Riding season is pretty much over by now, but Toronto residents can look forward to two motorcycle shows this winter.
The first, the Toronto Motorcycle Show, opens its doors Dec. 9-11, and takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in the south building. This is located close to the CN Tower and things get rolling at 10 a.m., Friday to Sunday.
The second, the modestly named North American International Motorcycle Supershow, takes place Jan. 6-8, at the International Centre on Airport Road.
Here are some highlights of bikes you can expect to see at these two shows:
Revised for 2012, the ridiculously powerful S1000R gets a slightly modified suspension setup, new paint combos and some new accessory choices.
Why is it ridiculously powerful? Because BMW is claiming a maximum engine output of more than 190 horsepower for the S1000RR. Factor in the fact that the bike has an unladen weight of 200 kilograms, and you have a power-to-weight ratio worthy of a Formula One racer. Fortunately, it has several performance "modes" so you can tone things down a little.
This Italian manufacturer recently got together with German skunk works customizer, AMG, to produce the Diavel AMG Special Edition. As well special carbon fibre body work, a one-off exhaust system and special ribbed seat, the Diavel Special Edition will have the name of the technician who assembled it engraved on the engine casing, and each model will have its own limited production serial number.
Ducati is also unveiling a new engine at the Milan Auto Show this November: the 195-horsepower Superquadro L-Twin, but no word on whether it'll make it to Toronto.
Speaking of engines, Harley's new, 103-cubic-inch, twin camshaft, V-twin will be now standard equipment on all Softail and Touring bikes, as well as some Dyna models. With 100 lb-ft of torque on tap, it will have sequential fuel injection and be mated to a six-speed transmission.
Other changes for 2012 include the usual tweaks and refinements to models such as the Fat Boy Lo and Heritage Softail, and a new model in the form of the Switchback. This is essentially a Dyna with an Electroglide front end and hard bags and a windshield. Tagged as the FLD, it also gets the new engine.
Available in January, the Stateline ABS cruiser, in Honda's words, "blends two worlds of motorcycling style: traditional looks plus progressive elements." Also known as the VT1300CRABS, the Stateline joins the Interstate cruiser, the Crossrunner sport tourer, and a slightly revamped CBR 1000RR, among others, in Honda's 2012 lineup.
Now in the warm embrace of Polaris Industries, which also manufactures the Victory line of bikes, never-say-die Indian has three models on offer for 2012, all of which are variations on a vintage theme. Different trim and paint separates them, and now that Polaris has assumed control, things are about to get even more interesting in the heavy cruiser marketplace.
Joining the Vaquero line of big tourers/cruisers is a restyled Ninja ZX-14R Special Edition, which is on the receiving end of a new suspension treatment, tweaked 1,441-cc four-cylinder and other refinements. Canadian buyers also get a crack at the Ninja 400R, which won't be sold in the United States, and the Vaquero gets ABS.
One of the fastest motorcycles made, the Hayabusa returns for 2012, with minor changes and the same mind-boggling performance. This bike has been taken up to speeds of 300 km/h, right out of the box, and is, in Suzuki's own words, "not for everyone." It joins a revised V-Strom sport-tourer.
Based on the Bonneville T100, the Steve McQueen edition will be produced in limited numbers and will feature blacked-out brightwork, special paint and engine skid guard and various other styling cues. The former Hollywood idol was a big fan of Triumphs back in the day, and did many of his own stunts while riding one.
For those who like their bikes a little taller in the saddle, Triumph also has a Tiger 1200 Explorer dual-purpose model for '12.
Busy with its recent acquisition of Indian, perhaps, the Polaris subsidiary is offering various refinements on its models for 2012, including the cross Roads Classic LE, which offers buyers a chance to personally customize their own bikes, with various paint combos and so on.
Inspired by its recent superbike championships, Yamaha has a new YZF-R1 for the new model year. It has a traction control system, various paint choices, and other refinements and joins a revamped Stratoliner Deluxe cruiser and the Super Tenere adventure-tourer. This latter bike is loosely based on the famous Paris-Dakar race and has a 1,200-cc inline twin, ABS, and a traction control system. Yamaha bikes have won this event several times over the years, and if you like to ride all day on- and off-road, this could be the one for you.
It's no secret that things could be better in the motorcycle business. An anemic U.S. economy, the faltering euro and supply problems in Japan have all contributed to weak sales and, privately, some executives are deeply concerned about the future of their industry.
In the meantime, you can still window shop.