Last year’s Cycle World Show suprised us with a huge array of new scooters, and after being shuffled out at closing time, we made a point of getting an earlier start this year. Patrick at Baron Von Scoot set me up with his extra free pass, Tracie and Jennifer printed some $1 off coupons from the Loop’s site, and we were on our way to Rosemont. After finding a much luckier parking spot than last year, we waited in a long line for tickets, where the Loop coupons were rejected. At least they didn’t charge for Milena.
This year, the setup was pretty much the same. Actually in most cases, it was exactly the same. Honda, BMW, and most other companies were re-using their ‘O3 exhibits, and most manufacturers didn’t have too much new to brag about, especially in the scooter arena.
The Ruckus for 2004: butch!
Last year, the Honda Ruckus was our (only partially sarcastic) favorite new scooter. We thought it was silly and ugly, but loved it for those same reasons, and vowed to buy one if they ever made a bigger version. Much to our disappointment, despite rumors of a Ruckus 250, the Honda booth featured only one Ruckus, a measly 50 decked out in camoflauge.
Get lei’d on a Honda Metropolitan II.
The Metropolitan II was back as well, and as with the Ruckus, rather than beefing up the engine, they added a pattern, in this case a lovely Hawaiian floral print. You’d think I was making this up if there wasn’t a photo right next to this text, wouldn’t you? Several new colors have been added to the line, as well as the aforementioned Hibiscus and never-before-seen on a scooter checkerboard patterns. I’m still baffled as to the difference between the Metropolitan and the Metropolitan II, according to their site they’re both the same price, and available in the same colors, though the II is described as “moped legal”
Thank you, Jesus, my prayers have been answered!
Also on display at Honda was the tasteful Reflex and, back from the grave, that bastion of 80s old-man-scootering, the Helix, in eleven new colors guaranteed to match any fraternal affiliation. Needless to say, the Helix had the biggest crowd of the day, as bearded elderly gentlemen lined up to try out the seat.
Mojito: love the drink, could take or leave the scooter.
Once again, Aprilia featured as many scooters as motorcyles, though their location was less prestigious this time ’round. Their newest model the Mojito, was interesting, but didn’t really stand out, living in that same not-really-retro, not-really-modern world currently occupied by the Scarabeo, without the Scarabeo’s quirkier design. the “Retro” model was downright boring, though the “Win this Scooter” stickers on it didn’t help, the “Custom” model ironically had a more retro look, with bare handlebars and more plastic chrome than the “Retro.”
The guy sitting on this Scarabeo 500 was like 6’4, 280lbs. It’s the size of a full-grown Maine moose.
Speaking of the Scarabeo, the platform has spiralled out of control with six different models: the 2-stroke 50 and 50 DiTech, the 4-stroke 100, 125, and 200 GT, and an insane new 500cc model that makes the Honda Helix look like a pocketbike. Interestingly, the Scarabeo isn’t even listed in the “Scooters” section of Aprilia’s website, it has its own section.
The tasty SR50 DiTech was back, probably the same exact unit as last year, and the Atlantic cruiser returned as well, including a smaller 200cc variation that I missed last year. I remember calling the 500cc Atlantic a “barcalounger” last year. That was before I saw the Scarabeo 500.
the Kymco Bet&Win: at least it’s a better name than “Filly”.
Kymco’s booth featured only three scooters from their growing lineup: the Super9 in orange, which is a pretty great looking bike, and our current favorite 50cc scooter, at least for looks, as well as their new Bet&Win 250. Until the show, the only Bet&Wins I’d seen were the ’80s-Air-Jordan styled red and white 2003 models, a simple paint change (for both displacements) makes the bike much more attractive and modern. The one on display was a very tasteful blue and silver. They also had a People, which is starting to reach Scarbeo-levels of displacement variation, one of their dorky lil’ motorcycles, and a couple ATVs. “Dealer Inquiries,” signs all over reminded us, “are welcome.”
Is that all?
The bikes formerly known as Mini-Harlees.
There were more scooters there, but not much worth talking about. Suzuki still had the Burgman. Yamaha had Vinos in new colors (but no Vino 250!) and Zumas in the same old colors. There were a couple Chinese twist’n’gos. Pagsta had a booth with an array of the tiny cruisers that Scoot Quarterly seems to think are scooters. I didn’t see Genuine’s booth the first time through, I had to go back and look for it, but they were there, offering $200 off the Stella for show attendees, (not sure if that discount applies to 2strokebuzz readers) and they had many accessories on display.
Many scooter companies were noticeably absent. Piaggio/Vespa once again couldn’t be arsed to show up. Bajaj, Peugeot, T’NG, and Italjet were nowhere to be seen. Benelli, who had some really exciting bikes last year, was a no-show and, it seems, unfortunately never actually got off the ground in the USA.
After last year, the scooter representation seemed dissapointing, but last year was big for new models, so I guess we can’t expect that every year. It was still impressive to see so many scooters when you remember how few were available three or four years ago.
The sad state of motorcycling in America
As ho-hum as the scooters on display were, everything else was downright depressing. There’s not much out there for you if you’re not a Harley dentist, a sportbike showoff, or a chopper yahoo. The non-dealer booths all seemed to be selling black fringed leather, DVDs of idiots jumping between bikes on desert roads, West Coast Chopper hoodies, or all of the above. The Starboyz don’t even bother showing up, they have teenage Starboyz wannabes running their booth. The biggest surprise of the show was that I didn’t see a single booth selling replica “Carpe Diem” leathers from “Torque.” Luckily, there were a handful of beautiful vintage bikes on display, a smattering of interesting modern bikes (Moto Guzzi Breva 750!), and people-watching is never better than at a motorcycle show.
Last year, I left the show trying to figure out how to afford a Triumph Bonneville. This year, nothing really struck my fancy in the same way, but it there were plenty of bikes I’d ride if given the chance. More than that, the show made me itchy to ride what I already have, and slipping through the snow into the garage and seeing our rusty assemblage of vintage junk has never put a bigger smile on my face. Now if only the snow would melt…