Motorcycle show rides through town

By Lizette De Klerk

On January 6, the doors of the BMO Centre swung open to a crowd of motorcycling enthusiasts ready to enjoy everything the 2012 Calgary Motorcycle Show had to offer. Top industry manufacturers, including Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki exhibited their new 2012 models. The latest motorcycles, ATVs, scooters and the newest gear and accessories were also on show — all under one roof.

One of the hottest new motorcycles exhibited was BMW’s super sport bike, the S1000RR, with 193 horsepower and the best-in-class features, like dynamic traction control. Also on display were Kawasaki’s dynamic Ninja ZX-14R, the world’s fastest accelerating production motorcycle and Zero’s Zero S, the world’s first obtainable mass-produced electric motorcycle, featuring a brushless motor which can reach speeds of over 140 kilometres per hour, new high-tech battery cell technology and a power pack with lifelong-lasting design. Another show favourite was Ducati’s newly unveiled 1199 Panigale Superbike, which won the Most Beautiful Bike of the Show at the International Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy — a testament to Ducati’s fine design style.

In addition to all the new 2012 models, there was plenty to see and do at this year’s show, which ran from January 6-8. ‘She Rides Nite’ was an exhibition of female ridership. Many exhibitors offered ladies-only specials on gear, accessories and courses. The Yamaha Riding Academy thrilled kids ages 6-12 throughout the show and the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group’s video ‘My First Ride’ took many on a nostalgic trip to yesteryear.

The Evolution of Extreme stunts wowed fans. The aerial antics of the FMX Team, featuring well-known FMX specialists Reagan Sieg, Jeff Fehr and Keith Sayers, were complimented by Team Empire stunt riders Nick “Apex” Brocha and Ernie “Edub” Vigil, as well as ATV freestyler Cody Elkins and snowmobile stunt specialist Ted Culbertson. The amazing ramp-to-ramp aerial stunts and back flips enchanted the crowd with each run.

“With snowmobiler Ted Culbertson on the team, the wow factor of the Evolution of Extreme takes the show to a whole new level,” said show manager Laurie Paetz in a press release.

After a successful stunt career of 10 years, Fehr, who is from British Columbia, said he is considering retiring from competing professionally this year, to focus on a life with his family and friends.

“I don’t do it for the adrenaline — I’m not really an adrenaline junky,” said Fehr. “I like the technical aspect of my work and the skills part of it. The adrenaline kicks in when you are trying to learn a new move, like when I practiced the back flip with the added handles and my forearms became black and purple from bruising, but I do it because it is technically challenging.”

Fehr’s retirement would leave a void in the stunt industry.

Hundreds of stalls were devoted to all things motorcycling, scootering and ATVing, including associations, charity rides, clubs and retailers like Chinook Outriders Calgary Chapter, a new women-only group. Other booths that drew attention were the Calgary Motorcycle Club, the Canadian Motorcycle Drag Racing Association, the Christian Motorcycle Association of Canada and BMW Motorcycle Owners of America. The goal of many of the booths at the show was to promote racing and responsible off-road riding.

A passionate motorcycle enthusiast with over 40 years industry experience, Douglas MacRae, president of Blackfoot Motorsports, said the Calgary Motorcycle Show is an excellent environment for motorcycle enthusiasts.

“I always tell my salespeople that we are not selling a product, we are selling dreams,” said MacRae. “Motorcycles are not like washing machines, because you do not need them. You want them and they become part of a lifestyle that you can share with your family and friends.”

MacRae said it was difficult to find funding for the show in the early ’80s, but he is happy the dealers of Calgary united to keep the show going. The Calgary Motorcycle Show is presented annually by the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council and the Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council. Since 1948, more than $32 million has been raised to ensure generations of Canadians can enjoy motorcycle shows. MMIC is a national non-profit industry who presents shows annually across Canada and accounts for over 90 per cent of all new motorcycles sold annually in Canada.

According to a three-year study on the health benefits of off-roading conducted by York University, riding helps overall health and quality of life.

MacRae emphasized that Calgarians have a unique advantage for enjoying off-roading because of facilities like Calgary Go-Kart Racing, Alberta Mini Racing and Blackfoot Park, built in Calgary and managed by the Wild Rose Motocross Association. Some of Calgary’s facilities were open on Christmas Eve, in an attempt to provide Calgarians with year-long entertainment. What better way to spend the cold winter months than to hang out with friends and family next to the track?

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