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|Subject: London Motorcycle Show preview Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:11 am|| |
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The Triumph Tiger will be one of the stars of the London Motorcycle Show
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Kawasaki Z1000SX: real-world practicality matched to high performance
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Kawasaki W800: retro-style parallel twin with a useful increase in capacity
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Ducati Diavel: light, agile handling in the muscle-bike class
London Motorcycle Show preview
Looking forward to all the star machines and attractions you’ll be able to see at the London Motorcycle Show at the ExCeL Centre
The London Motorcycle Show opens at the ExCeL Centre on February 3,
bringing a host of 2011 models to the capital for the first time. There
are some exciting bikes, too, including the new six-cylinder BMWs,
Ducati’s controversial Diavel, Triumph’s new 800 Tigers, the latest
entry-level Harley SuperLow, the country’s best-selling scooter from
Yamaha, Honda’s fabulous-looking CBR600F and the beautifully constructed
There are many other attractions, including regular interviews with
motorcycle celebrities, the MCN Babes fashion show, an auction for the
Riders for Health charity, Classic Bike of the Year judging, films,
quizzes, competitions and more.
Running alongside the main event is MCN’s Revolution Show, in which some
of the world’s greatest riders face up to each other on a specially
constructed course, while stunt stars perform breathtaking tricks. Look
out for Kevin Schwantz, Freddie Spencer, Randy Mamola, Neil Hodgson,
Francesco Chili, TT lap record holder John McGuinness and 12 times world
trials champion Dougie Lampkin.
If there was a prize for most improved manufacturer in the last few
years, Kawasaki would stand a strong chance of winning. The Akashi
manufacturer has one of the strongest line-ups for decades and deserves
to do especially well in 2011. Interestingly, Kawasaki is aligning
itself increasingly with the European rather than Japanese manufacturers
as an enthusiast brand rather than including utility machines in its
range, and it certainly has the bikes to back that up.
At the top of the range is the stunning ZX-10R superbike, the first
Oriental rival to have a serious tilt at BMW’s dominant S1000RR. While
it might just fall short in terms of outright power, it has a sublime
chassis, aggressive but well balanced looks and the best traction
control system of any production bike.
Bikes such as this are becoming a little too extreme for many riders,
however, which is why Kawasaki introduced the Z1000SX, a derivation of
the highly effective Z1000 streetfighter with full bodywork and
real-world practicality matched to high, but not intimidating,
There’s plenty of interest at the gentler end of Kawasaki’s range,
particularly in the W800, a retro Sixties British parallel twin-style
bike. The styling is stunning and the larger capacity means it should be
a more satisfying ride than the W650 it’s based on – the bike should be
a serious rival to Triumph’s Bonneville, especially since Kawasaki has
real authenticity in this area because it used to make a BSA-derived
twin in the Sixties.
Cruiser fans will want to see the thoroughly convincing Voyager Custom
featuring the latest stripped down 'bagger’ look, while the Versys has
stood out since the debut of its 2010 update as arguably the best
middleweight all-rounder you can buy. Commuters after a sportier style
should take a look at the Ninja 250, which manages an easy 80mpg and
costs only £4,500.
Three new bikes from Ducati, two with a familiar look and one that’s
very, very different. The 848 Evo has been around since the summer,
while the 1198 SP is the flagship superbike from Bologna and includes an
ultra-high spec with Öhlins suspension, Brembo radial brakes,
quick-shift gear changing and traction control.
However, all eyes will be on the amazing new Diavel, Ducati’s take on
the musclebike class currently defined by the Yamaha V-Max and
Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Despite its hunkered down, muscular mien, the
Ducati is more than 200lb lighter than the Yamaha and promises matching
performance, with far more agile handling. Read the first review in
Telegraph Motoring straight after the show!
Many showgoers will be interested in checking the highly successful
Multistrada, new for 2010 and sold out for much of the year thanks to
its amazingly versatile electronics package that alters suspension
settings, engine map, traction control. For 2011 it has ABS, too, all
simultaneously at the press of a button.
Another huge draw are BMW’s all-new six-cylinder touring bikes, the
K1600GT and K1600GTL. They are based on the same engine and basic
chassis, but the GTL is dressed up as a full tourer while the slightly
leaner GT is for sportier riders. At the core is BMW’s first
six-cylinder motorcycle engine, which the company claims will be
impressively economical as well as laden with torque.
There’s plenty of other astonishing new technology too, including
headlights which keep producing a horizontal beam even when the bike is
leaning over for corners, a fully integrated satnav which even tells you
the nearest fuel station when your tank is nearing empty, and special
fins on the luggage which reduce swirling at the rear to help keep the
back of the bike clean!
