If you ride a motorcycle or if you’re thinking of riding one then a trip to the NEC in Birmingham is a must.
It’s the place where you can not only look; but you can touch, sit and you actually ride a bike if you want to – and all under one roof.
It’s a huge event that’s spread over four massive halls within the NEC complex and, with a separate arena to watch the breath-taking backflips and aerobatics performed by the expert Super Cross riders, this show quite literally goes on and on.
As expected there were many familiar names displayed everywhere: Triumph, Harley-Davidson, Honda, BMW, Kawasaki, Suzuki, you name them, they’re here, but there were some names that are not so familiar. Names like Herald, Victory and Indian Motorcycles all the way from America – a name you don’t really expect to see at a British show.
Some names may not be as well-known as the majority of the manufacturers but, if you have time for a chat with them, you’ll find that their Staff is just as enthusiastic as the major players.
Wandering around the show it doesn’t take long before you realise how much there really is to take in.
You’re pretty much on the go all day and with so many of the new bikes to see it’s a good idea to plan your journey around the halls using the floor plan.
A friendly touch from Honda was to dedicate space for a coffee shop. You can find it right at the centre of their stand. Here you could relax and take the weight off your feet, while sipping a free freshly made cup of coffee. Nice!
You have to listen to the announcements or you could miss something, not easy when you’re like a kid in a sweet shop. Always keep an ear open as you don’t want to miss the stunt riding shows happening throughout the day. There are interviews and talks with racing celebs from BSB, WSB, MotoGP and Speedway going on at various manufacturer stands, or up on stage too.
One of the highlights was TV Motorcycle and Sport Commentator, Steve Parish who was hosting the ‘Rear Wheel Challenge’. A competition to change the rear wheel up on the stage in the fastest possible time meant that you could win a bike, but be careful if you do, you don’t want trap your fingers trying too hard!
On the Yamaha stand there are some very nice Yamaha ‘Yard Built’ motorcycles, some of which are created by their dealers; they’re a real talking point. Basically, they’re inspirational ideas on how to transform a Yamaha into an individual and unique special; very cool indeed.
You can buy these aftermarket kits to transform your standard Yamaha bike into something very different.
Harley-Davidson had a very handsome looking custom V-Rod on show. It was anything but standard; a real eye-catcher finished in black and – unusually for Harley – a vibrant green. There were other specials built by enthusiasts who just work on bikes as a hobby. One guy had literally built a unique racing machine without the conventional front forks. He built it in a wooden shed. ‘It’s a big shed’, he said, ‘but it is a wooden one’. The show has everything from the corporate company to the one man band – the weird and the wonderful!
The Arai stand is well worth a visit. A crash helmet is an important purchase, so it’s essential to get one that fits and feels right. Arai have devoted and designed their whole stand so that customers can select the style they want, in the right size and customise for a perfect fit. There’s a good selection of different visors on display too.
If you had already own an Arai helmet, then the staff will service it for you while you wait or you could return to pick it up later after you’d had a look round the show.
Want to ride a dirt-bike? Then thanks to Yamaha you can ride a on a specially prepared off-road circuit. Dirt had been brought in by the ton to construct a good sized riding area for you to try out a proper motocross and discover your off-road skills.
For the youngsters there’s a specially made junior motocross circuit where the little ones can get to grips with some real off-road fun on electrically powered mini-bikes.
Honda has catered for the kiddies too, with a cleverly designed adventure circuit where a child can ride a mini-bike choosing a different adventure from a sign post at certain crossroads and junctions.
It sounds cliqued but there really is something for everyone at the show.
I didn’t see one kid moaning about being bored.
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.
When the show finished, I felt satisfied that with a day well spent. There were many people attending that had travelled from all over the country and I didn’t see one disappointed face. If you’re thinking of going then don’t hesitate, get online and buy your tickets (they’re cheaper if you do) then get yourself down to the NEC.
Motorcycle Live is on at the NEC, Birmingham, until the Sunday the 6th of December.