I wasn't sure if I was going to attend the 2019 Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Minneapolis this year so I didn't apply for a press pass. It had nothing to do with the show (I've attended every year since 2007) and more about this winter bumming me out. The best thing about this particular show is it's timing - right in the middle of winter, when you can't ride (unless you have studded tires). At least you can walk around, look at bikes, and sit on bikes. It gets you looking forward to Spring. I made the last-minute decision to go and took my son.
This year was a bit different than past years. I always enjoyed the stunt show but they didn't have one. Instead they had more interactive activities including riding electric bikes (both Zero Motorcycles for adults and Stability Cycles STACYC for kids) and a wheelie training machine. My son tried out the Stability Cycle and had fun.
I tried out the wheelie machine because... why not. You start on the bike on the right and it just lifts up and down on its own like a carnival ride while a guy explains what you should be doing. Then you switch to the bike on the left where you actually have control. It was weird. I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never wheelied a full size motorcycle before (it's definitely on my to-do list). Even with mini bikes, I've popped the wheel up lots of times but not really sustained a wheelie for any significant distance. On the trainer, once I got the wheel up, it was oddly boring. The setup was very safe so there was no danger and, while the rear wheel was spinning fast, I wasn't moving so it didn't feel like I was riding. It seemed like a good way to practice the basic mechanics without any real world dangers but it didn't feel real to me. I'm glad I tried it though.
As usual, there were a lot of custom bikes but, disappointingly, there weren't any choppers. There are so many great local choppers but no one apparently entered them in the show.
Yes, Rick Fairless' chopper was there, but it was there last year too and it was technically part of an insurance display, not the custom builder competition.
The custom I really liked was this 1946 Indian Chief named "Stella's Mettle".
The main draw of the show is seeing brand new bikes from all the major manufacturers. My favorite was the brand new 125cc Honda Monkey. I love my 1976 Z50 "Evil Monkey" and I need to finish my 1977 Z50 chopper and restore the 1978 Z50 that I bought for my kids to ride. The 2019 is really cool though. Anyone want to buy me one?
The strangest new bike/trike I saw was the Yamaha Niken. Don't get me wrong, I'd test ride anything, and this bike might be awesome, but it just looks really, really odd. Look up photos and videos online. It's unlike any other trike.
A very different type of 3-wheeler was this Vanderhall. It looks way more retro than a Polaris Slingshot.
Confederate Motorcycles are so different than other customs. They always seem very beefy and mechanical.
I'll wrap up with a few from the vintage section.
Next year, I'm not going to let winter get me down and I'll just plan to attend for my 14th year in a row. See ya there!