MCN LONDON MOTORCYCLE SHOW 2014 - THE FULL STORY
JOHN NEWMAN'S TAKE ON THE SHOW
By Sunday the deluge had abated and clear blue sky and a dazzling winter sun lifted the spirits of the crowds that made their way through London's Docklands to the Excel exhibition complex; especially those who were able to ride there on dry roads.
At this years event the organisers had reflected the popularity of certain niches in the market and in riders interests with themed areas for 'adventure' biking, classic and custom building. As well as attracting the major manufacturers and their new models for 2014.
I arrived soon after the doors were opened to the public so that I could take as many pictures as possible without elbows and legs contaminating the camera lens. This turned out to be a fortuitous move because by mid-morning motorcycle enthusiasts were filling the stands and trying for size as many of the bikes displayed as possible.
It was pleasing to see a good number of (male) parents hoisting their young uns on and off the bikes, and a good number of women aboard the gleaming machines. Though it was impossible to know how many were current or future riders, or just there for the photo opportunity.
Royal Enfield had taken a good chunk of floor space and are obviously intent on changing their image with the recent introduction of the Continental GT Cafe Racer. Huge posters clad the stand illustrated with hip young riders (models) proclaiming 'Ace Cafe to Madras Cafe' and 'The anti social network'...a bit of a puzzle that one. Can they transform the image from old fogey nostalgia to hip must have poser machine? The jury will be out for some time.
There were a lot of older guys astride the big BMW's. The population in the market with the most disposable income. BM had two of their new scooters on display too. A similar age group could be seen around the Harley Davidson display – 'bees round a Harley pot' – but there were more pony tails and tattoos in evidence here.
Despite residual recessionary gloom, car sales in the UK have been very healthy over the past year or so. Part of the reason being the finance deals which allow people to lease and renew their vehicles at regular intervals: usually three years. Now Triumph have emulated this and banners promoting their Tristar Personal Contract Purchase plan was the stand out feature of their exhibit – “you'll be amazed how affordable it makes riding your dream bike”.
The Japanese big four had one missing. Suzuki having decided not to have a presence. There were no surprises from Honda, Yamaha or Kawasaki, but that didn't detract from the popularity of the bikes they decided to show and by the lunch period it was queue for bike sitting as well as queue for food and drink.
It wasn't all new bikes temptation. The custom bike displays were a tribute to the imagination, dedication and financial commitment of their builders. There seems to be no end to how people can configure bikes. A Honda CX500 and a Norton Commando, very different bikes but in unique cafe racer style were amongst my favourites for pictures; but I could have chosen many others.
Over in the 'adventure' biking area Touratech had equipped a range of long distance machines with all the luggage and travel accessories they had in their catalogue. There are so many touring and travel fitments available now that the bikes begin to resemble two wheel trucks. Fully loaded it needs a lot of confidence and experience to manoeuvre these beasts.
I couldn't help but contrast these financially weighty travel tools with Austin Vince's Suzuki DR around the corner on the Bike magazine stand. The epitome of budget travel, and the bike will take you to the same place.
The 'adventure' market place at Excel illustrated how much this sector has grown over the past ten years or so. Not only in terms of equipment available but the number of bespoke and off the shelf tours on offer. The itineraries they offer appeal to those among us who have only limited holiday time in each working year but still want to experience the road less travelled.
But the ultimate travel 'prize' at the Excel must go to the Opus Moto camper trailer. A contraption that not only opens out to a capacious living space, but also carries two motorcycles on racks on the top. How do they get there? With a small hydraulic crane system of course. They were on offer at a special show price of £16,000! and according to their website deposits were laid down www.opuscamper.com
Each time I circuited the show area my colleagues at Wemoto were busy handing out gift packs of neck warmers, note pads and key rings. They were really pleased to be able to meet so many existing customers and other fellow motorcyclists. One of Mike Hailwood's bikes was located opposite in the Classic Bike area, and at certain daily intervals they were treated to the cacophonous race engine being revved for the pleasure of the waiting crowd.
Exhibitors said they were kept busy with the crowds on all three days of the show. A healthy sign for the coming motorcycling season?
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