DO WE NEED MOTORCYCLE FASHION SHOWS? I’ve been going to the annual Long Beach Motorcycle Expo for many years. The weekend event draws tens of thousands of visitors from from all over Southern California to see the latest bikes and gear. Of particular note for this stop of the U.S. Expo Tour are the demonstration rides on bikes from many of the manufacturers. (Rained out this year).
However, what caught my attention as something “new” (for me), was the Ducati Fashion Show with scantly dressed, skinny, young girls – and some acrobatic guys. (In fact, they’ve been held around the world for several years). Although professionally executed and pleasing to observe, it struck me as somewhat peculiar to experience a well-know manufacturer deliberately garnering attention for their apparel, rather than their bikes, when, one would presume, most who are visiting their display area, would primarily be interested in their motorcycles. And on top of that, the show was not about how well Ducati apparel protects a rider – it was showing off quite a bit of non-riding attire. Although, in all fairness, their protective gear was featured in the fashion show, as well.
It does not escape me that of all the new bikes, gear and accessories from a massive concentration of bike makers and vendors that I experienced at the expo, what I’m writing about right now is, from my perspective, a side show. So, one could argue, that it was a well conceived publicity presentation for Ducati.
Most riders are aware that all motorcycle makers benefit from healthy profit margins by selling anything with their company logo on it. Harley, in particular, has enjoyed great success licensing their brand name to all types of apparel manufacturers. I do not begrudge any company for profiting from what the public is willing to pay for, in spite of the fact that I, personally, seek out riding gear from specialized gear manufactures, not bike manufacturers. (And the apparel in my closet which is adorned with bike names mostly arrived there as gifts, rather than personal purchases).
Still, from an educational perspective, when I contemplate all that it costs a motorcycle maker to display their wares at these shows, and particularly to get a whole bunch of moto-journalists in front of them, I must say I did not leave Ducati with any more enlightenment about their motorcycles. (This fashion show was Ducati’s 15 minutes of fame, as part of the expo’s pre-opening “media day,” whereby a herd of writers, photographer and videographers are goaded from one manufacturer’s presentation to another.)
But the good news is that I was entertained! And enjoyment is a fundamental key to motorcycling in general.
Oh! I should also not that as soon as the fashion show ended, Nicky Hayden spoke for a little bit. Although his talk was still not educational about any specifics regarding Ducati’s motorbikes, the company certainly positioned their brand clearly with a MotoGP World Champion.
So, how much riding gear do you own that has a manufacturer’s name on it?