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2015 - The Motorcycle Show Vancouver

Contributed by Trevor Marc Hughes 
All photos by Trevor Marc Hughes

It’s the scope of the displays that is most exciting. It also is what is most intimidating.

Where do you start? Will you be able to take it all in?
 

Walking into Tradex is something like seeing gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. It’s difficult not to start bounding along like an excited ten-year-old, zipping back and forth from booth to booth, hungry to find out what’s new and interesting for motorcycling in 2015.

First, my enthusiasm was curbed by the lack of something. As I approached the incredible new designs of Victory Motorcycles in the Polaris display, I discovered a distinct lack of an Indian Scout.
“There are no B.C. dealers yet,” Terry Fetter of Victoria’s Action Motorcycles explained to me.

It would seem the cost of building up sales momentum for the new Indian models is too much west of the Rockies.

“It’s just not worth displaying four Indian Scouts right now,” Fetter tells me.

It would seem it’s going to be awhile before I’ll be sitting on an Indian Scout at the Vancouver Motorcycle Show.

I tempered my disappointment with a visit to Ireland. Celtic Rider is just one of the many motorcycle touring companies at the show, a list which includes Compass Expeditions, Edelweiss Bike Travel and Renedian Adventures. I speak with Connor about who chooses to ride Ireland.

“About 95% of our clientele are women,” he tells me.

With tourism growing in Ireland, so it would seem is motorcycle touring. Each tour package comes with an “orientation” for those who are used to riding on the right side of the road.

“Riding on the left is not a big deal,” he informs me.

Further left down this great hall is a sea of orange. KTM has a display featuring what would not be the last of this sort of bike I would see at the show: the introductory motorcycle. The KTM 390 Duke looks a tight, durable little machine. And with an MSRP of $5499 and a dry weight of a little over 300 pounds, it’s an affordable bit of orange.

 
What’s new with Suzuki? Well, as one rep put it: there’s the compact GSX-S750, a streetfighter influenced by supersport models like the GSX-R750, or for the ADV crowd, there’s a revamping of the DL-650. The Suzuki V-Strom 650X features spoke wheels and a “beak” out front. Does that look like another large adventure bike we know? It comes in “Candy Daring Red” and “Metallic Mat Fibroin Grey”.

The Yamaha section is the most impressive for me, with the large red symbol hanging from the ceiling. What’s also red, and new, is a YZF-R3. I watch as several nervous young lady visitors try to straddle it. And I think that’s what Yamaha may be thinking with this new lightweight sportbike: find the new and upcoming riders. It looks like an R6, but the 321cc engine will be easier to handle for those just being introduced to motorcycling.


I speak with Clinton Smout, who writes a column for Motorcycle Mojo and appears on “Motorcycle Experience” with Dave Hatch, as we both eye the R3. He tells me his eighteen-year-old son is entering the motorcycling market and if he is thinking about getting an R6, he would tell him to think twice and consider an R3. Good fatherly advice there. At an MSRP of $4999 the R3’s a little easier on a young adult’s budget too. He points over to the new ADV option from Yamaha, the FJ-09, billed as a sport-touring model taking after the FZ-09. It’s not an off-road capable bike, but it certainly seems Yamaha’s trying to corner the ADV lifestyle market with this one.



Harley-Davidson dominates much of one end of a hall, but its bikes are looking smaller. The introduction of Street 500 and 750 models seems to indicate that the iconic American manufacturer is trying to corner that beginning motorcyclist market too. Over to the right, the Tron-like whir of an electric motorcycle can be heard. This is not a light-cycle. It’s a visitor trying out Project Livewire, a surprising new initiative, but still only in the late prototype stage. But it’ll be interesting to see
what is developed in an electric bike model for the motorcycle market to be seen at next year’s show.




Of course there are many other bikes to mention: Ducati’s 821cc slimmed down and much more affordable Monster, the increasingly “rough road capable” Honda  CB500X looking to rival other sport touring models in its class, the more rider-friendly yet torquey BMW S1000RR, and, of course, the eagerly anticipated Kawasaki Ninja H2, cordoned off behind restraint straps as though its 1000cc supercharged engine is about to break free from its cage.





