Should I go or shouldn't I go that was the dilemma building up to the Vive La Moto event in Madrid. I had made the decision that I would attend this year as it has been about 10 years since I have visited a biking event in our capital, before Bikers España even existed.
Initially, the plan was to ride up early in the morning have midday at the show and ride back in the evening staying at a hotel if necessary. My wife thought I was mad as its about a 900 km round trip, the weather had been very changeable and the forecast was a bit grim. Being a Yorkshireman the weather didn't really put me off, how bad could it be? As it turned out it was pretty bad not so much in the Costa Blanca or Madrid for that matter but the journey would not have been a fun adventure, more like an exercise in survival through rain storms. Two days after the show it was snowing.
On Saturday afternoon I booked a return train from Alicante to Madrid for the Sunday, problem solved.
Not too much of an early start as I was booked on the 08:40 from Alicante. It's about an hour and fifteen mins from home and with a bit of spare time just in case I set off at 06:45. The journey down to Alicante in the car was uneventful it was however cold and I was pleased to have not been on the bike. Parking at the train station is straight forward as you can book it online in advance and at a substantial discount.
Coffee in hand I boarded the train and started the 2hr 15 min journey. Towards Cuenca and Albacete the clouds thickened and the rains came down, the train was warm though and I hardly noticed.
Arriving in Madrid you then take a subterranean train for a couple of stops and then switch to the Metro for 4 stops to the Feria station. The only issue I had was my appalling Spanish, embarrassing I know especially after 16 years living in Spain, but most of my business clients and friends are English or English speaking and the Spaniards I know always want to practice their English. Must try harder.
Arriving at the show at around 11:30 with a pre-booked ticket in hand was the right choice as there were probably 60-70 people in the queue to buy tickets and I just walked straight in. On the way in there was a huge selection of bikes you could book for a test ride, far more than I have seen in the UK shows such as at the NEC.
As it was Midday it was quite busy walking around and getting busier by the minute, so after a quick walk round to get my bearings I took the opportunity to sit and have some lunch before starting another more detailed lap.
The first stand I visited was KTM, I was trying to get a look at the new Duke 790, along with what seemed like the entire show audience. It was well worth the wait as the bike looks great, not as good as the prototype but great none the less. After a couple of minutes of looking, I finally managed to have a sit on the new model and everything fell into place, at least for me. Its a bit on the small size in the same way as a Triumph Street Triple and the seat was very plank-like as with many new bikes but I'm sure on the road it will be a winner.
The rest of the KTM road range was in attendance and the adventure bikes, trying the 1290 Adventure R, out for size was a little daunting even for me at 6' some of the shorter bikers in attendance struggled.
On to Kawasaki next to look at the range of H2's, the supercharged engine is being used in a few different models now to good effect if the crowds of onlookers are anything to go by. The new Z900 was also on display in faired and unfaired varients. The cool retro vibe is alive and its a great looking bike.
Husqvarna was well represented with the 701 Enduro and Supermoto, as well as the new 401 and 701 Vitpilen and Svartpilen. The Supermoto looks like a toy and I would love one, as a third or fourth bike, to thrash around the mountain roads near my house. The Vitpilen and Svartpilen are very quirky on initial viewing but over the course of the day as I had a second and third look and they grew on me.
Having owned Suzuki's for a long time now I had a good look round their stand, unfortunately, this year there wasn't anything really new for me to look at. The GSX 1000 S was the only bike that caught my eye, it looks like a great package to replace my Bandit, but not this year.
BMW had a good sized stand with a few new models to look at including the K 1600 Grand America and the G 310 GS both bikes were impressive though obviously completely different. The G 310 GS by all accounts is a great little road bike with off-road capabilities. Looking around it and sitting on it, it's difficult to see where BMW have cut corners to keep the price to a sensible level. Panel fit and finish are good with nothing looking out of place or cheap and it's a good size, I was expecting it to be smaller.
The other bike that surprised me on the BMW stand was the S1000R naked sports bike, I've never really looked closely at them but was very impressed with the riding position and look of the bike. The HP4 on display was garnering many admiring glances as it should, what a beautiful looking bike, but €80,000!
The Honda stand was next on my list, to have a look at the new Africa Twin Adventure Sports. Better tank range along with greater ground clearance, but it didn't seem all that much bigger to me, lovely looking bike. It was good to swing my leg over the Fireblade SP on display, even if it made me feel like a giant.
Triumph had the new RS version of the Speed triple which was good to see in the flesh and a selection of Tigers to try for size. The one getting the most attention was the low version, with people queueing to try it out.
Ducati's V4 was on display with its clothes off so you could see the packaging that had to be done to fit in the rear suspension and exhaust. Its a lovely looking bike clothes on or off.
A good range of accessory suppliers and manufacturers were in attendance and I managed to speak to Eduardo from Helite Spain, who I have never met before only emailed and talked to on the phone. We talked about the new products and their new sales outlets across Spain and I updated him on my brother's recovery as he had previously taken an interest. For those that don't know it was my brother's bike accident that got me looking at airbags and protection in the first place.
Having wandered around for a good few hours I went outside to watch a stunt show and have a look at the bikes available to test. as I didn't have any bike gear with me a test ride was out but everyone taking part came bace with smiles on their faces.
There were two stunt riders to entertain the crowds, Emilio Zamora and Narcis Roca, I managed to see Narcis Roca at the end of my day, it was a great show worth waiting for especially when he jumped his BMW over a crowd of spectators.
Click the slides below and enjoy the pictures.
It was a long day, setting off at 06:45 and not getting home until around 10:30 but it was well worth it to see this years crop of new bikes all in one place. The show was well attended and had lots to see with trials demonstrations and the outside stunt show. I will definately attend again next year, it will however be in Barcelona as it alternates between the two venues.