While you’re there, why not swing a leg over the S1000RR and imagine
what it’s like hanging on to the fastest production superbike – 200bhp
unleashed at the flick of the wrist.
The Hinckley factory is the most successful manufacturer of bikes over
500cc in the UK at the moment, thanks to the diversity and sheer quality
of its range. The latest additions are two middleweight adventure
bikes, the Tiger 800 and 800XC, pitched directly at BMW’s F800GS. We’ve
ridden them and rate them as class leaders already, and we’re taking one
as a long-term test bike in 2011.
The three-cylinder, 800cc Tiger makes a fine touring bike in general
road use but, as any adventure bike should be, it’s also surprisingly
capable when the going gets dirty. It might be big but it’s also well
balanced, and the more off-road biased XC has very effective suspension
on the rough stuff, too.
Interest is high in both bikes and they’re simply going to reinforce
Triumph’s amazing feat of growing every year during the recession while
most other manufacturers’ sales have fallen to the point of collapse.
It doesn’t look as though Honda will manage to get its fascinating,
VFR800-based Crossrunner to the show, but it will be displaying what is
sure to be a big seller in the coming year, the new CBR600F. This is
essentially a Hornet dressed in a full set of clothes, and as the Hornet
is a fine machine and the clothes are styled with outstanding panache,
it should help revive Honda’s sales substantially. It won’t hurt that
CBR600F is one of the great names from Honda’s history.
Other new Hondas to look out for include the CBR250R, designed to take
on Kawasaki’s Ninja 250 with a modern, sporting look and an
exceptionally economical single-cylinder engine. The price is promised
to be highly competitive. And if a provisional licence is holding you
back from these bigger bikes, the very popular CBR125R has been
completely restyled for 2011, and its ergonomics revised to suit taller
While Yamaha has no new models to tempt in 2011, it’s range is very
strong – it was the best selling manufacturer in the UK overall, with a
lot of responsibility going to its smaller bikes and especially the
Vity, Europe and the UK’s bestselling 125cc scooter.
The company’s sports bike range is still one of the strongest around,
ranging from the top-selling YZF-R125, a sporting single-cylinder with
equipment and handling that can hold its head up in the company of its
bigger brothers the R6 and crossplane crankshaft-equipped R1.
But for everyday practicality it’s hard to beat the XJ6 Diversion, which
offers great handling, exciting performance, Yamaha’s class-leading
quality – and a tempting price.
The new Blackline makes its European show debut, after being unveiled in
New York only last week. It follows the latest fashion in custom bikes
with a more restrained and pared-down look, including a narrower than
usual rear tyre. The bike is based on Harley’s Softail line and has the
lowest dual seat ever offered by the company, claimed to be just 26
inches high when laden (though laden by whom is not clear...).
Its 1,584cc, 45 -degree V-twin engine is finished in black with silver
cylinder heads and chromed covers. There are various features unique to
the Blackline including handlebars with an exceptionally clean look due
to internal wiring, oval air cleaner, wire-spoked aluminium wheels, an
asymmetric fuel tank with offset filler cap and an array of other
cosmetic items. ABS and electronic security are standard.
No price has been announced, but it’s likely to cost about £15,500.
Victory has repeatedly impressed us with the sheer quality of its
products, bikes that are beautifully built as well as easy to ride and
with strong performance. They also look absolutely stunning, and while
US-based Victory is a relative newcomer to motorcycling and the UK
market, the bikes give the impression of years of manufacturing
That shouldn’t be a big surprise – Victory is owned by Polaris, which
has been making a variety of snowmobiles, agricultural and watercraft
for more than half a century. If anyone is wavering over a purchase
because they’re unsure of Victory, we’d strongly recommend they go right
The main show is open from 10am to 5pm Thursday and Friday February 3
and 4, and 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday February 5 and 6.
The Revolution Show is on at 1pm on Thursday and Friday, and 12, 2 and 4pm over the weekend.
Book in advance for substantial savings. Adults are £14.50, seniors £10
and 5-15s £7. Under-fives are free. On the gate prices are £19, £12 and
To include the Revolution Show, advance prices are £22.50, £16, £12 and
£2 (on the gate, £29.95, £22, £12 and £4). Family tickets are also
Book online at the London Motorcycle Show website or call 0844 581 0752
Getting to Excel is easy enough. Via the Jubilee Line at Canning Town
you switch to the DLR and go two stops to Custom House. By road use E16
1XL in your sat nav – it’s situated one mile east of Canary Wharf, one
mile west of London City Airport, and it’s outside the London Congestion
Zone (although that doesn’t matter if you’re travelling by bike...).
There is on-site parking for cars at £6 for up to five hours, £10 for up to nine hours. Motorcycles are free.