Once again, over 60,000 motorcycle riders and enthusiasts — including their friends and family — came out for the annual Cycle World International Motorcycle Show (IMS) in December at the Long Beach Convention Center, just south of Los Angeles.
Indoors, the IMS features the newest models from the international motorcycle manufacturers, stunt-riding shows, a collection of historical racing bikes, a motocross “Hall of Fame” exhibit, highly customized and tricked out cruisers and sports bikes, vintage motorbikes, and lots and lots of vendors displaying and selling all types of motorcycle gear, parts, accessories, and services.
However, outside is my favorite part: the demo rides — one of the rare opportunities in Southern California to actually ride various motorcycles without buying, renting or borrowing them. This year demonstration rides were offered from BMW, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki, Kymco, KTM, Yamaha/Star, Vectrix, and Victory.
These are very conservative, short, group rides, lasting about 20-30 minutes. They really don’t allow a full appreciation of the bike being ridden. But they do give the rider a taste of the bike’s ergonomics and general experience.
Each ride begins with a briefing to the riders explaining that there will be no wheelies, no burnouts, no stoppies, no passing, and for dual-purpose machines, no off-pavement excursions.
To be eligible for the demo rides, you need to show the motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license, sign a waiver, and provide your own helmet, jackets, boots and gloves.
There are considerably more people wanting to ride the bikes than there are rides available, so for both Sat and Sun the scheduled demos were fully booked by mid-morning. It took some determined work, but I managed to ride many different motorbikes over the two days, which was an organizational and scheduling feat in itself. (Hint: Arrive early! I was amongst the first on Saturday and the very first to arrive on Sunday).