Motorcycle Live 2011

This week I flew to Birmingham for the annual Motorcycle Live Show at the NEC arena. The usual red-eye flight times operated by my favorite budget airline meant I had several hours to kill before the show opened, and so myself and good mate Adrian decided to tuck into what turned out to be the worse attempt at a breakfast I’ve ever had to hand over money for. Honestly, it was shocking. The upside would be that we would afterwards get to ride on the exciting and fabulous monorail that very handily connects Birmingham International Airport with the NEC, meaning you never actually have to set foot outside. Once¬†there I naturally expected to be greeted by all the latest and greatest machinery, but instead I was met by an extremely tasty collection of Yamaha’s most iconic championship winning motorcycles from the early 60’s right up to Jorge Lorenzo’s 2011 Moto GP mobile office.

Ducati’s stand was rammed as they unveiled their new 1199 Panigale

Surprisingly, despite having a new model R1 for this year, the main emphasis of their stand was more towards the rest of their range – particularly starter and commuter bikes. No bad thing really as over the last few years, the one litre category seems to be taking a hit as the public tend to go for more useable bikes that now can be just as much fun on a decent bit of tarmac. Still, interesting to see.

The only brand to really buck this trend was Ducati, who were unveiling their new 1199 Panigale. This looks like one serious bit of kit, and judging by the crowds on their stand they should be able to sell bucket loads of these things. As is the norm now for sportsbikes, the performance figures are mind-boggling but crucially (and it must be an Italian thing) the 1199 looks superb. I mean drop dead gorgeous. Their Corse version which essentially had their entire accessories catalogue thrown at it was the finest bit of two wheeled porn I’ve seen in a very long time.
Another big unveil was Triumph’s new Tiger Explorer. Aimed squarely at the BMW R1200 GS the new Tiger certainly looks the part and going on Triumph’s current form, could be on course to be the first bike in years to really stick it to the Germans. BMW, Harley-Davidson & Honda also had colossal stands displaying every single model currently produced, meaning that nobody was going to be left out. Also floating around the show were many recognizable faces from the world of racing, even Dani Perdosa was having a wander around and meeting fans throughout the day.
Triumph's big draw was their new Tiger 1200 Explorer

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