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27th October 2005

2005 NEC International Motorcycle Show

It's the hottest October day since 1969, so Martin Gelder hops in the car and heads for the NEC and several motorway tailbacks. He gets hot and bothered, but Triumphs are Cool. Official...

Just got back from Press Day at the NEC. If you've been before, you don't know need me to tell you what it's like. Imagine the last NEC show you went to, bump up the prices of the refreshments, and you've pretty much got the picture.

Carole Nash have some stunning fantasy bikes on their stand, there's a Classic Village where you can buy custom fitted ear plugs and reflective stickers or admire the hard work of the Suzuki SV Owners Club and Yamaha XJR Owners Club, and there are some surprisingly tasty custom bikes. There are also some surprisingly taste-less ones, as well.

Tasteful or Tasteless?

There's stall after stall selling cheap waterproofs, end-of-season gloves (and gauntlets), multi-coloured boots and tacky looking helmets at top secret prices. And there are - on press day only, I'm afraid - dozens of cavorting girls in stretchy costumes. Marvellous.

More right boots than you can shake a sock at. Jerry?

For me it's an opportunity to "network" with colleagues and clients, catching up on the Musical Chairs gossip that defines the motorcycle racing off-season (Vermeulen to Suzuki, Toseland to Ten Kate, Ellison to make up his mind soon) and speculating about what the new year will bring.

But this year was different.

This year I ended up bouncing up and down on the seats of a couple new bikes, flicking switches, pulling levers and making brumm -brumm noises. And the weird thing? Both bikes were on the same stand, from the same manufacturer, but are about as different from each as it is possible to get while still remaining motorcycles.

Triumphs are Cool. Take a bow, the Daytona 675 Triple, and the Scrambler 900.

Daytona 675 Triple. Mmmmmm.

The Daytona 675 is as tasty as anything else on sale at the moment. To me, it's right up there with modern MV Agustas; tautly focussed form-follows-function design, single minded and apparently conceived without reference to the rest of the market. Throwing a 675-triple in to the 600-four marketplace represents a bold move by Triumph, but judging by pre-orders they've hit the spot.

Scambler 900. Ahhhhhhh.

The Scrambler 900 appears, on paper, to be little more than a Hinckley Bonneville with muddy boots and some kinky pipes. In the metal it seems to be much, much more. It doesn't feel as serious or as stuffy as the rest of the T100 twin range; you sit on it and you know it'll be fun to ride. Only a fool would take it off road, but if I had to commute through city streets or country back roads every day, I'd want one in the garage. Somehow it manages to be cool in a way that the Paul Smith painted Bonnevilles and the "Tribal" Rocket IIIs will never be.

Triumph by Paul Smith. Proof that when you try to be cool, you aren't?

I was so surprised to find myself fired up by an NEC new bike launch that I came over all professional and tracked down Bruno Tagliaferri, Triumph's Sales and Marketing man.

Over to you Bruno: "We're in three different markets already; the custom cruiser sector [Rocket III, etc.], the modern classics, with possibly the best range of modern classics out there [the twins] and the urban sports range [the Sprints and Speed Triples]. The 675 is very much a back to the drawing board project, with a lot of emphasis on styling, spec and technology. It's very light and very quick, and a lot more purposeful. Most of the people who've put advanced orders in for the 675 are already Triumph owners. We get tremendous loyalty from our customers; we get people buying who had a Triumph 30 years ago, and also people who got their first Triumph a year or two ago."

New Triumphs. Cool.

Nothing on there that doesn't need to be.
It's a tough job, but...
Random Bonnie Stuff on


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