2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report


Reports and stories from trips, planning of gatherings, questions about how to get there!
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2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report

Post by WingAdmin » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:08 am



I went to the Cleveland International Motorcycle Show on Saturday, and as always took lots of pictures of what I saw.

Before I get to the pictures, let me first make some general observations of the show overall:

In comparison to the past few years, this year's show was...empty. There were still lots of people there, but in past years it was so absolutely packed that you had trouble moving through the massive sea of people. This year, no such problems. I had absolutely no problems getting photographs of most of the bikes, whereas in past years it took forever to get a clear shot without people either on the bike or in the way of the bike.

Many of the vendors in the vendor section (not the bike manufacturers) who have been in every show for many years were conspicuously absent this year. In past years, the vendor sections were close to half of the show, in terms of floor space. This year, they were barely a quarter of the show, and probably not even that. Whether this is due to a downturn in business, or an increase in show exhibiting fees, I don't know, I suspect it is both.

Several of the bike manufacturers had much smaller displays with many fewer bikes than in the past. Several of the local bike retailers, who in past brought pretty much their entire inventory to sell, had only a few bikes on the floor this year.

There was a big focus on electric bikes, with bikes from Zero and Harley Davidson, and a large area where attendees could try their hand at riding a Zero electric motorcycle around a closed course.

There was also a big focus on young riders, with a big course in the middle for youngsters to ride small electric bikes and scooters around.

The hyperfocus on Adventure Bikes seems to be dying down a bit, although the excellent Adventure speaker area continuing from last year.

Triumph made quite a showing this year, with a fairly large display - of brand-new bikes that looked straight out of the 1960's.

All being said, this year's show belonged to Harley Davidson. They had by far the largest display, and Harley bikes were everywhere - from aftermarket vendors, to clothing suppliers, to parts and supplies - everywhere you looked was Harley.

There were very few quality gear vendors this year - apart from AlpineStars, I saw no real quality riding gear. Lots of useless leather vests with fringe and so on, used for appearance only, but in terms of actual quality protective gear, virtually none. I saw a few outfits selling a bunch of low-cost gear from manufacturers I had never heard of, but not so much as a low-end Joe Rocket jacket was to be found.

With that said, let's move on to the pictures! As always, I try to focus on competitors to the Goldwing, as well as interesting accessories and parts.

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The Honda booth was a pale shadow of last year's booth. Last year, Honda spared no expense, with a massive, show-dominating booth with elevated stages, video walls, and what seemed like every version of every bike they sold, including five or six Goldwings.

This year it was relatively small, especially compared to some of the other manufacturers. There were only two Goldwings on display, and other bikes like the NM4 and CTX variants were nowhere to be seen. They did have a couple Africa Twins on hand, which did not seem to be garnering much interest.

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By far the two Goldwings, like this Goldwing Tour, were the stars of the Honda booth, with the most attention being paid to them. There was none of the excitement of last year's show however, and they did not have special Honda staff on hand to talk about and demonstrate the Goldwings. Also disappointing was the fact that the Goldwings were not turned on like last year's show - so you could not look at and test the wide array of electronics on the bikes.

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I had hoped to see the relatively new Rebel 300 this year, but all they had was the Rebel 500, which is quite a bit heavier than the 300.

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As I mentioned, this show belonged to Harley. The CVO Road Glide is bristling with technology, but I thought it looked unfinished - like they did a bunch of work up front, but the designers got bored partway through, and just threw the back end together.

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A mix of analog gauges and a big readable navigation screen right up top (where it should be) is ergonomic perfection.

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The high-tech LED headlights on the CVO are blinding but focused.

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The Street Glide Special had an extremely comfortable seat, although I wasn't a fan of the massive amounts of chrome.

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The same navigation-up-top cockpit is used, although the speedometer and tachometer are mounted to the handlebars rather than the fairing.

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Again, the Harley LED headlights are state-of-the-art.

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Showing the only factory (standard) trike at the show, the Harlye Tri Glide Ultra uses LED lighting as well.

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The large radiators hidden under the grilles bely the water cooling, and the shields on the forks protect the fork tubes from grit and bugs.

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The Tri Glide Ultra cockpit for some reason reverses the layout, with the navigation down below, and the analog gauges up top.

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The Can Am Spyder RT showed up in a couple different booths. These are large, heavy, utilitarian vehicles, some people love them...some not so much.

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The electronics in the Spyder are quite good, with some features still not found in the brand new Goldwing.

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It was easy to get pictures of the Spyders...because nobody was looking at them. Interesting, but it does not bode well for Can Am.

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Mrs. Wingadmin gave the brand new Can Am Ryker the thumbs up. It's a much smaller, lighter and cheaper variant of their reverse trike.

