If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Cardiff Motorcycle Show

I went up to Cardiff for this event today, with four other Triumph Owners' Club members. It was the first event of its kind, and was a great success - about 250 bikes on show, lots of trade stands, and a general feel-good atmosphere. The dry weather helped, although the morning was pretty chilly. I wrapped up in many layers this morning (and was glad I did) but by afternoon I was getting well overheated in my jeans, t-shirt and fleece, within a thermally-lined textile suit. The 'new' panniers came into their own as I was able to stuff them full of the extra layers and have the rest of the day as a normally-dressed human.

The highlight of the show for me was the hall containing a huge variety of vintage and classic bikes. I'm not a classic bike nut (I can't tell you the flange diameter of the nurdling rod on a Henderson Albatross), but I do like the look and general vibe of the old stuff. That's probably what attracted me to the Triumph, I suppose. There were some really venerable British bikes (two Brough Superiors and a Vincent), but the majority were seventies' Jap classics - not surprising, as the event was organised by the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club. There were far too many to list, but amongst the best for me were a Suzuki GT250A just like I used to have:

and a really pretty Honda CB400 Four just like I wanted to have.

Wallace and Gromit made an appearance on a BSA outfit:

There were two interpretations of the Triton theme:

Question for nerds: one of these is more Triumph plus Norton, and one is more Norton plus Triumph. Can you see why?

The one with the handbeaten alloy tank had to be the sexiest item in the show for me:

Please excuse the thumb.

For a first attempt at a show in Cardiff, it was a great success, with a healthy turnout and a good atmosphere. My only criticism was the lack of catering, which was restricted to a tea/coffee bar and a few slices of pizza at lunchtime. A burger bar on site would have cleaned up. But I will definitely come to the next one.

To make the day perfect, I also won a competition. There was a KTM Adventurer parked up, and an invitation to 'guess the mileage'. I was a bit canny here. The bike had new tyres and had been cleaned to within an inch of its life - I wouldn't be surprised if an autoclave hadn't been involved at some point. Even the bits that are normally neglected in a good clean (like the area round the swingarm bushes and the underneath of the engine) were pristine. So lots of people guessed the mileage as very low: to be fair, it looked almost brand new. But there was one giveaway: round the ignition key were a number of scratches and some polishing of the matt alloy. This happens when the key fob jangles about in the wind, and is virtually impossible to either prevent or to clean away. I guessed the mileage at 13,900 (the Triumph passed this recently, and it just seemed right) and I was within 60 miles of the true mileage, much closer than anyone else. So now I have a £40 voucher to spend at a bike shop somewhere outside Cardiff (I can't remember the name, sorry chaps).

So, all in all a good day. The Triumph averaged 50 mpg, being kept around 80 most of the way. There was quite a stiff Easterly wind, which on a naked bike was very noticeable. In fact, it made a difference to the bike, too - 48 mpg going up and 52 mpg coming home, at identical speeds. My body knows it has been through 200 miles of solid air, too. Things ache that shouldn't ache.

The panniers proved very useful to have, but are too small for anything other than odds and ends, and the wind folded the covering flaps back on themselves, despite several attempts to put them right. I think they will have to go, and something larger and more robust put in their place.


  1. Considering this was their first attempt at organising and running their own show the South Wales section of the VJMC should be proud and I’m sure they are with all the positive comments that were made at the show.

    Always room for improvement and any one who based the show on the lack of burger stalls should really have a re-think what the show was about. The school may well have insisted that there was to be no burger vans because they can leave a mess behind.

    With out doubt this was the best show I’ve seen in Wales with bikes to please everyone from classics to modern and some very rare bikes that have not been shown before.

    I visit national shows regularly and was really impressed. Trade stands were fair to good and there was even entertainment with the birds of prey section.

    Overall an outstanding show, roll on next year.

  2. If you read what I said, it was the 'my only criticism' that the catering could have been better - other than that, I was well impressed with it all. I hope you didn't mean me when you said "any one who based the show on the lack of burger stalls should really have a re-think what the show was about", because that was not my view at all. You may well be right about the school making the decision - the evidence from the main hall was that the school had laid down some fairly strict rules, quite rightly.

    "Overall an outstanding show, roll on next year." Agreed.


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