Americade 2012 Demo Rides

Please keep in mind these opinions and comments are really just meant for me, to remind me of what it was like to ride these bikes on those days. These are not in-depth reviews by any stretch.


Harley Davidson Softail Slim


Yup, it's a Harley. I do enjoy the self-guided demo way of doing things, shame the route is so boring. Up 9, then back on the Northway.

Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra


That's not me on the Road Glide of course, that's my buddy Dave. I thought the Road Glide was OK for a big HD tourer, but the windscreen produced a lot of buffeting. Dave did not care for the bike at all, and was expressing his dislike to a friend only to find out that was the bike his friend rode. Oh, we had some laughs over that one.

Harley Davidson Street Glide

No picture, sorry. The Street Glide is absolutely ruined (IMHO) by that shorty screen. Anything over 45mph and the turbulence is beating you senseless, above 60mph and for me it's double-vision.

Yamaha FZ1


Yamaha's route took us up the east side of Lake George on the bumpiest road in the area. The firm suspension of the FZ1 had me practically bouncing out of my seat a dozen times as we headed north. Good top-half ergonomics for me, legs a little more cramped than I prefer. Motor had a lot of midrange, couldn't safely wind it out in the group ride setting.

Kawasaki Concours 14

No picture on this one either. I'd ridden the C14 a few times already, and always enjoyed it. I did not notice any issues with engine heat that featured so strongly on my first C14 ride back in 2008. Kawasaki's route was pretty much the same as it had been in the past - up the Northway for 1 exit, return back down the Northway for 2 exits, then some windy roads back to 9. It's a nice route on a bike with good legs and wind protection - like the C14.

Dave and Peter did some demos of their own:


I think the HD Wide Glide put Dave to sleep


But he really enjoyed the XR1200X


Peter had a blast on the Kawasaki Z1000


Peter and the VRod




Obviously a big heavy bike, but still handles very well. I was surpised at how tall it was at stoplights, had the feeling you wouldn't want to get it stopped at any kind of angle if you don't want to drop it. Very comfortable, very quick in any gear. Couldn't really figure out the electronic settings during the ride, but that ring dial-thing seemed like a good way to control things. Definitely more bike than I need - the K1300GT had the right power/tour balance for me I think.

BMW used to have the best demo route by far. A unique route of 45 minutes riding winding back roads really gave you a good feel for the bikes. I guess they went for quantity over quality this year, as the route was barely 20 minutes long and the same as some of the other manufacturers. Down the Northway for a bit, then one section of backroads with 5-6 sweepers, then back up 9 to the Fort.

Victory Judge

Standard Victory cruiser with (for me) terrible ergonomics. The drag bars that are distinct to The Judge are just too far away to be comfortable - I'm always leaning forward to grab them. Stock exhaust was very quiet, and... I really don't have much more to say about that bike.

Victory's route was different than all the others. Quick ride down 9 and on to 9N which is just a pleasant 2-lane for several miles. The road bends a bit, but nothing that could really be called a "turn". Then you do a mile or 2 on a tight country lane with blind corners, and back onto 9N for a return trip the way you came. Not challenging in any way.


After Dave got booted from his Victory demo we went over to BMW to pick up some scraps. I'd ridden the F800ST years ago at Americade and liked it, so I though I would give it another go. I like the idea of a smaller sport-touring bike, and much of the F800ST fits that bill. It is a bit buzzy through the bars, and the pegs are really too high for high-mileage days, but otherwise it's a very nice place to be.

Honda VFR1200


After the Multistrada (sigh), the VFR1200 was my most-anticipated bike to ride - partly because I like non-inline-4 motors, and partly because it's nearly impossibe to get a demo ride from a Honda dealer. Getting on the bike it was immediately obvious that the VFR's seating is much too sport-oriented for me (which I was not surprised about). The clutch pull was really heavy, something Peter on his DCT version didn't have to contend with.

