A winter diversion
New York, N.Y., Dec. 1–3—As winter nears in the Northeast U.S., temperatures drop dramatically and the riding season draws to a close. Once the calendar page turns to December, motorcycle events are few and far between, save toy runs and chili cook-offs. Just as we start jonesing for something to do with our time that’s otherwise spent riding, the New York City edition of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show series rolls into town.
The 2017–2018 tour consists of seven stops: Long Beach, California; New York, New York; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. As with the Long Beach show held two weeks prior, Media Day was held Friday morning before the doors opened to the public, where various exhibitors introduced new bike models as well as parts and accessories for the rider.
Indian Motorcycle unveiled their Scout FTR1200 Custom, first revealed at the EICMA Show in Milan, Italy, the month before. The bike was inspired by the Scout FTR750 that kicked butt in the American Flat Track series all through 2017, illustrating what a street-legal version of the FTR750 could look like.
Harley-Davidson featured its newest Softail model, the Sport Glide, demonstrating how easily a rider can remove and mount the fairing and hard bags to change from cruiser to touring bike. The rest of the new 2018 Softail line was also on display, which for many attendees was their first look at the new models. H-D Communications Manager Matt King detailed the Motor Company’s efforts to build the next generation of riders globally with some very specific objectives: to create 2 million new riders from all demographics over the next 10 years, grow motorcycles in the next decade. Matt also spoke about the company’s 115th anniversary in 2018, with the first big celebration taking place July 5–8 in Prague, which is the location of H-D’s oldest dealership in Europe, culminating with the U.S. event in Milwaukee at the end of August.
Many of the attractions seen in last year’s show tour were featured this year as well. The show series title sponsor made a big splash with its Progressive Parlor, self-described as a cultural community within the IMS. Flo’s Chop Shop offering vintage-style barbershop services and airbrush tattoos. Attendees could also enjoy a cup of java at the coffee parlor and various speakers, demonstrations and interviews took place on the Progressive stage.
The Marketplace, where aftermarket parts displays are staffed by company representatives, made a return, and featured many of the same brands as past years, with a few new additions. The Allstate Kids Zone and stunt shows several times a day were on this year’s schedule as well. A vintage motorcycle display featuring bikes owned by members of NYC Vin Moto and NY Classic Riders occupied some real estate in the exhibit hall.
There were several brand-new attractions for the 2017–2018 show series. Major features included the Grease & Gears Garage where builders demonstrated and spoke about custom bike building and do-it-yourself projects. On Friday, I listened to Dirty Billy discuss the concept behind Roll It Up community garage in Brooklyn, New York, and then watched Nick Beaulieu of Forever Two Wheels in Maine do some customization on one of his bikes. Other well-known customizers were scheduled to present their specialties throughout the weekend. Similarly, each show in the series featured local builders in their area.
Another new attraction this year was Shift at IMS, described as a “lifestyle-inspired space,” that included about a dozen trendy and a few more well-established businesses, such as Vaktare Moto Gear, Montclair Riding Co., Nexx Garage, Husqvarna, ALMS New York City, Abel Brown, Rev’It!, Breaking Hearts & Burning Rubber, Schafmayer Company, Nuviz, Furygan, and D73. Rather than individual booths, these vendors were displayed in an open area with seating where people could hang out and socialize.
Adventure Out! also made its debut this show season. This was an area dedicated to the motorcycle adventurer, and included displays of and presentations for touring, moto camping, equipping your bike, and finding areas to ride.
One of the most popular return features was the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show. This year, about 40 motorcycles were entered into four classes, with over $100,000 in cash and prizes to be awarded across the show circuit. Freestyle winner was Kyle Shorey from Shadetree Fabrications for his custom Shovelhead chopper, and runner-up was Rob Lopez with his beautifully engraved Panhead from American Motorcycle Service. Mod Retro winner was Scottie Porges of AMS with a ’68 Shovelhead custom, and runner-up was Ben Davis with a 1979 Honda CB750. Custom Street winner was Brian Ballard with his 2007 Triumph Thruxton and Jason Hodrinsky earned runner-up with his 2004 Triumph Thunderbird Sport. Mod Harley top prize was taken by Tyler Foster and his 2001 Road King, while runner-up was Robert Sallie for his 2007 Sportster.
Despite the decline in exhibitors over the past few years, there are still plenty of interesting diversions as well as spectacular eye candy for the motorcycle enthusiast. If you live near any of the IMS stops on the rest of this year’s tour, it’s a worthwhile way to spend a winter afternoon.