Last weekend I went for my annual trip to the NEC bike show. All in, it was good – not amazing but still enjoyable. I mostly went to have a look at all the new bikes and sit on a few, you know, making vroom vroom noises as you do, not so much to grab a bargain or watch any of the interviews or shows. I would definitely have torn up the minimoto track if they’d had one this year (& probably severely bruised both elbows as usual), but they didn’t.
Obviously, I took a camera to try and get a few shots.
I’ll start with the good bits…
Stand-out of the show for me, without a shadow of a doubt (and it pains me to say this), was the Harley Davidson stand. Not so much because of all the amazing bikes, because, come on… they’re Harleys… but the stand itself was just so cool. It was done out like the inside of a bar, dark and cosy, with comfy sofas, table football, a DJ booth, funky lighting… all very cool.
In terms of bikes, I think the highlights were (in no particular order):
I love this bike – it looks absolutely fantastic and like it’s doing 160mph standing still. There was only one on the stand though and people were all over it all day so it was hard to find time to sit on it or photograph it. They definitely should have had another one in the white & neon yellow colour scheme.
They had a few of these, in black & green, winter test & white options. I really liked it in white and it felt like I was sat on something a little different; I can’t put my finger on why but thought a lot of the new bikes (the Blade, GSXR, Panigale…) felt virtually the same when sat on them.
Norton V4 RR & SS
These were behind a rope barrier so you couldn’t sit on them but they still looked cool. The RR (super shiny one) has a Union Jack flag on the tail unit; not being a massive fan of nationalism, I definitely wouldn’t want the Union Jack plastered all over my bike, but apart from that, I liked it.
This looked very cool and the exhausts look awesome. On the downside, the paint-scheme is more orangey than the lustrous red of the Panigale so I wasn’t a massive fan of the colour close-up.
Kawasaki H2 Carbon
I know this isn’t to everyone’s taste but I love how different it is to everything else out there and respect Kawasaki for having the balls to pull something like this off. I’d definitely have one, even if it was just for a year or so.
Not a superbike, admittedly, but this was actually really interesting. A slightly bizarre version of a cruiser with monkey hangers, it looked modern, retro, funky, and bad-ass all in one. Expect this to be a big seller due to its broad appeal.
Urban Tiger Blade (early version)
This was on a pedestal highlighting the evolution of the Blade from ’92 to ’17 & looked really cool 3m up.
This was presented next to Marquez’s racebike so you could see how closely the designs match. Amazing looking gas Ohlins forks & very expensive Brembo brake set-up, coupled with typical Honda engineering quality in the swingarm, footrests, and what you could see of the engine. Definitely want a go round Spa on one!
Maybe because they’d already shown it a year ago, but I found this underwhelming. It looks ok but I think they should have released it earlier this year when the hype was still quite high.
Slightly uninspiring colours and a fairly uninteresting stand made this a bit of a let-down. I walked past the matt black one three times before I realised it was a Blade. The main SP Blade was on a bit of a pedestal and was clearly the main focus of the stand. It did look quite nice, but I sat on it and thought it felt exactly like any other generic modern sportsbike.
Although I’m a big fan of these, I really think they need some better paint-schemes to stand out a bit more. They don’t look dated, per se, but they don’t look much different to the first versions.
Aside from the bike stands, I also spent some time on the Arai stand looking at the new range (I’m a massive Arai fan, if that hasn’t come across before now) and now have an extra 2 on the list of ones I want… disappointingly, they were all restrained so I couldn’t try any on – probably the first bike show I’ve been to where I haven’t tried on a dozen helmets!
Next is to arrange a ZX10 and R6 test ride… watch this space!