In the article “Going To The Show,” I took a light-hearted look at the actual going part, not at the actual show itself. Now, having just been to the 2008 Sydney show, (this time with my son-in-law, Damien), I thought I’d write a few impressions of what I saw. I enjoyed the show! There were good displays from all the major manufacturers. Scooters featured quite prominently this year. That’s Damien trying one out in the photo on the left. There weren’t any displays (or if there were I didn’t see them) from the Chinese and Asian manufacturers. That was a bit strange. (Hyosung was there, of course). There were the usual smaller displays from accessories and magazines etc. But there wasn’t a lot in the way of riding gear though; and this brought criticism from quite a few people. There used to be, because I bought a jacket there once. Not much now though. Of the smaller displays, one that impressed me was Andy Strapz, who had a good display of luggage and carry-bags etc. There were some displays of custom bikes; and custom paint-jobs, like this quite spectacular looking Triumph Rocket. Mercedes had a display there. No, they haven’t suddenly gone into motorcycle production; they were displaying a couple of their vans; that you could use to carry your dirt-bikes around in. Hmm, maybe they should just leave that for the Motor Show! Is white the “new black?” Maybe not, but it does seem to be a trend in bikes this year. I’m not sure it works all that well for a bike. Some look good, but others not so much! It was interesting to note the effect it seemed to have on the appearance though. For example, I thought the Yamaha XJR1300 looked a little smaller in white than in other colours. But the Suzuki V-Strom looked more bulbous in white. The Yamaha MT-01, pictured on the left, was another one that, like the XJR, I thought looked “out-of-character” in this colour. The Moto Guzzi V7 Classic I thought looked good in white though. (That’s it on the left). I looked at almost everything, and sat on and photographed a lot of bikes. Apart from lunch, the only other things I bought were a couple of small “magic heat pads,” and a MATT “Miracle Scarf.” Another trend this year seems to be for strange exhausts. For a few years now, makers have been experimenting with different exhausts. We’ve had the trend to put them under the seat, but now they’ve come out in the open again. But with weird styling. Honda sports-bikes had stubby little things down low, while on the forth-coming XJ6, Yamaha have taken inspiration from Buell and put the muffler unit below with a stubby outlet just behind the right foot-peg. The R1, pictured above-left, has two huge triangular units, that I reckon look quite ugly, while the Suzuki GSX-R, pictured on the left, has weird-looking things that swoop upwards. Remember when exhausts were just simple chrome pipes running straight back along the bike? Could we maybe go back to those please? Anyway, I’ll go through some of the major stands I had a look at, with a few brief comments on just some of the bikes I saw.
First display inside the door, and an impressive display! I was going to come back and have a better look, but didn’t. In the brief time I did spend there, I noticed some models had a little temperature-gauge down on the side of the bike. What….?
A good display! They had the XJ6 Diversion there, in both naked and faired versions. I was interested in finding out if my assumption that it was replacing the FZ6 was correct. It wasn’t. It will be sold as an additional model in the range; and is aimed at a different market. It has less power than the FZ6 but develops it lower in the rev-range. And it has more torque. So it’s aimed at the rider who prefers to ride the low-mid-range. The faired version looks good, I reckon; although that exhaust could be a problem with heat – both from the under-slung muffler and from the exhaust exiting just behind your foot. The naked version is due around February, and the faired version about a month later. On price I was told that it would be “about $10,000.” Yes, cheaper than the FZ6. As I mentioned above, the XJR1300 was there. Interesting to see it, and notice how the only difference between it and mine is the colour! The FJR1300 was on display in black; a good looking bike! Very comfortable and great ergonomics! I commented on the weight when I tested it, but it’s interesting to note that it’s lighter than both the Kawasaki 1400GTR and Honda ST1300. There was a cutaway of the new V-Max on display. (Photo above-right). That’s always interesting. Everything was sliced down the middle for you to see what’s inside – engine, gearbox, fuel-tank, exhaust and even the instruments. My son-in-law, Damien, and I both thought the new R1 looked a bit ugly. Damien was the first to comment on the trend to ugly exhausts, and the R1 was a prime example. Also the bulky-looking side-panels on the fairing we thought looked a bit ugly. A Ducati-type look with the front doesn’t work either.
