Tis The Season
RIDE TO WORK by Steve Lita, Editor
This is a great time to get into bikes!
Reading the headline, you might have thought I’m writing about the all-too-fast-approaching holiday season. Ah…standing in lines at the cash register, battling the shopping mall traffic jams, stampeding shoppers, the fighting in the aisles over the last Black Friday deal on the shelf. The joyous holiday season indeed. No, I’m not exactly talking about that calamity, although I’m sure that you won’t entirely avoid that madness. What’s actually on my mind is the winter off-season for motorcycling in our home base in the Northeast and other Northern states and the things we do to keep from going stir-crazy from not riding. As I type this, The Weather Channel is taunting us New Englanders with the first nor’easter of the season. And for those readers who aren’t sure what that is, trust me, you don’t want one. To equate it to motorcycles, think of it as a massive snowstorm that’s been bored and stroked and equipped with a turbocharger, intercooler, high-lift cams, a throttle stuck on wide-open, and no limiter on the rpm.
This leaves plenty of time for hunkering down indoors and culling through the stacks of business cards and contacts I made at the INTERMOT motorcycle trade show in Cologne, Germany, and the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) in Las Vegas. For me, this is the season of planning future issues of American Iron Magazine and our new sister publication, Garage Build magazine. I’ll be following up with vendors about all the new products released and setting up install projects and bike builds for future stories.
It was my first trip to INTERMOT, and the enthusiasm expressed by Europeans for American motorcycle culture is fervent. It’s almost as if their winter downtime energy is pent up even more than ours (which is quite literally true in some of the European locations farther north where riding season can probably be measured in days instead of months).
While walking the aisles at INTERMOT I was struck by the fact that there are so many product brands of that we never see on our shores. Those companies usually don’t export their products to the United States for logistical or regulatory restrictions. I can imagine it’s a huge undertaking to ship warehouse-loads of product to another country and have to work around language barriers and monetary exchange rates that fluctuate over the course of minutes, not days. The experience was quite teasing. Here’s some cool stuff, but you can’t have it. Then the crazy thought would cross my mind to cash in my 401k plan and become the US importer for some product, but then I realize that, in reality, I don’t have the infrastructure in place or warehouse storage capacity to manage that. So, alas, some products will stay at arm’s length.
Closer to home, albeit across the nation, was AIMExpo. I attended three out of the four days, and I’d say foot traffic was up and enthusiasm was high. My time was split between appointments with vendors to check out new products, new bike unveils, and vendor press conferences. The Health app on my phone registered approximately six miles of walking each day. Not quite as much as the 11.5 miles I covered at the Pomona Swap Meet the following day, but plenty enough to make my feet howl for a few days when I returned home.
What strikes me most at these trade shows, even while some folks cry the blues about the decline of motorcycling in the US, is that it’s a great time to get into bikes! There were plenty of newcomer companies on the scene vying for the attention of wholesale distributors and press coverage of their gear. There are so many exciting products, so many high-tech gadgets, so much specialized motorcycle-specific gear, tools, and consumables available. It’s a newbie rider’s wonderland. Which leads me full circle to my column’s headline. Tis the season to wish everyone reading a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Now go out there and buy some cool motorcycle parts for your loved one. You know which one I mean: the motorcycle freezing in your garage.