Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TWO Does Dallas

Two Wheel Reviews
2010 International Motorcycle Show in Dallas

For this year’s International Motorcycle Show held in Dallas, Paul at Brookside Motorcycle Company offered me a chance to ride a Kawasaki Concours 14.

The Concours 14 during a stop in Wetumka
It was going to be a four-day trip with a passenger and we needed the luggage room. The Kawasaki fit the bill perfectly for this trip. Much better than the bike I usually ride!

The big Kawasaki always seems to rank right at the top of the class in all of the riding comparison tests, and it seemed to fit my needs perfectly. It falls in the Sport Touring class of bike, not in the big class of touring rigs, like the Gold Wing, the BMW LT, etc. It gives enough long distance comfort and still returns a sporty and usable ride when the road starts to curve. The 14 is a good place to be for extended hours in all kinds of weather with the electrically adjustable windshield, adjustable rear suspension, near perfect riding position and eerily smooth drivetrain.

Leaving out of Tulsa, we ran into rain 60 miles into the trip and the Kawasaki made it easy with it’s excellent wind (and rain) protection. Staying true to the Two Wheel Oklahoma spirit, I couldn’t take the shortest route via the turnpike, but rather stayed on the original highway 75 all the way from Tulsa into Dallas and got the treat of sampling all of the small towns along the way. I miss these small towns and wish that more people stayed off the main arteries of the nation and made it a point to stop along the way and see what they are missing. Rolling through the towns of Waleetka, Wetumka and of course, Coalgate was like a trip back in time with readily available fuel and road food.

The Kawasaki was getting just over 36 mpg, so finding fuel along a route like this was not even a worry with it’s 5.8 gallon fuel tank.

Watch our video report from the show...
Once you get out of sight of any city lights, you find that this big bike can scoot, with 155 horsepower on tap and good aerodynamics. Cruising along in the upper reaches of the tach, it is steady and smooth, with only a faint exhaust burble and the rushing wind. It leaves you thinking that you could easily take this one on a 1500 mile trip without giving it a second thought. The Kawasaki made this 650-mile round trip seem like it was a jaunt around the block.

Coming in to Dallas around rush hour let’s you enjoy the stop and go of sitting in traffic along I-75. Wonderful. In the rain. The bike never cared, but I don’t seem to enjoy it like I used to. The smooth throttle response and excellent Nissin brakes made it easier than it used to be.

After spending a day running around Dallas, we headed over on Friday to check out the IMS show. This year had the Convention Center full of manufacturers, although once again, it was missing many of the euro brands. The big four Japanese bike makers were in attendance along with Harley Davidson, Can Am, Ural and Ducati. It was a shame that BMW, Triumph and KTM were missing. All three had new models and they were even in the program. Maybe they will make it to one of the other shows along the route.

Beside the bike manufacturers in attendance, they fill in the rest with gear (both showing off new stuff and others selling their goods), a stunt show with Jason Britton and Eric Hoenshell and of course the Demo Ride area.

On Saturday, we dove in and tried to check everything out. Most all of the manufacturers had full areas with new bikes being introduced to the North American market. In no particular order - 
Ducati had both their highly anticipated Diavel and the new 1198SP. We spoke with both Stefano Sbettega and John Paulo Canton about it and Ducati is geared up with accessories and pretty excited about this model. It's beautiful in person and seems to have the goods.
Honda had it's new 250R in both the ABS and regular models and it seems that the Kawasaki Ninja 250R has some competition in this once again growing beginner market. The other new model they brought was the CB1000R. A naked bike based on the CBR1000RR.
Suzuki had both of their, new from the ground up, GSXR 600 and 750 and Suzuki is back in the game after a short hiatus of not even importing any new models for a time. But the real treat for us was a pair of Oklahoma Highway Patrol Hayabusas. Two officers brought them up to show them off, so I had to sit on one just to try it out.
Harley Davidson had a large booth with some new models and a couple of race bikes. The first was the venerable XR750 and the other was the XR1200X. They also had a lady showing everybody the proper way to pick up a fallen bike and I can guarantee that she got her workout in by the end of the weekend. 
Yamaha brought out there Super Tenere to compete with BMW's GS model. They will have their hands full, trying to win over the Adventure rider in the U.S. market, but if the Super Tenere becomes nearly as popular as it has in Europe, then they should do well.
Ural brought out a half dozen of their tried and true Russian models. And if you have seen one in the past twenty years or so, then you will recognize this brand that has a true following- and now available in Orange!

After perusing through the new models and all the gear, we wandered over to see the Team No Limit Stunt Show. I have seen many of these put on and even Jason Britton doing his show, but it always amazes me to see them do this on the polished concrete and in such a small area. These are nice, because you can get right up close and after the show come by and meet Jason and Eric (Eric hails from the Oklahoma City area!) and get an autograph.

Outside of the Convention Center, we found the Demo Ride area. This is where you can find 40 - 60 bikes ready to try out. If you plan on riding one (or many), I would suggest you get there first and reserve a spot on the bikes you want to ride. It fills up pretty quick.

Overall, I would say this year's show was a success. It is starting to fill back in after a couple dismal years of everybody dealing with falling sales numbers. For locations and the full calendar of 2010 Progressive Insurance International Motorcycle Shows visit

Words & Photos by Brad Mathison

Two Wheel Oklahoma

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It's a Travel Show

Two Wheel Oklahoma is a television travel show featuring the motorcycle rides of Brad Mathison and Rex Brown along the scenic highways and backroads of Oklahoma.

Each episode highlights a stretch of road or historic route and explores unique destinations along the way. Tune in three times a week on the Cox Channel.

We hope you'll come ride along.

Brad and Rex: co-hosts of Two Wheel Oklahoma