Monday, 25 November 2013

Lots of bikes, friends to see, pretty girls and a shiny car at the Motorcycle Live show

This year’s motorcycle show at the Birmingham NEC (UK) was excellent. I spent the whole day there on Saturday and wore myself out, looking at bikes and chatting to the many people I bumped into.

It was busy and there was a buzz about the place which seemed to have been lacking in recent years. Perhaps it was the feeling that the economy is finally on the move again that engendered a better feeling about the show.

This year I tried to concentrate on things that I don’t normally spend too much time looking at. One of those might just prove to be a little too tempting for me.  Who goes to a motorcycle show and falls in love with a car?  More on that later.  Back to the bikes....

I wanted to see the new Indian motorcycles and they certainly did look very good. This is the Indian Chief Vintage….

I was drawn to the Moto Guzzi Street V7 Scrambler, which looks cool and classic at the same time. I really like its rugged looks and this is one of the best looking of the new recent Moto Guzzi bikes. I do question though the combination of knobbly tyres with the cylinders sticking out sideways so much. Yes, I know this is the classic Guzzi engine layout, but the knobblies suggest this could be taken off-road, but can you imagine what would happen to the cylinder heads if you dropped the bike a few times in deep mud or on rocks? It does look great though…..

Compare those good looks to the diabolical Guzzi Griso SE. That engine block has to be the ugliest thing recently designed for a motorcycle. It is so fugly, it just makes you wonder “what were they thinking”…..

One of the bikes that really surprised me was a BMW GS with a sidecar fitted. I sort of get it, and sort of don’t. The guy on the stand told me he was selling about one a month, which means they wont be around for much longer…..

One bike was creating a lot of interest and that was the Ducati 1199 Superleggera. Launched this month, Ducati have said that just 500 of these bikes will be made. It certainly is an impressive looking bike….

Red bikes are obviously popular and this striking Aprilia caught my eye. The bike is much better than its model name which is a baffling RSV4 R APRC ABS, which doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue. The bike is stuffed full of technology with 8-stage traction control, wheelie control, launch control and a quickshifter, plus ABS and fully adjustable suspension. Oh and a little matter of 180bhp to go with it all….

This looks like it could be fun. An Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 ABS….

Back in the seventies I loved this MV Augusta. My feelings for the bike haven’t changed….

Love this old Beemer Airhead as well….

I cannot recall having seen a Royal Enfield café racer before. Maybe some of my readers have?....

Talking of unusual, how about a Moto Guzzi café racer with, wait for it, a slipstreamed sidecar attached….

You gotta love a Vespa….

A very nice Victory. You don’t often see them with eight additional cylinders though….

My favourite lady from the show. Who knows who she is?....

Here she is again with some of her friends….

Coventry Transport Museum had a very nice display of old motorcycles. Here are a couple of my favourites….

My friend Henry Cole has launched a new motorcycle, called a Gladstone. Their first model, appropriately called No.1, was on display at the show. A hardtail with a Triumph engine, some of the details on this bike are very nice indeed….

I need to ask Henry where these lever / grip combinations come from, as I really like them and I have a current project build they would suit….

A very nice custom Harley-Davidson, built by Warrs in London….

The Harley-Davidson stand included a replica of the shed in which William S. Harley and brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson first built motorcycles. This shed at the show contained an old model H-D, lent to the show by Warrs….

This is one of the Metisse Desert Racer motorcycles, currently being made as a replica of one of the bikes Steve McQueen once owned….

Back Street Heroes magazine had a big stand with many custom motorcycles on display. I like this shovelhead…..

I imagine not many people go to a motorcycle show and end up really liking a car, indeed some may say that is sacrilege. However, how could anyone not like this Morgan three-wheeler. It is the Brooklands Special edition and I feel a test drive coming soon. 1976cc V-Twin S&S engine, 82bhp, 0-60 in 6 seconds, top speed 115mph….

