Motorcycle Demo Days… not to be missed!
By Mark DT
There are things all of us riders come to enjoy. Some of us like an empty highway, others prefer single track in the wild, and many can only get their kicks out on the track. There are bike nights, rallies, and touring that we all enjoy. However the one thing I’ve come to love that doesn’t often get discussed are Manufacturers Demo Days.
So far I’ve been able to participate in demonstration days from Kawasaki, BMW, Honda, and Triumph. This year has been frustrating because Harley-Davidson, Ducati and Yamaha all had their days set up when I was at work, but I’m determined to get to one of their events in the fall or next spring. What I’ve enjoyed the most about demo days is getting out on a motorcycle that I would never considered for purchase just to see what they are all about.
Each manufacturer does their demo rides in a similar format. If you’ve never done this before here is a short run down.
Really popular events will require that you register with a dealer, and that you get your name down for all the bikes you want to try out. One of the rides I went to, the most popular bikes were booked up ten days before the event. However, there seems to be a constant no show factor, so it is always worth dropping in and seeing what is available.
Upon arrival you’ll be asked to check in, and sign some paperwork. Usually this involves insurance and liability waivers. Every event like this I attended had a fee to ride each bike, but that fee went 100% to charity. Personally I think this is a great idea. For ten bucks, I get to go play on a near $30,000 with taxes BMW K1600GT, and the local Children’s hospital gets some support. Win win!
Next is the riding gear check. This will vary with the laws of your jurisdiction. All the rides I attended minimum requirements were a helmet, a riding jacket, jeans, gloves, and boots. If you normally are a squid, take note and suit up rather than get turned away.
Before the ride they’ll do a quick individual run down of your bike with you. These can be simple and fast like when I took out a Honda CBF 1000, or quite detailed when dealing with complicated bikes like the BMW RT’s that have electric windscreens, heated seats, grips, nav, electronic suspension etc.
If you’ve never ridden in a group before, not to worry. They normally review how group riding works, and will make sure you understand how to position yourself relative to the other riders. They will also have a leader and a sweeper to keep you all on track. However a little reading on group riding before hand would be prudent if it is your first time.
Time to ride!:
The usual group rules apply. Don’t speed, stunt or do anything else stupid or illegal. Ride your own ride, and don’t put the others at risk. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve never seen any bad or aggressive riding in these events.
Now as far as routes go, Kawasaki and BMW have done the best job for me so far in setting up the route to see a variety of roads in under 45 minutes. Normally a mix of low speed curvy roads, stop and go city, and high speed highway is included. Preferably somewhere nice that you would want to ride on your own time. Honda for me completely dropped the ball on their demonstration days. They chose a route where they never got above posted speeds of 70 km/hr. Riding a beautiful Honda 1200 VFR with less than 100 miles on the odometer, and not needing more than 3 gears is frustrating and ruins the experience. Triumph does demo days, but they also are one of the best brands for allowing you to take a bike off the lot and go riding on your own. I’ve done this with several Triumphs and it is no small coincidence why I now have one in my garage.
Final Thoughts: Leave your comfort zone and try something different…
Are you a cruiser guy? Then be sure to ride the adventure bikes and sport bikes. Are you a hard core track guy? Take the fastest sport bike out, but also why not take a power cruiser for a spin. Are you moving up from a 250cc starter bike? Take everything out under 800cc and see what suits you.
Demonstration days are a great way to get out and try different rides, brands, styles of bikes, and get some money flowing to charity. If you haven’t gone to one yet you don’t know what you are missing.