Event Recap: 2021 IMS Outdoors: New Motorcycles, Demo Rides, Gear Shop, and More

Demo rides for all—balance bikes, ebikes, side by sides, and motorcycles!

By Tricia Szulewski, Editor

Reflecting on some of my favorite motorcycle events in 2021, the IMS Outdoors (IMSO) show circuit is at the top of my list. Like we reported in our original story here, what was known as the convention-center-setting Progressive International Motorcycle Show (IMS) has morphed into an all outdoors festival. In its first year with this format, the festival visited 9 venues across America from mid-July through November, 2021. WRN had representatives at nearly every show, and it was exciting to be safely gathered outdoors, meeting many of you in person.

WRN team at 2021 IMS Outdoors Southern California (Costa Mesa)
Of the nine IMSO venues in 2021, the biggest was definitely the last which took place in Costa Mesa, California. That’s where our team reunited for the first time since 2019. Here are most of us pictured from left to right: Myself (Tricia Szulewski), Kirsten Midura, Porsche Taylor, Erin Sills, and Trev Richter.
IMS Outdoors 2021
Besides being able to meet our readers in person, we were happy to spend time with some of our favorite industry colleagues. Pictured here with us are BMW’s marketing powerhouses Trudy Hardy and Luciana Francisco.

Happily, everything we are accustomed to seeing at the IMS returned for the IMSO and then some— J&P Cycles’ Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show, Discover The Ride, vendors, kid’s zone, food, and, of course, new motorcycles. But way better than sitting on a static bike on an industrial indoor carpet like we did at most of the IMS shows in the past, were the demo rides. Almost all the major motorcycle manufacturers had their full lineup of bikes for licensed riders to take out on the street for real-world test rides. Most rides were even self-guided, with signs pointing you in the right direction. I love this new trend because it allows you to go at your own pace.

Harley-Davidson’s newest motorcycles, the Sportster S and the Pan America were extremely popular with both men and women anxious to try them out, myself included. Also on hand at almost every show were Indian Motorcycle, Yamaha, Honda, Triumph, Suzuki, Royal Enfield, Kawasaki, KTM, and the electric motorcycles Livewire and Zero. BMW had a huge space in Southern California with a truckload of bikes, including its R 18, R 18 B, and R 18 Transcontinentals.

Sportster S demo IMS Outdoors 2021
By far the most well-attended part of the IMSO circuit were the demo rides. Harley’s Sportster S was particularly popular with both women and men.
IMS Outdoors Yamaha demo
Yamaha is one of the few manufacturers that still send riders out with ride leaders and chasers.
IMS Outdoors BMW R 18 Transcontinental woman rider
Between test rides attendees had fun sitting on all the bikes. This woman tries out the BMW R 18 Transcontinental for size.
IMS Outdoors Triumph Trident
WRN’s Kirsten Midura and I took turns meeting readers at the WRN booth in Pennsylvania and going on demo rides. Here she tries out the cool new middleweight Triumph Trident we first reported on here.
IMS Outdoors 2021 Harley Davidson Livewire
Taking the opportunity to test the Livewire in Texas, riding the electric Harley was invigorating. The instant torque of the nearly silent bike is an experience I highly recommend. It's weird but fun just twisting the throttle to go. There's no clutch or shifter on electric motorcycles.
IMS Outdoors 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportser S
Jumping on the Sportster S, I fell in love with the power and sporty fun of this new bike. I was all smiles—and I happily declare it the best Sportster Harley has ever made. If you like a truly sporty ride on a cruiser-style motorcycle like I do, you’ll love it, too.
IMS Outdoors Yamaha side by side RMAX
In addition to motorcycle demos, some venues even had off-road courses set up for side by side (all terrain four-wheelers) demos. As something I’d never done before, I was all giggles going up, down, and around the steep hills, twists, trees, and gullies on the course setup in Atlanta on a Yamaha RMAX. I exclaimed at the end of my ride, “That was more fun than any roller coaster I’ve ever been on!”
IMS Outdoors Liv ebike
Also available for demo rides were a number of ebike manufacturers. Kirsten and I took a ride before the show opened in Costa Mesa on a power-assisted ebike from the company called Liv. Designed and engineered by a woman, these bikes are specifically made for women riders and take no time at all to master. With levels of "assisted power" you don't get worn out as quickly as you would on a traditional bicycle.
IMS Outdoors 2021 shopping ladies
The Marketplace included more than gear vendors. I found lots of information about touring other areas of the country and taking advanced training classes. I spotted these awesome lady Indian riders getting free hi-viz vests at the Total Control training booth.
IMS Outdoors Shift
Gathering for cold brews in the Shift area was a perfect place to talk about all that we’d seen and done that day. The meeting spot at each venue had comfy chairs, tables, and local brews.

Women’s Choice Award Winners

As we have done at prior years’ Progressive IMS events, WomenRidersNow.com distributed ballots to attendees to vote for their favorite companies and products at three shows: Northern California (NorCal), Pennsylvania (PA), and the final show in Southern California (SoCal). We were happy to see that some of our longtime supporters received recognition like Motochic and Sportbike Chic. And we are excited about our new friends at Umberto Luce boots, Ukoala Bags, and Brake Free with its helmet light we reviewed here. Check out all the winners and their products in our story here.

IMS Outdoors Womens Choice Winners Sonoma
It just so happens that all the winners in Northern California were companies owned by or represented by women! How cool is that?

Why do we do this? We want to let companies know that women support those who support us. The next time you are shopping for gear and accessories, consider these companies first, and always try to let them know why you are choosing them over their competitors.

Yamaha VIP Women’s Rides

I want to give a special shout out to Yamaha’s Kim Knupp, Sarah Davis, and Kerri Brooks who invited me to lead a special women’s VIP ride on its new easy-to-handle sportbike, the YZF-R7 we reviewed here. Kim has been heading up Yamaha’s National Events team for more years than some of us have been alive. She is one of the few executive women in motorcycling that influence the industry in ways most consumers will never know.

IMS Outdoors Kim Knupp
If you ever see Yamaha’s Kim Knupp at an event, please give her a special high five. She’s usually signing people up for demos like she is here in Costa Mesa.

It was Kim’s vision to introduce this new bike to women in a way that allows them to have a special bonding experience and make new riding friends. I was thrilled to meet so many cool ladies and learn about their riding stories. The women were chosen at random after entering the contest on Yamaha’s website. They were all treated to a special ride and lunch, and went home with a goodie bag with all kinds of cool swag. Thank you Yamaha!

IMS Outdoors Yamaha Womens VIP demo ride
Here are some of the ladies I was lucky enough to meet and ride with on Yamaha’s R7 VIP women’s rides. We bonded over “Alien” barbecue in Texas at the Smoking Windmill, rode over covered bridges outside of Atlanta to eat at the Sister’s Family Restaurant, went past Amish farms to the “Love Shack” in Pennsylvania, and enjoyed the salty Pacific air in Southern California.
IMS Outdoors Yamaha Womens VIP ride Brittany Kerri
Safety expert and WRN contributor Brittany Morrow (left) worked with Kerri (right) on the Yamaha’s VIP women’s rides in Chicago, Tennessee, and Florida.

We look forward to what’s in store for IMS Outdoors in 2022. Please stay in the know about this and other motorcycle events WRN will be attending by subscribing to our free monthly newsletter.

In addition, you can find our calendar of women’s motorcycle events here.

Check out some more pictures from the 2021 IMS Outdoors shows.

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