These are all impressive. But I choose to round off my visit to the 2015 Vancouver Motorcycle Show by meeting some of the adventurers that take motorcycles to their limits, live to tell the tale and write about it. Jeremy Kroeker wrote “Motorcycle Therapy”, a true story about his adventure on a KLR650 into Central America. His new book “Through Dust And Darkness” has done well critically. He tells me it’s not easy being an author, but he’s happy for the success of the latest book, which chronicles his motorcycle travels through the Middle East. A down-to-earth guy, he signs a copy for me on the spot.


 
Just as I’m about to leave, closing warnings booming over the loudspeakers, I see Rene Cormier. I met him the year before. His book “The University of Gravel Roads” is one of the best motorcycling circumnavigation tales I’ve read and now he heads Renedian Adventures, his own company that launches motorcycle expeditions all over southwest Africa. He spends half the year in Canada, the rest in Africa. He always has a smile and a handshake, and is someone I think would be great
company while traveling by motorcycle.

 
So, if I were to find overall themes that emerge from this year’s show, they’d have to be a trend towards manufacturers seeking to dominate the beginner motorcyclist market and continued growth, and fusing styles, in adventure motorcycles. Next year though, electric motorcycles, and the discussion they create, could be more of a focus. The show sure does what it’s billed to do though…make me excited for the upcoming riding season.

Links:

The Motorcycle Show Vancouver - http://www.vancouvermotorcycleshow.ca/
Renedian Adventures - http://www.renedian.com/
Jeremy Kroeker - http://www.motorcycletherapy.com/



Fundy Adventure Rally - 2014

It's the first year for the Fundy Adventure Rally. The fine folks at CMG Online were expecting 20 or so people but managed to convince about 60 people to tackle 500+ KM's of New Brunswick wilderness near Sussex with the Adair's Wilderness Lodge serving as the base camp. Riders came from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, and Maryland. Adair's is a great spot in the middle of the woods but accessible by road and THE perfect spot to serve as the launch point of the rally. It's a dirt riders nirvana. Food at the lodge was great too! - Bonus!

There's several cottages nestled amongst the trees. Rough camping sites were available in the treed section near the water at the top right which was a short walk from the main lodge.

The Fundy Adventure Rally was a two day event that started on Friday afternoon with participation by a major sponsor - BMW Motorrad Canada who had brought a tractor trailer of BMW F800 GS's for demo rides and a few other bikes for show. Big thanks go out to BMW for allowing me to borrow a BMW F800GS to participate in the Rally with. BIG thanks! I came in from Halifax, following the GPS on my phone in towards the lodge. Guess the Rally organizers weren't kidding when they said there was no cell coverage at the lodge. My cellular signal actually dropped about 15 minutes from the lodge - if you know the way that is. Luckily I met another rally participant on my way in and we navigated the rest of the way together. (As it turns out I'd end up riding the entire Rally in a group of four with him amongst them - by chance really.)

My motorcycle for the Rally. A brand new BMW F800 GS - lowered. It had less than a 1000km's on the odometer when I started the Rally. The Arai VX Pro4 was unboxed for the event and worked flawlessly and proved all day comfortable. Note the GPS secured with plenty of zip ties!



It was a pretty laid back first day with most people arriving later in the day, going on a BMW test ride, setting up their tents, getting into their cottages, supper, and a riders meeting to review the Rally route. There wasn't too much partying - most people seemed to want to head to bed early to get a good night's sleep for the long day ahead still there was a lot of like minded motorcyclists around and Rob made sure they brought in at least a few good varieties of beer at the lodge. I 'might' have sampled one or two. Rally start time was 7:00 AM on Saturday for some so there was a lot to do at an early hour to be get ready for the Rally.

The map and hashtag for the event. This was the guide book we reviewed at the riders meeting on Friday after supper was served in the main hall. 

I met up with a few guys who were also riding the "A" route of the event which was for teams with less experience or riders who were solo participants. Teams with off-road experience could take on a harder "B" route. Luckily for me two of the guys I partnered up with turned out to be fantastic navigators and led our group through the entire Rally because I never did get my borrowed GPS working properly. Note to self - buy a GPS and practice using it! It's a must for participating in this event. I wouldn't have gotten past the first couple of turns if it weren't for the guys I was following. Thanks to Moto Journalist Costa Mouzouris for trying to teach me how to figure out how to use my borrowed GPS!

The BMW tent which served as the start and end point of the Rally and the starting point for the demo rides on Friday.


