Bike Show – Birmingham NEC UK 23/11/03

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    Show Report:

    I wasn’t going to go originally, but in the end wound up thinking “why not” and headed off on the final day of the show with 3 mates to check out all the new metal.
    Got there as the doors opened so as to miss the inevitable rush for the last day. £14 to get in and £6 to park was painful. One of the lads I was with made the interesting point that seeing as this was an exhibition for manufactures and dealers to market their bikes and other products to potential customers how come WE have to pay to get in? Any views on this?

    Once in the show we headed straight for the Triumph stand and two of the bikes that I was really keen to look at; the Rocket 3 and Thruxton 900. The big 2.3 litre cruiser looked amazing and it is hard to believe that it is a production machine. It also struck me how well packaged the bike was with a really low seat height. Apparently it is quicker in a straight line two up! Helps the traction so they say. Can also see off an R1 over the ¼ mile. Cruisers do not normally float my boat, but…

    The 900 Thuxton really looks cool. A marriage of 60s style with up to date dynamics, and the Triumph badge lends it authenticity Japanese rivals such as the W650 lack. 70 bhp in a light manageable package really appeals to me. I am going to blagg a ride on a demo bike next year and let you how I get on.

    As for the rest of the Triumph range it was the first time that I had got close to the Daytona 600. To be honest I was a bit let down. Fitted OK but the slabby tank design puts me off a bit.

    Next target stand was the huge corporate spaceship that is the Honda set up. One of the lads I was with is thinking of PX ing his VFR800 against the latest Fireblade. He loved it but I think the R1 looks better. From Honda’s own range the latest CBR600 looks a sensational design and I would bet it is just as quick point to point as the blade. My opinion, save a couple of grand and insurance groups and go for the 600.

    The rest of the Honda range looked much the same as always to me, but the heavily revised CB500 would make a decent hack and 900 Hornet looks fun. Can’t understand why it doesn’t sell better.

    Suzuki also had a big stand, but somehow a week later nothing really sticks in my memory about it other than it was really crowded. Must have been something good on there but I missed it! The GSX-R1000 looked as impressive as ever and the SV650 and 1000 look good with the half fairing. Sat on the SV1000 as I have been thinking about this as a replacement for the T Cat when the time comes. I was a bit upset as the big V twin wasn’t very comfortable for me. Oh well – maybe a Triumph Thruxton it is then! The GSX1400 looked mean and broody too, but I can’t help myself preferring Yamaha’s XJR1300 in Kenny Roberts colours.

    Kawasaki’s stand was better the new 1000 sports bike looked good and the Z750 and 1000 take a new angle on road bikes, which has to be applauded. Love the look of the bikes styling but hate the “Action Man” style intergrated clocks that seem to have been made to a similar quality as Pound Shop digital watches. Amazed to see the good old ZZR600 still on sale, but the ZZR1200 looks well past it’s sell by date and the new rear styling is just awful.
    They had a 2-litre V twin on the stand too and like the Rocket 3 I found it oddly impressive, if only for the sheer absurdity of it! Sat on the W650 Triumph look a like too. Neat machine, but perhaps a little too neat somehow?

    Yamaha had the sublime new R1 as the highlight on its stand. Looks fantastic, putting the Blade firmly in the shade. Trouble is with all these 170bhp bikes, have we now reached the sensible limit on the road? I wonder. Like Honda and the Blade v CBR6 , I think the R6 is a better bet.
    The other big news on the Yam stand was the new Fazer 600 with the R6 engine. Looks butt ugly without a fairing and only slightly better with one! Go for a second-hand original model and then at least you will be able to ride in daylight without people pointing at you and laughing! Truly the Elephant Man of the biking world. As a major Yam fan it hurts to write this, but it is true. As a sign of my age (nearly 40) I sat on the FJR1300 and liked it!

    That was all the big Japs and Triumph dealt with, but what about the rest?

    Ducati had the new Multisrada on the stand. If you MUST have one go for the red one. The darker colours look dreadful. The new 999 range is impressive, buts lacks the groundbreaking beauty the 916 boasted back in 1994. Now that was a good-looking piece of kit. Other good stuff on their stand were the range of retro sports bikes that paid homage to their legendary bikes of the 1970’s and the racers looked brilliant too. Low point here was the rather silly Martix limited edition in a mucky green colour with cheap and nasty stickers. After the sublime SENNA limited edition of the mid 90’s this seemed a little well, tacky…Overall Ducati seem to have lost their way a bit. What do you lot think?

    Moto Guzzi put up a brave little showing and I still find their bikes alluring even if the technology is a little ropey here and there! However I found it hard to believe how LITTLE power the V75 puts out – 49bhp. Never have the skins of rice puddings felt so safe! Come on Guzzi!!!!! The big sports V twins looked great however. Could I be brave a buy one? No.

    Aprillia didn’t seem to have anything too new on their stand but on the MV stand I stood awe stuck at the latest F4 variant – £30,000!! But it dripped with style and attitude to make every penny seem worth it. Really they have nudged Ducati to one side as the biking worlds Ferrari in my eyes.

