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Although the Calgary Motorcycle Show seemed a bit smaller than in previous years (at least to me), there was still plenty of exciting metal on hand. We picked the perfect time to attend, just after work on Friday evening, I think most people prefer to attend on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.
Some of the most interesting bikes at the show were on the Honda stand, the new 500cc bikes look fantastic. The CBR500 in particular seems just about perfect and at $6700 or so, I think it is addressing a critical area of the market - a real motorcycle for real money. I like it, it's seems like a great bike for young and old alike. The other models in the 500cc parallel twin model range maybe be slightly less attractive (the adventure-styled looks like it's trying a little too hard) but I think they are exactly what the market needs to get new riders on the road, not to mention encouraging a few older ones to dust off their riding gear.
The other standout on the Honda stand may be the Best in Show in my opinion, the CB1100. I think it looks amazing. I forgot to look at the price, however I think they will sell everyone of them. Sadly, I heard that they are only bringing 50 of them to Canada in 2013. I can't confirm if that is 100% accurate, however it seems a shame, I'd love to see one on the street, but that may be a rare occurrence.
The only other motorcycle that could vie for Best of Show honours was the new wasser-boxer from BMW, the new R1200GS. As a former R1200GS owner, I can speak from experience, the GS is more than enough bike for nearly every possible scenario, which is why it's been such a huge global success for BMW. The new GS improves upon that formula in every aspect, including adding liquid cooling to the familiar boxer engine. The engine now combines water and air-cooling to keep high temperatures at bay while maintaining the traditional BMW boxer layout - it wouldn't be a big GS without a boxer motor.
The old GS was never what you'd call a good looking motorbike, purposeful, maybe, but never beautiful. The new model continues in that line of thought, although it looks much better in the metal, it's still not what you'd call a looker. That being said, if I had 20 grand to spend on a motorbike (sadly I don't) this is the bike I'd be coming home with, no question.
Triumph also had their new Daytona and Street Triples on display, although you may be hard pressed to tell the old from the new, they look very similar. This is not a bad thing, as these are great looking bikes, the Daytona 675R in particular is gorgeous. If I were designing a sport bike it would look like this.
The all new Trophy was also on hand, is the opposite of gorgeous. Triumph has continued their strategy of mimicking BMW's line up (the 800 Tiger looks very similar to the F800GS, and the 1200 Tiger has more than a passing resemblance to the R1200GS) with the Trophy, however they've made a mistake this time round. In the past they may have cribbed BMW designs, but they took their inspiration from some handsome machines and the end result was a better looking bike, both the 800 and 1200 Tigers look better than their BMW counterparts. The same cannot be said for the Trophy, at least in my eyes, part of the problem may lie in the fact that the bike they started with, the BMW R1200RT is not exactly a traditional beauty, and the end result does not look better. Regardless, if recent reports are anything to go by, the new Trophy is at least as good as the RT on the road, and I'm sure Triumph will sell loads on them, just not to me.
The Ducati stand had it's fair share of beautiful bikes, the new 1199 Panigale R is a stunner, and the Monster line up never fairs to disappoint. Not all their bikes are to my taste, both the Diavale and Multistrada seem a bit over the top, but the rest of the line up is spot on and perfectly Italian. If I owned one I'd have to park it in my living room.
There were a couple of interesting finds at the show, including a used MV Agusta F4 (still one of the best looking bike ever), a 'new' 2008 Benelli, and a single Royal Enfield, and by single I mean it was the only one there and it has a single cylinder engine. Another personal favourite by a super minty, mid seventies Honda CB500, it really demonstrates how good design can transcend time.
The real highlight of the show was having the chance to meet up with super adventurer Rene Cormier. Â If you have not read his book, University of Gravel Roads (http://universityofgravelroads.com) I'd recommend you go out and get a copy right now. Â It's a great read about his 5 year ride around the world, it's well written and full of amazing photos that will make you want to quit your job, pack up and hit the road. Â Of course you can hit the road with Rene by signing up for one of his adventure tours in South Africa via Renedian Adventures (http://www.renedian.com).