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Yamaha's Star Eluder was extremely popular in its second year of existence - they had three of them at the show. So many people were looking at the two floor models, that the only picture I could get without someone sitting on it was the one on the platform with the "please do not sit" sign.

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The Yamaha FJR1300, while somewhat long in the tooth, is a strong rival to the Goldwing in its current form.

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The FJR will need to update its electronics very soon in order to avoid being eclipsed by Honda's flagship bike.

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That said, the FJR is a sharp looking bike, and a potent sport-tourer.

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By far the weirdest bike at the show was the brand-new Yamaha Niken. As I was taking this picture, a kid came up behind me and exclaimed, "what the hell is that thing?"

Precisely.

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Mrs. Wingadmin though the concept was interesting, but she said it was far too ugly to ride, and she'd feel like a fool on it.

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To me, I am wondering just how much unsprung weight is sitting out there in front. Yes, it leans in turns, but it doesn't sit up by itself when at a stop, so just what kind of problem is this thing solving?

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Not to mention that the horrible array of tube frame, engine components, seat frame, front suspension, etc. all hanging out there. It looks like the bike exploded on the assembly line, and they just left it that way. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

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Suzuki chose to pretty much ignore anything other than the sport bike world this year, with massive numbers of sport bike and sport bike derivatives. Its soul touring bike was a lonely old Boulevard C90T.

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What a disaster of a cockpit, with the speedo and 1980's era LCD mounted on the tank, amongst a ton of chrome ready to blind you at the first hint of sunlight. Whatever designer thought large expanses of chrome in the cockpit of a bike was a good idea needs a stiff kicking.

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Mrs. Wingadmin thought the Indian Roadmaster was an absolutely beautiful bike, she loved the flowing form and look of every one of them. Of course, they ride like a truck, with all that road-hugging weight...

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For all of the ancient appearance, the Indian Roadmaster cockpit is relatively modern, with stylish period analog gauges flanking a somewhat out-of-place looking display screen.

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Kawasaki had a large presence this year, with a gaggle of sport bikes and Ninja-derivatives, all in Kawasaki green. Making an appearance for the last time is the outgoing Hayabusa. The Concours 14 is a sharp but very dated looking bike, with the ventral fins and large headlight. Kawasaki has not really updated this bike for many years, and it shows.

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Like the FJR1300, the Concours 14 also desperately needs a technology update in the cockpit.

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However, the Concours has large saddlebags, with a simple method of loading each half of the shell separately.

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Shaft drive completes the Concours 14 rear end.

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The Kawasaki Versys 1000LT is big and heavy enough to be edging into the touring category. With this kind of size and weight, you can hardly call it an "adventure" bike - you wouldn't want to ride it in sand, and certainly not with those tires.

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The Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager has a nice, damped 1700cc V-twin, but heat problems - that engine just dumps so much heat right onto the rider, that it's almost unbearable in summer.

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The ancient-looking cockpit needs a serious update in order to continue to compete with other large tourers.

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The trunk and passenger seatback look too much like an afterthought for a factory installation.

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The saddlebags, while quite large, open to the side, with a considerable amount of the storage space contained in the lid. How do you utilize that space when closing the lid?

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The Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero is the "F6B" version of the Voyager, with its massive, hot air-cooled 1700cc V-twin, and no trunk.


That's it for the new bikes, now on to some of the old ones. There is always a "classic bike" section at this show - however this year the classic bike section was quite a bit smaller than in other years. Unlike previous years, there were no Goldwings represented at all.

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However...there was a 1984 VF1000F Interceptor in red and blue. I had to take a picture of this bike because...well, it was my first bike. Actually mine was a VF750F in red and white, but it was still virtually identical to this bike.

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Ah, memories. This was a fantastic bike, the "superbike" that revolutionized motorcycle engine design. This bike was actually designed by Honda for racing, and had many expensive design decisions made with the intention that they would build just enough road-worthy bikes to make it legal to race. However, it was such a huge hit, that Honda ended up making 500cc, 750cc and 1000cc versions of the Interceptor.

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Another unique Honda bike, the CX650 Turbo was not a success - the additional power gained by the turbo was not enough of a benefit for the weight and complexity involved. And who thought that "computer font" used for the CX650 was a good idea?

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Really, a bike only a mother could love, with that big ugly light up front. I definitely see some common parts bin parts that also appeared on the Interceptor.

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Paul Pelland, or Long Haul Paul, is a rider with Multiple Sclerosis. He is riding one million miles to raise funds for MS research. He rode his Yamaha Star Venture to the Cleveland show from Massachusetts through snow, salt and arctic temperatures - and is riding back to Massachusetts as I write this - in 7F (-14C) cold and lake-effect snow.

