Having packed the Red Torpedo truck with top gear, our hardcore, "mile munchin'" retail team (aka Kenny and Helen) has driven 1300 miles over to Verona in northern Italy for the 11th Motor Bike Expo (MBE) Show - one of the largest and most important motorcycle custom shows in the world.
Since its inception in 2009, the Show has always attracted serious crowds which have continued to increase by 75% over the past nine years. This year, it's anticipated that around 170,000 visitors will attend MBE over its four day run commencing on 17th January (Media Day) until Sunday 20th.
Verona's a perfect central European location for the Show being in the midst of a huge catchment area of French, German, Austrian, Swiss and Italian motorcycle enthusiasts who can access the location within a few hours riding.
Custom Bikes Galore
Although Motor Bike Expo attracts all the world's major manufacturers with large stands of gleaming motorcycles that are in dealers' showrooms, the central ethos of the show is custom bikes and some of the biggest and best names in the custom bike building business congregate in Verona each year.
Motor Bike Expo is spread over eight halls totalling some 80,000 sq metres, featuring every conceivable motorcycle type and genre. Halls one, two and three are dedicated to custom bikes whilst hall four - which is where you'll also find Red Torpedo (on stand 22R) - is for cafe racers. That's a good "fit" for us. Sport and racing bikes are in halls 5 and 6 and touring and off-road bikes in hall 7.
In the first three halls MBE presents the finest examples of custom motorbike building in terms of design, innovation, engineering skill and talent. The range of machinery on view and the sheer number of bikes - some 2,000 machines, celebrates both the US aesthetic - largely gargantuan choppers, baggers, bobbers and cruisers along with the more Euro based offering of cafe racers, street trackers, scramblers and eurofighters.
Motor Bike Expo has attracted top custom builders like Jessie James, (yeh ha!) Cole Foster, The Ness family, Orange County Choppers, Roland Sands, El Solitario and Freddie Krugger to name just a few - many of whom will be in attendance again this year.
Conor Cummins at Motor Bike Expo
Two special guests and close friends of Red Torpedo will link up with us on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th January at 1400 hrs (local time). Manxman Conor Cummins, one of the top road racers in the world, will fly in for a question and answer session on our retail stand - stand 22R in Hall 4. Conor has podiumed at the Isle of Man TT eight times and has been a professional racer since 2006. He immediately made a huge impact in his first year of pro racing as the fastest newcomer at the NW200, the Southern 100 and the Isle of Man TT.
Conor Cummins at Parliament Square, Isle of Man TT
Conor will be speaking about his many successes during 2018, the set-up at Clive Padgett's team, his approach to racing on closed public roads and plans for this coming season. To reach as wide an audience as possible, our good friend and road racing afficianado, Marta Covioli of Road Racing Core, will be undertaking English-Italian translation. Marta is extremely passionate about road racing and her recent book, Road to Racing - featuring the photography of Diego Mola, has just been released.
So, don't miss this opportunity to see and hear "up close and personal" the only man who podiumed in both Isle of Man TT Superbike races in 2018.
Also flying in to the show this year is probably the most revered custom bike builder in the world - Shinya Kimura. Kimura established Zero Engineering in Japan in 1992 specialising in low slung vintage American V-twins. He now runs Chabott Engineering located outside Los Angeles in Azusa, California having moved to the USA in 2006. Essentially, he treats the motorcycle, not as a mere piece of machinery but as a work of art. His builds are always spectacular and sculpturally unique, his style instantly recognisable. Along with a jury of four other world class custom builders, Kimura will select the top ten custom bikes from around 2,000 bikes on show all competing for the MBE Award of 'most beautiful" machine. He'll then decide on an overall winner. The contest is scheduled to take place on Friday January 18th at 12 noon (local time).
Motor Bike Expo opens its doors to the public on Friday 18th January and closes on Sunday 20th.
Venue: Veronafiere, Viale del Lavoro, 8, 37135 Verona VR, Italy
Photography: James King & Peter Faragher