Each team was equipped with a Spot device who were also a sponsor of the event. It added a extra level of safety for the participants knowing that if there was an emergency that help could be brought in. Luckily there weren't any serious injuries amongst the participants.

At 5:30 AM on the morning of the Rally I woke to the sound of coyotes howling (loudly!) followed shortly thereafter with the loud BRAP-Brap-Brap of a dirt bike starting and revving up. There's one in every crowd! An interesting way to start the day, that's for sure! Didn't even need my alarm I guess.

After the wake up call I was off to the lodge for a big buffet breakfast to fuel up for the day. I had a borrowed GPS and a mount that didn't really fit so I had to break out the zip ties to make sure it was secured to my borrowed BMW F800GS. I loaded up some Gatorade and snack food into a tail bag and strapped it onto the F8 with a motorcycle bungee cord. I didn't want to have any weight on my back and the the tail bag with the extra security of the bungee cords worked fantastic. Everything was secure, didn't bounce around at all - and best of all I didn't have to lug the extra weight on my back.



We hit the road at about 7:40 AM and the place was pretty foggy and overcast. We took a right turn out of the parking lot and after a short distance a bunch of riders were stopped at the very first turn. Apparently the GPS of a few riders knew a shorter way to navigate the route! Almost foiled at the first turn. In our haste to get going again two of my teammates ended up in another pack while myself and another teammate ended up riding together. We rejoined forces later at a break in the trail. Our team of four stuck together for the rest of the race.

Stopping to fuel up the machines, water, and whatever other non-healthy snacks could be scrounged up at the gas station.

The drive through Fundy Park was pretty amazing. We had the roads (albeit paved) to ourselves and while we couldn't see any of the amazing sites the solitude of having the place to yourself and 'being very careful' to stick to the speed limits made it an entertaining section of road. The stretch of twisty pavement uncovered that something was wrong with the bike though - I didn't know exactly what. The bike was riding very squirrelly and it wobbled markedly when I got on the brakes. I thought the front wheel felt a little soft but it didn't seem too bad in the dirt so I downplayed that possibility in my mind and thought it might just be a really bent rim. The pavement made the wobble pronounced and it was so bad I mentioned to my partner. Well, when we stopped a while later and checked the tire pressure we discovered I'd been riding on 13 PSI on the front. It was set to 20 the day before for the off-road demo but somehow lost quite a bit of pressure overnight. My team mates figured the dent in my rim might have caused a flat but somebody brought an electric pump and we hooked it up the GS1200 battery and pumped it up to 35. The bike rode great after that and held air all day! The reason for the pressure drop remained a mystery.

My mind was going through the worst possible scenarios... I was going to have to wait for the sweep truck to come pick me up maybe and quit! Arrgh... There was no way I wanted to end my adventure that soon. I was just getting warmed up! Saved by the preparedness of my teammates once again!

A nasty little dent that I may have been responsible for after a close encounter with a big rock! The tire continued to hold air for the entire Rally though. Yipee!


For somebody with off-road experience the off road A route might not have been too challenging but I have pretty limited off road experience so bombing down a gravel road at up to100 km/hr standing on the pegs was pretty exciting for me. There was plenty of slower stuff, rocky uphills/downhills, loamy sand, hard pack, mud, water, blind crests, tightening radius turns, pea gravel corners, bridges, even a covered bridge, wildlife (for some), culverts, plenty of rocks, and DUST, DUST and more DUST! It was quite challenging at times seeing through my goggles. I'd try wiping them with my glove and they'd be good for a while or absolute crap and I'd feverishly try to get a little bit of space to see through. I had to stop and wipe them a few times with a cloth I had in my pocket and then ride with a little extra pace to catch my navigator.

Don't think this gear will ever come totally clean. The gore-tex boots worked fantastically well. I would've had wet feet for sure in anything that wasn't totally waterproof.


I had one close encounter with two REALLY big rocks on the center line of the trail. I was in the #3 spot in my group and trailing the guy in front of me by a good margin because of the dust. We were riding at a pretty good clip on a fairly easy dirt road mixed with some buried rock. The road was used by logging trucks and had a slightly raised center line - that seemed like the safe line. Well, I found out otherwise. I was going a bit too fast over a slight blind crest and two bigs rocks were right on my line. They were too big and wide to go around at the speed I was going - so I could only brace for it and steer for the middle to try ride between them. I grazed the right rock pretty hard. This was after I already had that big dent in the front rim! The rock kicked me off to the left but I stayed upright. Yikes! That was a pucker moment for sure. I was more careful with the blind crests and making sure I was driving within my vision after that. Lesson learned. That rim continued to hold up though!

