- Suzuki water cooled 750 'Kettle' this one is the J variant (My own photo)

My day at the NEC Classic Motorcycle Show 2018

I spent my Sunday this week at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Car and Motorcycle show at the NEC near Birmingham. One of the five halls given over to the show was dedicated to classic motorcycles, motorcycle equipment and associated paraphernalia.

What can you see at a 'classic' motorcycle show?

Motorcycles of course, classic ones, I hear you cry, but there were bikes on show from the 1920s to the early 2000s, so the first time visitor might wonder what makes a classic bike?

This 1959 Triumph was one of my favourites at the show this year (My own photo)

As with cars, the definition of a classic is an ongoing debate and some believe that a motorcycle simply becomes a classic with age. Age is part of it and in general a classic bike will be something that is 20-25 years old as a minimum, but production and custom bikes based on older production bikes were on display together. I can say you will see some gorgeous bikes, in prisitine order and you will wonder where the time went while you look at them.

Help me Honda....

To take one marque as an example of this diversity, there were Hondas of all shapes, sizes and ages at this years show, this monkey bike below, complete with monkey being the smallest.

Monkey bike with monkey (My own photo)

Moving up to Hondas of the 60s and 70s from the Honda CB175 made by Honda from 1969 to 1973 to the iconic Honda CB750, an air-cooled, transverse, in-line four-cylinder engine motorcycle made by Honda from 1969–2003. Often called the original Universal Japanese Motorcycle, the CB750 was the first motorcycle to be called a 'superbike.' Then there was a CX500 Turbo, unloved by some as not everyone liked its styling.

There were also the now familiar more modern lines of Fireblades and a Firestorm

I would hazard a guess that James May has at one time or does now own one all of the types of Honda I've used here as examples except the very lovely, at least to my eye, custom Honda Super Sport below.

Men point at a custom Honda (My own photo)

Classic Paraphernalia

Also on show were vintage bike manuals, motorcycle travel books and 'how to' guides from 1915 upwards. Vintage bike gear can raise a smile now, and I like this plastic disc which was supposed to keep your vision clear in the pouring rain, yes, really

 You paid your 39 shillings and 6 pence, which was quite a lot back then and all would be well in a downpour. I can't imagine why it didn't catch on can you?

Other types of bike

This years show had a display of scooters and Vespas, some of which looked exactly like the ones you can buy new today, as you can see below Vespa design hasn't changed very much.

Lovely orange Vespa (My own photo)

And who wouldn't like their own scooter picnic hamper?

Very civilised (My own photo)

Some other favourites

These are a few other bikes that caught my eye this year, you will see from this selection that I'm quite partial to a Triumph, and there were some diverse examples there. Starting with the Ace cafe stand and their beautiful custom Triumph cafe racer.

Ace indeed (My own photo)

Then this very interesting 1968 Triumph prototype, designed by Edward Turner who was Triumph's chief designer and general manager for many years, introducing the Triumph Speed Twin in 1937. Turner was a hugely influential figure in motorcycle design, see the second photo in the gallery for more details.

And finally some more photos of the 1959 Triumph Bonneville which I loved

Did you go to the show? Have you got strong views on what a 'classic' bike should be? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

You might also like to see some of my other articles on things at the Classic Car and Motorcycle show this year


More classic cars to come as the week goes on.