Take me out to the bike show

Okay, it’s winter here in Canada. Get over it. You’ve got a few choices to get rid of that pent-up frustration:

  • Go for a ride on your motorcycle, snow and ice be damned (and good luck in Quebec if there’s no snowflake symbol on your tires, which there won’t be).
  • Move to Vancouver or Victoria, and become Bondo’s neighbour. At least you won’t have to listen to him tell you how much better B.C. is than the rest of the world. Oh wait – you will.
  • Sit inside and look at your parked bike. Maybe sit on it and pretend you’re at Daytona. Take off your top.
  • Sit inside and look at pictures of the bike you’d love to own. Pretend you’re riding it through the Alps. Keep your pants on. Or not.
  • Go on a Fly-Ride motorcycle vacation to somewhere warm. This is good. It’s not cheap.
  • Visit your local motorcycle dealer and wander the aisles. Don’t touch the bikes!
  • Go to a bike show.
Oooh – tasty! Calgary showgoers dream of spring and riding into those mountains on their doorstep.

You need to be in the right city if you want to go to a Canadian bike show, but the season is now beginning. This weekend, the Supershow opens in Toronto, and The Motorcycle Show opens in Calgary.

The two shows are very different. The Supershow is a privately-owned show that was run and organized since the 1980s by promoter Bar Hodgson; there’s also a second, smaller show in Toronto in March. Both shows were founded by Hodgson, a well-known local motorcycle collector and enthusiast, with his wife and partner Hedy, but the Supershow is now solely owned by Richard Kehoe Productions, which previously specialized in snowmobiles. The spring show is co-owned by the Hodgsons and their long-time right-hand guy, Peter Derry.

The Supershow in Toronto is the biggest of them all, and the place is packed. It’s not so crowded in the evenings, but there’s always something happening.

The Motorcycle Show is a series of seven shows held across the country that are run by the motorcycle manufacturers themselves, through a partnership of the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council and the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council. The official partnership is called Power Sports Services (PSS).

It’s less congested at the Toronto Motorcycle Show, and all that lovely carpeting is easier on the feet.

The Supershow is the biggest of them all, claiming to be “the largest show of it’s kind” (sic) – North America’s largest retail show for motorcycle enthusiasts. Just how it stacks up against the big American shows that all make similar claims is irrelevant to most of us. The fact is, it pulls in more than 50,000 people over three days, who come to the International Centre near Toronto’s Pearson airport to wander through seven cavernous halls and see more than 1,000 bikes. The place is packed.

We could tell you all the things to do and see at the Supershow this weekend, but we’ll just let them tell you themselves. Click here to go to the show’s site. Dog! Dog the Bounty Hunter!

Need stickers for your helmet, or patches for your leather vest? The Toronto Supershow is the place to find exactly the right one.

For many years, Hodgson’s shows were the only game in town for the Toronto market, but at the start of the 2000s, the OEMs decided they wanted more control over the presentation of their new motorcycles. They wanted nicer carpeting on the floors, high-quality lighting and fewer booths selling vampire teeth and jerky. Power Sports Services started the Toronto show in direct competition a month before the Supershow, but now the dates have settled into place to all begin in the new year. It can be difficult to deliver the brand-new machines to the earlier shows, since their production has sometimes only just begun.

That’s more like it, and unlike a dealership, you can probably sit on all of them.

The OEMs, with their national reach, now organize and promote seven shows across Canada through Power Sports Services. Calgary, this weekend, is the first (go buy a book there from CMG’s newest contributor, Jeremy Kroeker!), then Edmonton, Vancouver, Quebec, Moncton, Toronto and Montreal. Each show is different and heavily localized, and full information is at the website here. They’re smaller than the Supershow, but there’s still plenty to see and do. For Calgary’s specific press release, click here.

The manufacturers’ own displays at The Motorcycle Show, like these in Calgary, are designed to show off the bikes at their very best.

The difference is that the Supershow has dealer stands, with salespeople showing off and selling whatever new bikes they can bring to the show; The Motorcycle Show has the manufacturers themselves.  The very newest debuts will be on the manufacturers’ stands, while the dealers will display whatever the manufacturers have shipped to them.

But really, the difference is again irrelevant to most of us, because we’ll all go to whatever we can get to, and if we live in Toronto, we’ll go to all three. I’ll be at the Supershow this Friday and I’ll be Live Facebooking at 3 pm. Log onto CMG’s FaceBook feed then and take a look for yourself!

 

44 thoughts on “Take me out to the bike show”

  1. Well thank you for that, Christopher Fisher. It would nice if some of these people working at the booths (charity rides and one-off products in particular), would pull their collective heads out of the sand and leave their phones alone for 5 minutes. They obviously don’t want to engage with people. Leaves a lasting impression.

  2. Last year I was disappointed by the Montreal show, too crowded (on opening Friday afternoon) and the bike I wanted most to see, the KTM Super Duke GT wasn’t even there.

    This year I am hoping to see the new Ducati SuperSport but I won’t get my hopes up!

    Will go for sure though!

Join the conversation!