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Saturday, 26 October 2013

AIMExpo Day Two

Day two.......we hit the expo floor early after an American breakfast feast at what is ironically named the International House of Pancakes. It's not that international....no toutons on the menu.

Today was the last day of the show, and it was time to put my media credtials to work, and start getting some media contact info for editor 'Arris. Being the last day of the show some vendors were showing the signs of fatigue and disinterest in being there. Most notably the bigger named brands. I won't name names.                              

Schuberth was not one of them. They gave me the full rundown on all their helmets, and brought me to another room to show me the new helmets for release in spring of 2014. If money is not an option, these helmets are really nice.

New C3 North America helmet

and for the ladies

Sena Bluetooth was very welcoming as well, and before long I was getting the lowdown from the marketing director. If you remember Pete and I used Sena comms on our Labrador trip and loved them. Now they have a small camera similiar to the GoPro, this one however records the audio from your headset, and anyone else linked in. Shit, where was this a couple of months ago. We could have used that during the BigLand trip. 

Vega Helmets and Technical gear was a funny encounter. Trying to break the ice with one of the guys there was painful, and downright cold. I guess he never heard of the CMG influence and was far from a wealth of information. I gave up on him, figured they must have enough sales, even though I barely heard of them before. I was about five steps out of their booth when I was chased down by their vice-president. She was excited to see me, and was very eager to tell me about their new jackets, by Richa. It features a Bionic Climate Membrane that reacts to changing temperatures and moisture, and makes you ultra strong like the Six Million Doallar Man. They were even interested in sending gear up to CMG for reviews.

Overall the smaller vendors were much more interested in sharing their products with the media, and were generally more interesting to talk to. I think some the big named people didn't even ride bikes. 

In the afternoon we took the shuttle bus over to the outdoor part of the show. Demo rides, and stunt shows were on the menu. As soon as we stepped off the bus we landed right in the middle of the stunt show put off Empire Freestyle. It was pretty impressive, first live show that I've seen.

After watching two guys with way more riding talent in their pinky fingers than I have, we decided it was time to dazzle the Floridians with our riding skill at the demo tents. 

Suzuki was first on the list, and we managed to get the leftovers to demo. John channeled his inner hooligan and jumped on a Hayabusa. Good luck getting that out of second gear in urban Orlando. I also wanted to be a hooligan and jumped on a DRZ400 super moto. I always wanted to ride a DRZ, and it was a lot of fun in the Florida sun. JC it was hot, 90 degrees and humid. Too hot for this boy. The 15 to 20min group ride was OK. Too many traffic lights and not enough sweepers. Florida will never be hotbed for bike riding. Well maybe the hot part anyway.

We hit the Yamaha tent next, and both of us were eager to jump on the Tenere, but were shit of luck, it had been booked up the whole day, as was the 650 VStrom next door. ADV riding is big. The new FZ09 was also taken. 

Not wanting to wait around in the oppressive heat for an hour to get the opportunity to ride a cruiser on a boring route while sweating my arse off, we decided to make a brief visit to the ATV demos. It was busy over there, especially on the UTV side of things.

John and I both had a full on sweat going at this point, and since there was only hour left to the expo we decided to seek reprieve from the heat in the form of a shaded pool bar serving a Dutch brew of barley and hops.

WIth the weekend coming to a close it was time to get to work, four days of recurrent flight training starts on Monday morning. 


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

American Internatinal Motorcycle Expo - AIMExpo

I am wandering around the massive building that is the Orlando County Convention Centre taking in the first ever American International Motorcycle Expo.

I was fortunate enough to be asked by CMG editor Rob Harris to attend the show on their behalf since I was going to be in Orlando anyway for my annual pilot training. Since I am a wanna be moto journalist, videography/editor, I figured I'd channel my inner Peter Parker and write about the show. The writing part was my idea, Harris was basically using me to get media contact info so he can continue to build the CMG empire, and he never had to fork out any cash for hotels and airline tickets. I'll have to remind him........you get what you pay for.

