Intrepid member of the press contingent, fish_antlers has filed his first report.
One of the main purposes of the Dealer Meeting is to roll out the 2005 model lineup. The 636/6RR receives a complete redesign. The ZX10R has minor upgrades. The ZX12R appears unchanged. The only surprise was the venerable ZZR600 has been replaced by the 2002 ZX6R. The 10R & 636/6RR receive new, sleeker turn signals, though they are not the same design as the euro turnsignals. Pictures to come soon.
The new 636/6RR looks nice in person, although the front end is a bit bizzare and bulbous. Kawasaki stresses improved aeros as the reason for the new undertail exhaust but also labels it as "cool", raising the question of which was really the significant motivation for the change.
The meeting is not just about sportbikes of course, as other street and offroad motorcycles were also unveiled along with ATVs and personal watercraft. Perhaps surprisingly, ATV sales in North America outnumber bike sales by a good margin. Total North American sales for ATVs last year were 890,000 units, whereas ALL bike sales, including street and offroad bikes, only totalled slightly less than 600,000 units.
Some interesting items were noted aside from the vehicles that are the obvious focus of the meeting. The press turns out to be quick cliquey, with the traditional media (magazines and TV) sticking together and the new media (internet) press doing the same. A surprising number of internet types were in attendance, sporting a younger demographic. Despite the significant internet contingent, Kawasaki is stressing traditional channels for their marketing efforts. If they are planning on using the net for marketing, they haven't mentioned it yet.
Lots of photos to come!