    A couple of brands really surprised me – one was SACHs with their surprisingly diverse and interesting range and MZ was another with their totally new 1000S V twin. What an excellent bike, and another I am keen to try if I can lay my hands on a demo bike next year. Can’t get images of the old Supa 5 out of my head though!

    The new Benelli Tornado road bike was also present on a small stand and looked impressive. I think it might struggle against Ducati and Aprillia but still good to see somebody else using a triple engine other than Triumph.

    Monkey Bikes…always make me laugh and a couple of the Chinese (I think) manufacturers were showing off their wares. We all had a bit fun sitting on them and looking rather silly. Find myself wanting one…help!

    Enfield of India put up a decent showing and I really like the café racer 500. Would get blown away by a Pizza delivery boy on a City Express Honda, but a likeable bike for all that. You are probably better off buying a real classic or the Kawasaki W650 if you want the looks of the 50s in a modern, reliable package.

    A blaze of orange met us at the KTM stand and their bikes radiate “attitude”. I really like them, but alas I would need a stepladder to even get onboard! The joys a being a stumpy I suppose.

    Over on the Peugeot stand the new sports 50 looked fun if you are
    1. 16
    2. 7 stone
    3. Have got a loaded Dad.
    I wonder if they will ever take on the upper reaches of the biking world?

    Meanwhile just by the BMW stand a disgruntled owner was merrily handing out a pamphlet detailing the tale of woe and miserable service that his gleaming new BMW had given him. Great Stuff! Boy did their sales team look uncomfortable! As good ol’ George W might say; isn’t free speech wonderful! As for the bikes on the stand, they looked OK, but they simply are not the kind of bike that appeals to me. I mean they are brave firm, and from an engineering and styling standpoint they have very often taken a very different approach to a problem than everybody else: Their front suspension systems and shaft drive layout are especially clever. However there is something too squeaky clean about their image.

    Harley and Buell were together on the same stand as you might expect. Really like the quirky and innovative Buells, really hate the fat and lazy Harleys! The Buells put that fantastic engine to proper use and the way the fuel is carried in the frame is really clever. Love the rim-mounted disc brakes too. They are so tiny to sit on too. I bet they are great on twisty mountain roads. They look a little shoddily built, but I really can see the appeal. I will get a test ride on one these. I won’t write about the Harleys because I might upset people!

    Very surprised to see no CCMs as I was really looking forward to that stand. Oh well. They were also surprisingly few trade stalls, and the ones that were there seemed mainly for clothing. Having said that one of the lads did get a cracking deal on a new jacket.
    A major distraction for the males present were the models posing on the “Superbike” magazine stand.
    I leave it at that or I will be accused of being a sexist pig.

    Back to the bike and dotted about on various stands were a number of customs and specials. For my part I was especially pleased to see the monster V12 Kawasaki Z2300. What a piece of work. Utterly pointless, but wonderful all at the same time. Bet it sounds like a little Merlin when it is fired up (the engine that powered the Spitfire).
    Another was the wild six cylinder and turboharged CBX1000 that was on the front cover of the November 2003 edition of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics magazine. Again silly, but fantastic all the same.

    The food and drink was a rip off ~ £6 for a Bacon Butty and a bottle of lager, but that isn’t peculiar to the NEC or the bike show, so I will let them off.

    Overall not a bad show and the bike I would want to take home? The R1, or maybe the Thruxton, mind you that Guzzi looked cool and that MZ 1000S…HELP!!!


    radar it took ages to read but a good wright up thank you


    Excellent mate. Better than the show guide!


    Great job. I went to the show and thought it was the best one ever at the NEC. Your description of the MV was spot on and the Duke plods (999’s) are the tops for me.
    Missed the MZ stand, is there really a nice new 1000cc?
    Ride an ETZ250 myself through the winter and know what it means to have a naff badge but hey it’s cheap and cheerful and starts every time.


    Bloody L Radar, what a piece of journalism! Was your tongue going from side to side like wipers on super fast speed when writing this? I think you should e-mail this to MCN or one of the other e-map publishers and push for a slot as a hack. All the best for 2004 Toe.


    Cheers for that Scouser old mate!

    Beefstew: Yes MZ really now have a 1,000cc bike and it looks and feels good.


    Anybody go this year? I couldn’t make it.
    Was it any good??

    Donate – it makes you feel good!


    I was meant to go on Friday but unfortunately couldn’t make it (gotta save me dosh for my bike!). Two of my friends went – Barry and Ian, and got their photo in MCN! They are standing looking at the new GSXR1000 on pg4! Lucky sods, they had such a good day on trade day so went again the day after!

    Rebel with a cause!

    The roads are my race track!!



    Anybody going this year, perhaps a joint forum effort. What are the dates?

    Is Imperial Data a Punk??


    i should be there on the first public open day not 100% on the dates but i heard its 2 weeks earlier than normal this year

    life sucks get used to it


    Hopefully I will be going on press day when there is no public but loads of pubic!

    Be seen and be Safe!

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