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Paul spoke with Mrs. Wingadmin and me for quite a while - a very friendly and talkative guy, he was eager to show me the modifications he had made to his bike to help him with his rides.

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If you'd like to find out more about his ride, check out how he is doing, or perhaps donate to his cause, check out his web site: Long Haul Paul

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A product I had read much about is the AlpineStar Tech Air airbag vest. This is a vest you wear underneath your jacket - a special jacket that allows for inflation of the vest. The vest can be used on the racetrack or on the street. Unlike tethered vests, this vest uses microprocessors and G-sensors to identify when a crash is about to occur, and inflates in 20 ms before impact occurs.

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The back of the vest is Level-III CE armor, containing the circuitry and argon gas charge.

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Here is one of the special street jackets which expands when the air bags are deployed.

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The back of the vest has room for the CE armor.

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The arm of the jacket has VERY BRIGHT LEDs that show the status of the vest. I suspect I would end up putting electrical tape over these, as they are FAR too bright to have on at night.

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A willing volunteer put on one of the armed jackets to show what happens when the air bag is deployed.

You can see a video I took of the actual air bag deployment here:





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I have been wearing Fit-Ear earplugs for six years now, and I swear by them. Available in many colors, with just earplugs, or with wired speakers - and now Bluetooth - these are molded to fit your own ear canals.

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My six-year-old Fit-Ear plugs were finally wearing out, so I was fitted for a new pair. You can read my review here: Fit-Ear Custom Molded Ear Plugs

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Speaking of Bluetooth, it showed up everywhere - bluetooth headsets, bluetooth intercoms, and as shown here, J&M bluetooth-enabled helmets.

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I was also able to speak with the representative of Yuasa, the inventor of AGM batteries. He was telling me about their new (made in USA) GYZ series batteries, which have stronger interiors (to guard against vibration), and more active surface area, which gives batteries of the same physical size more electrical capacity and life cycles.



And that's about it! Definitely a smaller show than the last few years, attendance seemed down, and the outlay by manufacturers was noticeably less, in particular Honda. Several vendors did not attend, and the marketplace was noticeably smaller. But overall a good time, and a worthwhile day.


Oh, and just one more thing: Mrs. Wingadmin did manage to meet a new friend!

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victory2honda
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Re: 2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report

Post by victory2honda » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:33 pm

Nice coverage of the show.
The 2018 show herein Vegas seemed down on attendance also. Also seemed a lot less showing form the vendors and motorcycle companies.

samellring
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Re: 2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report

Post by samellring » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:21 pm

Nice Job. When you were at the BRP booth and checking out the new lighter model that Mrs. Wingadmin liked, did you notice that the handlebar and foot pegs were adjustable to fit different size riders?
If not, I was informed by our Missouri Motorcycle Rider Program Director that BRP did that for their 3WBRC training classes that they support. As a Ridercoach, I thought this was a great idea. Too bad it cannot be done for the 2-wheel models that are mainly used for training purposes.
Sincerely,
Scott Mellring

"Everyone has the power to impact the outcome of his life. The way to do it is to focus on today...Today is the only time you have. It's too late for yesterday. And you can't depend on tomorrow." ~ John C. Maxwell

baronsmear
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Re: 2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report

Post by baronsmear » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:39 pm

great write-up. i have heard virtually nothing positive about this year's show. everyone said it was tiny, poorly attended, and missing many staples - all of which you echoed. the people that are in charge don't seem to have the long term future of our beloved sport in mind, as they want such a large fee for having a booth. i wouldn't be surprised to see the IMS leave the cleveland market, frankly. it's a bummer, for sure.

samellring
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Re: 2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report

Post by samellring » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:42 pm

They left the St. Louis area for that very same reason approximately 5 years ago.
Sincerely,
Scott Mellring

"Everyone has the power to impact the outcome of his life. The way to do it is to focus on today...Today is the only time you have. It's too late for yesterday. And you can't depend on tomorrow." ~ John C. Maxwell

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ctag
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Re: 2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report

Post by ctag » Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:08 am

Thanks for the show writeup!

Very cool to learn about longhaulpaul; that's some dedication! I'd like to learn about the modifications to his bike, I haven't heard of someone with MS continuing to ride before.
"Voshkie" - 1985 GL1200 Aspencade

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Re: 2019 Cleveland Motorcycle Show Report

Post by landisr » Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:14 pm

They cancelled the Phoenix show 2 or 3 years ago.


I'm not so sure about an inner child, but I have an inner idiot that surfaces every now and then.. :mrgreen:

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