For anyone who has not yet attended one of the Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows this year, let me tell you, it's like Willie Wonka's chocolate factory for bike nuts. Okay, there aren't any Oompa-Loompas strolling about, but the sheer number of motorcycles and related accessories present are enough to make any biker as fidgety as a kid who just found a golden ticket.
This past weekend, the show came to Chicago. The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center was packed from wall-to-wall with stuff to see, including new models from Europe and Japan's Big Four, Ducati Freestyle Team Performances, TapouT Ultimate Builder Competition and a copious number of apparel vendors. Not to be outdone, the Cycle World Project Bike for Ride for Kids by Roland Sands Design, "The Good Fight," drew a huge crowd.
Like many 22-year-olds, I enjoy a good stunt show, so I jockeyed for a prime spot in the freestyle area. Nick "Apex" Brocha, 2008 XDL champ, and Ernie Vigil, one of the stunt doubles for the Jim Carrey film, "Yes Man," were crowd pleasers. Unfortunately, Vigil could only stunt in a wheelchair due to a broken heel he sustained while performing in South Carolina.
I couldn't leave the show without investigating this year's new bikes. First on my list was the 2010 Kawasaki Z1000, followed by the Honda VFR1200F. Like a moth to flame, I also spent considerable time—and camera batteries!—looking over Ducati's Streetfighter S, 1198S and Nicky Hayden's Desmosedici MotoGP bike.
The Cycle World International Motorcycle Show was an all-inclusive event. No genre of motorcycle or rider was left for the imagination. The best and brightest of aftermarket performance and technology—helmets, hop-up parts, security systems, tassels, tires, etc.—were all represented. I even found a booth in which earplugs were custom-molded on site. It was Mecca for moto-heads.
Sorry, Charlie, Wonka's chocolate factory is cool and all, but there weren't any umbrella girls in the movies like the ones I saw at the show.
*The Cycle World International Motorcycle Show now heads to Florida for its final stop in Daytona Beach, March 3–6. Line-up includes a vintage bike show, drawing for The Good Fight and visits from by AMA hall of famers Chris Carr and Denis Manning.