There were eight sections of varying length during the Rally and each of them ended at a gas station. That worked really well because you could gas up, have a bathroom break, take some time to rehydrate, and get a bite to eat if you wanted. There wasn't a ton of time for leisure if you wanted to ensure you made it back on time. At each stage there was a option that if you hadn't reached the end of the section by a certain time you were supposed to take a bypass/option route that took you on a paved route to the next stop so you could make up some time. My assembled team managed to not take any of the shortcut options and did the entire A route as intended. We may have been just slightly past the cutoff time at a point or two but some of that might have come down to that sit down dinner we had at the Big Stop in Salisbury! Who can pass up a hot turkey sandwich in the middle of a 500 Km off road Rally! It was a pretty quick stop but it still killed a lot of time. In hindsight - maybe not the best choice. I had enough energy bars and snacks to last the day but the team wanted to stop so I followed suit.

Once I got that front tire sorted out the BMW proved to be very capable for the mix of off road and pavement. I had a few troubles turning off the traction control and ABS but that was my fault. I should have practiced it and got a better lesson the day BEFORE the Rally. I can tell you from personal experience that you absolutely do not want to leave the traction control on when riding off-road on the F8! It takes the smooth predictable power output and seems to zap the throttle output in pulses. It makes getting up a rutted gravel road a terrible experience, especially if you're standing on the pegs! Once it's off though it's a different experience altogether. The F8 powers its way up loose thick gravel effortlessly. I found it best to gear up a bit to dull the throttle and smooth out power delivery. With so much power on tap it's easy to just start tearing up the road and showering the guy behind you with a pile of rocks. Gearing down on the descents and making use of engine braking worked great as well. Messing around with the ABS was interesting too. ABS is great for the road but crap off road. The ABS goes a little wild when it's turned on off-road. If I had to have either ABS or traction control on while off road- the lessor of those two evils was definitely ABS. It was really tough to feel in control of the bike off-road with the traction control on. Uphill gravel conditions made it a MUST to have turned off.

I was on the factory lowered F8 - not by my choice - it's just what BMW provided. It turned out to be a pretty good fit because I was able to very comfortably flat foot with both feet. I did miss the little bit of suspension travel they take out with that factory lowering but there's also lowering via a different seat shape as I understand it. I did get both wheels airborne on the bike at least once fairly impressively to test the suspension travel! A little extra suspension, however small, may have come in handy on that one! Did I say already that I enjoyed myself! I honestly didn't want the day to end. I was grinning the entire day.

Me and the assembled team of solo riders - we made it to the finish! Awesome work navigating you guys! Nice pace too!

The evening after the Rally was a little more festive than Friday with people gathering to tell some tales and enjoy a beverage. There was also the Rider dinner, charity raffle, a little speech from Chris Duff from BMW Motorrad Canada, a slideshow presentation of pictures from the event and of course the awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony begins. Check out that trophy! You don't get to keep it actually... just hold it for a few minutes. Bragging rights and your name on the trophy is your reward!


One participant might have partied just a little too hard the night after the Rally and left a candle in his tent - luckily he lit it then left the tent... lucky for him anyway and not so much for his tent and gear. He lost EVERYTHING except the clothes on his back and the stuff he had packed on his bike. Wallet, helmet, motorcycle boots, clothing, - everything! I thought I heard someone say 'fire' in the night but I was pretty wiped out and apparently slept through it. I helped him clear up the rubble in the morning and since I drove there in a car and was passing by his place on the drive home I ended up riding his bike back to his house and he drove my car. So I got to squeeze in one last BMW demo - not the best of circumstances but it made for a nice trip back home for me.

That was one HOT fire! There was nothing left. That little thing at the top right above the yellow nylon rope is what's left of an AlpineStars motorcycle boot! All his stuff was reduced to dust and bits of plastic.

Now that the Rally is over I've taken to watching F8 videos and checking on insurance rates on the Beemer. I sure could get used to the ability to see where all those dirt roads go, and trade in my Honda VFR 800. The BMW F800 GS was a joy to drive. It was very capable on road and off. Soaking up all kinds of bumps and power to spare for anything I put it through. I even turned on the hand warner's when he mist got really heavy and my hands were wet. Now that's luxury! Factory hand warmers on a bike as capable off road as the F8! It's pretty awesome!

