NEC International Motorcycle Show 2005

A round up of this year's NEC motorcycle show

It's the only time of year where visiting Birmingham doesn't sound like such a bad idea. It can only be the International Motorcycle & Scooter show. It promises more for your money than ever before, with stands from all the major manufacturers, showcasing their new for 2006 models, as well as the Yamaha SuperMoto School, ride-outs, Mini Moto racing and of course our favourite, the Guinness Bar.

The highlights from the major manufacturers:

Not a new model but the R1200ST looked good in blue. It uses an 8 valve 1170cc flat-twin boxer engine producing a claimed 110bhp @ 7500rpm. Manually adjustable screen, ABS and adjustable suspension complete the feature list.

As BMW appear to be desperate to change their image, their range looks stronger than ever. First we had the K1200S, then the K1200R but the highlight on the stand was the HP2. HP stands for High Performance, think 1200GS and a design team working late nights on espresso. We reckon it's about time BMW started getting some proper power out of their litre-plus engines. They claim 105bhp, which is about the same as your average 600cc sportsbike. So perhaps SHP for Slightly Higher Performance would suit it better, mind you, as an off-road bike 105bhp could be deemed excessive. It'll make the basis for a good SuperMoto if you squeezed in some road rims, that is if you can afford the BMW price tag.

The K1200R Power Cup bike was also on display in the now infamous 'Boxer Cup' colours. It's surprising what a lick of paint can do to a bike's all-round look.

BMW wheeled out Charlie Boorman to talk to the press about his latest excursion. Extensive support crew not pictured.

Ducati weren't at the Paris Motorcycle Show, so it's a welcome surprise to see their stylish stand sticking out from the rest. The highlight of the stand has to be the Paul Smart 1000 Limited Edition, sat alongside the Sport 1000, which looks awesome in black.

Both bikes have Cafe Racer style, and more class than a SuperMoto could ever muster. Could the retro-look be a step forward in UK biking? Inspired by Paul Smart's 750 Imola racer, except it's not using a 750 engine, but an air-cooled 992cc 4-valve Desmo lump, producing a claimed 92bhp @ 8000rpm. A good engine in a sorted chassis featuring 43mm Ohlins USD fully adjustable forks and a fully adjustable Ohlins rear shock mounted on the left hand side. With ounces of character in every weld, it's a great package but is it enough to make you trade in your sportsbike?

Ducati Also launched the S2R 1000, after having good success with the original 800cc S2R. The S2R was Ducati's biggest seller for a majority of the year but it was eventually pipped by the 999. Still, for a new middleweight bike, that's a shift in sales demographics for Ducati.

The S2R1000 uses the same engine from the SuperSport 1000DS. It's got the same Marchesini wheels as the S2R but it uses a dry clutch, unlike the S2R, which has a slipper clutch. If it's anything like the S2R it'll be a useable Ducati, with a punchy engine and good all-round road practicality.

We just had to feature the Desmocidici. It's a raw work of art and hard to believe it packs over 240bhp in such a tiny space. Just standing by it made the hairs on my neck stand up. It's an incredible machine.On the T.W.O stand you'll see a Buell, kindly donated by Buell for the Gus Scott auction.

The auction itself takes place on Sunday, 27th November, from 5:00pm 'til late, at the Club Amadeus in Northallerton - home of the popular North Yorkshire Road Racing Supporters Club. There will be a fee of £3 to pay on the door, half of which goes to the club - which supports young motorcycle racers - and the other half to the trust fund.

So far the list of items up for auction include a Buell Lightning CityX motorcycle worth £6000, kit from racers including Colin Edwards, Marco Melandri, James Toseland, Chris Walker, Michael Rutter, John McGuinness, and Glen Richards.

Other items include an Arai helmet signed by all the Arai wearers on the MotoGP grid, a set of Noriyuki Haga's leathers, a Suomy helmet signed by riders from World Superbikes, a replica of the Foggy Petronas team truck signed by Carl Fogarty, a helmet signed by Kawasaki ace Shin'ya Nakano, VIP tickets to British Superbike, World Superbike and MotoGP meetings in 2006, and many more bits of motorcycle kit and memorabilia.

