Martin's Motorcycle: Washington DC Motorcycle Show 2007

BMW F800S 2007 DC Motorcycle Show

In January, Martin and I went to the 2007 Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in Washington D.C. The show was held in the Convention Center, which is very conveniently located in the city and is also metro accessible. The show was primarily composed of manufacturer displays for most of the major brands sold in the U.S., including BMW, Buell, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha. There were also some display booths for assorted accessories, helmets, heated riding clothes, and cleaning products, as well as a stage area sectioned off in the back. While we were there several stunt riders were going around inside the big steel cage ball.

BMW F800ST 2007 DC Motorcycle Show

Being new BMW owners, we were excited to look through the BMW models. It was great to have a chance to check out the new F800S and ST bikes, which are both run with water-cooled dual-cylinder engines and utilize a final belt drive. This bike line is positioned as a step between the smaller single-cylinder, chain-driven F650s like I have, and the bigger twin-cylinder, driveshaft-driven 1200 cc boxer engine on many of the other models. According to the BMW catalogue, the standard seat height for the F800S/ST is 32.3 inches, with a low seat option of 31.1 inches available. Like many BMWs, this may still be on the tall side if you are short, and I really do wish BMW would make a small, lightweight, driveshaft driven bike. Bike maintenance, including chain maintenance, is not something to which I am looking forward. I am not especially reliable about routine maintenance for my car, but will obviously have to force myself to be better since this is much more critical for a motorcycle. The F800S model we sat on was shown in a very attractive red. I am not sure if this was a standard color or a special paint job. It was not Crayola crayon primary red, which is a color I am not crazy about, but was a deeper shade. I saw some very similar colors among other manufacturers' models, so this must be one of the popular new shades for 2007.

BMW G650X 2007 DC Motorcycle Show

The BWM display also included the new G650X bikes (the XMoto, XCountry, and XChallenge). These are also single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, chain-driven bikes like the F650 series, but have a bit more of a dirt bike look and higher ground clearance. They are also lighter weight. I think my favorite of the three is the XCountry, which is about 50 lbs lighter than the F650GS (dry weight of 326 lbs versus 387 lbs), and has a seat height of 33.1 inches. Aside from the height (undoubtedly useful for off-road, but definitely tall), a possible drawback to these bikes may be the smaller fuel tank. It looks like the XCountry has a 2.5 gallon tank, compared to a 4 gallon tank on my F650GS.

In addition to all the bikes, the BWM section included a couple of television screens playing videos. One of the most interesting ones we saw demonstrated the advantages of anti-lock brakes when trying to stop on wet surfaces. In the video, a street was covered with water and hay, and professional drivers tried to stop at speeds ranging from 25-55 mph. Basically, without ABS all the drivers would have skidded out, even at fairly low speeds (they were stopped from crashing by outriggers installed on the bikes). However, on bikes with anti-lock brakes, the drivers were able to make fairly smooth stops. The video made me glad that I have the ABS option installed on my bike since I am far from having the skills of a professional!

Despite my love of the BMWs, I think the most fun display came from Buell. They had a couple of their models mounted so that you could climb on them- one up like it was doing a wheelie and one leaned way over into a sharp turn. It was fun to take pictures on them, even though it was hard to look like we were really riding on them. This was especially true of the leaned-over bike since you do not feel the g-forces that would act to keep you in the seat in a real turn. Maybe we can Photoshop the pictures into something exciting.

Buell Ulysses 2007 DC Motorcycle Show

The Buell models on display included the Ulysses, the Firebolt, the Lightning, and the little Blast (on which Martin and I learned to ride through the Riders Edge course at Harley Davidson). The Blast single-cylinder engine is about 500 cc and has a seat height of only 25.5 inches, so now it even feels a bit small to me! Many of the other Buell models have either a 984 cc or 1203 cc v-twin engine. The Lightning City X model was shown with translucent body panels, letting you see into bits of the motorcycle, such as the air-intake, and giving a unique styling look. Although I don't think I sat on it, according the manufacturer, the Lightning XB12Scg (103 HP, 1203 cc air-cooled v-twin engine) is belt-driven and has a seat height of only 28.6 inches. I will have to look out for it if we go to another show. As far as I could tell, though, the Buell does not have an ABS option, which is something I especially like about the BMWs.

BMS Choppers Nehmesis 2007 DC Motorcycle Show

Rotating by itself on a roped-off platform was the Nehme'sis, a custom bike made by Sam Nehme of BMS Choppers. It is all red and gold, with a seat that seems impossibly low to the ground and it looks like nothing else. Personally, I love the idea of dual-sport bikes, and probably prefer a much more naked bike style, but I have to admit the Nehme'sis was pretty amazing to look at. I think it was part of a custom-build competition from a TV show, so you may be able to see the details of how it was assembled if you check out the program.

Another of the unusual items at the show was the new Piaggio three-wheeled scooter. Unlike a normal trike, the Piaggio has two wheels up in front, with one wheel in the rear. A video of the scooter in motion demonstrated the independent suspension on the parallel front wheels, and showed how the wheels leaned to allow both good stability and effective turning. When coming to a stop the suspension appeared to smoothly transition to an upright position allowing the scooter to stand un assisted. The model was automatic transmission and might be an interesting option for people looking to purchase a scooter.

3-Wheeled Piaggio Scooter 2007 DC Motorcycle Show

Finally, we had fun checking out the T-Rex, which is basically a motorcycle modified into something that looks a bit like a Dodge Prowler from the front, with driver and passenger seats, seatbelts, and a steering wheel. The T-Rex has two wheels up front and a single wheel in the rear, and looks like it sits very low to the ground. We won't be buying one anytime soon, so it is too bad they do not rent them out for a day or two. I think the dealer said that it is street legal, and it looks like it could be a super fun (and expensive) toy.

The International Motorcycle Show has stops in a variety of cities, so check out this link for more information.

After wandering through all of the manufacturer displays and sitting on tons of bikes, we decided we had seen enough and were ready for a good lunch. There are many restaurants located within a few blocks of the DC Convention Center. Chinatown has an assortment of Asian cuisines, and there are also Mexican, Spanish, and American places along 6th street. We went down to the District Chophouse and Brewery and had a great meal, which was a perfect way to end the afternoon.

T-Rex 2007 DC Motorcycle Show

All in all, it was a fun time and a good chance to see some of the new 2007 models. The Mid Atlantic Motorcycle Show is coming up February 9-11 in Timonium, MD (just north of Baltimore). In addition to the manufacturers' displays, it looks like this show may include more booths from local dealers and accessories vendors. Being the new-owner motorcycle addicts that we are, we'll probably check this one out as well!