The Progressive International Motorcycle Shows has announced IMS Outdoors, a new version of the event that will take the show outside and add more activities, including demo rides.
This change is taking place mainly as a result of COVID-19 and the risks involved with large crowds at indoor venues. As a result, the traditional indoor IMS tour, which has been running for 38 years, will not take place in late 2020 and early 2021. Instead, IMS Outdoors will replace the traditional tour between May and September of 2021. It has actually been in the planning stages for the past five years. The coronavirus situation provides a unique opportunity to implement the change in venue and keep IMS going despite the pandemic.
Expect to see much of the same show that you have seen in the past, but with additions to the traditional format. Motorcycle and accessory manufacturers will continue to be on hand to show off their latest wares. Activities such as Discover the Ride will thrive outdoors, providing potential new riders a chance to try riding for the first time themselves.
Rather than the traditional motorcycle show, IMS Outdoors will provide more of a festival atmosphere. This will include everything from stunt shows to live entertainment from bands local to each show's area. Rather than a wild west atmosphere like Sturgis, IMS Outdoors promises to be family-friendly, and with full COVID-19 protective measures in place. Specific dates and locations will be announced in December, but expect to see a heavy presence in California and the northeast US.
IMS Outdoors will take advantage of its new locations to provide activities and features that an indoor environment can not provide, specifically demo rides. Instead of just looking at and sitting on bikes in a convention center, you will be able to try them out for yourself. Many people come to IMS to shop for a new motorcycle, and this seems like the ultimate way to try a whole bunch of prospective choices back-to-back. Even at , demo rides from different brands are spread over a large geographic area. They will all be under one non-roof at IMS Outdoors and include both street and off-road demos.
Another area of expansion will be into the RV and overland segments. The primary focus will still be very much on powersports, but IMS recognizes that many enthusiasts tow their toys behind their trucks or RVs, camp out, and enjoy riding around the areas where they travel. IMS plans to provide accommodations for such rigs so that enthusiasts can camp out at the show all weekend. Electric vehicles are another area that IMS plans to expand from its previous format. This includes electric bicycles and scooters, which have already had a small presence at IMS, as well as electric motorcycles. Expect to see more brands and more demo opportunities.
A change like this is just what we need to breathe new life into the traditional motorcycle show circuit. Fewer manufacturers have even bothered to attend IMS and other shows in recent years, believing they can get more bang for their buck from online promotion. Last year's New York IMS was noticeably smaller than the previous year, despite activities like Discover the Ride that are specifically geared to bring in new people. Some may argue that adding bands and RVs will further dilute the show. I would say that's exactly the point. The traditional motorcycle show format is dying, and COVID-19 may cause the end. Events like IMS need to evolve to survive, and that's exactly what IMS Outdoors is doing. I look forward to bringing my camper van and spending a weekend at IMS Outdoors next year.