A raffle to win various items of kit will also be part of the evening's proceedings.

For more information, check out the Two Wheels Only stand, and in future issues of the magazine.

Honda's mammoth stand spanned at least two postcodes. On display was the huge GL1800 Goldwing but without the airbags we saw at the Paris show. Honda says it'll be released in 2007, and will add approximately £1000 on the standard Goldwing's price tag.

The CBR1000RR remains essentially the same for 2006, just a few new colour schemes, with no major updates.

The CBR600RR remains unchanged for 2006, except for colour schemes. We loved this burnt orange colour scheme; it looks so much better in the flesh than it does in the images. Funny how manufacturers have all splashed on the orange paint this year.

Ahh the Honda Deauville. It's the bike everyone likes to bully, but this new Deauville ABS looks like a stylish leap forward. Using a 680cc v-twin water-cooled engine, the extra capacity should make the Deauville easier to ride, while the ABS, integrated panniers and adjustable screen make it an attractive commuter proposition.

The CBF1000 is also new to the Honda line-up. It's a very bland looking bike but sure to be a good riding experience at an affordable price. Why can't they make a decent naked version of the CBR1000RR? There must be demand for this sort of bike. Although we must add that their Market Research department is significantly larger than ours..

The FMX was launched in Madeira earlier this year. It's Honda's FunMoto, steering clear of taking on the full-bore SuperMotos while offering the style and kudos associated with the whole Supermotard craze. It uses a re-worked 650cc single as seen in Honda's Dominator. We thought it looked great in white.

Although it's now a bit redundant and still a bit expensive, the SP-2 still has crowd-pulling appeal. Originally designed to beat Ducati at their favourite game in WSB, Colin Edwards took it to success and stamped its authority as a race-bred machine. Still as desirable today as it was when first launched. Looks awesome in black.

In a welcome departure from the nanny-state ABS and airbags, the laughably excessive ZZR-1400 is the highlight of the Kawasaki stand. The huge ram-air duct and 6 spot-headlights give the ZZR an instant aggression, while the slats in the side fairing are a curious nod to '80s supercar design. It's long, low and looks like it was carved from a lump of granite and is sure to be the choice of the biker who wants to say, "I've got bigger bollocks than you". It features a huge 1352cc inline-four cylinder engine, producing an estimated 180bhp at the rear wheel. Expect to see them flying up the tarmac at Santa Pod..

Kawasaki's parallel twin ER-6n has been joined by it's faired brother, the ER-6f. When you've stared at the ZZR-1400, it's hard to get excited by the ER-6f, but for novice riders and budget conscious bikers, it offers a lot of style when sat next to a CB500. We're not sure about the Budgie-like yellow but it looks smart in gunmetal silver.

In a return to the competitive 4-stroke off-road market, Kawasaki have launched the KX450F, it's their first 4-stroke 450cc off-roader. It's only got 4 gears because Kawasaki reckon you just won't need to wind it open in 5th. It features Kayaba AOS forks (Air Oil-Separate) and a crafted titanium exhaust.

Suzuki aren't playing around, they launched their brand new GSR600, which will no doubt take over from the very tired Bandit series. It uses an older GSX-R lump, but at least it's moved on the air-cooled Bandit engine. It's expected to make around 95bhp, which puts it firmly in the same category as Yamaha's FZ6 and Honda's Hornet. It takes styling hints from Suzuki's B-King concept, but it doesn't look as brutal as the concept did, with a softer styled tank and flush underseat exhausts. The digital dash looks like some decent thought has gone into it, which is a rarity on budget bikes.

Forget the fact it's lighter, more powerful, narrower and all the rest of it. Just stop reading and look at the picture of this GSX-R600. Check out the under slung exhaust, all black frame and black swingarm.

The GSX-R has had cult status for more than a decade and the new 750 looks like extending its iconic status and desirability. The 2006 GSX-R750 is powered by a slimmer 749cc inline-four-cylinder engine with revised bore and stroke dimensions to make it faster and higher revving, with updated fuel injection and all-new exhaust system. It features a similar clutch to the GSX-R1000 K5, making it possible to downshift faster and smoother.

