Palace pulls out all the stops

Published: 01 February 2003

Snow caused chaos last week and hit attendance at MCN’s Road Racing and Superbike Show at London’s Alexandra Palace.

The show had started strongly with record crowds on the opening weekend but on Thursday snow struck and many bikers were forced in some extreme cases to abandon their machines by the side of the road and make for the nearest garage or hotel.

The A1 and M4 were littered with abandoned motorcycles as riders gave up trying to ride the ice-pack. The AA reported 4000 calls and Cambridgeshire police had 1130 emergency calls between 2pm Thursday and 6am Friday.

Show organiser Charley Davies said: " The show went ahead despite very difficult conditions. The total attendance for the nine days was 55,000 – it was 62,000 last year. Considering we had a decimated attendance on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that’s actually amazingly good. If the snow had not hit I am sure we would have smashed last year’s figures. "

But the treacherous conditions didn’t stop an ex-Alex Barros NSR500V getting sold for £30,000! The bike, ridden by Barros in the 1996 500 GP campaign, was on the Rod Harwin stand. The buyer, Andy MacDonald, plans to race the 170bhp beast in the Bemsee club’s Supertwins series!

The show was packed to the rafters with out of this world specials with plenty to be had if you just happened to have £20,000 sitting in the back pocket of your jeans.

London based Ducati specialists Casoli had brought with them the bike that the 999 should have been. Carbon bodywork with enhanced aerodynamics, single sided swingarm, indicators invisible to the untrained eye, and a whole host of the usual upgrades for wheels forks and suspension all added up to a pretty unique £21,000 one-off.

Continuing the road racer theme, Powerhouse Motorcycles of Kent had £16,000 pounds worth of full on R1 on show. The bike had been treated to complete workover with stage one cams, Akrapovic full exhaust, and Power Commander IIIR engine management system all combining to provide the Yamaha with total of 160bhp at the rear wheel. The rest of the bike also got a bit of work put in to it with enough fat cut out to bring the weight down to 156kg – 18kg of standard.

There were some other slightly more realistic exotica on offer at the show too. The final production version of the £11,200 Benelli Tre Novocento made its UK debut and Roger Baker, of importers Three Cross Motorcycles, said: " We’ve already taken four orders and there’s been loads of interest. We have also taken test ride bookings that should see us stacked out for about another month. "

There was a fair bit to see for the Supermoto fan as well with the KTM factory sending over the first of 25 Thierry van den Bosch LC4 replicas to come off the production line. In full racing trim the 660 machine will set you back a measly £13,000. For those slightly better endowed in the baby making department there was also Powerhouse Motorcycles second offering, again, a KTM LC4, but this time with the little addition of a nitrous kit sitting alongside a total of nearly £5,000 worth of extras.

The show finished on Sunday with the final of the MCN Babes competition which saw 10 girls picked to work for a year at major motorcycling events across the UK. The Babe final was the culmination of a packed programme and on Wednesday Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson took part in some chat shows and autograph signing sessions.