It starts this weekend: the Canadian motorcycle show season.
Although you see motorcycle shows all across Europe and North America, they have a special appeal in Canada, where almost the entire riding population has their bikes parked in the winter, except for maybe the lucky buggers in southern BC. A mid-winter trip to the motorcycle show isn’t as satisfying as a proper motorcycle ride, but at least it reminds you those days are coming.
Generally speaking, there are two breeds of shows in Canada. There are the independent shows, like the North American International Motorcycle Supershow (usually just called the Supershow) which kicks off at Toronto’s International Centre this Friday. Then there’s the MMIC shows, run by the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council.
Typically, the independent shows are more eclectic in their focus . This weekend, the Supershow has everything from a leather fashion show to a custom bike competition to a swap meet hall to autograph sessions with the Teutul family, of reality TV fame (sadly, they won’t go away).
The MMIC shows tend to be more straight-laced, with less beef jerky, leather corsets and hillbilly teeth for sale; almost all the motorcycle manufacturers have an official booth at the MMIC shows, and in some towns, the MMIC weekend is the only motorcycle show of the season, which turns most MMIC events into major gathering points for motorcyclists, especially the western shows. This weekend, the MMIC show circuit also begins, with the Calgary Motorcycle Show running at BMO Centre in Stampede Park
This winter’s hot bikes
Of course, the highlight of most of the show circuit is the year’s new models.
This year, the neo-retro models from Japan will probably grab a lot of attention, particularly the Kawasaki Z900 RS models. Suzuki’s SV650X should also be on the show circuit; we still haven’t heard if the updated Honda CB1000R is coming to Canada, but if it’s on the floor, we expect it’ll be a hot ticket as well. We’re not sure if the Ducati Scrambler 1100 counts as an adventure bike or as a neo-retro, but either way, it’s also going to be a highlight this winter.
This hot new superbike this year is the Ducati Panigale V4. None of the Japanese introduced new superbikes this year, and nobody really did much on the naked bike front either.
Most manufacturers seem to have more-or-less given up on the cruiser market, with Harley-Davidson’s updated Harley-Davidson Softail lineup as the big exception to that rule. Those nine new models have been available in dealerships for a while now, but they’ll still command attention at the shows, along with the new Triumph Speedmaster, which is a much different take on the cruiser idea.
There’s a healthy crop of freshly designed touring bikes this year, including BMW’s new K1600 Grand America and K1600B Bagger, the new Honda Gold Wing and Yamaha’s new Star Eluder and Star Venture. And, there’s a decent number of adventure bikes to check out, including the new BMW F750 and F850, as well as the KTM Super Adventure S (coming to Canada, finally!) and the Triumph Tiger 800 and Tiger 1200. A lot of riders haven’t had the chance to see a BMW G310 GS yet either, so expect that mini-ADV machine to be popular, especially with shorter riders.
Alas, one of the most polarizing motorcycles to break cover in 2017 won’t be at the shows this winter. The Yamaha Niken leaning three-wheeler will not be at the independent or MMIC shows, we’ve been told. Pity! It would have been very interesting to see if opinions changed after riders saw the machine up close for themselves.
It’s also unclear if Royal Enfield will be at this year’s show. Despite assertions that 2018 is the year the company makes itself a player in the North American market, it doesn’t have a booth listed at this weekend’s MMIC show in Calgary, which makes us wonder if we’ll see the made-in-India brand at shows this winter. With three interesting bikes new to our market (the Himalayan adventure bike and Interceptor/Continental GT twins), there’s curiosity about what the machines will actually look like in person.
Moncton is missing
This winter’s MMIC show circuit does have one notable absence. The MMIC’s Moncton show is canceled, meaning the independent Halifax show is now the only mid-winter show on the east coast.
It’s a bummer, but it’s not a surprise; the Moncton show has been shrinking steadily after being hit by severe snowstorms several years in a row. Attendance has taken a dive, and the show has been missing key exhibitors as well, with some local dealerships substituting their showroom stock instead of a display from the manufacturer’s head office, which makes some showgoers ask, “Why pay admission when we can see the same bikes for free at the dealership?”
However, the MMIC does say it’s open to bringing the show back if there’s a solid business reason to do so. Hopefully something works out; while Atlantic Canada doesn’t see the sales volume of the rest of the country, it’s sad to think motorcyclists out here might get slighted when it comes to seeing new product. On the other hand, with Halifax being the only show in the east now, maybe the manufacturers will put more emphasis on a good showing there, which would help.
The Return of Hangar 17
Last year, we told you about the Hangar 17 section at the Montreal show, which we described as “a corner of the show devoted to the DIY/handbuilt custom bike scene … a hangout for bobber, chopper and cafe racer fans, with a bar and a DJ, and a few bikes on display.” Turns out the idea was a success, as Hangar 17 is back at this year’s Montreal show, and also at the Quebec City show.
While not all showgoers are into this side of motorcycling, it’s a sign that the MMIC shows are still open to evolution.. Spec sheets and photos of new models are all readily available online now, but the shows still present an excellent opportunity for enthusiasts to meet the industry insiders. We couldn’t think of a better reason for you to shovel through the snowbanks and get yourself to the show this winter. See you there?