Total Motorcycle reviewers, Jennifer and Bruce Ross, were at the 2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show to cover the first 2020 motorcycle show for our readers! Exciting new 2020 motorcycles, major manufacturers, stunt shows and vendors galore make this a must-read review whether you’re a hardcore rider, newcomer, curious fan or just tired of the cold winter weather, you won’t want to miss this year’s first 2020 Canadian Motorcycle Show review!
2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show
The temperature outside was anything but riding weather, but the 2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show still rallied our frozen Canadian motorcyclists for a momentary daydream of warmer summer adventure. Everything from the newest 200+hp streetfighters, to kids bikes and a beautiful collection of regularly ridden vintage bikes were on display, as well as returning events such as the Yamaha riding academy, and the amazing motorcycle stunt show in the Stampede Corral. Clinton Smout was also back sharing his riding tips and demonstrating awesome riding skills.
Also do not forget to check out Total Motorcycle’s 2019 Motorcycle Show Coverage of American, Canadian and European motorcycle shows, events and rallies.
What’s New for 2020
As always, there were first sightings of some highly anticipated new models such as the Ducati Streetfighter V4, Yamaha 700 Tenere, and Indian Challenger. However due to timing and reported shipping issues KTMs new 390 Adventure, and 890 ‘Duke R were unable to make an appearance.
See more 2020 Motorcycle Model and 2020 Motorcycle Show photos at our Total Motorcycle Pinterest page
The Year of the Super-Naked!
KTM did not disappoint with the appearance of the highly revised Superduke R 1290, now boasting more power, less weight, and newly revised electronics. In fact, the Superduke was just one of three groundbreaking new Super-Nakeds making their Calgary debut at the 2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show, along with the Ducati Streetfighter V4S, and Kawasaki Z-H2 SE. With these three scrappy young lads about to take on established players such as the MT-01 Yamaha and Aprilia Tuono, it promises to be a great year for fans of Super-Naked motorcycles.
Highway to Adventure
The Adventure class continues to feel the love from the manufacturers with no less than four big hitters not yet seen in Calgary appearing on the floor. The updated Suzuki V-Strom (you can call me “Dr. BIG” ) 1050 and 1050 XT, work the heritage angle with styling reflective of 1980s cult classic, and first adventure-beak styling trend-setter, the DR650 DR. BIG. Suzuki sells truck-loads of V-Stroms ( as evidenced by the number that come out with our local riding groups), and the buzz around this highly updated new model was significant. I can testify that the retro 1980s look also works much better in person than it does in the pictures!
The New Tenere and Africa Twins
After what feels like the longest run-up to any new model release in history, Yamahas lighter-weight mid-size adventure Tenere 700 finally arrived in force at the show, with Yamaha dedicating a lot of space to the bikes set up in various configurations, and colours. At an MSRP of $12,900 (CAD), it remains to be seen if it can hold its own against the KTM 790 Adventure, and even discounted 2019 Honda Africa Twins being sold for a similar price. Of course, the reason dealers are blowing out leftover Africa Twins at great prices is that the new CRF1100 is making its debut for 2020 and was fully represented at the 2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am the owner of a 2016 manual gearbox model. As such, I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed by the changes which I mostly suspected were made in an effort to meet new stringent Euro-5 emissions regulations. Honda was prepared to convince me otherwise however, by providing a test-ride on a unique, specially constructed dyno (based off a quad dyno). On this dyno was the new off-road oriented DCT version of the Africa Twin, in as close-as-you-could-get-for-a-demo ride, in January in Alberta! Not only was the concept cool, but the new bike somehow sounds better, and the electronics and action of the updated DCT were fantastic. I told myself when I bought my Africa Twin that I would run it to 100,000km before trading it, however Honda is proving to be very influential with their marketing approach…..
The Highly Anticipated Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro
The final big hitting new Adventure bike to appear at the show was no-less-than the completely revised Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro. While the floor display was weak, and the information was scarce, there is no doubt that this is going to be a much more serious effort from Triumph than the previous 800 cc version. Our own Jennifer, was highly anticipating the new Tiger Low version for discussion in her upcoming piece on bikes for vertically challenged riders with intermediate to advanced skills, but she will have to wait for these models to appear over the coming months.
It’s a Great Time to be a New Rider
We really are in the golden age of options for newer riders. While there was nothing in the category completely new for 2020 at the show, late favorites such as the KTM 390, Kawasaki Z400, and Ninja 400, Honda CB300R and Rebel, BMW 310 series were all present. As the industry struggles to bring in new riders and particularly younger riders, the importance of these entry models has never been higher.
