2009 IMS Long Beach

By Art Hall

Well it was the beginning of December and you know what that means – no not Christmas is coming – the International Motorcycle Show (IMS) would be in town as usual on the first weekend. Fortunately for me it is held right here in my town, “The LBC” as Snoop would say – at the Long Beach Convention Center. Long Beach is in the beginning of the thirteen city tour so Southern California gets to see all the new stuff before most of the rest of the country. The IMS is to the motorcycle world as the Los Angeles Auto Show is to the car industry where the major manufacturers bring out their new model line for the year. Of course, for your buying pleasure there is also a large vendor area with the newest in gear and accessories.

Ride your bike and parking is free – go online and get discount tickets for entry. The official word from the promoter was that “attendance was down” (no surprise), but from where I stood most of the time it was hard to tell. I managed to be there all three days and in talking with the vendors and reps they all seemed to be quite happy with the crowds on all days, saying at times it was hard to walk in the aisles.

If you’re in the market for a new bike this is definitely the place to come as just about any choice you may want was on display from this year’s participating manufacturers: Aprilla, BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda,Kawasaki, KTM, Kymco, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, Star, Suzuki, Vespa, Victory, and Yamaha. All these guys brought over 500 streetbikes, ATV’s, scooters cruisers and other sports vehicles.

Plus there was a scooter pavilion with 20 models from 10 companies, one of which has the clever name of “Genuine,” as in I have a ‘Genuine’ Scooter (Genuine what? Who’s on first?). Next to the ‘Genuine’ scooter was the first time on display electric scooter, the World Debut of the Vectrix Vx-1. This zero emissions eco-friendly vehicle gets up to 62 MPH and will accelerate to 50 in 5.8 seconds! You can do this for about 30-55 miles before recharging at a cost of 1 cent per mile (And about $10,500 msrp!!). It should be noted that at one cent per mile you have the equivalent of 357 mpg.

Another exclusive display was the canyon carver sportbike Neiman Marcus Ducati Hypermotard (not to be confused with retard) which is available for $17,999 msrp. An additional “special” event was the unveiling of Harley-Davidson’s new sportbike, the Xr1200, featuring the old classic 750 flat tracker look.

There were also a couple of custom bike builders in attendance, Chica and Roland Sands. Roland had an interesting display with several bikes each in their own “display” where several artists were contracted to paint the sets to match the character of the particular motorcycle. Very interesting concept which produced some interesting art in conjunction with the bikes. For the vintage fans the “Vintage Pavilion” showcased an expanded collection of rare old motorcycles ranging from dirt bikes to cruisers.

The sidecar club brought out a large collection for display. Outside there were regular stunt shows done by “Team No Limit” with wheelies, stoppies, and some incredible acrobatic tricks done on sport bikes. Across the parking lot demo rides were being offered by no less than twelve manufacturers – what a great opportunity to try the bike you think you like.

I think the IMS is a great show and provides good value for the casual to avid bike enthusiast. It’s always on my calendar and should be on yours – just before Christmas.