Published by Nick on November 22nd, 2011 - in NEWS

Despite the prescence of this iconic piece of kit…

… the NEC marathon inevitably had a kind of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ feel about it.

The industry still regard Milan and  Cologne as being more significant, Triumph choosing to debut their 2012 range at the former instead of their home show telling you all you need to know about priorities.  One of the most high profile newcomers in Milan didn’t even make it to the NEC (KTM’s funky battery driven Freeride). The fact is that the UK new bike market is not massively significant even in European terms, and manufacturers tend to play safe when it comes to major events. More disappointing was the lack of specialist component producers: no Ohlins, no Nitron,  no Talon, no K-Tech and so on.  Shows increasingly rely on retailers: Motorcycle Live is more shopping experience than exhibition. Even that aspect has been tarnished by cheaper online availability of many of the same products…  It’s very hard to justify the expense of an event like this if essentially one is paying to visit a motorcycle supermarket. Someone needs to think hard about the point of it all: even if you could justify the event on commercial grounds alone – and the 2010 event didn’t exactly set the market alight – there must be ways of improving the experience. If it has pretensions to being a National Motorcycling Exhibition, the emphasis needs to be focussed far more on the E word…

Fortunately, one or two exhibitors get it, aware  that they are exhibiting first and retailing second (and that one can lead to the other).  Yamaha, who have had a challenging twelve months, used the opportuniy to bring their 50th anniversary celebration bikes to the NEC. The compelling beauty of some of these justified the entrance money, as did Harris’ gorgeous Z1 road racer. You remember why you bother when you check out kit like this:

Harada’s champion bike, the 1993 TZ250M.  There was something incredibly special about that particular machine.  Like the mix of sophistication and simplicity.

Access to that kind of thing turns an event from a glorified shopping mall into something altogether more worthwhile. Those exhibitors who understood this take the plaudits from the NEC. Everyone else needs to think objectively about the formulaic nature of what they are offering. Show product, by all means, but go that bit further and you have the chance to earn respect. And in the long term, that could mean business.


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