Finally, what did surprise me was how many people I bumped into at the show. Andy Hornsby of American-V magazine was on good form in a bright orange Hawaiian shirt. I didn’t know he was going, but I was happy to see Jon Hickman who I rode with to St Tropez earlier this year. Marjorie Rae, the Customer Experience Manager for the UK and Ireland spared me some time to talk about my new touring business. I met one guy, Gary Fleshman, who I last met in 2010 while on my tour of the USA. TV personality friend Henry Cole was there chatting to lots of his fans and he presented his new Gladstone bike. Ian Thorburn (AKA Bosunsbikes) was there as well, taking loads of pictures....

All-in-all, it was a terrific day, looking at motorcycles and seeing lots of friends. I slept well that night!

The show continues for another week with its last day being 1st December.


RichardM said...

Nice photos! Thank you for sharing them. I like the look of the Guzzi Scrambler. And the GS seems to be popular as a tug for a sidecar. You can get them with larger fuel tanks, the tele-lever front end makes for simpler steering mods and they look good together.

Unknown said...


I don't think we get to see all the models that you see and our show is out in Abbotsford (about an hour east of Vancouver) and the time of the year where the roads are icy.

That Guzzi sidecar racer looks better going backwards with the sidecar pointed to the rear. I am not sure with the V engine is worse than the Beemer GS series with horizontal jugs.

That Morgan 3 wheeler looks like it was made from Stainless Steel, so shiny

glad you had fun look and meeting up with friends

Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Gary for the great photos, the Victory with additional eight cylinders, quite remarkable.

As to GS Rigs, they're quite popular here too. Alaskahack(who shares your name) has one and likes it a lot.



Canajun said...

Looks like a great show Gary with a nice mixed selection of bikes (and extra cylinders - jugs I think you call them over there). That Morgan could have been the subject of a complete photo shoot just by itself - beautiful!

Ottawa Rider said...

I agree with Bob. I don't think we get all the same models that you do in Europe.

Thank you for sharing. I was not surprised that it was the Victory that had the extra 8 cylinders. Perhaps they are trying to compensate for failings in the bike itself with some eye candy?

A real bike does not need adornments.

Trobairitz said...

Look at all those shiny bikes. Did you wear a bib for the drool?

I like the V7 Scrambler and the RE Cafe Racer. I was just reading about the Enfield recently.

And as far as the Victory's extra cylinders. Are you sure those are cylinders? I couldn't tell because of the extra headlights. :-)

Sash Johnson said...

Love all the photos of the shiny bikes! Wow!
I really love the Indian Vintage. We went to the manufacturing plant and watched some being made. What an experience. All I could think was how many happy people those bikes were going to create. :)
It's so cool that you ran into so many people you know. You're famous!

Gary France said...

Richard – I had never seen a GS with a sidecar before. Maybe there is just not much needs here on the streets of London. The Guzzi scrambler is gorgeous and the first Guzzi I have ever coveted.

Bob – This year’s show saw all of the major manufacturers attending, which was not the case in previous years. The Morgan was made from polished aluminium, so it would need a lot of work to keep it that shiny. I am going to test drive one this coming Saturday. Write up and pictures to follow.

Charlie6 – I like those extra 8 cylinders. No doubt they would keep your hands warm on a cold day.

Canajun – Regarding the Morgan and more pictures, watch this space! Yes to calling them jugs (and about a hundred other words too).

Gary France said...

Ottawa Rider – I agree about a real bike doesn’t need adornments and you certainly won’t find those in the parts catalogue. I think I am right in saying that the Victory / Indian stand (both owned by Polaris) were the only ones that had skimpy-clad girls to attract people.

Trobairitz – You are right - I slobbered my way around the show. I saw at least 6 or 7 bikes that I would have liked to buy. It is a form of torture really, seeing all those wonderful machines that we cannot have. I wonder why we go to these shows when so many goodies are out of reach? I liked the RE racer as I think it was the first one I had ever seen. I think you are right about the headlights, but it seems some would work better than others, as they are available in different sizes.

Tina – Oh now I am jealous. Seeing the Indian plant must have been fabulous. I agree, the Indian Vintage is something quite special and there will be many owners with Flies In Their Teeth.