Motorcycle Live – It’s Showtime!

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There’s only one place to be if you’re a motorcyclist this week: the NEC in Birmingham for Motorcycle Live 2015. After spending the whole of Saturday –the opening day – under the vast roof that covers four massive Halls, it was a definitely one of the best UK motorcycle shows I’ve been to for quite a while. There’s just about everything for motorcyclists of all ages, from Vintage and Classic machines to full-on modern MotoGP race bikes and the whole spectrum in between. This is a place where everybody involved in two wheels, whatever it may be, gather to show what they’ve done, what they are doing and, quite often, what they intend to do in the future. It’s not just the main manufactures either. There are some new names on the block. One example is Herald Motors; heard of them? I hadn’t, but they have a range of some of the coolest small capacity retro-style machines I have ever seen. With names like the Mutt, the Mongrel and the Mauler, they’re just pure fun. I could just picture Steve McQueen on something like this Herald scrambler! Now that’s what I call cool. There was also a strong sense of history on the main manufacturer’s stands too. Yamaha’s R1 colour scheme adapted from the famous Kenny Roberts GP racer from the 70’s – what a machine. Yamaha staff told me that the old GP bike on show was not a replica, but actually Kenny’s bike.  It was on loan for the show from a collector. Kenny Roberts’ GP Racer; It’s not often you get chance to get close to something like this. The Kawasaki stand dominated one of the main halls with a huge area. It spread out like a giant green spider and at the centre was the new ZX10R Ninja. A bike with 210 bhp as standard - it will be a force to be reckoned with in Stocksport racing next year. The centre of attention: The 2016 Kawasaki ZX10R The Team Green racing area neighboured the main stand with a good display of everything competitive from Motocross bikes to finely tuned road racing machines. Talking of racing, the ACU – the Auto Cycle Union – the number one organisation for all forms of motorcycle sport in the in the UK have their own stand. So if you fancy going racing, go and have a chat with them. Wandering around the show there is so much to take in I was beginning to wish I’d booked a hotel, or at the very least, brought a sleeping bag so I could crash out in the car for the night and come back the next day! The media was everywhere with TV sports commentators visiting many of the stands and reporting on the latest models. On the KTM stand I caught up with some old friends while the TV cameras rolled. The Honda stand was a little disappointing; as a major bike manufacturer they didn’t show the huge range they have to offer. However, it has to be said that there was a lot of space dedicated to the new Africa Twin – a lovely looking bike that not only looks the part, but after watching the video on the massive overhead screen, looks like it performs pretty well too. Honda had also built a huge adventure area that was dedicated to children. Here they could ride a mini-adventure bike around a circuit – under close attendance and the watchful eyes of specially attired Honda child minders. The kids looked like they were having a great time. If you fancied a ride on a proper motocross bike then adults could have a go on Yamaha’s specially made dirt track. Soil and rubble had been brought in by the ton to construct a good sized area for you to ride and discover your off-road skills. If you want to see the experts do it; then go and watch the breath-taking backflips and aerobatics of the Super Cross riders. They do their crazy stuff in a special arena next to one of halls. (This show is not included in your ticket price and is subject to an extra entry fee.) Every minute there is something going on, and if it’s not happening on one of the main motorcycle stands it’s happening on stage with competitions to win prizes and a motorbike.  Along with interviews and talks from racing heroes and champions from the different worlds of Speedway, Motocross and Road Racing, the stage is a very popular area to hang out. If you have a keen eye for a bargain, then all around the outside of the main stands there are various smaller stands populated by dealerships and motorcycle accessory suppliers. Here you can pick up a new crash helmet, boots gloves and leathers; all kinds of clothing for your style of ride.  They are always keen to ‘bundle’ products too, so don’t be afraid to barter with them to get a good deal. This is just a small taste of what Motorcycle Live is all about; there is so much to see and yet, if you’re not careful, so much to miss too. I just wish I’d packed that sleeping bag! Motorcycle Live is on at the NEC, Birmingham, until the Sunday the 6th of December.