Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Toronto Motorcycle Show

Alright, here goes – another blog post from someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. But that’s okay as long as I tell you up front that I really know nothing about this topic - then you can use your own judgment when reading. As a matter of fact the more I learn about anything teaches me how much I really don’t know about everything and I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m not an expert at anything. However, I do still love writing about what I’ve done so here goes…my trip to the TORONTO MOTORCYCLE SHOW.

The near three hour drive to Toronto was without incident though not a breeze. A nasty little weather system started moving into the area with wet snow and high winds just about departure time and continued to haunt us most of the way. Visibility was on again off again with blowing snow and transports flinging their spray onto the windshield. (Just a little note here about windshield wipers…I have recently purchased some high end wiper blades that are supposed to keep the window clean regardless, well maybe it’s just me but they seemed, with every pass, to coat the windshield with something that created near zero visibility when hit by oncoming headlights. Think I’ll change them.) The temperature was hovering just around the zero mark and most of us know that’s when water freezes to ice and ice might (will) be slippery. Obviously there are many adult drivers out there that don’t know this simple little scientific fact and our Ontario Government has found it necessary to post gigantic, digital, flashing signs telling drivers that winter temperatures can cause slippery roads. I wish they’d just call a spade a spade and write, “Slow Down Stupid, It’s Slippery.” Traffic for most of the way was lighter than anticipated with just a bit of slow down as express drivers tried to bottleneck onto the Friday night Don Valley Parkway.

We checked into the Delta Chelsea and decided to walk the 2.4 km to the Show at the Toronto Convention Center. It was a great walk, a little windy but the snow had stopped and the streets were bare. The cold temperatures have erased the summer stink of the city and the night air was filled with the smells of street vendor ‘dogs’ and the fares of the copious restaurants en route. Younge Street was alive with the sights and sounds of the season (as well as with the usual dubious characters). Holiday shoppers, laden with bags were everywhere - above them the flashing digital signboards pinned to the giant skyscrapers were flashing out their ‘buy me’ messages – Toronto, downtown, more and more like NYC every year.

On Front Street we took a moment to gawk at Toronto’s CN tower decked out in its holiday colors of red and green then dashed across the street and into Union Station to take the skywalk to the Convention Centre. It was 7:30 and I didn’t expect huge line ups but neither did I expect there to be no one waiting to get in, after all it was SheRidesNite and aren’t there more and more women riders these days. Inside the show the crowd was just as sparse. I’m not saying there was no one at the show, I’m just saying I expected there to be a much larger crowd. It was great for us not having to muscle our way through a shoulder to shoulder throng though. Now I must have missed the map, (or maybe they didn’t have a map of the vendors this year) so what I saw was what I found by sheer accident or by virtual size or positional visibility of the vendor. On that note, I missed the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame display (apparently at booth 1738 according to the Show web page) and so had much apologizing to do at dinner with Ken and Barb. I didn’t see Ken’s name on the wall. I’m sorry ‘again’ Ken, really it would have been a highlight! (Blame it on the Show organizers, they should have had their maps out in a prominent place, if they had maps?)

What I did see – right inside the door, right in front of me was a virtual pond of green Ninjas but what caught my eye next was a giant ‘red roof ring,’ suspended from the ceiling, announcing YAMAHA was to my right. The Yamaha sign was visible from most spots on the show floor (good job Yamaha) and that’s where we headed first. The giant Yamaha flag was proudly poised above the latest on and off road models including, but not limited to the Stryker, the Tenere, and the Star Models. Yes, there was a 650 VStar Custom gleaming in black and chrome amidst the display. Most manufacturers including Yamaha were displaying an assortment of toys for on roads, off roads, back woods, snow and water if they made them. Like I said at the beginning, I am not an expert and wouldn’t even attempt a review of any of the bikes except to say that I can appreciate the beauty, engineering and sleek design of these new models. If you want to read a review of the Stryker (along with many other of the models you might have seen at the show) check out January 2011 issues of Motorcycle Mojo or Cycle World magazine (just to mention two).

Justin and I wandered around checking out most of the other vendors including Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, KTM, BMW, Ducati and Hyosung. We strolled through the ‘Riders Marketplace’ looking mostly at accessories (if you’ve been following me – you know I’m in desperate need of new saddle bags but didn’t see any that fit what I’m looking for. The quest for saddle bags will continue in another blog post at another time.) We had a quick look at some of the various groups and organizations (I still can’t understand how I missed ‘the Hall of Fame'). We watched the kids zipping around the indoor track at the Yamaha Riding Academy for Kids then headed back to the only line up at the show. It was to enter Radio Station Z103.5’s draw to win a CBR125 Honda and since I’m not writing about a new Honda you guessed it, I didn’t win – congratulations to who did! Behind the Radio Station booth was the Full Throttle Stage with Liz Jansen (I believe) and guests involved in motorcycle chat for an audience of, from what I could see, about one. If there were more, there weren’t many. From where I was standing, it was hard to pick up on the topic. I’m sure it was informative and must have been discouraging for them to have so few people to play to. I had a chat with a couple of women riders from Toronto while waiting to fill in a ballot. They ride with a group in the Toronto area (which, for the life of me I can’t remember the name of). We chatted about our bikes (they both ride older 750 Hondas), about new models and where we ride. My son got a chuckle when one of them asked if I had flown my bike out to ride in Wyoming – one gals long distance ride is another gals short ride … doesn’t matter, we’re all riding. Then Justin and I headed back to the hotel via Bay Street this time hoping to see City Hall and the skaters on the ice pad in front.

I’m not a Trade Show expert but I’d call it a fairly small show. It didn’t have a lot of glitz or glamour but it highlighted some new bikes, offered the chance for local groups to share their information, vendors to sell product and riders to see what is available. I was disappointed it was so sparsely attended but I did notice many folks leaving with bags in hand so hopefully it was profitable for some of the vendors. Myself, I bought a subscription to my first Motorcycle magazine – Motorcycle Mojo and as a result am now the proud owner of a Mojo calendar and a 50th, gold sealed issue (it takes so little to make me happy). The 2010 Toronto Motorcycle Show, there could have been more for women riders, especially on SheRidesNite, but it was a nice little diversion from the gloomy first storms of winter – I’m glad I only had to pay the $16 admission fee for one.

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