International Motorcycle Show
1994 - NEC Birmingham
I had sort-of arranged a lift with fellow WMA member John Yeates, up to the show on Sunday 13th, the last day. He was going to ring me and provide directions to his house. He hadn't called by Friday evening, I phoned him, but he was out, so I left a message. On Saturday I called him again and was told "Oh, he is away this weekend". So I decided to go it alone - but only if the weather was OK on Sunday.
As it turned out Sunday was just about bearable, weather-wise. I set off about nine and arrived at the NEC about eleven. After parking my bike with quite a few others (and paying £2 for the privilege), I joined the long trek all the way to the main hall complex. As I had bought my ticket in advance, (thanks to the coupon as advertised in the last gazette), I walked straight in, but at that time of day there weren't too many people in my way.
After visiting a few stalls, and noting prices of bits, I stopped for refreshments, (I always take my own supplies to events like this as the prices are usually ludicrous), before returning to the stalls that had the best prices for the bits I wanted. 'Oxford' heated handlebars, (I was beginning to miss my old BMW), and a 'Bob Heath Jetflip' visor for my helmet, (my goggles tend to press onto my glasses causing unnecessary discomfort) - and set off to look at the bikes on display. I was tempted to buy one of the T-shirts that I had previously seen on sale at the BMF rally - "It's not IF ... It's WHEN and HOW BAD" - particularly appropriate in my case, but the price put me off, £18 is just too much for a T-shirt!
The bikes on most of the stands were pretty predictable really, the only one that sticks in my mind was the new Triumph Thunderbird, a real retro-style machine which looks every bit the sixties street racer it is named after, with completely modern engine, handling and brakes. All this time the number of visitors to the show was growing, and every time I tried to move to the next stand 300 or so people seemed to converge on me, and they all seemed extremely annoyed when I tried to get past them. A lot of the stands had advertising videos running, and as people are drawn to TVs these days, the crowds grew to about six deep whenever there was one running, making it even more difficult to get around. I wasn't interested in most of the new bikes there, but I did get a couple of shots of a trike called "Carcass", for obvious reasons, and a heavily modified Norton Rotary.
I didn't see any other WMA members there that day, (even John), although I did bump into a couple of ex-members, who said they had only seen one. They also said that there were 'a coach load' of their 'breakaway' patch club at the show, but I have to admit that apart from themselves, and a couple of unknown bods I only identified because of their patches, I didn't see very many of them.
I had to get out of the hall in the end; I just couldn't stand the crush. I made my way back to my bike, loaded my purchase into the pannier, fixed the new visor to my helmet for the trip home, and then joined the queue to get out of the car park. This was caused by the security checks before we were allowed to leave, the guy next to me in the queue actually complained about the delay, some people are never happy. Personally I was glad they were being so stringent, because at a bike show at Earls Court some years ago one of my friends had a Gold Wing 'removed', and we were only parked a few yards from the security office.
It was very windy on the way home, but the visor provided ample protection, it just made it a bit more difficult to hear my stereo - it's tough at the top!
Phil Drackley - Phil the Spill