Sunday, 30 January 2011

It was a glass half empty kind of day

Show - 2011Well that was a bit of a bust. I went to the Ottawa bike show yesterday, spent a couple of hours surrounded by bikes and bikers, and came away quite disappointed.
After last year’s inaugural show I was looking forward to a bigger and better event with more dealers, more vendors, and more bikes. And there were signs of improvement in some areas. Certainly the show was better attended than last year – in fact the crowds were a bit of problem in my opinion as the venue was small for the number of booths and movement around the show floor was difficult at times. And it was nice to see a few more aftermarket and accessory vendors there than last year. But what was most disappointing to me were the motorcycles themselves.
Based on some previous blog comments (bobskoot and others) I was looking forward to V-Maxseeing the Yamaha Super Tenere. Well, if Yamaha had one on display I certainly couldn’t find it. Otherwise, all the metric crotch rockets look and feel the same to me, as do all the Japanese cruisers, so nothing of interest there. But the muscular Yamaha V-Max is still a hard to ignore show stopper that, in my opinion, would have attracted more attention had it not been pushed way in the back of the Yamaha display.
Since I have a soft spot for Brit bikes, the new Triumphs were high on my list of must-sees as well – but Triumph wasn’t even present. Nor was BMW, which always has some interesting models to display. Both marques are carried by the same Ottawa dealer which appears to have made a business decision not to be involved this year at all, which was too bad, and I think it may hurt them in the long run. (After last year’s show, a sales rep there told me they very disappointed with the results of their participation, so it’s not surprising I suppose.)
The Harley booth, the largest at the show, was quite good with a couple of new models on display and a selection of clothing and other gear. But I get to see those bikes at my dealer whenever I want, kick the tires, and get a chance to actually talk to a representative without being jostled by people trying to get a better look or a picture of their friend sitting astride a Harley. 
The only motorcycles that did catch my eye were the Royal Enfields. With classic lines these bikes are a throwback to the 50’s in appearance, but under the skin are thoroughly modern with disk brakes, electronic ignition, EFI, modern suspensions, and so on. A very interesting amalgam of old and new, an Enfield would satisfy the need for a nostalgic ride, but in a much more reliable fashion. And they just look great to my ‘vintage’ eyes. Seeing there’s now a local dealer carrying the brand is encouraging, and hopefully we’ll see a few more on the road.
But overall the show did not meet my expectations. I know it sounds like a lot of whingeing, but I’ve been to great motorcycle shows and this just wasn’t one. Still though, it was a day of bikes in the middle of winter, and that isn’t all bad. And next year will be better.


  1. Sorry to hear that the show didn't meet with your expectations. I can certainly relate to that. I got the same impression from the Seattle event, and came back very disappointed. The Vancouver show however was satisfactory though.
    At least you got out, and it had something to do with bikes, eh!?!

  2. Sonja, you're right. A day out with bikes is really never a bad thing.

  3. Canajun:

    i know what you mean about disappointments, after all the hype. Sort of like what Sonja said about the Seattle MC show which is dying. The Vancouver show is more or less the same every year and nearly all brands are there. Perhaps it's because we are able to ride nearly all year round and the largest city on the Wet coast.

    At least you have dealers close by

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  4. You know...I quite like the Royal Enfield myself, but I am n ot sure how reliable these buily in India Motorcycles would be...their price is right though...Is their new dealer in Ottawa?

  5. Baron:

    I think it's a nostalgia thing with the Royal Enfield - much like the Triumph Bonneville and its ilk. As for their reliability, etc., I really don't know how they shape up.

    The local dealer is just outside Ottawa, in Rockland, I believe. I hope they do well with the brand.

  6. Thanks for the info. I know exactly where Rockland is...I'll make a note to stop by next time I'm in Ottawa..I like to look at new dealerships...Yeah, I hope they do well with the brans as well..I'm sure they will have a following

  7. Bob:

    Far be it from me to try to solve the world's motorcycle show issues, but what I miss is the non-standard stuff.

    In years gone by you could count on at least one vintage display where owners would watch over their prides and joy like hawks, but also be willing to chat to anyone who expressed the least amount of interest in their bikes.

    The Norton Owners Club (of which I was a member) would have a few of our bikes on display, and likewise be willing to bend the ear of anyone who ventured close to our display area.

    There would always be some custom bike displays, the best of which would be on some sort of display dias, accompanied by good looking women, special lighting, and music. Now the custom builders stick a couple of bikes in a back corner and spend the entire show chasing young people away lest they get too close - that is when they're not talking to their buddies and ignoring the general audience.

    And it wasn't only bike stuff. Even if you couldn't afford a new Harlyamahonda you could at least go home with a bag of fresh-made beer nuts!

    Now it seems to be mostly dealers, showing too many bikes, in too small a space, with too few reps. Not very exciting.

  8. Baron:

    Next time you're going to be in Ottawa, drop me a note. Perhaps we can meet up for a coffee.


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