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The show happened. And we were there. What an awesome way to spend an afternoon. I had a ton of fun talking to people, checking out bikes, sitting on bikes, taking pics, watching the stunt show, and just hanging out with friends and family. As promised, here are my impressions and some of my pics.
Last year when we went, there were maybe five bikes in the parking lot. It was cold, windy, pouring rain. This year (Saturday) was about the nicest weather you could possibly imagine for riding, and there were hundreds, maybe a thousand bikes in the lot. I got spoiled by the complete lack of crowds or lines at last year's show, because today was packed. Also wished we had arrived on bikes rather than in cars. The US shows are only about one-twelfth the size of the Intermot show in Europe, where they have girls in bikinis and pyrotechnics and unveilings and wild prototypes and thousands of vendors have booths. Not to mention the fact that Europe still gets over twice the number of models that we get. Anyway, here are my impressions.

--Triumph--the Speed Four was okay. Nothing real earth-shaking about it, but it looks fun. I was surprised it still had clip-ons. They had a Speed Triple with a couple thousand in accessories that looked really nice. They had a silver Daytona 600 on a pedestal. I liked the fact that it was more angular in 3D than it appears in pictures, and the ram air makes a little more sense when you see it in three dimensions. Being silver probably helped. Next year should be a much better year for Triumph after the huge fire they had this year. The Daytona 1300 and Bonneville Cafe Racer should be out by then.

--Kawasaki--really liked the new ZX-6R in person. It's a great-looking fairing and shape. I was pretty surprised by the ergonomics. The bars are definitely lower than on the new R6, and I think my heels were up higher as well. It really felt like a 'true' racer crouch, the way I imagine an AMA race bike to feel. It ain't no CBR F3. They had all five colors (including the RR model) and all looked sharp. Can't beat the front end composed of an inverted fork and the radially-mounted brake squeezers.

The Z1000 surprised me a little. The reach to the bars felt TOO short as a matter of fact. I think the SV650 has more room/more spread out ergos. Not that it would be hard to adjust. Detail-wise, the black Z was gorgeous. Very striking profile from most angles. The orange was a little too loud there under the lights in the convention center. Also, there was a tad more chintzola factor around the frame and engine than I expected. But the tail, pipes, headlight, and wheels were great.

I thought the blue on the ZRX was almost hideous.

--Suzuki--The GSX-R1000 disappointed me a little in the frontal area. I sorta liked the pictures of it, but I remember thinking it seemed a little thrown-together today. It is the undisputed King Kong of street-legal bikes, though, and this year they made it lighter, more powerful, and more aerodynamic. Woah!

I'm not sure what to make of the various SVs. I still don't like parts of it--the tail, and the shape and angle of the headlights on the 'S'. Ergos were pretty good and the fairing seems like it would provide a modicum of wind deflection. I don't know. The silver 1000S was just kind of 'there'. Seemed kind of 'universal', to borrow from the UJM tag people used to use back in the day. I'd definitely have to opt for the blue (unfaired) or orange (faired).

Other than that, they had a TLR there. I thought it was cancelled for 2003.

--Harley-Davidson--haha, we skipped this section. There were some scary fellows around. Also skipped Victory.

--Aprilia--oh yah, this was nice. That Tuono is nicely put-together! The lower "non-fairing" kind of reminded me of the MV Agusta Brutale. The red parts were set off beautifully. The bike comes with integrated frame sliders. I've read that it's a handful to ride (extremely wheelie-prone), and the grips were pretty high up there. The canister is huge--I'd try to get the smaller, lighter dual pipes they make for the Mille if I were going to buy (which I'm not though). The look probably isn't for everyone, but I really thought this bike looked sweet.

Other than that, I drooled at the Falco and Mille and made my brother (age 15) sit on the RS50. I've already seen pictures of next year's Mille, and it's worth coming back for.

