Kulture Clash: It’s showtime

By Bob Kay

It’s that time of year again when anybody with a motorcycle north of the Mason-Dixon line brings their bikes inside to change, rebuild or just clean up. While many of us in the warmer climates still get to ride we also tend to utilize the winter months for the same purpose as our northern sisters and brothers. However, we are motorcyclists year-round and even if we can’t ride we still want to be around bikes and babes and biker fun. Hence the show season evolved to fill in this time when it is too frigid for many of us to ride. I know you can ride year-round in any climate if you prepare yourself properly. I myself have gone through winter seasons up north when all I owned was a motorcycle, but I was much younger and now I actually own a couple vehicles that I can turn the heater on to stay warm. The shows like the Progressive IMS series and the Easyriders bike show series provide a place for us to see the latest accessories and the newest bikes alongside some of the most amazing customs. Sure, you can use the Internet to search for parts and see new models but you can’t meet up with your friends for beer and debate if that new whatchamacallit really works or what is the latest trend in customs and who is the builder on top of his game this year just nailing it.

So why don’t bikers just throw a little Stabil in their tank and put their bike away till the spring? Motorcycles tend to be more of a personal expression of one’s self than, say, an automobile. It also seems the longer you own a bike the more personal it gets. You may start out with new grips, an intake and an exhaust system. With the vast selection of parts these days you don’t have to be master fabricator to come up with something unique; you can just put together a unique combination of available parts and have something totally different than anyone else. In terms of making these changes during the winter, even if you live in the south, it just so happens that there is an unofficial riding season that begins in the spring with Daytona Bike Week. If you have any kind of halfway serious project you’d better start by December if you plan to debut at Daytona in March. There are many times you will be deep in a project and hit a wall and need expert advice to move on. Guess where you can get it? Yup, at the winter show in your area.

The Progressive International Motorcycle Show series has seven shows across this great nation of ours. By the time you read this I will have covered the Long Beach Show and the New York City show. The Dallas show is January 4 through the 6th. Cleveland is January 25 through the 27th, Minneapolis is February 1 through the 3rd, Washington, D.C., is February 8 through the 10th and the grand finale show of the season which includes the J&P Ultimate Builder United States Championship is February 15 through the 17th. The Progressive IMS shows include the qualifying Ultimate Builder rounds in each city, new model debuts from all the OEMs, stunt shows, the new rider experience Discover the Ride, demo rides where weather allows, the Marketplace featuring the latest in parts and accessories, IMS Vintage for a historical look at machines from the past, Shift which is a very cool area dedicated to the younger up-and-coming lifestyle centered around motorcycles, the Progressive Chop Shop for fun, games and beard trimming and of course the Kid Zone to get them young kids on two wheels as soon as they can walk. Every week end in January has an Easyriders Bike Show Tour starting in Cincinnati on January 5, Sacramento on January 12, Austin on January 19 and Charlotte on January 26 through the 27th. There are 18 categories of custom bikes, great music and stage shows and exhibitor area with the latest goodies for you and your bike. You’ve got to be there to fully appreciate the experience so put down your smartphone and computer and head out to the show nearest you.

Let’s face it; in this day and age it is pretty hard to get by without your phone and computer. While tech is great it cannot replace the personal relationships that come from the biker community. The comradery we share is sometimes hard to explain with words never mind an app designed by some nerd in Silicon Valley. This is so important to remember when dealing with kids and trying to show them the way. I guarantee you every kid in the United States will be introduced to some form of tech by the time they are three, and maybe even earlier. What we have to do is introduce them to joys of the mechanical world, getting a hands-on attitude they might not ever appreciate if we don’t share with them. It is really cool to see a kid on one of those balance bikes or even the little electric bikes they have now. Don’t forget to include a small tool kit when you buy your niece or nephew a mini bike, but more importantly don’t forget to show them how to use it. At the Long Beach J&P Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show I met a young lady that was so thrilled to be there. She actually works in a motorcycle shop and this was her first bike show to compete in. She invited her parents, which was also their first time at a motorcycle show. She didn’t take home any trophies but she was on Cloud 9 all weekend. She must have thanked me a thousand times for approving her entry and for all the people she met that weekend. The Long Beach J&P Ultimate Builder was a record-breaking show this year but the one thing I will never forget was the ear-to-ear smile of that young lady all weekend.

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