This Speed Triple looks gorgeous. It's just a paintjob and no different performance wise to the standard model.

Triumph revealed their new flagship sportsbike, the Daytona 675. It's a tiny bike, making the CBR600RR look porky. Based around a narrow 675cc triple cylinder engine, the design is minimal and clinical. Some bike magazines have already heralded the 675 as an icon, but the front end looks like it was borrowed off a ZX-6R and the underseat exhausts and rear end looks very similar to Honda's CBR600RR. The colour schemes, black frame and crafted clocks make the Daytona a sportsbike with class. Triumph claim 123bhp in their brochure, which we believe is a crank power figure but with its dimensions and lightweight, it should be fun with anything over 100bhp.

Triumph has also jumped on the 'Modern Classic' train, with their twin-cylinder Scrambler. It's a bike you have to look at, but where it fits in UK biking is anyone's guess. At the centre of the Scrambler is an air-cooled 865cc parallel twin, with unique twin exhausts. The colour schemes and flat seat give it the bona fide retro touch.

Ducati have the Paul Smart and Triumph have the Paul Smith, similar names but two completely different concepts. This Bonneville T100 has been attacked by a few youths with some tins of spray paint. No, what we mean is this 'Live Fast' colour scheme has been carefully designed by Paul Smith to give, in Triumph's words "Sixties style; the design classic with ultimate road-presence gets the Paul Smith treatment. Cool never looked, sounded or felt this good." All said and done it's a head turner and if you want a bike that's different then this is a strong contender.

The YZF-R6 is likely to be Yamaha's biggest seller in the sportsbike market. The R1 has done well this year but goes without major modifications for 2006. The R6 looks good, with its trendy GP style exhaust and sharp air-intake. The rear end looks impossibly thin, and if a Goldwing's seat were a pair of pants, this would be a G-string. The bike looks tiny; the proportions look perfect while the front-end looks aggressive with a huge air-scoop amongst sharp lines. Yamaha have already signed Broc Parkes to complete on the new R6 in the 2006 Supersport championship.

The R1-SP is Yamaha's high-spec limited edition R1. Words don't do it justice. The bodywork and chassis are finished in a gunmetal grey. It features Ohlins front and rear suspension, a slipper clutch and forged Marchesini wheels as well as gold coloured exhausts. It's limited to just 500 bikes across Europe, which adds to the desirability.

This is a standard R1 in 'Extreme Yellow' to celebrate Yamaha's 50th anniversary. Well, when we say just standard, it's still a 186mph animal.

Yamaha are heralding the FJR1300AS as a technical marvel. It's got a semi-automatic gearbox brought to you by YCC-S. Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift, no less. There's no clutch lever so you change gear you use a handlebar-mounted switch. It's all very techno-fancy and according to Yamaha, it eliminates the physical effort of changing gear. That I'm sure is a huge relief to all you knackered bikers out there.

We saw two good looking FZ6 models on the Yamaha stand. The first was a standard FZ6-n but with a deep orange paint finish, the other model in a less garish silver finish featured a few neat aftermarket extras, like the modified exhaust, slim Led tail light and headlight shrouds.

The FZ1 looks like a great package. Slightly odd, square styling, and that huge exhaust doesn't do much to help its looks, but it's powered by a phenomenal engine from the recent 998cc 20v YZF-R1. Yamaha claim 150bhp at 11,000rpm, which is a believable figure. It also features fully adjustable USD forks, similar tot hose on the R1.The engine alone is sure to give the FZ1 the edge over its litre-class naked rivals.

Yamaha describe the MT-03 is a 'Roadster-Moto'. It uses the single-cylinder 660cc engine as seen in the XT660 series, housed in a very stylish, funky chassis. Yamaha harps on romantically about the pulsating engine appealing directly to human sensuality. We now know why women like riding big singles. The underseat exhausts and side-mounted rear shock gives the MT-03 a quirky edge. If you're in the market for a town-bike like the Honda FMX650, then the MT-03 might appeal to the more style conscious. Our photos show the tricked-up MT-03 with carbon fibre extras and twin Akrapovic exhausts.