I not only got a free pass to the show, but a media pass, which more or less said I worked for CMG, and I would be treated like moto journalism royalty. I also scored another media pass for my work partner John Harrigan, a fellow Vstrom rider. I actually think he was more excited about the show than I was. 

The AIMExpo is a five day affair, the first three are closed to the public and only for the big wigs in the industry, dealers, media, etc, and the last two days are geared towards the consumer and opened to the public. I unfortunately never arrived in Orlando to take in the first three days and to really get the chance to flaunt my newly aquired media status, so I had a full day and half to mingle with the common people.

The show featured about 400 exhibitors. The big ones were Suzuki, Yamaha, EBR (Erik Buell Racing) and Kymco, and except for EBR, they offered free demo rides. 

If I was a good reporter I would write about everything new at the show, but that would take pages, and let's be honest, I only really want to write about the stuff that I like. Yes it as all about me, just ask my wife or anyone that knows me. However I will say, it appears that the adventure riding market is growing very big, and most of the vendors catered to that segment of the market in one way or another. The Harley market and culture was almost non-existant.

Suzuki's big buzz was the release of the new VStrom 1000, a bike dear to my heart, and the new one looks really nice, well everything except for the beak, not a fan of the beak, looks too much like a Foghorn Leghorn beak. However it's not enough to stop me from buying one. The rest of the improvements more than make up for it. 

New clutch, which hopefully means no more dreaded chudder. The seat is a new design, it is wider, and for the 3.5mins I sat on it, it felt good. The handlebars are swept back more, feels like my old strom with the bar risers. The new windshield is a all new design, and the one hand adjustment is awesome, no fiddling with knobs. Front and rear adjustable suspension. The front forks are beefy, so I'm guessing no more need for a fork brace. New ABS and traction control. The Adventure model comes with the luggage, crash bars and metal skidplate. Seems like Suzuki was listening. I am very eager to test ride it. I am guessing the price point in Canada will be in the $14-16K range.


I think there maybe a new Strom in John's future.

Also they announced a new scooter, the Burgman 200, looks like the other Burgmans, but a little smaller. It would actually make a good scooter for my wife to upgrade to from her Aprilla.

Pricing had yet to be released from Suzuki.

Yamaha, had a huge Bolt display, with custom design models. They were rafflling off a signed Kenny Roberts edition.  I have yet to ride one, but I do really like the Bolt. The Harley purests will rag on me, that it is a Sportster copy, but then again the Harley guys rag on the Sportster riders too, and just about everything else on two wheels.

If Yamaha released a version of this it would be hard not to buy one. That and the new Vstrom would look good in my garage.

Believe it or not, all custom Bolts.

What other manufacturers have a winch as an available option on their adv bike? For $600 Yamaha can add it to your Tenere. 

One of the nice things about the show were the displays of vintage japanese bikes, brought back a lot of memories from my youth, or just reaffirmed how old I am getting. Most of these looked liked they did  when they first rolled out on the showroom floor.

Around 4:30pm we decided to pull the plug and head back to the hotel. We had been awake since 4am to catch our 5:20am flight out of Saint John, so we were pretty knackered, and our beer low level lights were on. It was still 90 degrees outside, so it was time to hit the pool bar.

More about the show on the next update.

Monday, 14 October 2013


Work has finally begun on the BigLand Adventure.  Video has been compliled and sorted, and now I begin the slow process of editing. How to start it all is the hard part.
I'm not making any promises on a release date, because it all depends on my work sched and how much time I can get at the computer.

Stay tuned for more.

Next weekend I head to Orlando for the AIMExpo USA. The American International Motorcycle Expo to do a little reporting for CMG. How cool is that. I'll update the blog from there.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Dusk2Dawn Rally Video

I finally picked up my new iMac and downloaded Final Cut X editing software. It's a free 30 day trial  to see if I like it. So far so good. It's similiar to iMovie in it's feel, but with a LOT more capability. So far I have only scratched the surface of what it can do. Some online tutorials are helping out, since I have no formal training, as you can tell from the video below.

