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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Comment: By AMD Editor-in-Chief Robin Bradley

Biggest ever World Championship?

IT’S easy to fall into the hype trap! Everyone is always describing their "thing" as the newest, biggest, bestest. Of course they are - such is the beastly nature of the beast!
In the case of shows and events for example, custom bike shows in particular, there are many different ways of hyping an event up - number of bikes entered, number of competitors entering those bikes, in the case of international events the number of countries those competitors have travelled from, and so on.

Throughout the ten years so far of operating and developing the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building bike numbers, and especially competitor numbers, have been important calibrations for the project.
Indeed, given the international nature of the program, the 'country-count' has always been an important factor too. The affiliate custom show program that we operated while we were staging the Championship in the United States always ensured that the event had a goodly proportion of builders and bikes from outside North America, especially for the eight years we held it in the Black Hills during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Needless to say though, the number of countries represented grew massively with the move to Europe, but one of the biggest issues that we had never yet been able to address had been attendance - public/consumer and trade/dealer.

a demonstration of "the art of the possible"
The creation of BIG BIKE EUROPE as a stand-alone custom parts, accessory and performance expo with the Championship at its heart as a principal draw was a decision that many said had been ten years late in the making, and the reaction to the first BBE last year was universally positive.
We left Essen in May 2013 with the show successfully launched, and with a product that we could now expect to be able to build the kind of relevant attendance for, in a way that we never could in the United States, even at a rally such as Sturgis.
The problem we encountered there was one of relevance. The vast majority of rally visitors do not go there in order to buy parts or accessories, and the vast majority are strictly stock riders with a very lightweight grasp of, and attitude towards, customizing.
Rally visitors are there for the riding experience - which is fantastic, as it should be, and long may it continue to be.
Conversely, the minority of rally attendees who are custom bike owners tend to be lower mileage riders who actually trailer their precious investments into the area for a once or twice a year opportunity to "feel real"!
That is fine too in its own way, but the AMD World Championship was always about so much more - it always was and remains to be about design and engineering, and showcasing the work that custom shops and pro-builders can do for a rider - from the mild to the wild.
It was never designed as a custom bike sales fest, as such, but as a demonstration of the "art of the possible", and the kind of diversity that stock riders can aspire to within the limitations of their own budgets and their own riding lifestyle preferences and habits.
So it was with great enthusiasm that we accepted the opportunity to let our own BIG BIKE EUROPE expo become an alternate annual rather than yearly event (as originally envisaged) when INTERMOT came a calling and offered us the opportunity to take our market's creativity and craftsmanship to an established attendance of 200,000 riders and dealers.
This immediately accelerated the BIG BIKE EUROPE project by decades in terms of the attendance and exposure we'd be creating for our competitors and exhibitors, and immediately provided the final piece in the puzzle we'd been working towards finishing for so long.
So, all hype aside, there is now no question that this year's AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building will not only be the best attended World Championship so far, but by far the best attended international custom motorcycle show there has ever been - ever, anywhere. Period!
Those visitors, the INTERMOT visitor footprint, is a serious riding one, riders who take their miles and how they do them very seriously indeed, and attend the show with spending on bikes, parts and accessories at the very top of the list of their event experience priorities.
What is more, the (long awaited!) recovery that is now underway in Europe, including in Germany, means that attendance expectations are trending towards there being record numbers of visitors of all kinds at INTERMOT this year, and for those who have never been to the show, and are unlikely to ever have the opportunity to do so (it is held every other October at Cologne, Germany), it is eight giant halls of wall-to-wall bikes, accessories, performance, tuning, service and workshop tech and bike-geek heaven where only the most righteous of industry professionals and the consumers they sell to dare to tread!
INTERMOT is an expo where you get serious bang for your buck. An expo where lightweights get converted, and where high mileage riders go with serious intent to spend seriously.
Memo to all custom bike builders and custom parts and accessory vendors - when was the last time you had 200,000 buyers swing by your booth?