Take me to the bike show!

The Toronto Motorcycle Show is on this weekend at the downtown Enercare centre, and CMG was there today to check it out. We asked Mark, Jeff, Dustin, Matt and Dean for their recommendations of a couple of bikes to see, and a couple of booths not to miss. If you go, tell us about it in the comments.



Well, duh! My bike of the show must be the Panigale V4R — the most powerful and advanced motorcycle ever made by Ducati, and maybe by any maker. It’s good for 209 hp at a high-pitched 15,250 rpm (or 226 hp with an Akrapovich exhaust) , and weighs only 194 kg wet. What makes the difference is the wheelie control and slide control, so I might still look like I know what I’m doing even while the computer is saving my ass. Just as well, with an RRSP of $47,995. Ducati expects to sell 25-30 this year in Canada alone, with a dozen already spoken for.


None of us are getting any younger, but the Gold Wing makes you feel young even while it’s keeping you comfortable. The new-for-2018 suspension soaks up the bumps without losing any response, and the electric windscreen goes all the way up or down, to give just the right amount of air flow. It’s not like riding a sofa anymore – it’s a large motorcycle that feels much smaller once you’re riding, though you won’t even notice your passenger on the back.


We love Rene and his escorted motorcycle trips to some of the world’s most exotic places. His ride across Mongolia is still one of the best adventure stories we’ve published at CMG. The great thing about hanging out at Rene’s booth is getting the firsthand information on what to expect on and off the beaten track from the guy who’s been there. If you can’t afford a trip this year for whatever reason, he’s still happy just to chat and pass on advice. Either way, he’ll make you want to get out there and explore.


Maybe I’m biased because Jeremy writes for CMG whenever we can coax a story out of him. Maybe it’s because he’s selling the Motorcycle Messengers books that include some of my stories, and now even one from Zac. Or maybe it’s because I just like to live vicariously through other riders who’ve been there and done that and survived to tell the tales. Whichever – any one of the four different books on sale at Jeremy’s booth will keep you reading late into the night, and right now, the bike show is the only place to find a copy of the brand-new Motorcycle Messengers 2 anthology.



Following Team Green’s brilliant Z900RS last year, Kawi is adding another heritage-style machine to the collection that pays homage to the first “big” Japanese bike of the 1960s, the W1.  While the Z900RS is a modern bike with state-of-the-art mechanicals, the W800 features an old-school parallel-twin engine that sings through a pair of pea-shooter style pipes.  The look and specs are pretty similar to one of my other faves, the Triumph Bonneville, which  makes me eager to throw a leg over and spend a few days riding with no particular place to go.  I’ll take the Street version over the more dolled-up Cafe, please.


I haven’t tried flat-track racing yet — but have thoroughly enjoyed watching it — and the thought of having a powerful yet nimble bike that likes to be roughed up a bit, sounds like good fun to me.  Add to that the FTR’s bad-ass looks (think Ducati Scrambler, but with Marlborough Man machismo) and this is the first American bike I’ve come across in a long time that I really, really want to ride.  Cool detail:  check out the Dunlop tires with treads that look like they’ve already seen several smoky burnouts.


I never tire of watching the police skilled riders or the stunt displays at the bike show, but the Vintage Road Racing Association’s display had no fancy light shows or big expensive structures.  What it did have, stopped me in my tracks:  a collection of achingly cool race bikes from an earlier era, beautifully restored.  The Vintage Road Racing Association is a group of individuals who love to ride their performance machines the way they were intended — in the heat of competition on a track.  Got an old bike you want to race?  They’ve got a school to help you get into the sport.

The other booth that set my mind adrift was Air Canada’s reminder that it would be happy to help us Canadian riders experience life on two wheels in other places.  And rather than rent someone else’s machine, wouldn’t it be amazing to do the adventure with your own beloved ride? The display featured a Ducati Scrambler strapped down in a shipping unit, and showed just how easily it could be done.  The question I’m facing now is would I rather start in Milan or Casablanca?



The Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 has drag-bike style, but it can handle the twisties better than any drag bike has a right to. Aided by the use of aluminum in the swingarm and subframe, the bike sheds several kilograms for 2019, and features a great looking exposed cone air intake and massive two-into-one exhaust — I can’t wait to hear this one in action. $26,499 in vivid black, $26,949 in five available colours.


