Long Beach international motorcycle show puts price war on display

The Progressive International Motorcycle Show returns to the Long Beach Convention Center this weekend, kicking off Friday afternoon and running through Sunday night.

More than 100 exhibitors, including most of the world's motorcycle manufacturers, will use the center's 90,000 square feet of floor space to wow an expected 55,000 attendees with displays of bikes, parts, apparel and other gear.

Visitors will see the beginnings of a price war. Many of the top brands are pushing new or refreshed models with strikingly low MSRPs, as manufacturers try to attract new riders and re-engage customers who might be losing interest in the sport.

"We're really trying to get new people into the sport, and give (older) riders something to step up into," said Honda marketing representative Lee Edmunds.

The popular dirt bike brand KTM, trying to expand outside its off-road niche, unveiled a pair of competitively priced small-bore street bikes, a 390 Duke, to be sold at $4,999, and its track-tuned sibling 390RC, priced at $5,499.

Across the hall, the Suzuki was promoting a line of newly-refreshed bikes in its successful GSX line, pricing the GSX-S750 at $7,999 and the GSX-R600 at $10,699, $500 below last year's list price.

Honda, too, is offering several of its 2015 models at last model year's prices — which were at or below 2013 prices when they were announced a year ago.

Ducati hosted the North American debut of its much-anticipated Scrambler, which Dominique Cheraki, CEO of Ducati North America, said was not the unveiling of a bike but the birth announcement for an entire brand.

The retro-chic Scrambler, which marks the return of a model that was popular for the Italian motorcycle company in the 1960s and 1970s, comes in several models and accompanied by its own catalog of lifestyle products, including Scrambler helmets, boots, jeans and T-shirts.

The accessorized Scramblers cost nearly $10,000, but the baseline MSRP for the entry-level Scrambler Icon is $8,495.

"Our idea was to open new doors," Cheraki said. "We discovered that as we raised the bar with our Multistrada and the Panigale, we separated ourselves from a certain portion of riders."

The Scrambler, Cheraki said, is meant to be an entry-level motorcycle for a rider who might have been put off by Ducati's price or performance capabilities.

Other manufacturers, while not pandering to bargain-hunters, are also bringing a lot of handsome hardware to the Long Beach show.

BMW will show off its new S1000XR, which will join the GS1200 line in the growing adventure-riding segment, and its stripped down "naked" roadster, the R1200R.

KTM, in addition to its entry-level 390s, will tout its new 1290cc Super Adventure, a bigger version of the bike that has fueled growth in the segment.

Triumph will have a new middleweight entrant in that field, too, with its Tiger 800 XRx and XCx.

Yamaha will be promoting its adventure-tourer, the FJ-09, as well as its new track-focused R-1 and R-1M.

Honda will be celebrate the 40th anniversary of its successful Gold Wing line.

Kawasaki will debut, for U.S. riders, its massive H2 street-legal, 207-horsepower, $25,000 race bike.

Harley-Davidson will plug its electric concept bike, the LiveWire, and show off its full 2015 line. Indian, too, will have its baggers on hand, along with its new smaller-scale Scout.

And, to make sure it's not too two-wheel-centric, BRP-Can Am will be unveiling its aggressive new Spyder F3 three-wheeled street racer.

At the other end of the spectrum, to be sure, are some motorcycles whose stickers will shock.

The crown jewel in Kawasaki's 2015 collection is the 1-liter, 300-horsepower, supercharged H2R. The track-only bike comes with the company's first trellis frame, titanium exhaust and Brembo braking system — and a sticker price of $50,000.

Its more affordable cousin, the 200-horsepower, street-legal H2, costs a mere $25,000.

This year's show is open to the public Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., then runs Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for children 6 to 12. Kids under 6 are admitted free.

The show will also include musical performances and displays of custom motorcycles.


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