ScooterFile at IMS 2012

Each year the International Motorcycle Show tours major cities around the USA. If you’ve never been, it’s one part OEM expo, one part custom bike showcase, one part aftermarket bazaar. Held in the dead of winter, it can be a much-needed scratch of the bike itch for those of us in the midwest who don’t get to ride year-round. If nothing else, it’s kind of like having most of the major bike manufacturers all under one roof, and they usually bring one or two of everything they make.

For scooter fans, the IMS is usually pretty disappointing. It’s too expensive for the manufacturers to really commit to it. If you’re lucky, your local scooter shop will have a booth, but it rarely does them any good. So while I knew that Genuine, Piaggio/Vespa, SYM and Kymco would be absent, I attended the Chicago leg of the IMS to scratch my motorcycle itch and see if there were any scooter surprises.

There was one. Honda’s new PCX 125 was on the floor. Online, the PCX is kind of an odd duck. It looks like a maxi scooter, but it’s only 125cc. In person, the PCX makes a lot more sense. It’s small. That is, it’s appropriately scooter-sized. It’s roughly the size of the old Honda Elite 150. In a lot of ways, it looks like the bike the old midsize elite would have evolved into. It’s low and long and actually looks like a lot of fun. Most scooters in this shape are too compact and my knees hit the handlebars. I could actually ride this thing, and I’d really like to.

Aside from the PCX and the other normal scooter offerings from Honda like the Ruckus and the modern Elite, Suzuki had all the normal flavors of its venerable Burgman. Both the 400 and the 650 Executive were in attendance. It’s a good looking bike, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s the Goldwing of scooters.

All in all, if you’re not shopping for a leather vest or interested in the mainstream motorcycle offerings of basically everybody but BMW, the IMS is an every-other-year kind of event. Perhaps as scooters gain more market presence we’ll see more of them at big trade shows like this one.

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