On October 1st 2005 the Paris Motorcycle Show (Mondial du Deux Roues) opened its doors to the public. The night before, manufacturers and exhibitors were frantically finishing off their stands, in anticipation for the huge crowds keen to get their first glimpse of new models for 2006.
The exhibition space feels smaller than the NEC, but it’s a true exhibition and there’s a distinct lack of anyone trying to flog you a cheap lid or set of panniers. Honda’s stand was, as you might expect the largest from any motorcycle manufacturer, showing off their enormous range of road, race and off-road machinery as well as a couple of oddball concept bikes. There was a no-show from Ducati who are, perhaps holding out for the home-fixture Milan show later on this year.
Here’s a few highlights from each manufacturer’s stand:
The 2006 Tuono was on display. It looks more like a crashed RSV than ever before. The headlight looks like the sort of aftermarket extra you’d get from M&P and the paintwork looks like it was done ‘by a mate in the trade’ on the cheap. OZ-a-like wheels are the same trick used on the Pegaso Strada. It’s nothing to write home about, unless you’re writing home about another quirky, ugly Italian bike.
This is a mighty fine bike. So many things stand out, from the huge radial brake, to the delicately crafted swing arm. The exhaust is hidden from side view but from the rear, two elegant cans sit either side of the tailpiece - the bulk of the exhaust is housed towards the bike’s centre of gravity, under the rider’s seat. It looks every bit a road bike and not a MX bike with road rims. At an estimated £6k, it ain’t gonna be cheap but you can bet you’ll see more than a few at your local bike meet.
No real surprises on the BMW stand. But, yet again this paint job seems to work wonders for an otherwise plain looking bike. Could there be a race series on the way?
There are very few growing sectors in the bike market at the moment but one that’s thriving is the Adventure-Sports category. Charlie Boorman would have you believe he’s responsible for the trend but perhaps after years of sportsbikes and speed enforcement, we’re gradually looking for a different biking kick. By all accounts if you buy Buell’s new Ulysses, the only thing you’ll be getting a kick from is your own foot. A show insider said: “There’s a very limited steering lock and the bike’s very top heavy. On the road, the tyres feel like off-road tyres and off-road the tyres feel like road tyres.” Good to see Buell bringing out a fresh bike.Because our snapper’s a muppet, he didn’t get any photos of Honda’s Goldwing with its airbags on display. He was too busy staring at the airbags of the girl sitting on the bike..
No real surprises from Honda. The best bike on the stand was an out-there FMX650, designed for what, we don’t know. An industry insider said: “It looks like a commuter concept but I’m not sure if someone’s crashed into it, or if it was designed that way.”The big K revealed two highly anticipated bikes, the new ZX-10R and the all-new ZZR-1400. Some respected industry figures found it hard to say positive things about the ZX-10R, with one saying it looks a bit ‘special needs’. Some felt it was a step back from the current ZX-10R. You can’t help but associate the twin underseat pipes with Honda’s VFR800. It’s certain to be lighter, faster and technically better than last year’s model but could you live with those looks?
The ZZR-1400 on the other hand, was a show favourite. A firm fingers up to political correctness, you’d be forgiven for thinking the ZZR-1400 was a publicity stunt, but it has all the makings of a hypersports tourer, with more presence than the ‘Busa. It’s low, fat and long and looks like it was carved from a lump of granite. The only shot we’ve got is of the front end. The headlights look like landing lights on a runway and they’re sure to lead a few low flying pigeons straight into the enormous ram air duct. Kawasaki have also given a nod to the ‘80s with Testarossa style slats in the side fairing. It’s the bike of the show, in our opinion.
Suzuki revealed the 600cc ‘B-King’ we weren’t waiting for, it’s called the GSR. It’ll make a welcome change from the Bandit - which after its 650cc lift is surely due for a one-way trip to the nursing home next year. The GSR isn’t jaw-dropping in anyway and it looks like a Honda Hornet 900. It could be the product of a lot of market research, rather than a bike that’s been designed and produced off one strong concept. Perhaps they’ll produce a sharper, harder 1000cc version?
You couldn’t get near the GSX-R stand all day. There is so little different between the 600 and 750. And the best bit? Easily the GP style exhaust, which makes the underseat trend look passé. Both bikes look to continue the GSX-R cult.
Two highlights on the Triumph stand: a white Speed Triple and obviously the Daytona 675. What’s so striking about the 675 is just how narrow it is. It looks more like a trick Supermono and yet it allegedly packs more than 110bhp at the rear wheel. One aspect that’s let Triumph’s Daytona series down in the past is the lack of graphics. Sure, not everyone wants lairy paint schemes but for such a ground-breaking concept, it seems a shame to dress it up in a duffle-coat. We can’t wait to see what the 675 rides like.
Yamaha’s stand was packed with interesting bikes and was clearly the busiest stand all day. The all-new R6 drew the most crowds, although this could have been because it was never without a model draped all over it.
This bike was on Yamaha’s race stand, showing just how good the R6 can look. And although the Akrapovic end-can looks good, it also looks clumsy compared to the Suzuki effort.
Yamaha are clearly on the pulse by releasing their current R1 in a new set of speedblock ‘Laguna Seca’ clothes. That’s one seriously good-looking bike.
This MT concept, the MT-0S is an incredible looking bike. It’s a shame Yamaha launched the Bulldog, then the MT-01 and now this. We think they should have launched them in the exact opposite order. Will this bike ever make it to the showrooms? No. Will Lazareth, the French tuning and styling company make their own version? More than likely.
Why can’t we have more wheel options like this when buying new bikes? Quite easily the best looking front-end of the show, just think if your Bandit had wheels like this..