A whopping 107,072 motorcycle fans had passed through the doors of Motorcycle Live earlier this month, by the time the show closed its doors at the end of day nine last Sunday. There were plenty of standout highlights – not least the rampant strength of British marques – and a few honorary Brits – with Triumph showing more than a dozen new models, Norton revealing 50th Anniversary Commandos and new California, CCM unveiling their new FT6, Brough Superior’s public debut of the new Pendine Sand Racer, and Brit- developed new Royal Enfield 650s getting plenty of attention.
There was no shortage of supporting roles either, with Ariel, Herald, Metisse, Mac, Scomadi, and Watsonian-Squire all proving that the UK is a hotbed for motorcycle talent once again. Among the halls bursting with new metal was another unmissable highlight, as Suzuki embarked on their third show-build to promote their Vintage Parts Programme.
Previous years have seen the team build a TL1000S from scratch, followed by a stunning GSX-R750F restoration last year – but this year’s was something really special: Kevin Schwantz’s 1989 Pepsi Suzuki RGV500 grand prix bike – on which he won the 1989 British Grand Prix. It was one of Schwantz’s most successful partnerships, with the RGV only finishing first (six times) or second More than 107,000 people crammed the NEC for Motorcycle Live 2017 (three times), or not at all, throughout 1989.
Unfortunately, it was the six ‘not at alls’ that meant he ended the year fourth in the title fight. Starting with the legendary bike stripped to a bare frame for the start of Motorcycle Live, it was then meticulously rebuilt by top classic racing technician Nathan Columbi.
Suzuki GB aftersales marketing coordinator, Tim Davies, said of the project: “Kevin Schwantz is still, undoubtedly, a legend among motorcyclists in the UK; we saw that with his presence at British Grand Prix at Silverstone earlier this year. His 1989 RGV500 is an iconic machine and this is the first time we’ve restored a legendary race bike like this, allowing us to highlight just how many genuine Suzuki parts can be ordered through the Vintage Parts Programme.”
The next major UK show kicks off in February at London’s ExCeL when the Carole Nash MCN London Show rolls into town for three days of motorcycle heaven.
MCN Senior Road Tester at this year's show
Overview of Motorcycle Live 2017 – New metal everywhere!
Arguably the most popular attraction for the thousands of bike fans who flood through the doors of Motorcycle Live every year is the chance to see the brand-new machinery from the world’s leading motorcycle manufacturers, on display in the UK for the very first time. There was at least 40 manufacturers appearing this year – many fresh of the back of Eicma's launches in Milan – that’s a whole lot of new metal for visitors to feast your eyes on.
FMX Live presented by Arenacross UK made a return to Motorcycle Live for one final time, as they completed a three-year tenure. The extreme freestyle motocross spectacle went out with a bang, ramping up the live action to present their biggest, loudest and most insane show! The 30-minute show left even the most hardcore of FMX fans on the edge of their seats.
Eurosport Entertainment Zone featuring the Blackhorse Stage
The Eurosport Entertainment Zone featuring the Black Horse Stage once again occupied the heart of Motorcycle Live and provided non-stop entertainment all day, every day. Visitors enjoyed quizzes and game shows, plus daily Q&As with racing stars from MotoGP, World and British Superbikes, the Isle of Man TT and Speedway – all hosted with a healthy dose of witty banter.
Custom Xtreme – Supported by Back Street Heroes
The Custom Xtreme Zone supported by Back Street Heroes proudly displayed a vast array of choppers, bobbers, streetfighters, trikes, café racers, street scramblers, flat trackers, brats and rats from some of Britain’s best bike builders. Visitors saw the eye-catching creations that months of blood, sweat and tears have produced in the Back Street Heroes Custom Bike Building Championship.
Isle of Man TT feature
It was a bucket list event for most bike fans who got to immerse themselves in all things TT. On-board laps played all week, memorabilia was on sale, fans chatted to the event organisers and met a whole procession of TT stars.
Classic Feature – supported by The National Motorcycle Museum
The Classic Feature supported by The National Motorcycle Museum demonstrates Britain’s proud history of motorcycle production. For 2017, the theme was adventure and off-road machinery as The NMM showcased a cross-section of its vast inventory of scramblers, trials bikes and speedway racers, as well early examples of adventure road models. There was also another live restoration taking place throughout the show.
BMW GS Experience
The BMW GS Experience added a touch of adventure and excitement to Motorcycle Live, giving punters the chance to learn and try some of the handling techniques taught at Simon Pavey’s world-famous BMW Off Road Skills school using BMW GS motorcycles. The team from BMW Rider Training offered the opportunity to experience motorcycling and enhance show-goers' skills with activities for all riders, whether a complete beginner or a seasoned rider.
Test Ride Zone
The Test Ride Zone returned, thanks to Shoei, Sidi and Spada with a great line up of bikes from the leading manufacturers. Along with a free ride, all Shoei, Sidi and Spada safety equipment was provided by an experienced product technician.
Two Wheel Taster with Get On
The industry-backed Get On campaign offered free 20-minute taster sessions on a 125cc scooter or motorcycle in a private, indoor area with expert tuition from fully trained instructors. Thousands of visitors have been taking advantage of the Get On feature in the last few years, with many getting the biking bug and going on to gain their full motorcycle licence.
ACU Try Trials
The ACU once again be teamed up with Bumpy (Birstall Urban Motorcycle Project for Youth) to provide visitors with the opportunity to learn the basics of trials riding in a free 15-minute session with direction and guidance from an ACU-certified instructor. There was also demonstrations by the experts throughout each day to showcase the capabilities of the bikes and the skill of the riders.
The popular Harley-Davidson Jumpstart returned to give non-riders, or even bikers who have never experienced a Harley before, the chance to get to grips with one of the machines on a rolling road including acceleration, clutch control and gear changes.
Experience Adventure supported by Honda, KTM and Triumph returned by popular demand for a second year. A bike skills course designed to introduce riders to their first taste of adventure riding, including tuition on bike set-up, body positioning and balance across a number of testing terrains. Punters chose from a range of stunning adventure machines from the line-up of manufacturers and were even kitted out with the latest protective kit provided by Bell Helmets and Fly.
Strider Adventure Zone
Brand-new for 2017was The Strider Adventure Zone, which provided a safe and friendly environment with ramps, seesaws and rumble strips that encouraged kids to explore mobility on two wheels. Children aged 18 months to five years test rode a Strider in an exclusive cordoned off area.
Yamaha Dark Side MT Tour
The popular Yamaha ‘Dark Side MT Tour’ made its final stop of the season at Motorcycle Live, with the giant truck taking centre stage for the MT Tour display with its Dark Side branding and collection of MT clothing and accessories, plus accessorised MT Tour bikes. Punters experienced the full range of new MT models.
Youth AX Experience
For older children, a full-powered Youth Arenacross Experience made its debut at Motorcycle Live, with two mini-AX dirt tracks suitable for first-time and intermediate
riders aged between four and 12. Partnered with electric bike manufacturer,
Kuberg, the limited-edition Arenacross Range of bikes were available to ride and kids were kitted out in the latest AX-branded MX kit.