japanese women posing in the various booths (title shot). The simplicity, cleanliness and classic lines of this bicycle-like single-cylinder motorcycle drew plenty a gawker.

ktm200.jpgAnother drool-inducing bike we won’t be getting in Canada — at least not that we know of — is the KTM Duke 200. Maybe that’s a good thing because I think this bike would just prove that you don’t need big displacement to cultivate hooliganism in city streets.

5 thoughts on “Paris and Tokyo – CMG show reports”

  1. Smaller displacement bikes seem to mostly be wanted only by women (well, physically smaller bikes, which also usually happen to be small displacement), beginners, and small people. Women just don’t make up that large a segment of the market, and so many of them ride cruisers which are both their choice in style, and which they can reach the ground on – even larger displacement ones, although they can be very heavy. Beginners often aren’t willing to pony up at least 60% of the price of a larger bike to buy a new, smaller displacement bike. I mean, the CBR250 is cool, but is it $6,000 worth of cool? And who wants a 400cc sport bike when you can have a 600?

    On a final note, this story needed more pictures of the cute Japanese hospitality girls.

  2. Smaller bikes and the W650 may not have sold well a few years ago but now tha many bikers are older and lots of new bikers are women smaller non cruiser bikes are selling. I’d buy a small KTM duke and especially like the Kawasaki W800.

    RET

  3. it is simple really
    no one buys then
    someone wants a freddie spencer type bike but not enough people bought the Kawasaki ZRX to continue its importation While admittedly nopt a honda it was the dsame idea
    you could buy two and sometime three year old W650’s in Ontario ’cause no one bought them
    personally i blame a lot of sales staff (M. Tate excluded) for failing to promote the virtues of anything other than crusiers for old pharts and girls and rocket ships for the new and excitable
    I seriously dowbt a portion of many sales members of bike dealerships even rode
    jp

  4. I agree, I have been putting off a new bike purchase for a couple of years because there’s just not the compelling offerings in Canada that Europe gets. I’m interested in a mid-sized (650 to 800cc) Sport Tourer, but only have Suzuki Bandit and maybe the Yamaha Fazer8 to select from. Even the Honda VFR is not in that class anymore as it got pumped up to the liter+ class a few years ago.

  5. :upset I really don’t understand why the manufacturers refuse to develop interest in the smaller, more real world bikes like the Duke 200, Ninja 400, Inazuma 250, W800 and others in North America. They were very successful in spoon feeding us Harley look-alikes and liter+ high cc sportbikes. North America also needs interesting 250-650 cc street bikes in these hard economic times.

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