--Honda--the Honda area was packed with people, for some reason. Noticeably higher concentration of folks. I checked out the CBR600RR, but unfortunately, they only had one copy of it (red) and it was up on a rotating pedestal. What's that all about? The exhaust that I thought was such a cool idea when I heard about it really does look a bit anus-like in the cold light of reality. And it's packed in there a little too close to the taillight, if taillights matter. It's still an amazingly compact little bike once you remove all the street stuff. The picture I got is of the front in profile, and it's a nice, slim, efficient look from there.

They had the Rune in 'look-only' form. We didn't waste much time with Honda after seeing they didn't have a 600 to touch. The Ruckus was cute but there wasn't much else new. Next year, probably.

--BMW--didn't spend more than a few minutes here. Not too much to see. When they gonna start making 'M' versions of motorcycles? I'm still waiting for that supercharged sportbike... They do have some nice bikes, like the R1150R and the F650C, and next year's streetfighter boxer should be cool.

--Moto Guzzi--had a large poster showing one of the prototype bikes that was at the Intermot show, but nothing new as far as actual bikes. They had brochures with the Breva 750, but the bike wasn't around. Their V11 Scura and Sport are sweet bikes in the metal though.

--Benelli--had a scooter with a roof, and the Tornado in green and silver. I didn't get a picture of it, and I'm kicking myself right now. Sure, I can go look up pictures on the net. But the whole thing about taking your own pictures is that it lets you go back and remember exactly how you saw it and sort of reconstruct it in 3D in your mind. Anyway, the Tornado was cool, it made us walk around it several times to check out all the details. The jet fighter of sportbikes.

--Buell--The Lightning looked and felt pretty much exactly the way I expected it to look and feel. I want one of those. I think I could even live with the old-tech engine and low redline. This is a 'nice bike'. Extremely sweet. Buell had the same Firebolt 'lean' bike display as last year, showing the amount of lean possible on that bike. The only thing was that all the Buells were on stands. I like to feel what it's like to toss a bike side to side.

--Yamaha--okay, the black with red flames on the R1/R6 looks much nicer in person. But I still don't like the way the R6 looks. In my opinion, and I know I'm in the minority, the nose and lights look botched. But I could easily live with it. The bike felt awesome to sit on. Narrow as all hell, and like I said above, with better ergonomics than the 6R. It fit my arms and legs like a glove. It's so hard for me to tell right now what I'll be most comfortable with once I can get several track days/school under my belt. I mean, just because the Kawi lets me put more weight forward and tuck harder and have nominally more peg clearance, does that translate into going faster, being more at ease, or having more fun? Can't wait for the ride reports and tests to come in.

The R1 was... well, the R1. Super sleek and damn sexy. The silver on the 600R was brilliant. I went and sat on the Warrior again since I've heard so much about it--handling and lightness--but it still feels like a tank when you pick it up off the stand, and the feet are still way too forward.

--Ducati--ahh, yes. The 999/749. I'm pretty sure, of all the bikes, this bike had the biggest crowd around it. Had to wait in line. Wow, it still puts you into a pretty extreme posture. I was sort of expecting to have my mind changed on the exterior design, but I'm still not sold. It looks a little tighter (that is, the tolerances look closer) in person and it definitely grabs your eyes with force. It looks like what a designer might have thought a 2003 bike would look like back in 1989. I didn't like the exhaust much. The old bike had muscular-looking pipes, this box just looks dumb. Even so, it's obvious this bike means business. I got a nice head-on pic of the yellow 749S. Next year, the Supermono (single) should be here.

KTM didn't show, so we didn't get a look at the 2004 Duke 950. Neither did MuZ or MV or the Korean company that makes the Comet. There were far fewer race bikes than last year. They had the same trial bike show as last year, only last year there were so few people there that we got to stand right at the rail. Moto Liberty looked to be doing brisk business. Out in the parking lots, Harleys made up at least half of all the bikes. A guy rode past us full throttle on his giant Harley with what sounded like NO muffler. What a piece of crap.
Okay, now for my digital pics. Next year, I'll have to have a better camera. These came out a little grainy. These first eleven pics are from my camera, after these I'll post some that other people took.

