GET YOUR BIKES OUT!
EXCEL MOTORCYCLE SHOW 2017
Dry roads and temperatures comfortably into double figures easily persuaded riders to bring out their bikes for a ride to the MCN/Carole Nash Motorcycle show at the Excel centre in London's Docklands over the weekend of 17th-19th February. More than in previous years when the temperature and road conditions had not been so friendly.
BMW and Triumph went big for this one. They were both pushing new models and had dealer launches within a couple of days of each other in the UK – Triumph on 23rd February and BMW on 25th February. Triumph is branding a number of bikes with the Bonneville name, which has the advantage of familiarity and continuity for a whole section of riders. It launched its new Street Triple RS at the show with timed announcements on the new bike's specification and capabilities. Electronic control is to the fore on this model, and it seems that black is the new black as far as Triumph is concerned.
BMW had one of the Tyco racers centre-stage. But it's the big capacity GS range that is not only a top seller but continues to capture the imagination as the 'adventure' bike to be riding and to be seen on. There were plenty of people trying all BMW's bikes for size.
Honda had one of the smallest show exhibits I've seen it put out. Each time I passed by its stand, staff were not overworked with potential customers trying the bikes for size. The other three Japanese manufacturers were lined up together but didn't have as much to shout about as the aforementioned two rivals.
Harley Davidson always puts some imaginative thinking into its stands and displays. A table football game in a lounge-type room kept the customers satisfied. HD was pushing the Milwaukee-Eight engine capabilities. The name refers to eight-valve cylinder heads on the vee twins, designed to provide greater power and torque, to be emissions compliant and to provide improved fuel efficiency. Both HD and Indian, who had built a sizeable display for its giant bikes, must be hoping to pick up sales from the demise of Victory Motorcycles.
British manufacturing, apart from Triumph and Norton, is a wistful memory. Individual bike builders, initiators and engineers abound in this country. One practical outcome of this thinking was on display in the Sports and Performance Zone; a Marsh MR4. Built by Fred Marsh, an engineer and bike enthusiast who worked at the Harland & Woolf shipyard in Southampton. He first conceived the bike in 1953 - his response to the successful foreign multi-cylinder racers of the time, MV and Gilera - and set about designing his own bike.
He completed the build in 1962 using some of the facilities at his workplace and his shed at home. Unfortunately, it was never competitive on the track. But having been through several owners and a complete restoration, at least the noise can now be enjoyed by present day enthusiasts at parade events up and down the country. A beautiful looking piece of engineering, worth looking out for if you're at a classic or revival meeting.
The Sports and Performance Zone was one of four that have been a regular feature of this show along with Adventure, Classic, and Custom. The Classic Zone was allotted a good chunk of space at the end of the exhibition hall, where the Ace Cafe was doing brisk business with its catering outlet, set up next to a superb eclectic display of bikes gathered by Coys the auctioneers.
The auction had been held the previous day (Saturday 18th), but they were allowing entry to the enclosure through the purchase of the sale catalogue for two quid. A lovely publication with illustrations and histories of all the 132 bikes for sale. As well as the complete and often rare machines under the hammer was a collection of what looked like a major 'barn' find. This turned out to be the Hitchcock's Motorcycle Collection. Hitchcock's was a dealers in Folkestone, Kent, A Hitchcock and Sons, run from the 1950s onwards by Jock Hitchcock and his son Don. As you'll see from the pictures, they've been stored and neglected for many years.
The stands of the major players and manufacturers are always crowded. So I like to seek out bikes that are a bit off the radar at the moment and don't tend to feature so much in publications or online reviews. I 'discovered' two. First up, Energica. A sharp looking electric sports bike made in Modena Italy by Energica Motor Company. Its Eva model, tagged 'my electric sin', is described as 'the first electric streetfighter made in Italy: a perfect combination of agility and aggressive styling'. Energica quotes a 0-60mph time of 3 seconds and a top speed of 150mph in sports mode with a range of 200 kilometres. Lots of info at www.energicamotor.com. There's a UK concession, Moto Corsa, who is in Salisbury.
Turning slowly and almost seductively on a display turntable, another Italian beauty catches my eye. It's the Segoni G800 Oro. A handbuilt machine from Florence whose provenance goes back to the seventies when two brothers, Giuliano and Roberto Segoni, set up their special bike building company. Much like Bimota, they used various engines to power their own chassis and cycle parts. They had a good deal of racing success at the long distance events such as Imola 200, Bol d'Or, and the Le Mans 24hr.
Giuliano was killed while testing one of his bikes powered by a 900 Kawasaki engine. But his son, Lorenzo, who was only a few months old when his dad died, inherited both his racing and engineering skills. After a notching up a number of Italian championships in the early 2000s, he has now teamed with his friend Tomasso Contri to continue building top quality motorcycles. Their G800 Oro is powered by a Z800 Kawasaki engine. Visit www.segonispecial.it for more information.
The Bike Safe booking desk run by the Metropolitan Police was doing brisk business. If you've not had a police assessment of your riding through this scheme, it's one of the better safety and skill awareness programmes around. Not every police area has them, and I'm sure a lot have been cut under the austerity measures all public services have had to endure. Shame.
The Excel show is like the season opener. The nights are getting lighter. In a few weeks, the clocks go forward. Time for me to get some new rubber fitted to the wheels, MOT, check the battery, dust off the riding gear, plan the brighter days and rides ahead and hope that from here on in we're not hit with another bleak cold spell.
Excel Motorcycle Show 2017 - Gallery
Let us know what you thought of the show by emailing email@example.com.
23/02/17 - It was a bit disappointing compared with previous years. I shall use the entry fee for next year's show to ride to the Milan show this autumn.
23/02/17 - Agreed
23/02/17 - Yamaha explained that they brought no adventure bikes because they were needed at a show in Geneva. Perhaps the other exhibitors felt the same? Nice to see a big British bike presence, Norton, Triumph, CCM etc.
23/02/17 - A great show this year, walked me bl**dy feet off
24/02/17 - Birmingham's is so much bigger/better. Don't need 2 shows a year
24/02/17 - A couple of times I did trade shows at the National Motorcycle Museum. I was useless because I just spent my time in the museum.
25/02/17 - Great bike norton, i had b.s. a triumph and kawasaki, ho to be a rocker again
25/02/17 - Yes and I won't go again. From being robbed of £15 to park the car for a couple of hours it just got worse. Miles to many clothing outlets and not enough bikes or space, it was ridiculous. I would have been even more pissed off if I had paid for my ticket, because I won two tickets from sportsbike shop on here. I went a few years ago and all the bikes and stunt arena in one hall, and all merchandise in another and it was great. But all in one hall is a joke.
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER
Sign up to receive updates and new posts straight to your in-box.