What a motor! This was the most enjoyable engine of the week, by far. Really enjoyed the power characteristics compared to the K1600 or C14 and the sound was downright intoxicating. At a certain RPM there's an exhaust valve that opens and the sound changes from just excellent to spine-tingling. Fit and finish was absolutely first-rate, you really felt you were riding a quality product.

Honda's route was very different than everyone else's, no highway and a long loop southeast of the Fort. Parts of the twisties were diminished by being in a residental area and peppered with driveways, but it was still a nice long ride.

Talked to the Honda rep after we got back, and he talked up the forthcoming Honda 1200 Crosstourer. Hmm, that engine in a bike with great ergonomics would be a very, very interesting thing.

Kawasaki Ninja 650


Always fun to ride a smaller bike (a little) quickly than a bigger bike slowly. Loved the torquey twin, bike felt very confident in the twisties. Sections on the demo where you could really open up the throttle on this guy - on the C14 you could do that for perhaps 1/2 second before warping past the bike in front of you. Riding position was a little tight, nothing switching to the Versys couldn't take care of. Got some rain on this ride.

Some of Dave and Peter's demos from Thursday:


Peter had a hoot on the S1000RR


Dave and his R1200GS Low. If only they offered cruise control...


Dave on the Victory Highball. I'd ride this tomorrow - and love it.

Peter on a Victory Hardball


Peter took a turn on the Harley XR1200X. We had left our gear with our bikes, but Harley was happy to provide skid lid.


Best picture of Dave ever. Taking a turn on the Harley Super Glide, looking quite the badass.


Peter enjoyed the Kawasaki Concours 14


BMW R1200GS Rallye


This color scheme, especially with the red subframe, is almost enough to make we want a GS. I've demo'd a couple GS's in the past, both the standard and Adventure versions. I think this ride was my last-ditch attempt to connect with the BMW boxer motor - and it failed. I liked pretty much everything else about the GS, but the motor just doesn't do it for me. I've sampled the boxer on many platforms (R1100R, R1150R, R1105RT, R1200R, R1200RT, R1200GS and R1200GSA) but only in the R1200R does it come close to working for me. Time to cross it off the list for good.

Kawasaki Versys


I had done a little bit of slab on Jim's Versys and liked it so I was very interested to get a better ride on one. There was really nothing I didn't like about this bike - if it existed when I bought the Multi I might have gone down this road instead. Great comfy riding position, eager and good-sounding v-twin. Got a little bit of rain on this ride so the twisty portion was a little more relaxed than before. Definitely a great little bike.

HD Super Glide


Took a Super Glide for a ride in between scheduled demos, and found it to be a much nicer ride for me than the Road or Street Glides I had ridden earlier. I modified the self-guided route slightly by coming back on 9 instead of doing the Northway. Much better for this bike. I can certainly see the appeal of one on a lazy back-road rambling kind of day. I'd prefer floorboards over the pegs on this one, and maybe a quick-detach windshield, and some bags - wait, that's the Dyna Switchback. Tried to get a ride on one 3 times during the week, never worked out as the wait was just too long.

Victory Highball


Without a doubt the most "fun" ride I had during Americade. My first ever ride on a bike with ape-hangers, and it had a stupidly loud exhaust as well. Some part of me found a lot of joy in revving that motor up as we trundled down Canada Street, exhaust echoing off the buildings. Not something I would do solo, but I felt less guilty being at an event where it seems 50% of the bikes had loud pipes. If, as they say, "loud pipes save lives", I was determing to do my part to save as many lives a I could. For cruising around I find the apes not too bad, certainly better than the drag bars on the Judge (in orange, behind me). Loved the whitewalls and white tank accent as well. With an unlimited budget I'd probably add one of these to the stable for those days when I wanted to pretend I was tough. Probably have to lose the hiviz though.

Yamaha Super Tenere

Cancelled due to "rain on the route". Wimps.

Some of Dave and Peter's demos from Friday:


After Peter declared the BMW F800GS "the perfect Europe bike" Dave was eager to give it a try. Not sure what's going on in this pic though...


Peter had tried every other engine combination from BMW, so I steered him to a G650 thumper.