This weekend sees the welcome return of the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show, an event whose enticing mix of new bikes, classic splendours and fume-spewing live action is again set to provide some capital entertainment. As Excel London prepares to throw open its doors to the biking hordes, we thought a cheeky preview of the delights in store was in order…
It’s gonna be Foggy in The Smoke
Whilst Interflora and Hallmark get all excited about some romantically themed event, back in the biking world, February 14th this year is recognised only as Foggy Friday. That’s because the legendary racer will be in town to mark the 20th anniversary of the first of four WSB titles he captured in his 90s heyday. As well as the great man himself, ExCeL will be blessed by the championship winning Ducatis he rode in ’94, ’95, ’98 and ’99 – the bikes upon which he became WSB’s greatest ever rider. Flown in from Bologna’s Ducati museum, the mighty machines will be on display for the full weekend, but you’ll need to make a date with Foggy Friday to catch Carl himself.
A classic contest
London is also the venue for the finals of the infamous Classic Bike of the Year competition. All ten bikes that have reached the climactic conclusion of the contest will be on display, giving visitors to the Classic Zone the chance for a first hand appraisal before they cast their vote in person (you can also join the ballot online here). A varied collection of gems have made it to the last mile of this marathon competition, including a Graeme Balshaw’s Ducati Hailwood replica which took second place in 2009 Britain’s Got Biking Talent, Bill Higginson’s Norton 16H/Matchless MX2 hybrid 1938 “Norton Superior” and Dave Orritt’s ultra-rare UK spec ’73 Kawasaki Z1.
Top Gear’s savvy presenter and all round affable auto aficionado James May is making his motorcycling mark on the London show. The telly favourite has teamed up with specialist Honda parts and restoration expert, David Silver, to showcase 12 of the manufacturer’s models, drawn from the pair’s personal collections. The models on display will highlight what established Honda during the so-called golden era, otherwise known as the time Japan took on and conquered the UK bike industry. Feature models include May’s 1975 CB400F, a 1960 CS71Dream, 1963 C92 and a 1970 CB750K0.
If you’re visiting the show, use your head and get yourself in with a chance to win a Shark helmet each day! This comes courtesy of Carole Nash who, in return for getting a motorcycle insurance quote, will stick your name in the prize draw hat**. We will be handing out free biking booty, including the Carole Nash calendar featuring stunning photographs of the 12 Built In Britain finalists. We will also be showing off our new Classic, Vintage and Future Classic policies. They’re worth checking out with, for example, the latter giving bikes as young as 10 years old access to classic rates and, therefore, potentially significant savings.
Holding the Ace
We are also holding the Ace, or, to be more precise, the super limited Ace 904S Thruxton Special, described by the Mirror as “the most perfect incarnation yet of a very fine motorcycle.” One of just 15 of the individually numbered bikes to be manufactured will take pride of place on our stand, so catch it while you can. Excepting the Thruxton E1 chassis and heavily modified engine, every part of the all-British machine has been specially manufactured, with the suspension by Oxford’s Nitro, electronic dash by Kent-based Quickshifter and paint by county compatriot, Darren Horton. A collaboration between Tony Scott’sT3 Racing and the Ace Cafe’s own Stonebridge Motor Company, the bike is as British as a dalek serving afternoon tea, even boasting an anglophilic roar courtesy of its handbuilt pipes. If it tickles your patriotic fancy then set aside 18,500 of your English pounds!
Passing through customs
A visit to the Custom Zone is even more of a must this year as it hosts the London Custom Bike Championship, a new contest whose European-topping £12,000 prize fund has attracted an impressive field. Among them you’ll find many bikes from many renowned UK builders such as Destiny Cycles, Lamb Engineering and Shaw Harley-Davidson, plus Irish duo Don Cronin and Michael O’Shea whose AMD World Championship winning Medaza Rondine must surely be a London title favourite?
A beautiful bloomin’ Rose
Talking of the multi-trophy-taking Destiny Cycles, the North Yorkshire custom house is showing off its international Best In Show winner, Rose Tattoo. Created in a build-off at the French Car Show, the lithe, skinny, cream-skinned machine – think biking’s Kate Moss –swiftly took top honours at the 2011 Punta Bagna show. Its high neck, tube down Sportster frame and engine is complemented by coalhouse rescued vintage girder forks, refurbished auto-jumbled calipers and discs with a front wheel styled from a Talon motocross sidecar hub spoked to a Honda CB350 rim. Stunningly detailed, the bike is finished with a deft paint job featuring various tattoo inspired graphics. Catch it on our stand.
It’s time for a little Revolution
“The time is right for a little revolution” gently spat influential psychedelic indie rock combo Spacemen 3 back in 1988. Well, 24 years later we think the time is right for a generous dollop of Revolution. We speak not of an anarchic threat to government and ‘The Man’ but the home of roaring and competitive live action at ExCeL. This year sees six race legends forming two teams to do battle over a challenging obstacle-strewn course. Taking part in the fast and furious – albeit friendly furious – action will be team captains Michael Dunlop and John McGuiness together with Ian Hutchinson, Phil McCallen, Michael Ritter and Jamie Whitham. It promises to be more fun than getting water-cannoned by Boris Johnson and entry is free with your show ticket.
This year’s model
When the biking history books are written which of the many new machines launched for 2014 will go down as this year’s model? Hard to say, but you’ll be better placed to firm an opinion after visiting the London show, which will play host to the finest of the fresh-faced debutantes. Among contenders will undoubtedly be BMW’s R nineT, the gorgeous retro-modern air and oil cooled flat twin which earned a gushing MCN review peppered with superlatives such as “extremely cool” and “bloody fantastic!”. Also in the mix expect to find Yamaha’s MT07, Ducati’s 1199 Superleggera, Kawasaki’s Z1000 and Honda’s CBR1000RRSP. There’s more of course with Harley-Davidson, Indian, KTM, Royal Enfield, Triumph and Victory also showing off their latest wares.
* The Carole Nash London Motorcycle Show takes place at London ExCeL Arena, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL from Friday February 14th – Sunday February 16th. Tickets on the door cost £20 for adults, £12 for seniors with kids under 15 going free. The show is open 10am-5pm on Friday, 9am-6pm Saturday and 9am-5pm Sunday. Bike parking is free. For more details visit http://www.mcnmotorcycleshow.com.
** T&C’s apply, visit https://www.carolenash.com/terms