Suzuki had their new naked Bandit there. It’s an impressive package; and doesn’t look as big and bulky as the GSX1400, which I suppose it’s kind of replacing. It doesn’t look as big and bulky as the Yamaha XJR1300 either, although the two bikes are almost identical in specifications (weight, engine size etc). I reckon the XJR has more character, but the Suzuki is more modern; and it’s $2,500 cheaper! The seat I’m sure is the same as the faired version, but it didn’t feel quite as hard as I recall. (The faired version is still available, at just $500 more). Speaking of the GSX1400, there was a run-out special model there. Big, retro, and comfy. And it still seems popular. Pity they’re discontinuing it! A big attraction was the GSX-R1000, pictured below right. That's the one with the weird swoopy exhausts. I'm not sure I'd describe it as a good looking bike! Probably better than the R1 though, to my eye anyway. The GSXF650 is a great package and excellent value. It’s listed as a “sports-bike” but the ergonomics and general riding-position make it a great all-rounder. Suspension is more adjustable than it’s all-rounder competitors too. The popular SV650 is more sports-orientated in it’s seating and riding-position, (more lean-forward, and the pegs are higher). For a general-use package I think the GSXF650 is better. I mentioned the V-Strom 650 being in white. Not a good look I don’t think! (“Does my tank look big in this?”). But it’s comfortable, great value, and a very good all-round bike! The 1000 version was there too (in the same colour as the naked Bandit). They aren’t as popular as the 650. The M109 is a big bike! No, it’s a very big bike! A regular reader has one of these and loves it. The seat is very big and very comfortable.
As in previous years, Ducati didn’t want you sitting on their bikes. Not without asking anyway. So I didn’t. A good range of sports-bikes, all of which looked exciting. They look like they’re itching to go race just sitting there! The Hypermotard, with its wide bars out front of the usual Ducati mechanicals, looked like fun!
A big black K1200LT, pictured on the right, dominated one end of the BMW stand. I walked up, swung a leg over, and sank into what must surely be the most comfortable seat on any motorcycle ever made! Nothing could pamper your posterior like the seat on this big Beemer! It’s like sitting on an AirHawk cushion, except it’s smoother, and better! It’s like sinking into a soft lounge chair! (Yep, that's me sitting on it!). It was interesting to watch people come up and sit on it. As they made contact with the seat, the facial expression would change to one of amazement and, “Aaah, that’s beautiful!” It’s huge, and has everything that opens and shuts. It’s like a lounge-room on wheels, but including the lounge! The R1200GS, shown on the right, was also comfortable, in a much more manageable size. The bars felt high, as would be expected.
Triumph was another that had dipped into the white paint, with a white Speed Triple lined up against a white wall. (“Has it been snowing in here?”). The Sprint ST was painted in an uninspiring grey colour. Sitting on it felt more lean-forward-sporty than I recall with the 2007 model; a feeling I also had when I tested one recently. Made me wonder if they’d changed it? Damien again expressed his liking for the Triumph Sprint. We’ve both admired them for a long time. Not in grey though! Talking about colour, the Tiger was a standout in a kind of orange. That's it below-right. It felt heavy. It’s actually lighter than the Sprint, but feels heavier because the weight is carried higher. I was talking to the owner of a Bonneville recently, and he described the seat as being “like a plank!” After sitting on the one they had on display, I agree! The Bonnies are fuel-injected now, but they’ve gone to great lengths to hide it, and retain the traditional look of carbies. They’ve done this by enclosing the injection system in fake carburetor bodies. It even has a fake choke knob! (Someone later told me that it does work, it increases the revs or something).
The 1400GTR is very comfortable and has great ergonomics. Easy to see why they’re highly regarded as a long-distance tourer. But, as I mentioned before, they’re heavier than the FJR1300. I’m probably starting to sound like Diana Fisher (remember her?) but I’m back to colour again. A few models, like the Versys, were painted in a kind of bright metallic lime-green. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Not a colour to admire, for me anyway. One that looked quite spectacular, because of colour, was the ZX14, pictured above-right. It was a special-edition model and painted in a striking black and gold / orange. I thought it looked great!
Another bike painted in an uninspiring grey was the VFR800. (They look so much better in red!). A comfortable bike; although still with a fairly sporty riding-position. The CBF250 appealed to me. That's it pictured on the right. What a nice little bike! I had a sit on a few of Honda’s scooters. There were two models with 50cc engines. (Sorry, one had 49cc!). Why have two? The Silverwing felt very comfortable, and its specs make it much more acceptable as a proper motorbike than the littlies. Something I noticed on a couple of Hondas was the brake and clutch reservoirs had the inspection window facing the rider, rather than facing forward as is usually the case. What a great idea! Just as easy to check in the shed, but it means you can also keep an eye on it while you’re riding. And it won’t get splattered by bugs etc either. So that’s about it. Oh yes, there were more, but those were the main ones I looked at and remembered. After that I wearily walked back to the car and drove the 90km or so back home. Yep, just like I described in the story, I paid a small fortune for parking, and bought lunch (also expensive!), but I enjoyed the day! Shows, they’re always good!
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