Thursday, December 10, 2009

Royal Enfield among unique bikes at show

Seeing the new Royal Enfield Bullet C5 was the reason I went to the Los Angeles International Motorcycle Show Dec. 5. Royal Enfields are unique motorcycles, so there wasn't anything else on my shopping list. I was free to bumble about the show, stumbling into oddities of all sorts.

One of the oddest must have been this commodious (and apparently home built) sidecar shown by the SoCal Sidecar Club. It has its own headlights and is decorated for Christmas. The perfect conveyance for Santa Claus.

A much tidier side car was mounted to a Honda Trail 90 at the display by the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club. Very cute, but likely very slow. It is curious to think that sidecars were once considered legitimate forms of family transportation and were even used in mechanized warfare. Today, they're popular just for fun.

Oh well, it wasn't so long ago that the electric car was considered useful as nothing more than a golf cart. Perhaps the sidecar will have another round too.

At last year's show I was struck by the "rightness" of Suzuki's TU250X standard motorcycle, which looked like a threat to Royal Enfield with its price of $3,799. But I could not find this tidy upright motorcycle at the Los Angeles show, instead finding something called the GZ250.

This appears to be the same mechanicals, but swept back into "cruiser" format. Pretty, but not the posture for me.

Honda had nothing for me either, having dropped the "standard" designation from its published catalog entirely. As a current television commercial points out, Honda even makes lawn mowers. Can't it find time to make a simple God's Honest Truth motorcycle? If you don't want a Gold Wing, Honda would drape you over a sport bike or tuck you into a Lazy Boy pose on a cruiser.

But let them suit themselves.

I made my way through the Ducati display, always the most claustrophobic spot at a motorcycle show because someone somehow arranges for lovely young women to be present. Thanks to that distraction, and the crowds that result, I can't say that I have ever laid eyes on any actual Ducati motorcycle. I hear they are nice.

Allstate is my insurance company for home, auto and motorcycle, thanks to the wonderful service I get from my local agent. Allstate is due no thanks itself, as it seems to do everything possible to dump those of us in Florida who, every now and again, get hit with a hurricane. Well, what is an insurance company for, anyway? Sunny days only, apparently.

My opinion of the company was vastly improved by its display at the motorcycle show, built around a lovely 1964 Allstate motorcycle.

The old Allstate was a rebadged Puch 250SGS, and they were made not for Allstate insurance company, but for sale through the Sears catalog. Still, it was clever of the insurance company to show the motorcycle, famous for its two-cycle "twingle" operation (two pistons in a single cylinder).

Progressive insurance company was not out done, showing a very interesting rock'n'roll themed motorcycle with the Fender brand on the tank. It's a Triumph, done up by Arizona custom shop Sucker Punch Sallys.

I can't even hum much less play a guitar, but I'd love to make beautiful music on this café-style motorcycle.

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