SHOWTIME FOR BIKERS AT THE NEC
A two-wheeled tour of Motorcycle Live with PHer Rick Cuthbert
Kawasaki: ZX10-R is top of the 'must see' list
Ducati showed off a controversial but undoubtedly striking new machine called the Diavel. Long lines of show-goers queued up to sit on the bike and make 'brum-brum' noises, although opinion on whether Ducati should make cruisers is divided. This is the Porsche Cayenne of the motorcycle world, and has upset a few Ducati die-hards, but with a claimed 162bhp from the 1,200cc v-twin, it seems unlikely to be anything other than massive fun to ride. The preposterous 240 section rear tyre is virtually unheard of, but it gives the bike a unique presence and rock-hard looks, and hopefully an opportunity to lay some of that power down to the tarmac. The Diavel is due to retail at £12,995.
There is no such controversy over the new MV Agusta F3. The stunning new sportsbike has all the timeless good looks of its stablemate, the F4, but features a new 675cc 3-cylinder engine punting out about 135bhp. It's not the fastest, the biggest or the best, but it really is a machine to lust after, and at approximately £10,000, MV is sure to shift as many as they can make.
Triumph has two new machines certain to have a big impact on the UK bike market. Most conspicuous is the new Triumph Tiger 800, which offers real around-the-world ability with a new 800cc triple engine. This bike is aimed squarely at the BMWs currently dominating the market for this type of machine, and early reports suggest it is as capable as it looks. Triumph plan to sell the new Tiger for £7,149. Triumph is also showcasing the revised Speed Triple, controversially ditching the trademark twin round headlights, and replacing them with a squintier look that brings the Triple up to date, but loses a little of the original's charm.
Honda didn't have any headline-grabbing new sportsbike on show, but they did have the new CBR600F, which combines a seemingly perfect mix of sporting ability and everyday comfort. This bike has been labelled a 'hornet in a frock', but to everyday bikers looking for a bike that will do-it-all, it must be a very tempting prospect. Honda is also showing the strange-looking VFR800X, which resurrects the VFR 800cc V4 and gives it an odd, but not unpleasant new home in a 'big trail bike' chassis. This combination turns the VFR from a sports-touring bike into just a plain touring machine, but could make a lot more sense given the other bikes in Honda's current line up.
Yamaha brought along two new street bikes - the 800cc Fazer and the 600cc Diversion F. Neither bikes will write headlines, but both look like worthy choices for riders looking for capable all-rounders. Suzuki brought the new GSR 750, a bike built in a similar vein to the new Yamahas.
Dirt-experts KTM had the usual bewildering line-up of off-road machines, but there was also a revised RC8, which although cosmetically familiar, features updates designed to improve rideability. But of most interest on the KTM stand was the stunning new 125 Duke, which brings previously unseen levels of quality and desirability to the learner-legal category. Any 17-year-old that gets this bike from Santa this year must have been a very good little boy indeed.