I went to cover the International Motorcycle Show (IMS) in NYC for BikerLiberty.com, because many in the motorcycle media said it was dying. I needed to see if the rumors was true. They weren’t. The show blew me away. The media claimed that the fact that some OEMs were not attending the show raised major red flags. Another red flag that media commentators pointed out, was that the show only took up about 1/4 of the floor space at the Jacob Javitz Center, the major convention center located at West 34th Street and 11th Avenue in NYC where the show is always held. In past years the show took up all of the floor space, and even spilled out into the upstairs and basement. I maintain that these media commentators are not correct and the IMS in NYC is and was better than it ever has been.
Why is IMS in NYC better now that it is smaller? When things become smaller they become easier to navigate and absorb. The IMS is an experience more than a trade show. The custom bikes that line the red carpeted isles of the show are enough to drop the jaws of even the most casual fan of motorcycles. The newly launched models are presented for the world to see. OEM manufacturers flex their financial muscles to show off the goods for their customers and muscle for rank. The tighter the cage the better the fight. The big names at the show this year were Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda,and Kawasaki, BMW, and Royal Enfield. There were no major absences because, despite the fact that some OEMs did not show up, their dealers picked up the slack and came anyway. The only true notable absence was Ducati.
Because the show is smaller, the exhibitors are able to reach bikers in a clearer and more hands on way. Except for Harley Davidson; who exhibited their new street-fighter called Bronx, and their new Adventure Touring bike called Pan-America behind glass, every manufacturer allowed customers to sit on, feel out, and imagine riding nearly their entire line of motorcycles. The exhibitor’s staff had a better chance to interact and show off the bikes and that made a huge difference.
Exhibitors that really care about reaching out to the riding community are still buying booths and selling merchandise. Although the list of brands that is still renting space at the Javitz center grew noticeably smaller this year, I felt that the customer service was outstanding, far better than last year. There were some excellent luggage, gear, and digital gadget brands on display. I ran into all kinds of new gear that I never even knew existed.
Where there is smoke, there is fire. Some of the media’s criticisms rang true. I ran into a number of exhibitors that has literally nothing to do with motorcycling. What’s the story with beef jerky, massage tables, hot packs, and TENS units? I know that the rent at IMS is expensive, so, perhaps these exhibitors do well at that show. I never see anyone at their booths though. Wouldn’t that space be better spent exhibiting motorcycle related products and gear? I see the same beef jerky, massage, and TENS unit people at gun shows too. If a reader can explain why I see these same vendors at bike and gun shows in the comments, I’d love to know your thoughts.
In sum, I do not foresee the death of the IMS in New York City. Some in the motorcycle media may disagree with me, but, I really think that the show got better as it shrank. The exhibitors that really care about directly selling to their customers know that that bringing their products to NYC shows that the sellers are willing to go all out. The service from the OEMs, dealers, and gear vendors was amazing. Many in the motorcycle media attacked IMS in NYC by arguing that internet sales are the future economic model for motorcycle manufacturers, as more people are shopping from behind a computer screen. They claim the in-person show is no longer wanted. I believe that IMS in NYC took this criticism and swung back with outstanding service, sweet gear, killer bikes, and amazing people. The show will persist and, in my opinion, there is nothing like it. Any biker who has the chance should definitely go. It was amazing.