Motorcycle Live Show 2023: NEC Birmingham

Motorcycle shows – what can I say? For me, after the first few when I had just discovered riding and a whole new world of bikes and kit, the experience has tended to not live up to the expectation. Not quite. Unless you have something particular you are gong for, like having moulds taken of your ears for earplugs or trying on a particular helmet for size, in which case you have a mission. So I have to ask myself, what do I expect? I will return to that later.

The main attraction of course is the bikes, all those bikes that whizz past on YouTube videos of adventurers are there for you to climb on, get a sense of their height, their bulk, maybe, or lack of it. The main distraction is the crowds of other people. Take four fifths of them away and I think I would be in heaven.

Here are some of my favourites

The bike that attracted the biggest crowds was the new large GS from BMW, the 1300. BMW seem to have done the impossible – or difficult – of updating an adventure bike and not coming up with something heavier. Is it good looking? I’m not sure.

It seemed that the old favourites, like the GS, attracted the crowds while stalls offering new concepts like electric bikes or even a folding motorcycle (like my Brompton) were often empty. I wish I had spent more effort talking with the people on those stands. Most markets, I presume, are conservative, offering what they know that people already have an appetite for and will buy, so new ideas and the people that back them are more risky, more innovative and ought to be more interesting. Next year maybe.