When BMW burst onto the Superbike scene in 2009 with the S1000RR, the world had to take notice. Class-leading power and electronics forced the other manufacturers to up their game, and today the motorcycle world is better for it. The HP4 Race is BMW’s full carbon-fibre-framed, limited production, super-exclusive track bike, and for the wallet-destroying price of $95,000, you, too, can have a bike you can’t even legally ride down your street.


Miles Keller is a well-known and well-regarded Canadian industrial designer who has caught the road racing bug, and in the process he’s turned his considerable creative energies to producing cutting-edge motorcycle bolt-on accessories. Using the latest 3D printing technologies and materials, Miles produces race-oriented parts such as brake and clutch levers, lever guards, toe guards, and tank protectors. Now, prototypes and short-run products are possible in hours instead of weeks or months, and design iterations can go from CAD screen to the track between practice on Friday and race day on Sunday. The future is now.


The 2019 Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship will see Trevor Daley race a Suzuki Canada-supported GSX-R1000 tuned by Scott Miller at Fast Company. The new machine, featuring retro-inspired Suzuki livery that those who remember the original 1985 GSX-R750 will recognize, was unveiled at the CSBK booth only days after delivery to the team. Daley’s main rivals will be defending champion Jordan Szoke, returning to Kawasaki on a Blackfoot Motorsports sponsored ZX-10R, and Ben Young on a BMW S1000RR.


KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition “Cole Thompson”

This is the one bike at the show I desperately wanted to ride, even though I absolutely should not be allowed to. It would rip my arms off and spit me into the woods. Clearly, I’m no Cole Thompson, who rode this gnarly bike to win the Canadian Rockstar Triple Crown. It’s an exotic machine with full factory-built motor, WP Cone Valve forks, titanium FMF pipe and all kinds of other tasty bits. Please, Cole?

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

That’s the boss of Ducati North America Jason Chinnock talking up the 10 new bikes debuting at the show. Me? I’m back here snapping photos of the not-exactly-new Scrambler Desert Sled, trying to figure out if it should be my next bike. The new retro colour scheme (not pictured) looks sweet, but then so does the Super Hooligan-style Scrambler Full Throttle.

Flat Track Canada School

This vicious-looking machine caught my eye; it was born to slide. Flat Track Canada organizes national and regional flat-track races across the country, and also flat-track schools for newbies like me. They cost $280 for the day (including the bike and gear).

DualSport Plus

This shop in Brantford recently started organizing all-inclusive adventure rides. Clint MacBride, pictured here, is the general manager and helps guide the tours on this Husqvarna 701 Enduro fitted with a Nomad-ADV rally kit. The next adventure in Yukon/Alaska is nearly fully booked, with Colorado and Costa Rica up next. Sign me up! (But, um, first tell me how to climb on this bike that’s taller than a horse?)



I first laid eyes on the Vitpilen at the 2016 EICMA show in Milan as it was unveiled beside the Svartpilen. Based on the KTM 390 platform, they looked like an artist’s rendition of what café racers might look like if they were created in 2060 instead of the 1960s.


There are more than 500 motorcycles and scooters on display at the Enercare Centre this weekend, none of which would be much good in the sub-zero temperatures we’re currently experiencing in this part of the country. Plus, the sound of road salt spraying every which way would make me cringe in apprehension of future corrosion and wiring issues. Yamaha has a solution to this issue with a WR450F outfitted with tracks and a ski that can be ridden right now, so there’s no need to wait for spring!


The Fundy Adventure Rally has been on my bucket list since its inception. A four-day event that tests man and machine over 500 km, the multi-route GPS team ride lets riders explore the picturesque Fundy Region of southern New Brunswick. Not only that, but the rally also features rider training, demo rides, workshops, seminars, a moto film festival and self-guided tours.


The Fundy Adventure Rally may be open to all levels of adventure riders, but come riding season I’ll definitely need a refresher to blow the cobwebs off my riding skills. Taught by the legendary Clinton Smout, who is as personable as he is knowledgeable, a variety of courses are available at Horseshoe Valley Resort, including the two-day BMW GS Off-Road Certification Course.

Join the conversation!