While I was in Portland for The One Moto Show I stopped by ICON Motorsports to see what the team was up to and, as usual, they were busy as hell.
The majority of them were at The One setting up bikes and preparing for the weekend’s festivities while the rest of the team were working their asses off in advance of the 2017 Spring gear launch. I took a tour of the HQ, snapped a bunch of photos of cool stuff they have lying around, talked to the designers that were shackled to their cubicles about what they’re cranking out these days, and took a look at some of the bikes they’ve built over the years. Then we went out for drinks…
Before we hit the local speakeasy, I was brought inside the planning center for a sneak peek of the Spring 2017 line-up, the marketing materials and some of the gear that is coming out this year. They’ve got a unique ICON-inspired Interceptor 1000 that is going to be used in the promo materials in a few months, so we can’t show the actual bike. We were only able to snap a pic of the drawing in the trash bin if you like that kind of covert stuff (It's in the gallery at the bottom of this page - Ed.). These wild machines are a key element of the ICON marketing concept, so they all have a purpose. You can look back over the years and see the various motorcycles that were used in the magazine ads and videos: The Raiden Triumph for the ADV gear, the golden ICON 1000 H-D powered retro-racer for the hipster-chic ICON 1000 gear and various stunt bikes that kicked it all off.
In fact, the shiny titanium-looking GSX-R1100 at the top of this article is part of the promo for the re-release of the TiMax line-up. These were some of the original pieces of innovative ICON kit from back in the early 2000s and now it's back for 2017. There’s a Leather TiMax jacket and two styles of gloves, featuring strategically placed pieces of the unobtanium metal stitched to a black leather chassis. I think my mullet started growing back a wee bit when I saw these things. There’s also a new style Konflict textile jacket and updated hand-laid graphics on the Variant and Airmada helmets. I have a feeling that the Monkey Business version is going to be pretty popular. But this isn’t all about the new gear. There are bikes here, too.
Probably one of the best parts of being an ICON employee, beyond the occasional conjugal visit, is the access to its many custom motorcycles and the garage they were built in. Down in the cellar, the team members are encouraged to let their creative juices spill out onto whatever bike they might own. There’s a selection of welders, torches, grinders, drill press, ball gags, hand tools, parts bins, random pieces of hardware and they use it as inspiration to create whatever they want. It’s even in their motto hanging on the wall of the design studio: “Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect. Everything is process.”
There’s no doubt that everything in this shop is a work in progress. What you're looking at here is a late 80s-era oil-cooled GSXR1100 with a bunch of crazy sh*t done to it, including the addition of a Buell tail section, dual HID lights and all the bodywork stripped off. It gives the old beast a rowdy look and it is rumored to be quite a blast to ride. The gray CB1100 café bike is another employee bike that is more in line with what we would expect from an ICON team member. Old-school cool with some custom twists like the funky seat and tail section.
My personal favorite is the badass Triumph Tiger Adventure bike called Raiden. You've seen it in magazine ads and I included a video of it in action as well. This is no ordinary Tiger though. It features fully reworked Ohlins suspension, Alt Rider crash protection all over the place, Flex bars, fiberglass bodywork, HID lights adn high capacity fuel tank and the list goes on. Maybe one day, if I'm a good ICON supporter, maybe I will get to ride it?
Our tour guide had his Husqvarna dual sport down there, too, and it is arguably the best bike of the bunch here. We missed our invite to the invitation-only One Dual Sport ride, so we slipped him a crispy Benjamin in hopes of receiving an invite for 2018.
Anyway, there weren't as many machines in there as they usually have in the dungeon but the handful that were there pretty were cool. I hope to get back to this place soon because you cannot help but get inspired when you hang out here. Over the past few years ICON has really come into its own by embracing the retro scene with the ICON 1000 gear, the continued advances in the ADV friendly Raiden gear and continued participation in unique events, tours and shows has kept the company on pace with this fast moving industry. I know ICON stuff does not appeal to everyone but there is no doubt that these people are putting their heart and soul into their product. They believe in it and they dig what they’re doing. Plus, I personally like it and they are good people to be around. So if you haven’t taken a look at ICON recently, this might be a good time to do it. Hey, anyone see where I put my beer?