The Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show is the capital's largest bike show attracting around forty thousand visitors over a three day stretch - commencing Friday 15th until Sunday 17th February.
With a huge retail area selling everything from performance motorcycle gear, biking accessories, aftermarket parts and leisure wear, the MCN London Show's a must visit on our annual calendar of events. So, we're making a beeline for the Big Smoke via 410 miles of M6/M1 road works and motorway service station witchetty grub to set out our stall of new and classic gear at the ExCel in London's Docklands. Stand R553's where we'll be.
New Bikes for 2019
There will be dozens of new machines for British bike fans to see for the first time. These bikes were first unveiled to the world's biking press and public at EICMA (Milan) and Motor Bike Expo last month in Verona. But it's now the UK's turn to jump on the latest models, twist throttles and crunch through a few cogs for good measure. Poor gearboxes.
Around 20 of the world's leading bike manufacturers will be displaying their model ranges led by the Japanese "big four" - Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. A strong Brit contingent will see Triumph, Norton, Royal Enfield, CCM and AJS flying the flag and an Italian duo of Ducati, with their flagship V4 Panigale, and MV Agusta - maybe with the Superveloce? - will also be there. No Aprilia or Moto Guzzi though? The central Euro might of BMW and KTM will have their extensive ranges on show and, amongst others, Husqvarna, Indian, Zero and Energica will also have stands.
The largest crowds of Instagram junkies are likely to be flocking round Ducati's V4 Panigale. Thereafter, (in no particular order), it's probably BMW's new S1000RR and 1250 GS, Suzuki's Katana, (alongside a 1981 original model), Norton"s 650cc Atlas Nomad, Ranger and Superlight, Triumph's 1200 Speed Twin and 1200 / 900 scramblers, Yamaha's Tenere 700, KTMs 790 Adventure - the list goes on.
Norton 650 Nomad Atlas
But the London Show doesn't only provide a chance to try out all the new metal for size. There's loads of other great things to see and do in the form of bike displays, live bike action, exhibitions and guests.
Live action: Thunderdrome and Rage Cage
A strong line-up of past and present racers has been organised for this year's Thunderdrome encounters including the world's fastest road racer and TT lap record holder Peter Hickman, legendary 1987 500cc GP Champion Wayne Gardner, road racer James Hillier, BSB rider Richard Cooper and former British and World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson. Given that these guys will be bashing elbows going at it hammer and tongs around the oval, the Thunderdrome's heavily banked corners will provide opportunities a plenty for dodgy overtaking manouevres and maximum mayhem.
The Michelin Rage Cage is a new feature for this year but this cage won't feature any aspiring McGregors or Nurmagomedovs. Think wall of death but girder and mesh construction rather than wood. The cage stands nearly six metres high by nine metres across and all the bike action can be seen through the mesh rather than viewed from above as with a traditional wooden wall. Riding metal cages, or globes, is nothing new: it has has been around for a long time. Photos of "Globes of Death" existed in the USA and Britain in the early 1920s.
McGuinness's "Beer and Bikes Zone"
Isle of Man TT supremo (23 wins and counting) John McGuinness is not only freekingly great at riding motorbikes on closed public roads at warp speed, he's handy at pulling pints of beer and talking everything and anything about motorbikes. John will be running his own bar again and chewing the cud with the punters. He'll also have some of his racing memorabilia with him - including three of his race bikes and leathers. So, seek out his shebeen and have a pint with him - you can't miss it. If you're lucky, he might even give you a packet of pork scratchings. First ten visitors only though. There are three "McPint talks" scheduled for the Friday, four for Saturday and a further three on Sunday.
John McGuinness and the Norton
Classic and Custom Bikes
The Bonhams Classic Bike Dealer Village will feature a number of leading classic dealers and bike restorers who will be selling machines at the show - from 1960s British marques to immaculate 1970s Japanese two stroke twins and triples. There are also going to be a couple of Brough Superiors - enough to make a hole even in celebrity chefs' and bakers' pockets.
For custom bike enthusiasts, the Built Magazine team has brought together about 30 of the best custom machines from Europe's leading custom garages. The individual custom houses remain a closely guarded secret just now - but we're hoping for the quality of the likes of Keevils Speed Shop, the BMW airheads of Side Rock Cycles, Down and Out Motorcycles? Who knows - maybe even the might of XTR Pepo, Wrenchmonkees or Blitz? One thing's guaranteed: fifteen foot front forks or four foot high handlebars will be verboten!
GP bike area
The Michelin Grand Prix 70th Anniversary display celebrates 70 years of GP racing and gives the crowds the opportunity to get up close to some of the most spectacular and iconic grand prix machines of former years ridden by some of the greatest legends of the class. Two of Valantino Rossi's past winning bikes will be at the Show - his 2003 Honda RCV211V and his 2004 Yamaha M1 and there will also be former bikes ridden by the likes of Freddie Spencer, Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene.
The Carole Nash MCN London Show kicks off on Friday 15th and runs until Sunday 17th February. Venue: ExCel London, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1XL
Further Show information at: www.mcnmotorcycleshow.com
Helen Anderson (Red Torpedo) & Chris Blott (John McGuinness photo)