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Monday, 31 October 2016

Comment by Editor-in-Chief, Robin Bradley

‘INTERMOT Customized’ nailed it!

The November edition of AMD Magazine – – has been entirely turned over to showcasing this year’s AMD World Championship, the INTERMOT Expo in Germany, and the successful launch of the all-new ‘INTERMOT Customized’ show-within-show concept.
The vision I always had for the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building was one of using it as an anchor for an event that could both preach to the choir and speak to new business opportunities. Yes, I have been on a mission – one based on the inevitability that boom would turn to bust; that attitudes to the custom motorcycle ownership and riding experience were outmoded, and that the references that informed the existing custom culture would be irrelevant to new generations of riders.
From my point of view, although the years I spent hosting the AMD World Championship at Sturgis were fun (mostly), and not without their rewards and opportunities to further the mission, ultimately we just could not find the staging solution we needed in the United States.
Maybe if the AIMExpo project had been underway at that stage, who knows, perhaps that would have therefore given us a platform to keep the AMD World Championship in the United States. I guess we have been paying the price for being a few years ahead of the curve in our thinking throughout this odyssey.
Our own Big Bike Europe Expo at Essen in Germany in 2013 showcased the mission splendidly – in terms of show design, venue atmospherics and (I remain proud to say) in terms of user-friendly organization, where competitors and exhibitors are the honoured guests.

“a ready-made audience”

Having created the formula in a European context at Essen, the decision to move the AMD World Championship to INTERMOT in 2014 was all about taking a decade out of the evolution of the attendance. In one giant leap forward we could expose the creativity of the custom market as expressed through the AMD World Championship to the largest custom bike show attendance the world had ever seen.
Boom…a ready-made audience of getting on for 200,000 expo-oriented, motivated, relevant and active high-mileage riders beckoned!
The move to INTERMOT in 2014 was all about starting to learn how to exploit that opportunity and getting the Championship bedded-in to a week-long cycle in a massive, multi-hall, third party owned expo complex in the middle of a major urban conurbation.
This year, however, well, what can I say! Kudos, respect and thanks to the team at Koelnmesse and for the backing of the IVM, the custom motorcycle shops and motorcycle manufacturers and vendors who took booths at ‘INTERMOT Customized’ and to the AMD World Championship competitor community.
This is their success and their opportunity – if we have been the catalyst, then great, that makes me proud. What has now been accomplished will prove to be exactly the kind of foundation that I was hoping to see emerge somewhere, somehow.
There can be no question that as the international custom industry continues to morph, ‘INTERMOT Customized’ will now prove to be a platform for its engineering to be showcased to a massive and massively influential mixed audience just at the time when the old channels, products and styles of bikes finally prove to be unable to sustain the industry it spawned.
What has been interesting in the European context in the past decade or so is that despite the downturn, the actual number of motorcycles registered for the road in Europe has not reduced proportionate to the slump in new model sales.
In 2007 the ‘Bike Park’ in Europe (EU plus Switzerland and Norway) was a total of 35m, 22m of which were motorcycles. That figure continued to rise through the most severe years of economic downturn, peaking at 37.7m total PTWs in 2011, 25.6m of which were motorcycles.
While that figure softened a little in the following years, motorcycles in use declined less quickly in percentage terms than overall PTW use, and the latest available data puts Europe at some 35.5m total PTWs, of which 25.7m are motorcycles.
This indicates that while there have been (and remain) issues in Europe concerning licensing age, access to the sport and training, in fact it isn’t that motorcycling as such has suffered a demographic collapse. Instead, as is the well documented case in Spain, the ‘Park’ (or fleet) has aged rather than reduced – which also goes to why renewal is being seen among the larger displacement machines rather than at entry-level price points.
Something that has changed in Europe though is the regulatory attitude to riding. Whereas a decade ago the concern was that it was policy to make riding as difficult as possible, fast forward to 2016 and the regulators themselves can’t state their personal riding credentials fast enough.
PTWs are now officially endorsed at EU level as a part of the solution to environmental and safety issues, not part of the problem - with all transport and related laws having to pass a motorcycle sanity test.
Even the right to modify is now enshrined in EU law with competency for all regulatory issues, except for those that affect safety and emissions now firmly protected from EU level interference and handed back to national governments.
With motorcycle sales in general growing again now in Europe (see the INTERMOT report elsewhere in this edition), and with large displacement machines leading that growth, and custom styling leading the growth that the manufacturers are enjoying, all current trends point to an international custom motorcycle industry with opportunity stamped all over it.
Now if someone could just light a similar fire under the domestic U.S. market … Columbus anybody?