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17th June 2004

Meldreth Manor Show

The Buntingford Branch of the Real Classic Club find their way to the Meldreth Bike Show. Eventually. After almost missing the signs marked 'Meldreth' and 'Bike Show'. RealMart ponders...

A scruffy BSA twin, a very shiny Triton, an even shinier Buell, a new Aprilia RSV, a well used Yamaha FZR, an indeterminate Ducati Monster, a ubiquitous Suzuki SV650, a nondescript Suzuki RF900, a Yamaha FJR with all the luggage, a Yamaha Virago with all the tassels, a black and patinated AJS single and a pride-and-joy Peugeot Speedfight scooter.

All of life is here. And most of it is squeezed into a small field at the Meldreth Manor bike show. The field in question is supposed to be for classics and members of the AJS and Matchless club, but we all know how difficult it is to define a classic from the comfort of a swivel chair, let alone when faced with an off duty solicitor on his Harley or the disabled rider of a modern trike. Throw in a queue of riders out for the first ride of the year on unfamiliar machines, ask them for three quid while they attempt to juggle tickoverless throttles, grabby clutches and loose gear levers in the search for missing neutrals, and the consequences are inevitable. One overheated and bad tempered Vincent single rider takes it out on the polite but overwhelmed Santa-Claus look-alike marshal on the gate: "You tw@t! You've made me stall it now…" Oh dear. Bad day at the office, maybe?

The man on the right has spotted the Norton rider's brown Hush Puppies. Ridden far?

So it's not long before the "classic" field is overflowing, and the real classics are being filtered down a corridor of ale supping and burger consuming spectators. Thinking about it, this procession is the real Meldreth show. The bikes are all moving past the crowd under their own steam, a two (sometimes three) wheeled parade as diverse as you could hope for. By eight in the evening it's impossible to get into the barn to see the static displays, the classic field entrance is jammed solid, and still bikes are streaming in.

The production versions of Triumph's new Rocket III (right) look much less impressive than the show prototypes. Benelli TNT on the left.

Photographing anything other than people's elbows becomes impossible, so I retire with my sausage and chips and consider the bikes lined up opposite the Real Classicists collection of Morinis, Enfields and people called Paul. A man with a clipboard is peering at each bike in the field in turn and making earnest notes. He's either judging the bikes in search of some sort of winner, or collecting registration numbers in the hope of compiling a definitive list of every single motorcycle in the British Isles. Good luck to him; let's hope it's the latter, as the former must be all but impossible.

BMW K1200RS, Suzuki RG500 Gamma... and too many people.

The Meldreth show is a big event. It's a bit too big for its current format, but it's a great excuse for a ride out on a sunny evening. I just wonder where all the people who dust off the Bonnevilles and Harleys for this one June Wednesday hide for the rest of the year…

Enough of my musings, though. Here are some more photos:

The seventies seems much funkier from a distance. Kawa Triple for RealMart next? This lot arrived before the Classic field got swamped with the misfits and the modern

Got to be there early to get shots like this. There was an indoor display in the barn. Leather saddlebags rubbed shoulders with aftermarket fibreglass...

Less is more. ...and the Harris brothers showed off a tasty F2 Replica Ducati and a lot of very shiny aluminium things

Sandwiched between a ZX12R and a Hayabusa trike... BSA 650 Firebird, from a time when brown was cool.

Supermoto starts here... Metisse Triumph finds some room to accelerate

Finally, a use for recycled No Parking cones has been found... From men in flat caps and yellow three-wheelers to Angels in colours, all of life is here

Any more hidden local shows?


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