The 2003 International Motorcycle SUPERSHOW
Canadians are a hardy lot. But even the hardiest among us put the motorcycles away when the snow falls and the thermometer goes for a nosedive. For winter ravaged Canadians, getting our off-season motorcycle fix means one thing – the International Motorcycle SUPERSHOW in Toronto.
The largest consumer motorcycle show in North America, the SUPERSHOW is traditionally held on the first full January weekend of the year. This year’s panorama filled six halls and covered 350,000 square feet at the sprawling Toronto International Centre.
The SUPERSHOW evolved from very humble beginnings. Set the rewind button back 27 years to the first Toronto Motorcycle Show and see show producer Bar Hodgson mowing the grass at what was basically an open air motorcyle flea market at a friend’s farm. The Show moved indoors to its current home at the International Centre in 1978 and a period of steady growth and improvement began that continues to this day.
Picture the mall, except every store only stocks motorcycle items. It’s a huge retail extravaganza and for the motorcycling public, the SUPERSHOW has become THE place for pre-season shopping for not only new motorcycles, clothing and accessories, but custom painting, plating services, custom bike builders, performance equipment and the latest in leather fashion designs. For many years, I didn’t consider the show a success unless I walked out with either a new helmet or set of tires.
Aftermarket exhibitors see the show as an excellent opportunity to display new product lines and acquire market feedback directly from potential customers.It’s not just motorcycles and accessories though. The theme for the 2003 SUPERSHOW said it all. “Everything in Motorcycling.”
The SUPERSHOW is a major sponsor of clubs, associations and charities and this year, over 30,000 square feet of floor space was donated to almost 70 of these organizations. The SUPERSHOW encourages further involvement by providing cash awards and trophies for the top six club displays.
Two major charities are the Ride for Sight and the B.A.D. Ride (Bikers Against Despair). The Ride for Sight is a national event that raises funds for research into degenerative eye and retinal disorders while promoting a positive image of motorcycling. Since 1979 the Ride for Sight has raised more than $11 million for the fight against blindness. The B.A.D. ride was initiated in 1998 to raise funds for the Distress Centres of Toronto. Volunteers pledge that every dollar raised goes directly to these centres.
The club presence is also very strong with representatives from general riding groups, motorcycle rights and interest groups, racing clubs, Christian Motorcycle groups and vintage organizations. All these groups share a great passion for motorcycling and booth volunteers are more than happy to promote and discuss their respective interests with showgoers.
In my misspent youth, I was a Nationally ranked Canadian roadracer and still enjoy competing in vintage events. Heck, I could spend a full day at the SUPERSHOW just talking racing because, of the more than sixty clubs exhibiting, 21 have some involvement with racing. Whether your tastes range to flat track, speedway, observed trials, vintage, off road, drag racing or road racing, the competition scene has never been better represented under one roof. For the upcoming racing season it’s a great opportunity to shop for leathers, aftermarket bodywork, performance parts and tuning or even racing videos from around the world.
Canadian roadracing champions Jordan Szoke, Michael Taylor, Steve Crevier and Francis Martin were on hand for interviews and autograph sessions. Racing legends such as Ben Bostrum, Nicky and Tommy Hayden and 500GP Champion Kevin Schwantz have made appearances at the SUPERSHOW in recent years.
The Canadian Motorcycle Heritage Museum’s 2,100-sq. ft. booth was a real eye catcher and crowd favorite. Incorporated four years ago to preserve the rich history of Canadian Motorcycling, the Museum’s extensive collection currently includes over 200 motorcycles plus a wealth of racing and motorcycling related memorabilia. Among the competition bikes on display was one of Lang Hindle’s Canadian Championship-winning KZ1000’s and the Yamaha TZ750 that I rode to a win at this year’s Mosport vintage festival.
For racing history buffs, the Museum display area played host to book signing sessions including noted author Michelle Anne Duff (the most successful Grand Prix racer in Canadian history), author of “The Mike Duff Story - Make Haste Slowly.”
After wandering around 300,000 square feet, I’m ready to enjoy a refreshing beverage, rest my weary bones and check out the entertainment for a while. There were live bands but my attention was focused on the latest in motorcycle fashions presented by “On the Fringe Custom Leathers.” If music or runway models aren’t your thing, this year featured a brand new cooking stage with outrageous celebrity TV chef “Biker Billy,” the free-wheeling, fiery food lover and Harley rider.
I first saw Biker Billy several years ago at the Mid-Ohio AHRMA event and he puts on a great show. “Eat hot, ride safe and enjoy cooking,” says Billy, a frequent guest on television shows such as Jay Leno and Good Morning America. He entertained the crowd, cooking up an array of hot and spicy dishes and made himself available to autograph copies of his cookbooks. “I’d ridden across Canada but I’ve never been to the SUPERSHOW before… It’s huge! Everyone treated me really well and I had a great time.”
If you like custom bikes, cash and awards totaling over $25,000 were presented in the Mid-USA Showbike Awards competition. Stephen Lebreton’s 2000 H-D “Classic Chopper took first place in Level 3 Builders Class, while Christian Faubert’s 2002 Harley “Hellraiser” walked off with Level 4 Pro Builder’s honors. Faubert was presented with $5000 in Mid-USA SuperCash, a 7-ft SuperTrophy and the Canada Cup for the finest showbike in Canada.
Even though we got buried by the first major snowstorm of the season on Friday, more than 50,000 showgoers passed through SUPERSHOW’s turnstiles over three days. Canadians make up the bulk of the attendees but many Americans make the trip across the border, as there’s nothing comparable for them at home. Doug Teague, a former AMA Pro roadracer who lives in the Detroit area notes, “I go to several motorcycle shows around the US and the SUPERSHOW is far and away the best.”
For me, the North American International SUPERSHOW is indeed “Everything in Motorcycling.” Hodgson sums up his philosophy, “We deliver a quality product and one strength of the SUPERSHOW is that every one of our staff rides motorcycles. Most street ride, some roadrace, some compete in the dirt but the bottom line is that we’re all motorcyclists and we do our best to deliver what motorcyclists want.” Bio – Steve Bond is a freelance Canadian motorcycle journalist whose work has appeared in International Motorcycle Magazine, Inside Motorcycles, Canadian Biker and Cycle Canada. Currently, he is the motorcycle columnist for the Wheels section of the Toronto Star.
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