On the Road: Calgary Motorcycle Show

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CALGARY — Weather conditions in this Alberta city this fall and winter saw the roads covered by snow in early November followed by bare pavement in December.

With good road conditions and warmer temperatures many motorcyclists headed out for December rides.

One of those enthusiastic riders was custom motorcycle builder Scott Wilson. Aboard his extensively modified 1974 Honda CB450, Wilson took advantage of some of the warmer days to add miles to his machine. When he posted an image of one outing to Instagram, he commented, “Winterride not winterized.”

If the long term forecast can be believed Wilson won’t be doing that again soon. That’s OK, however, as fans of powered two-wheelers will be able to take in the Calgary Motorcycle Show this weekend, starting Friday, Jan. 5 at noon.

“We definitely know there’s a new and upcoming audience that loves to be different and unique, and they enjoy the social aspect of riding and gathering,” says show manager Laurie Paetz. “We’ve also heard from both the motorcycle industry and the community that the show needs a little more life and sound,” Paetz told me.

With that incentive, Paetz created the concept of the Handle Bar within the Calgary Motorcycle Show at the BMO Centre. Liquor sales will be handled by the Calgary Stampede, but the 3,000 sq. ft. venue will be hosted by local shop Ill-Fated Kustoms + TANK.

“We wanted to create an area where people can go to relax and hang out,” Paetz explains, and continues, “One of the people in the Calgary motorcycle community who has a really good grasp on the scene, whether it’s building or modifying a motorcycle to marketing a new helmet and engaging the customer is Kenny (Kwan) at Ill-Fated Kustoms + TANK. “That means Kenny will basically be recreating his shop on the show floor.”

The Handle Bar will feature rustic wood pallet walls, unique lighting, an air hockey table and dartboard and a barber chair – complete with a barber offering cuts and trims.

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The Ill-Fated Kustoms + TANK shop that will be recreated in the Handle Bar at the Calgary Motorcycle Show

Kwan will also have on display 10 custom motorcycles that represent the Calgary scene. Some of the machines, from a 1956 Triumph to an extensively modified Harley-Davidson Panhead, were winners at the Ill-Fated Kustoms + TANK Kickstart show in May 2017.

Others, such as a 1972 Yamaha XS650 tracker-style machine hand built by Calgary’s Paul Miller were in Sturgis this past summer as part of the “Old Iron – Young Blood: Motorcycles and the Next-Generation” display at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s Motorcycles as Art Exhibit.

“There’s such a surge of interest and attendance at (American-based custom motorcycle shows) such as Mama Tried and The One Show,” Paetz says. “We need to stay up to date with current trends because the Calgary Motorcycle Show needs to continue to evolve – and the mainstream manufacturers know the industry is changing, and they have to appeal to a younger audience.”

Kwan says the industry is paying attention to this upcoming audience of riders. Interestingly, he says machines built by Triumph that are part of their Modern Classics lineup are equally appealing to first time riders as they are to well-established enthusiasts who prefer something a little more basic to ride.

“Both young and old are buying these retro bikes,” Kwan says. “The machines offer a platform that’s ready to go, but they’re also easy to modify to suit an owner’s tastes.”

Some of the easiest modifications to make, Kwan says, include simply swapping handgrips, followed by changing out the handlebars.

“Those are the top first mods, and you can go from there to changing lights, fenders, wheels and tires,” Kwan says.

Triumph is not the only maker building retro-style machines. Harley-Davidson has always leaned in that direction, while Kwan says manufacturers such as Ducati, Honda and Kawasaki, “Get it, and are coming up with some interesting things.”

Be sure to see what the major manufacturers are doing while at the Calgary Motorcycle Show with displays from Aprilia, BMW, Can-Am/Spyder, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, Polaris, Suzuki, Triumph, Vespa and Yamaha.

Returning show favourites include the vintage motorcycle display hosted by the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group – Rocky Mountain Section, the Yamaha Riding Academy set up especially for the youngsters and the family-friendly Ground N’ Gravity freestyle show that features stunts pulled off in the air and on the arena floor.

Kwan concludes, “Motorcycling tends to become a lifestyle, from the clothing to the eyewear to books and magazines and even personal grooming products – it’s become more than just the machine.”


Calgary Motorcycle Show at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park runs Friday, Jan. 5 from noon to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $ 15 for adults (15 and over), $ 12 for seniors (65-plus) and $ 11 juniors (six to 14). Children five and under are free with paid adult, and $ 40 for a family pass (two adults, two juniors). Ladies night is Friday night, when women get half-price admission after 5 p.m. Visit http://www.calgarymotorcycleshow.ca for more details.

Greg Williams is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Have a column tip? Contact him at 403-287-1067 or [email protected]

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About Craig Ballantyne 24613 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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