I haven't been to the NEC show for over twenty years so I thought it was about time, I rode up on the Tiger, a bit chilly and the wind was very blustery but saved me a considerable amount in fuel compared to driving the Land Rover.
Getting in was a bit involved but glad I didn't take a car as I sailed past the couple of miles of queing traffic and it cost them £8 to park.... another saving!
Another advantage was that the bike parking was not only free but indoors, so was able to do a quick change act in the bike park and get rid of most of my bike gear in the panniers/top box.
First stop was the Yamaha stand as it was not far from the entrance and obviously I was drawn to the Adventure bikes, so ignoring the R1 and the other race replicas I found a nicely prepped XTZ660Tenere
Followed by a similarly prepped 1200 Super Tenere and I must say that the Yamaha "Speed Block" graphics still look really fresh despite having been designed back in the '70s.
And lastly a rather special Super Tenere, Nick Saunders' bike that was used on his record breaking attempt to ride the length of the Americas in both directions. Although he also "warmed up" on his way to the start in Alaska by riding up from Argentina. So this bike has ridden from the ends of the American continent no less than three times, not looking too bad for it.
Yamaha had a large display of race bikes from their 50 years of racing but I was disapointed to see they were all track bikes, I thought they might have included some of their Dakar winning bikes?
Next stop was stumbled on by accident, I came across the Dutch Track bikes, a diesel powered bike that I had only seen on the internet. Using a derivitive of the three cylinder diesel engine from the Smart Car complete with CVT gearbox, this bike is capable of 100mpg!!! so with a 20 litre tank has a theoretical range of 400 miles (I hope the seat's comfy).
Not entirely sure about the looks but I was able to sit on the bike that unlike most was not bolted down to the ground. It carries the weight low and felt nicely balanced, although the "missing" clutch lever felt a bit odd.
The bikes do look nicely built with high quality components (White Power Suspension, Brembo brakes) but still the inevitable signs of a hand built small volume product, the wiring could have been tidier although being a diesel, there's not much of it. The company now importing them into the UK will have demo bikes available in the new year. I was invited down to their base in Dorset to try one out, although they also mentioned the price.... £16,000 seems a bit steep to me!
I then found myself on the Kreiga stand chatting to Craig Bounds, fresh back from his trip to the Himalayas with partner Tamsin Jones. They had ben attempting to beat the world altitude record for a motorbike and although they were not successful, Tams did set a new Everest record for a woman at 5359m.
On the stand they had a wonderful "old school" BMW R80GS, just like the one I started my serious green laning on, although this one had been upgrade considerably.... luverly!
Well that's all for now folks..... to be continued