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4th November 2004

Opinion: 2004 NEC Show

It's Show Time! Is there anything of interest at the NEC for the Real Classic Motorcyclist? Real Mart pounds the halls so that you don't have to...

So that's the NEC out of the way for another year. Thank goodness. The classic world never seems to sit very comfortably within the organiser's view of motorcycling, and this year was no exception.

From the sublime to the ridiculous?

There was the "Carole Nash Classic Village", but with only a dozen stands perhaps "Classic Hamlet" might be closer to the truth. The Magazine Man was there (with copies of RealClassic Magazine given centre stage) and Another Magazine Publisher took up about a quarter of the remaining space, which left the centre of the area clear for a display of classic bikes. Which was fine in principle, but the labelling was a bit minimalist: Name of owner, marque of bike, date. Not enough to satisfy the curiousity of anyone who might take even a passing interest, and a bit half-hearted to my mind.

When bikes were brown...

The "Carole Nash Club Corner" (can you spot a trend here?) was little better, with the exception of the Honda Owners Club who had Tony Huck's Daytona winning 1970 CR750 racer, the Moto Guzzi club who had an interesting if obscure Galletto (or cockerel) 192cc single which has made six or seven trips back to Italy since being imported into the UK by it's present owner, and the Matchless and AJS club who had a man in a comedy hat.

When bikes were beige...

Apart from that? Well, there was a (maybe 'the') Mike Hailwood TT-Comeback Ducati 900SS on a clothing stall, and the National Motorcycle Museum had a pretty impressive display to remind us that they're reopening for business on the 1st of December.

It looks like the real thing, but I'm always suspicious of ex-race bikes. In my experience, they tend to be recycled rather than restored.

Yamaha's MTX-01 V-twin power cruiser was one of only a few new model launches, the new Triumph Speed Triple looks better in the metal than on the page (if you like that sort of thing; I do, and I'd have one), and there were a lot of BIG cruisers scattered about the place.

Will it have the attitude and performance to match the looks?

Yes, it's made of wood. But I bet it 'wooden' start. Sorry.Is it worth a visit? I go there to do business, as do most of the people there on Press and Trade day. If I didn't have to, I probably wouldn't, this year at least. There might be some bargains to be had at the end of the show, but the traders I spoke to were hoping to at least salvage some business from what has been a very quiet year; don't expect them to be clearing out old stock to make way for next season's latest fashions.

Exhibiting at the show is expensive, and this perhaps deters many of the smaller businesses that keep the wheels of the classic motorcycle industry turning. The danger is that this will limit the scope of the show so much that there'll be little to be seen there that couldn't be seen at any multi-franchised dealer on any weekend. Which would be a shame.

But let's finish on a more positive note. Just what could these gentlemen - who are admiring the Enfield Electra - be saying?

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