OFFICIALLY, there isn't a theme to this weekend's 26th Cycle World International Motorcycle Show, but it might as well be "Extremes." Among the 600 bikes on display at the Long Beach Convention Center are the world's fastest, smallest, tallest and most expensive production sport bike motorcycles.
In addition to the hundreds of 2007 model street bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers and ATVs, visitors can check out the BUB #7 Streamliner and meet the rider who sped across the Bonneville Salt Flats into the record books at 350.885 mph this past September. They can take in the 7-foot-tall Big Toe and 2.55-inch-short Small Toe bikes -- both of which are ridable. And they can admire what most of them can never afford -- MV Agusta's new $120,000 production sport bike, the most expensive ever.
MV's F4CC is one of several highly anticipated unveilings reserved for Long Beach. Ducati is wheeling out the North American commemorative edition of its soon-to-be-released new superbike family, the 1098 S Tricolore. It will also be flaunting its six-months-away hypermotard.
Buell's new super moto, the Lightning Super TT XB12STT, will also make its U.S. debut, as will the first-ever three-wheeled scooter from Piaggio and a concept V-Max from Yamaha subsidiary, Star Motorcycles.
The Long Beach stop is the fifth and most influential of a 13-city tour that kicked off in Phoenix. "Southern California is the show that the manufacturers definitely bring out extra stuff," said show spokesman Robert Pandya.
That's because SoCal is the North American hub of the big four Japanese manufacturers, most of the motorcycle media and one of the country's largest rider populations -- 40,000 of whom are expected to turn out this weekend, Pandya said.
If they bring a helmet and driver's license with a motorcycle classification, riders can even take some of the bikes for a spin. Buell, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Piaggio, Moto Guzzi, Star Motorcycles and Yamaha are all offering demos on Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. Just look for corporation-emblazoned tractor trailers and signs that say "Demo." They'll be outside in the parking area off of Shoreline Drive.
Custom builder Matt Hotch is setting up shop there too, to show off the many bikes that have won him many Discovery Channel Biker Build-Offs.
Head inside, and there's a little something for everyone. On the acrobatic end, Brandon and Preston Landers of the BOSS stunt team will perform synchronized stunts and back flips inside their famous Ball of Steel.
Cruiser types, if you didn't get to Daytona this year can see the $250,000 "Nehmesis" Star Motorcycle custom that won Best of Show at the Boardwalk -- the first Japanese motorcycle to win the award. Designed by Sam Nehme, the gold- and chrome-plated bike doesn't have a kickstand; it parks on the frame and lifts to riding level with full air suspension. A Big Twin Customs area is also displaying a variety of one-of-a-kinds from builders across the country.
Cruisers aren't the only bikes getting the custom treatment. Sportbikes tricked out with graphics, stretched swingarms, nitros and superchargers have their own display in the custom sportbike area.
There are a couple of firsts at the show this year. A Motocross America Tour will track the evolution of motocross with period bikes and images of racing legends including Decoster, Hannah and McGrath. ATVs step into the spotlight with their own display area. And wannabe riders who've never thrown a leg over can stop into a new Welcome Center for information on how to get into the sport.
The motorcycle industry has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, with sales increasing annually since 1992.
Coincidentally, that was the year Cycle World magazine stepped in as title sponsor for the International Motorcycle Show because "the magazine really represents the length and breadth of all aspects of motorcycling, and the show is exactly the same thing," said publisher Larry Little. "In 1992, there were probably 260 different models available for sale. Last year, it was over 400 models.
"I continue to be floored by the length and breadth of product that still keeps coming out. Especially when you see it all in one place, it's pretty neat."
26th Annual Cycle World International Motorcycle Show, Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd. Friday, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Cost: $13 adults (12 and older), $5 children (6-11); (800) 331-5706, www.motorcycleshows.com.