Biking paradise

Hype aside, the Motorcycle Show has plenty to interest serious bikers, says Tim Luckhurst

BMW chose the event to launch the new R1200 GS, an upgrade of the bike on which he completed his adventure. From the moment he pulled aside the sheet concealing the new machine it was clear that Boorman wanted one. He gushed: "That is beautiful. It is lovely. I'm as excited as everyone. I've only had a few glimpses before." Then he climbed aboard the bike to smile for the cameras.

The descent into luvviedom was excruciating. The bike doesn't need that kind of silliness. The BMW R1150GS, which this replaces, was already the king of globetrotting adventure bikes. This one is 15 per cent lighter, its engine is bigger and it has a larger fuel tank. Boorman and McGregor are contemplating a charity ride through Africa. Many other riders will launch less highly publicised adventures on these machines.

But it is not just the Germans who have new motorcycles to display at the NEC. Britain's own Triumph Motorcycles has a treat for the home audience, too. It was revealed without actors or hype, but the Daytona Triple needs neither. Five years ago, motorcyclists salivated at the prospect of 1,000cc machines that could generate 120bhp. The world's first three-cylinder middleweight delivers 123bhp from a 675cc engine. With a dry weight of 165kg, that makes for an awesome power-to-weight ratio. Development riders say it is a bike that urges you to go faster. It certainly looks venomous. Its twin projector headlights resemble the eyes of a stalking velociraptor. The Daytona will be raced at track days throughout Europe; if handling matches power it will be hard to catch.

Fans of homegrown technology should also inspect Triumph's new twin cylinder Scrambler - a nostalgic take on the sort of machine Steve McQueen rode in The Great Escape. And for pure off-road use, CCM, the Bolton-based manufacturer, is displaying its new R35 model. Those who lust after bikes that look the way they used to will relish Ducati's new Sport Classic models, which combine the looks of 1980s Italian racers with 21st-century technology. For motorcycling the way it really was in the 1950s, check out the Royal Enfield Café Racer. It looks fast, but it really isn't.

Away from the niche market, Honda is showing the upgrade of its famously sensible Deauville tourer. The poor Deauville has been lampooned as boredom on two wheels. In fact, it is supremely competent. The 2006 model has an expanded engine and a higher cruising speed. See it at the Honda stand along with the new CBF1000, a traditional naked motorcycle designed to appeal to returning bikers. While you're there, check out Asimo, Honda's impressive new robot. Asimo cannot ride motorcycles but he can walk, climb stairs, respond to voice commands and navigate between objects.

It has been a long time since a British motorcycle show played host to genuinely new technology. This year's NEC event has lots. It is displayed alongside a huge range of clothing. My favourite is a T-shirt proclaiming: "Sorry, mate. I saw you coming. I just pulled out for a laugh." I will buy 10 as prizes for the comatose car drivers who will inevitably try to kill me in the next 12 months. It is kinder than a kick in the teeth.

Motorcycling has not matured out of its fondness for draping bored young women over bikes. There is too much gratuitous flesh on display to make this a genuinely family occasion. But enthusiastic riders need not restrict themselves to gawping. This year's show features "ride outs" that let visitors test the bikes from several manufacturers and, for the bold, a Supermoto racetrack and off-road trail through woodland around the NEC. You can catch Boorman, too; he is the show's official ambassador. I don't understand why he isn't required to wear stockings - they seem to be de rigueur for other hired help.

The International Motorcycle and Scooter Show is at the NEC, Birmingham until 6 November; see www.motorcycleshow.co.uk

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