On a similar note but in a completely different angle and price bracket is the Harley-Davidson Livewire. Harley went to great expense to set the Livewires up on rollers (not a dyno) to demo the sound and feel of the bike. With virtually zero rolling resistance the Livewire would zip to 100 km/hr almost as fast as you could twist the “throttle”, but at least I applaud the effort because electric just may be the ticket of the future for bringing in younger, more climate-concerned riders who may be intimidated by a manual gearbox. They will need to be well-heeled riders however, because at a price on the far side of $37,000 (CAD), you will need to be committed to being an early adopter to put one in your garage.
The Great Challenge for a Smaller Rider
With all the awesome focus on bringing newer riders into the sport the past few years, a new opportunity is emerging for manufacturers to provide options for move-up riders of shorter stature. This has proven to be a constant challenge for Total motorcycle alum Jennifer, and one she has faced every time she has upgraded one of her bikes. The 2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show provided the perfect opportunity for Jen to test-fit options and provide comments for what is out there, and we are happy to say that there were some models that surprisingly fit the description. However, there were many others that could potentially fit without many modifications if manufacturers were to express interest in playing in this field. Jen will provide some examples of bikes for shorter riders in an upcoming Totalmotorcycle.com video.
More to the Show than just Motorcycles
Parts and accessories were very well represented with national giant Parts Canada bringing in many of their suppliers to round out their vast display area. Prior to the opening of the show on Friday, Parts Canada provided a demo of the Alpinestars Tech-Air 4 airbag system, providing insight in to just how effective and proven the Tech-Air system is. If you have thought that air-bag systems on motorcycles were avant-garde, overly bulky gadgets for rich people, the time has come to update our perspective. While the Tech-Air 4 that was demo’d WAS expensive at roughly $1500 Canadian, and requires a compatible Tech Air jacket, price relief is just around the corner. The Tech-Air 5 debuted just a few days earlier in Las Vegas and slashed that price to around $875 Canadian. As an added bonus the Tech-Air 5 also no longer requires a special jacket to utilize! This is absolutely a game changer and likely the biggest development in motorcycle safety since ABS braking systems. We had planned to provide an effective video of the demo however our Nikon SLR decided to retire (RIP) just before the demo began. Therefore, please see the amateur-ish embedded vertical cell phone video below for insight in to how it works. If you wish to skip to the actual activation of the jacket, you can find it at 3:47.
Finding the Perfect Mellon Cover
Arai helmets brought their expert team to provide options and helmet fitting advice for those interested in the brand. They certainly are not inexpensive helmets but as a survivor of a high-speed crash while wearing an Arai, I can only say that they are worth the money if you can somehow justify it. The Arai expert explained how to improve the fit of many models by modifying liner layers and choosing various cheek-pad options. If you are ever thinking of purchasing an Arai, I highly recommend spending time at the Arai helmet booth with their product experts to find the perfect fit for your own personal melon.
Bikes to Enjoy the Scenery
Shifting gears over to the cruiser category of bikes, both Indian and Harley Davidson were very well represented. Indian brought out the new Challenger, and even though it is somewhat shockingly expensive it was still getting a lot of attention from show-goers. Indians star of the show last year, the FTR 1200 was also in attendance (however not really cruiser-ish), which also pushed the boundaries for retail pricing in its own segment. It will be interesting to see if the Challenger can out-sell the FTR, which seemingly is a slow mover due largely to its price (I could be wrong, but tell me how many do you see on your regular weekend rides?) Ed – I’ve not seen any on the roads in Ontario either sadly. Both appear to be nice bikes, that would be lovely to ride just the same….
And finally, Harley Davidson was there with most of their latest and greatest. You could get a tattoo right in their booth, however the big crowd gatherer was the previously mentioned Livewire stationary demo display. Most surprisingly, was the bike that impressed Jennifer – the Harley Sport Glide. It seems that life-time sport and touring rider Jennifer, found the bike sized just right, for her 5’3” frame. She is looking forward to a demo early this spring to determine if the Sport Glide and the Milwaukee 8 engine provide enough sportiness to sway our rider over to the dark side. Check back at Totalmotorcycle for a demo ride review – mid 2020.
The Canadian Motorcycle Show Calendars is below. Please check out the show coming to a city near you.
- Calgary: January 10-12, 2020
- Edmonton: January 17-19, 2020
- Vancouver: January 24-26, 2020
- Quebec: Feb 7-9, 2020
- Toronto: Feb 21-23, 2020
- Montreal: Feb 28-March 1, 2020
2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show