#1: The Triumph Daytona 600. Didn't get to sit on it, but I thought the fairing looked more distinctive and made more sense when I saw it live. Nice angles. That beak is pretty sharp. It still does look like a cartoon character or an old ZX-6R with a smile instead of a scowl.

#2: The Kawasaki ZX-6R, looking tough and shapely. The bars don't look that low here. Maybe a little of my impression had to do with expectations? Anyway, Kawasaki got the styling exactly right. It's a foxy, alluring bike.

#3: The Kawasaki Z1000. They had the black bike there as well. If ever a bike was right for a black paint scheme, this is it. The bars are very close. I mostly liked the styling as I walked around it, but some of the details were a little cheap-looking (and feeling). The orange stood out a little too much, but bikes always look different isolated and in the sun on the road than they do in a showroom.

#4: The Suzuki GSX-R1000. This bike looked a little awkward head-on in three dimensions. I'm sure it'll make a fine shape for racing, but the headlight... I dunno. I liked it better two months ago. Still a nice-looking bike. And I'm pretty sure one twist on the right grip would make me forget I ever had an issue with something so trivial.

#5: The Suzuki SV1000S. My SV pics weren't too good. This shows the SV1000S in orange (coppery orange in person). It's actually relatively sleek-looking from here. From the front and from the rear are where the looks are kind of blah. I still can't wait to read the first ride reports for this bike.

#6: The Aprilia Tuono, standard edition. I'm not sure they had the 'R' there, I think it was just a grey version of the normal bike. Regardless, what a shapely machine. I'd love to own one of these, even with the supposed wheelie-prone nature. $12,000 for this one, based on the standard Mille.

#7: The Honda CBR600RR. This was the only RR they had, and it was rotating and inaccessible. I like that pointy, purposeful nose end, but the tail is unfortunate...

#8: The Buell XB-9S Lightning. The Lightning. No surprises here. It looks like the pictures make it look. It's a small, compact little thing. Very very nice.

#9: The Yamaha R6. The paintjob was pleasant, nicely understated. The front aspect doesn't do much for me, but the rest of the bike looks and feels great. How long until reputable sources get a chance to compare all the new 600s?

#10: The Ducati 749S. Some parts of this bike's styling are just goofy. They could have made it a winner with a number of small changes. They certainly were RED and YELLOW. Should have had the Ducati guy demonstrate the alterable ergonomics. Those mirrors are cute, but seemed almost useless from the saddle. What kind of animal does this nose remind you of?

#11: The Buell Blast. This bike comes with two seat heights, and this is the lower. It's really a tiny bike. That's my brother sitting on it.

Those were all the pics I decided to save from my camera. Here are some others taken by friends.

#1: This is the Buell Firebolt lean bike display with a CycleForums friend showing his mad skilz. That thing still had several inches before the pegs would touch down, and the tires seemed good to go for some more leaning. Crazy.

#2: This is the Ducati 999, similar to the 749.

#3: This is a new Ducati called the Multistrada 1000DS. It's a 'sport-utility-motorcycle'. I'm sure if it takes off they'll put their whole range of engines in it. It's rather hideous.

#4: My friend, who rides a Bandit 1200S, really, really liked this bike. It's the Aprilia Futura.

#5: Here's a pic of the trials bike guy flying through the air. He truly defies all kinds of laws of physics. It's bizarre--your eyes and your logic filters don't want to cooperate while watching this.

#6: This is just a very small portion of the bike parking lots. The nicest bikes at this show were probably out in the lots.

#7: The black Z1000 without rear cowl.

#8: The anus-like exhaust on the CBR-RR.

#9: The Benelli Tornado. Also notice the tile--that's the stuff they sell for your garage, and which I will have in my garage one of these days.

#10: There were tons of cruisers, dirt bikes, ATVs, scooters, dual sports, etc. Here's a VTX customized by Cobra.

#11: Cruiser pic two. The Honda Rune.