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Motorcycle Live 2023 Review

30th November, 2023 | Motorcycling

The most anticipated biking event of the year is the Motorcycle Live event at Birmingham’s prestigious National Exhibition Centre (NEC). This annual extravaganza is not just a show; it’s a celebration of the two-wheeled lifestyle, bringing together the latest innovations, legendary riders, and a vibrant community under one roof.

Whether you’re a seasoned biker, a casual rider, or simply a fan of the motorcycle culture, Motorcycle Live promises an array of experiences that captivate the spirit of motorcycling for an entire 9 days.

From ground-breaking new models to interactive exhibits and expert sessions, this event is a high-octane adventure that no enthusiast would want to miss. As with any event, feedback can be mixed and often leave a sense of confusion, we aim to assist by providing you this our Motorcycle Live 2023 Review!

Cost

Let’s go straight for the jugular of the topic… Cost and value for money.

The tickets cost between £23 and £30 depending on when and how you book. This may sound steep but indulge us for a moment. If you go to another show, say for instance the motorhome show, which is half the price. You get to wander around a similar-sized show and there is lots to see. Motorcycle Live however has an absolute ton of interactive features.

You can ride your first bike, ride your first e-bike, ride an adventure bike, and book test rides for any model you want to get hands on with. There are also numerous talks and meet & greets with racers and other stars from the industry.

Is all that worth the money? Yes, simply because of the convenience of having it all in one place. Also if you ride to the show, free secure bike parking is laid on in one of the halls.

Parking

The other polarising part of the show discussion is the parking cost. It costs £12 in advance or £18 on the day.

We won’t bluff you and say this is “cheap” because it isn’t. But neither is parking in Birmingham anywhere else, the airport or city centre is just as much. You do however get the shuttle buses laid on in the price from the car parks.

If you go in a car with three mates, and split the cost between four, then it’s negligible at that point. We agree it will sting if flying solo by car, so don’t be selfish, bring a pal or three.

General NEC Gripes

Jugular assault number two: The NEC have a bit to answer for in the overall show vibe.

You will either arrive and sail seamlessly into a car park, ushered by smiling traffic marshals, and hop straight onto a free shuttle bus to the main entrance of the NEC, or you won’t. Knowing which it will be is a bit of a pickle, unfortunately.

We’ve experienced arriving as two cars together and being ushered to different car parks before now and had a 10-20 minute difference in arriving at the actual show.

Leaving the NEC at the end of the show, they claim buses run every 10 minutes, but this is also not reliable. Leaving the car park at night can be challenging and again it’s down to the traffic marshalling which these days leaves a lot to be desired. There’s no real explanation for this and it can be pretty poor.

Once the show is over, you may decide to stay for dinner, but beware, if you do, you could find yourself locked in the car park beyond 8pm as we did. If you leave the show and go to TGI’s, wait for a table and have a relaxed meal, you have to sprint to get the car to relocate it, come back and finish off before probably leaving half an hour later. It’s a shame because it discourages you from spending more time/money in their sphere.

It’s not all doom and gloom, because notwithstanding all of that, the plus points outweigh the negative.

Once you hit the front of the NEC, you enter a clean, secure and well-facilitated environment. Yes, the food and drink has a slight premium to it, but with the cost of living going up the prices haven’t moved much in the past couple of years making them closer to “normal”.

Wide Range of Exhibits

Turning to the actual show itself now, the show usually features a vast array of motorcycles from major manufacturers, including new model launches, custom bikes, classic bikes, and off-road machines.

It’s a place where enthusiasts can see the latest innovations in the motorcycle industry.

Interactive Experiences

Motorcycle Live often includes interactive experiences such as test rides, stunt shows, and opportunities for visitors to get hands-on with a variety of bikes. These activities cater to all levels, from experienced riders to those who have never ridden before.

This year MCN sponsored the MCIA TryRide experience which offered newbies their first ride. The Electric Test Ride Zone for A1, A2 and Full Licence holding riders – looked great fun and was fully booked throughout the show.

The Test Ride Zone was huge and every day the show opened a crowd bounded straight for the booking desk to get involved.

Aside from riding experiences, there were mechanical challenges, wheel changing challenges and even knowledge tests and competitions offering some amazing prizes. For example, the Motorcycle Accident Claims Competition who were giving away a brand new Yamaha XSR700 Legacy and a prize bundle worth nearly £10k. The bundle includes our Techalogic DC-2 Pro Camera (wink wink).

Industry Presence

The event attracts a wide range of exhibitors from the motorcycle world, including accessory suppliers, clothing and gear manufacturers, and travel companies offering motorcycle tours.

There’s also usually a strong presence of clubs and associations related to motorcycling.

This year Harley Davidson were notably missing, they had confessed prior to the event they blew their budget this year on a massive party in Budapest for the 120th Anniversary.

There were a lot of new and exciting models/initiatives on display which we’ll share in the show highlights below.

Expert Talks and Celebrity Appearances

Motorcycle Live features talks and Q&A sessions with industry experts, racing celebrities, and famous figures in the motorcycling world. These sessions provide insights into various aspects of motorcycling, from technical talks to adventure stories.

Our favourite was JD Stunts on the Blackhorse Stage. JD is a Guinness World Record holder and the British Stunt Champion. His down-to-earth interview was well attended and is the first time that stunt riding enthusiasts have been catered for in this way, showing the open and adaptive nature of the show organisers to deliver what the people want to see.

Family-Friendly Environment

The show is designed to be family-friendly, with activities and exhibits suitable for all ages, children as young as 2 could enjoy balance bikes, and older kids could try electric trials bikes for example.