This week I did up a small practise, get to know the software video, before I tackle the Big Land Adventure stuff.

Friday, 4 October 2013

My First Bike Rally

Last weekend I attended my first bike rally. No, I didn't have to dress up like a pirate or an extra on Sons of Anarchy. There were no guys with their Harley Davidson edition Ford F-150 towing a trailer with their $50,000 polished chromed CVO's. There were no scantily clad, slightly overweight ladies wearing assless chaps, no burnout pits, and we didn't ride endless circles through downtown Moncton in an endless parade at 10kph on Milwaukee's finest blipping the throttle every few seconds to let every resident in a ten block radius know "the bikers" where here.

Nope, it was none of that. The CMG Dawn2Dusk Rally is the slightly insane creation of editor Rob Harris and his second in command Zak Kurylyk, the ones that brought you the fully insane Mad Bastard Scooter Rally. The Mad Bastard is only run every two years, so the riders have enough time to recover.

The D2D is limited to 250cc or less, and each year traverses a couple of provinces. This year, as always it started at Toys for Big Boys in Moncton and snaked it's way on back roads to Antigonish and back for a full day of riding covering 640kms. My arse gets sore just thinking of doing 640kms on a 250.

Fortunately for me I never had a 250 to ride so I had to suffer it out on the plush comfort of my Vstrom 1000. Cheating you say.........damn right, and my 44 year old arthritic  arse, hips, and back thanked me for it later. I told Rob I would come up and video the rally for them, which was my excuse for not having a 250. I really wanted to meet Rob so that I could hit him up to be a writer/photographer/videographer contributer at CMG, even though I have no formal training in either of those departments. Maybe one day they'll need a corporate jet pilot.

In the cold darkness of a late September morning fifteen slightly tweaked riders gather in the parking lot of Toys for Big Boys to prepare for a long day in the saddle and to wait for the sun to peak over the horizon. There were riders from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and one special lunatic came all the way down from Ontario. Murray drove from Windsor, Ontario and brought Doug the chase truck driver with him.

Larry Northrup, the owner of Toys and sponsor of the rally was there and had much needed coffee and muffins for everyone. It was the first time I met Larry, a great guy, very stoked about bikes and the rally. If you are looking for a new Harley, Honda or KTM go see him.

Around 0745 we headed out into the morning light. Did I say it was cold........ya it was cold. Damn why don't I have heated grips yet. The weather was nice for the most part, except for the thick fog, and mist in the valleys. So now we are getting damp and cold. Goodie. Those folks on the 250's must be really suffering. 

The fog eventually burned off around 10am, and the air started to warm up, thawing out frozen fingers and toes. No one said this was gonna be easy.

Due to the limited fuel range on some of the 250's, fuel stops were planned for every 80-120kms. I am sure this is a welcome relief for those riding a KLX250S, which has a seat designed for trail riding and commuting, not for sitting on for 12 hours.

Zak and Rob did a great job coming up with the route, the roads were awesome, and we had a great day of riding, however even with a GPS we did take a few wrong turns. Apparently the boys scouted the route in the opposite direction. I guess this wouldn't be a CMG event if went perfectly smooth, and really, where's the fun in that.

Before long we rolled into Antigonish for a well deserved late lunch break at the Prissy Pig. Excellent choice for hungry bikers.

Unfortunately this is where I bailed out of the rally, I had date with my wife in Moncton, and a night alone without the kids. That opportunity only comes around every blue moon, so after saying good bye to all my new biker friends I hit the interstate and pinned it for the Residence Inn.
The rest of the insane asylum continued up to the Cape St. George which was probably the best part of the ride, and then along the coast of the North Humberland Straits making their way back to Aulac, New Brunswick for the finish and supper at the Irving Big Stop

All photos courtesy of Zak and Rob at CMG

Yes there is a short video of the event in the making, stayed tuned to this station for film at 11.