Here at vespa.org.uk we're always striving to push the boundaries and be a key player in a growth market; we're a can-do organisation that's constantly future-facing in an effort to produce win/win situations for ourselves and our stakeholders.
Sorry, I've just had to read some corporate literature at work and I must have been brain-washed. So enough of that bollocks. What I'm trying to say is, we're going to new lengths to bring you interesting features. And on Thursday 26th October 2006 we were there at the Press day for the International Motorcycle and Scooter Show at the NEC in Birmingham, so that you didn't have to be.
Although this event is very impressive to look at, and despite having the word 'scooter' in its title, we have to say that its appeal to the scooter community is very limited. If you're into sports bikes, enormous custom choppers, Power Ranger outfits or 'glamour' models with their bits sticking out (albeit much better quality than those featured in some alternative scootering magazines), then you'll have a great time at the IMSS and probably won't mind spending half a day's pay on the entrance fee.
Unfortunately, the only scooters on display were autos on the numerous stands of Chinese motorcycle manufacturers (did you know that 50% of the world's motorbikes are made in China, and 12% of bikes currently on UK roads are Chinese? No, neither did I), one or two here and there on the Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki stands, and a solitary GTS250 on the Scorpion Exhausts stand.
And that leads me nicely into what there was on display for the scooter enthusiast. The guys on the Scorpion stand were pleased to see some scooterists, and we even bumped into Iggy from Scootering Magazine there. We had a very nice chat with classic vehicle watercolour artist Roy Barrett, an original 60s Mod that some of you may know from his paintings 'The In-Crowd' and 'One Careful Owner'.
We spent quite a while chewing the fat with everyone at the Davida stand, including the boss himself, and had a close-up viewing of some of the latest helmet designs in their range.
We were welcomed like old friends by our new friends from Artimagination Airbrushing, and I was even allowed to demonstrate just how easy it is to use their new Beginner's Airbrushing Kit, which I believe is available by mail order just in time for the Christmas rush, for all you budding customisers out there.
But the running theme being discussed at all these stands was the distinct lack of scooter-related exhibitors, particularly when you consider that 2006 is the 60th anniversary of the Vespa - and there was no Piaggio presence whatsoever.
On the protective clothing and security/accessories side, there were definitely some bargains to be had at some of the outer stands; I tried on some nice leather weatherproof gloves that were half price, and the armoured liners that you can wear under your flying jacket were available with similar reductions; there was also a nice display of vintage bikes from the National Motorcycle Museum (which is located next to the NEC) but whether these would make the journey and entrance fee worthwhile I'm not exactly sure.
To sum up I'd say that, unless you're right into your big bikes, you'd be better off going to a custom show, trade or parts fair at a rally than to trek to the NEC for this particular show. Having said that, the Classic Car Show starts this weekend, and rumour has it there'll be some classic scooters on display at that if you want to risk it.