Nice touches to cater for motorcycling enthusiasts to attend with their families are apparent and it was nice to see.

Making a weekend of it

The busiest days of the show are the opening weekend and the Friday to Sunday of the second weekend. So, we use the term “weekend” a bit loosely here, but if you were to consider extending your stay in Birmingham for another day, you could visit the National Motorcycle Museum and spend an evening at Birmingham Christmas Market in the city.

Alternatively, you could visit another show at the NEC like the BBC Good Food Show or perhaps the Festive Gift Fair to bag some Christmas bargains.

Certain shows at the NEC offer free parking too. So, it doesn’t have to break the bank to have a couple of great days out.

Show Highlights

Here are a few of the highlights of the 2023 Motorcycle Live Show.

The Langen Lightspeed

Motorcycle Live 2023 was illuminated by the unveiling of the Langen Lightspeed, a marvel of engineering and design from Langen Motorcycles.

This masterpiece blends timeless elegance with exhilarating performance, featuring a sleek, aerodynamic profile that commands attention.

At its core lies a formidable 1,190cc V-twin engine, delivering a breathtaking 185 horsepower at 10,600 RPM and 138 Newton-meters of torque at 8200 RPM. The power translates into an astounding power-to-weight ratio of 1000 BHP/tonne, guaranteeing an unrivalled riding experience.

Limited to just 185 units for the UK and an additional 370 for global enthusiasts, with production starting in 2025, the Langen Lightspeed, priced at £37,000 +VAT, represents a unique fusion of art and adrenaline, setting a new benchmark for high-performance motorcycles.

This beauty was housed on a turntable in its own gallery within the show which saw people standing for ages just watching the bike rotate, mostly in silence. It felt almost like some were worshipping the engineering marvel!

Langen Lightspeed
Langen Lightspeed

Kar Lee – Kardesign ZX10-RR Limited Editions

The Kawasaki Ninja rarely “needs” anything to raise the look of it. Equally, rarely does Kar Lee turn his hand to something and fail to make it better!

Unveiled on day one of the show, three limited edition paint options of the ZX-10RR were unveiled by the man himself to a bustling crowd.

Earlier in the year Kar was tasked with coming up with a few paint options for Kawasaki to choose from. They obviously struggled because they unveiled three choices rather than just choosing one.

We must say, we wouldn’t kick any of those bikes out the garage looking as they do, but if there was a fire and we could only save one… It would be the purple one!!

The VMoto Stash

This electric bike, boasting an 8000W motor, delivers the authentic performance of a sports bike through its mid-engine transmission. Capable of reaching speeds up to 120km/h and offering a range of 180km, it’s remarkably priced at just £6,299, making it an attractive deal. Classified under the L3e-A1 homologation, it parallels a 125cc motorcycle and is suitable for riders with an A1 licence. The buzz around this bike at the show was well-deserved; it’s truly stunning when seen up close. You can’t deny serious moves on the part of VMoto Soco.

Although they aim for the environmentally aware commuter, we can tell you that there was a much wider cross-section of the biking commuting ogling at their goodies on the stand! Their range of bikes are not only incredibly good looking, but insanely good value!!

Orange & Black Motorcycle Tours

Orange & Black Motorcycle Tours promise to turn your American dream ride into a thrilling reality!

After 25 years in the business, They’ve become the go-to specialists for unforgettable motorcycle journeys across the USA. They provide guided tours led by America’s best, brimming with local knowledge and friendly expertise, or opt for the freedom of a self-guided adventure with detailed road books and hand-picked accommodation.

We personally know people who have done both kinds of tour and the feedback is nothing short of outstanding.

From the stand they have you imagining the cruise down the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, feeling the pioneer spirit on the open roads of America. From the sun-kissed Florida Keys to the majestic landscapes of the Mojave Desert, and the historic Route 66, their tours offer an unmatched blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and pure riding bliss.

Whether you’re weaving through the mountains and hairpins of the National Parks or exploring the vibrant cityscapes of Washington DC and Las Vegas, they promise diverse experiences and stunning vistas at every turn.

With Orange & Black, you’re not just booking a tour; you’re embarking on a ‘ride of a lifetime’ across the USA, it sounds strong, but this is literally the word for word feedback of every person we know who has used them. What’s more, Henry Cole has sampled their tours and loved his time with them so much that he returns to see the team each year at the show.

Orange & Black Tours at Motorcycle Live 2023 With Henry Cole

Juniper Bars

Ok, this is as unusual for us as it is for you. A bar inside the NEC was one of the highlights of the show? Yes! Even though a lot of people were driving / riding rather than drinking, you could not miss the unmistakable energy from the bar area.

This was a pop-up bar inside the hall rather than one of the NEC bars built into the hall. They had tunes rocking all show and proved to be the busiest / favourite area of the show for people to take a load off.

For the people that did stop, it was hard to walk away again because they were having such a great time. The guys running the bar were as much part of the attraction as the music and wide selection of perfectly served drinks. Jonny and the team had their own version of Cocktail the movie going on (if you’re old enough to remember).

Exhibitors and visitors alike were loving it, so fingers Juniper Bars will be there next year. We had to go early to get a picture where you could see the bar!

Juniper Bars Ltd Motorcycle Live 2023

Conclusion

All round the value of the event is there. Yes, the NEC is fussy for any show, but once you look past it, the best bits far outweigh the faff. This Motorcycle Live felt a lot like the show it was around 10 years ago. Plenty of happy enthusiastic people with smiles on their faces. Punters we spoke to were genuinely pleased to be at the show and had managed to get what they wanted from it. If you haven’t been in recent years, we thoroughly recommend you do! You can book your tickets for the show on the Motorcycle Live website.

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