Hey nice shirt!



I'll see you next year!

I think everybody really enjoyed themselves, judging from the tired dirty smiles at the finish line. You'd never know it was a first year event. Apparently they spent two summers testing out trails and working out routes to be able to pull it off. I'm expecting even bigger and better things next year and they're considering adding some rider training events and an extra day to the event. They've got September 11, 12, 13 booked for next year.  Mark your calendars!

Special thanks to:

Rob and Courtney at Canada Moto Guide and Canada Moto Rallies
BMW Motorrad Canada - for the use of the BMW F800 GS
Arai Americas - for the use of the Arai VX-Pro4

Other Articles and Blog links covering the 2014 Fundy Adventure Rally:

CMG Online
Big Land Adventure Films
Mark Richardson for MSN Autos

Twitter Hash Tag #FundyADV




Atlantic Motorsport Park - 2010 Parts Canada Superbike!

Atlantic Roadracing League was host to the Rounds 6 and 7 of the 2010 Parts Canada Superbike races this August 5-8, 2010.  We were there last year and certainly didn't want to miss the action again this year.  It seemed that the crowds were a little thinner than last year but that just made for a better spot on the concrete  wall for me!

The weather was beautiful and sunny - warm - but not quite as warm as last year. That's a good thing - it was sweltering last year. This year I got to test out my new camera.  Now the photo's should come with GPS coordinates built in to the photo EXIF data.  Pretty cool.

Not nearly as cool as the racing though.  If you haven't been out to a race - you really should go check it out.  You will truly be amazed at the speed.  They hit 190 KM/HR + at points on the track.  It's a pretty impressive thing to see!

This was the first time I got to see the BMW S1000RR in action and it didn't disappoint; BMW took two of the top three spots on the podium. Amazing bikes!

We took plenty of shots of the motorcycles in the pits, and on the main stretch, not to mention some of the spectator's rides.  Plenty of bikes to be seen.



Some people we'd like to draw special attention to at the race - Colin at www.MadFab.ca.  He fabricates some really trick bike parts and tools right here in Nova Scotia.  His presence could be seen all over the place at the races.  Even on some racer bikes - like Todd Scott's. If you're looking for somebody to do some fabrication for you, or do crash repairs.  Look no further.  Colin knows his stuff!

I also took a few short video's that you can check out here:

Nice corner transition in this one -





Other stuff:

If you like these photo's and would like to publish or purchase higher resolution copies - let me know.  If you want to check out the camera used to take these photo's - take a look at this link:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black)

2010 Atlantic Motorcycle and ATV Show - A pictorial

This year marked the third year for the Atlantic Motorcycle and ATV show in Moncton. Produced by Master Promotion, owned by the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council (MMIC) and Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV) - the event appeared to be the popular spot for motorcycle enthusiasts to be in Moncton the weekend of Feb 12-14, 2010.

I haven't heard about the numbers that came through but there were roughly 15,000 last year. I don't know that it was quite as busy as last year but if you're a fan of motorcycles you wouldn't have minded - it just meant it was a little easier to get through the crowds and there'd be a better chance you'd get to sit on a few more bikes.

Most of the big manufacturers were there showing off their newest 2010 models.  There were a few standout bikes for me; notably the new Honda VFR1200, the BMW S1000RR, a Ducati 1198R, and Patrick Trahan's Dakar prepped Honda.

We took a few photo's and thought we'd share.  More content about the show is coming soon.


2009 Digby, Nova Scotia - Wharf Rat Rally in pictures

CanadianMotorcycleRider took a run down to Digby for the 5th annual Digby Wharf Rat Rally which ran from September 2 - 9th, 2009.

Simply put - it was packed! Downtown Digby, Nova Scotia was completely overtaken by motorcycles. Nova Scotia Department of Transportation was even called in to direct traffic in and out of Digby from the highway.

For a town with a population sitting at around 2,1000 according to 2001 statistics - when about 17,000 motorcycles and 50,000 people come to town - it's a big deal! This is the largest motorcycle rally in Atlantic Canada according to the event organizers.

We stopped in for a few hours on Saturday and tied it in ot a beautiful day of about 550 km's of riding. Here's some pictures from the event for you to check out: