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Get your motor running

Dr Alan Moran enjoyed the experience of attending the Carole Nash Irish Motorbike and Scooter Show, which was held recently in the RDS

Every year, we have a motorbike show in Ireland. To accommodate those who live close to the Kingdom, it is held alternately in Dublin and Cork. This year was Dublin’s turn. Of course, I was there.

As I am interested in most things with wheels, I have an interest in seeing what’s new and seeing it in real life. All the big manufacturers are represented, as well as some new and previously (to me) unknown brands. For example, there were bikes from CFMoto, an up-and-coming ‘new’ Chinese manufacturer. I know very little about these as yet.

Honda was there with its flagship Gold Wing. It was very popular with all sorts of kids sitting on it, aged up to 70. Although they had the premium site at the shows, when I asked for a test ride, I was told it might be best to go to the UK and take one for a spin from a dealer.  Honda has such a range of motorbikes, it is possible to find one to suit your taste and requirements easily, and it would be impossible to mention everything they have in a single motoring column.

Yamaha also has innovative and reliable bikes. Nick Sanders set the bike world alight several years ago with his record-breaking round-the-world (bikers call this ‘RTW’, different to doctors!) on the seriously fast R1. There are rules about how it’s done, not counting time on a plane or a boat, to cover areas over water. Still, he needed to travel 1,000 miles per day, and he needed a reliable bike. Guinness have closed all further attempts at the RTW record, as they feel it would be too dangerous to try to attempt to break it again. Currently, the R1 produces about 200bhp from a bike that weighs 200kgs, but didn’t produce as much when he did it. It was present and it remains an awesome bike.

Since then, he has broken the record of riding up and down America (the continent) in under 50 days. Once again, he was on a Yamaha, this time the more comfortable dual sport Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré. Proof of reliability, anyone?

Despite the massive effort it was (he had no support) and the incredible reliability of his motorbike, Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor have made a much bigger impact and bestowed BMW with huge sales of their GS models as a result of their relatively easier trips around the world and the length of Africa. Shows you the power of TV.

BMW had the other showcase stand, with their new 1,250 boxer engines on show on their GS and RT bikes. The RT is probably the most popular sports touring bike on sale presently. Anyone who has one that I know loves it. The first time I rode one was in Mondello park many years ago. I was following a chap who was wearing a full-length motorbike racing suit with a lot of scratches and marks on it. While following him, I was able to ‘scratch’ the footpegs off the ground, which is a testament to the awesome handling of the RT. I have not done it since on any bike.

Many, many years ago, the predecessor of the RT, the R60/6, was ridden around the world, before it was fashionable, by Elspeth Beard, the daughter of a psychiatrist and chest physician. When Beard left, she thought she would be the first woman to go around the world on a motorbike, but as it took her two years, someone else got that title. Unlike Nick Sanders, she did not have a trouble-free ride. And she did take the long way round, covering 55,000kms in two years.

Harley Davidson was well represented at the show. I have only ridden one Harley Davidson bike in my life (you can too by simply asking at Harley Davidson, Dublin) and I have to say, I didn’t like it. Again, I know quite a few people who own one and again, they love them. They’ve also been around the world…

No motorshow is complete without the motorbike stunts and Mattie Griffin was there doing his best to please everyone, doing impossible things on a BMW S1,000R. Valerie Thompson was publicly interviewed about her experience of being the fastest woman on earth on two wheels, and making it look too easy.

In a roundabout way I want to tell you, I found the show great. I’ve been to each one in Dublin over the last 10 years and to me, it is an unmissable event. If you’re half-interested in motorbikes, diary it for next year in Cork or the year after in Dublin.

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