I was able to visit the NEC and Motorcycle Live on the first day (Saturday) and thought I would share with you all some thoughts and observations from this flagship event.
Saddling up early from a frosty Huntingdon I rode across to Birmingham, surprised to see few other bikers on the road; that is until I got almost to the NEC, when several more bikes or all types were arriving.
Having met up with Mark Jaffe for a quick chat on his stand, first stop was a sausage sandwich and cup of tea, ready to enter the fray.
The show is big, with highly impressive stands from all the major manufacturers, many with new bikes on display. Some highlights were the new updated Triumph Tiger models, new Ducati V4 powered bikes, the Yamaha “sport” three wheeler (straight from Judge Dread), an all new Honda Goldwing. There are some amazing custom machines – and the wonderfully restored old bikes. All that and off-road courses, test rides, taster rides for new bikers and the display with the stunt rider teams – by far the noisiest part of the day.
Bargains and offers abound from the huge array of retailers and kit manufacturers – bring your empty panniers and credit card! As you can expect, many other bike related stuff is at the show, along with our friends Bike Safe and IAM Roadsmart – looking very professional with their branded polo shirts, all with their names on too.
So after several hours going over all that is on display, what did I take away as I saddled up to go home on the wet M40? The three things foremost in my mind are:-
Electronic Tech Is Everywhere – all the new bikes are littered with LED’s, TFT displays and so much electronic equipment that it is all becoming mind blowing. Do I need a dash display that has 5 colour settings and display themes? Do I need cornering LED lights? Will I use the 5 riding modes?
But, with all this new tech to manage, the manufacturers are giving us so many buttons and options it is a real challenge to work out how to use it all. For example, Triumph have gone overboard with so many switches on the left bar that it is bound to get confusing to the user. By far the best is BMW, with clear screen graphics, simple menu options and the most user-friendly left side thumb wheel, which is very hard to fault. Maybe we need some standardization for the bar controls for all this new tech – or it just won’t get used….
Electric Bikes Become Even Better – as the battery technology keeps improving, the designs are now so much better.
This example from Italian company Energica is stunning and has superb Brembo brakes, sports bike suspension, a very cool design and looks like a Speed Triple from a distance. This one is now able to complete a full high speed circuit of the Isle of Man TT course. If you have £28,000 and can manage on a 100 mile range before 2 hours to re-charge, you can try one!
More to come from this part of the industry but very soon electric bikes will become a real option.
Expect that costs will drop, car manufacturers will push for more charging points and the specs and designs will keep improving – maybe we all have an electric bike for commuting; maybe we see an electric bike sharing scheme (they have that already in San Francisco) like ZipCar? Whatever else, this is future I feel…
Resurgence of the “Old” Names. All over the show were brand new bikes with old manufacturers names. CCM, Metesse, Husqvarna, Aerial and Herald were on show, along with the more well known “old” names of Norton and Royal Enfield. This trend in re-inventing the old names has to have some respect for the originals I feel and the best (though I will always have make allowances for Norton) are the wonderful Brough Superior bikes.
These guys have taken an already ground breaking bike design and then enhanced it from the way they build with todays materials and are so in synergy with the original look. Brough bikes were never cheap (and the originals are super costly now) but look at this limited edition sand racer pictured below. What a beautiful machine and the finish is amazing. I would love one - just need the £58,000 to order one, likely to take 12 months to build too.
Well worth the horrible roads to Birmingham and the soaking I got on the way home - shame they hold the event in November, as the weather is not the best for us bikers. Maybe I will go in the week next time to avoid some of the traffic or crowds?
Till next year….