IT Is the industry’s showcase of the latest machines, and this year’s Motorcycle Live event at the NEC was full of classic-styled bikes. Kawasaki went big on the Z900RS and Café, with many onlookers enthusiastic about trying it. There were a couple of negative comments about the lack of 4-into-4 exhaust systems and, shock horror, a radiator, but I fear these people have never had to design a mass-produced motorcycle to pass all the required laws and tests.
Triumph really showed how important retro bikes are – nearly half the Hinkley manufacturer’s stand was laid out to show the various incarnations of its Bonneville, Scrambler, Bobber, Speedmaster and Street Twin models. The crowds were constant, with all age groups looking intently at what was on offer. Ducati had the crowds poring over the new V4 Panigale, but just as many were looking at the separate Scrambler stand, with the new 1100 model looking really interesting.
Herald was enticing the younger riders with its smaller-capacity bikes, Harley Davidson had some interesting specials, Honda showed a couple of CB1100-based one-offs, CCM introduced its new flat-track bike and Metisse had some frames to tempt, while Indian had a band playing among its Scout models, including the Bobber – more on page 54.
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Royal Enfield had a large stand that focused on displaying its new 650cc twin, an important step for the company and a good-looking bike that we will be testing as soon as we can – watch this space!
Other bikes of interest that raised some contentious conversation were the new Brough Superiors, with several original bikes on the stand – with more visitors taking pictures of the originals than the latest bikes. At the other end of the financial spectrum was Mash, a French company that is now making an affordable 400cc single-cylinder bike, attracting a lot of attention from those fed up with kick-starting older, heavier and less-reliable old lumps.
The National Motorcycle Museum had a vast array of bikes concentrating on adventure, plus the TT-winning rotary Norton and the unique Marsh starting up to the amusement of visitors, if not the stand owners around them! They were also rebuilding a pre-unit Triumph Twin live on the stand, with the aim of finishing it by the end of the nine-day show – no pressure then guys!
Krazy Horse had a wonderful Kiwi Indian on display, the Kiwi company produces brand-new bespoke Indians to your spec – the one on the stand was £38,000, but restoring an original could easily cost more.
Even our sister title, Back Street Heroes, had some classic customs on display, including a Norvin and a Triumph TR6-based bobber.
Although some thought the show a little quieter than previous years, it certainly showed that the classic scene is still buoyant, with the big manufacturers still placing a lot of eggs in the retro market, which is good news for all of us.