The 2012 Progressive International Motorcycle Show march is in full swing, showing enthusiasts what to look for in the coming year in bikes, gear and accessories.
Opening in Long Beach, Calif. and wrapping up in Daytona Beach prior to that town’s big annual Bike Week, riders from around the country can experience the touring, two-wheeled equivalent to the big Detroit or Los Angeles Auto Shows.
During its recent stopover in Washington, D.C., every major motorcycle manufacturer (and a few smaller custom makers) trotted out new 2012 models and Crave Online was on hand to gawk and dream while scribbling some notes and snapping some photos of the shiny street machines you hear rumbling past you this coming Spring.
A hundred riders could visit the floor of the show and come away impressed by 100 separate designs or products. But, I was struck by the 2012 debuts coming from Yamaha and Star first as I made my tour. The 2012 Star VMAX is a striking blend of racing bike and street cruiser, with a squat, powerful frame powered by a 102 cubic inch, liquid-cooled V4.
The gleaming, chromed-out 2012 Stratoliner Deluxe had the throwback look of a Flash Gordon-era rocket ship. Its 113 cubic inch V-Twin offers a twin bore electronic fuel injection. Star somehow managed to take the stodgy street cruiser and make it stylish.
Another company looking to take that ugly “stodgy” vibe out of cruisers is Indian Motorcycles. Now under new ownership at Polaris, Indian is doubling down on that same retro look while smoothing the edges with modern technology. The top of the Indian line is the 2012 Indian Chief Vintage.
With its chromed teardrop halogen headlamp, leather fringe saddle bags and seat covers, the Chief vintage sells for a stunning $35,999 – enough money to snag a well-appointed midrange luxury car. Price tags like that promise to keep Indian motorcycles in that boutique category while Harley-Davidson continues to dominate the cruiser market. Still, there’s no denying the visual appeal of the Indian’s throwback look.
Victory – Indian’s sister company under the Polaris umbrella – pulled scores of eyes its way by playing hardball. In fact, the 2012 Hard Ball was one of the most visually striking cycles on display. A symphony in molded black, its matte black lines sweep from its smooth, low fuel tank to its sculpted saddle bags. It looks like the bike was gracefully sculpted from one piece of gasoline-powered ebonite. The Hard Ball comes with a 106 cubic inch Victory Freedom V-Twin and a six speed overdrive transmission that puts out 109 ft. lbs. of torque. Standard ABS brings the sculpture to a stop.
I don’t want to own every bike I see, but the $18,999 Hard Ball lines up alongside the current Harley-Davidson Night Rod as the two atop my dream list.
While strolling through this valley of the street bikes on the show floor, I was struck by the same question that often occurs to me when considering bike makes. Where are all the Suzuki cruisers?
Suzuki makes a great looking, very reliable cruiser in the Boulevard. With its understated lines and compact frame, the Boulevard is one of the few cruisers that blend a little bit of compact racing design. But, you never see one on the street. I would ask any motorcycle enthusiast: Can you remember the last time you saw a Suzuki cruiser on the road?
The biggest display on the floor was probably reserved for Harley-Davidson. But, while the oldest player on the floor had every current make on display, it debuted nothing groundbreaking. Rumor has it that Harley-Davidson will roll-out its new 2012 additions at a special premiere event early this year.
Photo credit – John Scott Lewinski, Victory, Indian & Suzuki