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I've attended just about every motorcycle or car show that I've had the opportunity to see, and although been to many, I've never had a chance to go to any of the really big European shows where the manufacturers release new models and hold press conferences about their future product lines. INTERMOT and EICMA are to motorcycles as the Geneva and Paris shows are to cars; the biggest and best shows in Europe. So when the eatsleepRIDE team needed an extra hand to cover the Milan EICMA show in Milan, I raised both hands and said pretty please.
The EICAM motorcycle show held two private press and industry days prior to the public opening, this allowed representatives from the industry and journalists from around the world (and me) to see everything up close, without the crowds. Almost all of the big manufactures held press conferences, I attended as many as I could, including BMW, Husqvarna, KTM, Harley Davidson, Triumph, Brammo and many more. Honda and Ducati held private off site functions the evening before the press days started, which sadly I missed due to some travel complications.
The KTM press conference was particularly cool, not only did they release a host of small road and race bikes, but they also had almost all of their world championship winning riders on stage at the same time, including Dakar super starsCyril Despres and Marc Coma!!! Since the KTM factory team won every world championship in which it contested, it was a pretty crowed stage. Did I mention Cyril Despres and Marc Coma were on the same stage? Very cool.
The BMW stand was also pretty interesting. Free style rider extraordinaire, Chris Pfeiffer made a grand entrance by riding the new (and very large) R1200GS down a couple of flights of stairs and up on to the stage. He made the big trailie look more or less like a trials bike. I'd like to see him use the new R1200GS in one of his freestyle routines, now that would be impressive.
Many of the manufacturers' had hospitality suites incorporated into their stands. BMW served fantastic espresso and delicious cookies during their early morning press conference, while Triumph provided a great lunch, complete with a lovely prosecco after their lunchtime launch of the all new Daytona 675. The Piaggio hospitality suite was not only stylish and filled with beautiful pastries and sandwiches with your choice of espresso, juice or wine, but it also contained a simply gorgeous vintage Moto Guzzi police bike. It's hard to top that. The pastries were also very good, I stopped by on numerous occasions to ensure quality control standards were being maintained throughout the day. Luckily, I can report that whoever made those treats was on top of their game that day. Thank you.
A large and very busy press centre was also set up for journalists, with adjoining espresso bars and restaurants serving very very tasty breakfast and lunch. Although it was sometimes difficult to find a seat in the pressroom, it was a great place to regroup and pump out a few stories before heading back to the show. Some of journalists were uploading a lot of video from the press room, which pushed the internet connection to the limits, so getting information out in a timely manner was sometimes easier said than done.
Sure, the free stuff was nice, who doesn't like a nonstop flow of wine, lunch, coffee and cookies all day long (especially the cookies), not to mention a pocket full of cool USB keys, but the best part of the press days was the lack of crowds. It made it very easy to get up close to the bikes and really have a look. I'm not sure I'd even seen the new MV Agusta F3 in person before, let alone had the chance to sit on it. In private. It looks even better in the flesh, but the not having the person next to you pushing you to have peak, or feeling the pressure of the person behind you waiting to have a go really makes the motorbike show experience more enjoyable.
We went back on opening day and as they say, what a difference a day makes. The previously empty exhibition stands were now crowed by throngs of motorbike crazy fans not only waiting to have a look at the latest models, but waiting to have a look at the models, of which there were many. I'm not sure I can attend another motorcycle show and not reminisce about the good old days when I was part of the motorcycle press corps. Those empty stands, the wine, the free USB keys, yes those were the days…. The Calgary International Motorcycle Show will never be the same again.