Just come back from the Milan Show (Ryanair, Manchester – Bergamo, £32 return, inc taxes, a real bargain) where virtually every manufacturer of bikes, parts, clothing and accessories displayed their wares. The show is MASSIVE, if you think the NEC is a big exhibition centre, then Milan’s show centre dwarfs it by a factor of at least 10!
Whilst our party of six concentrated primarily on road bikes, inevitably I took the opportunity to look at trials machinery displayed by Gas Gas, Beta, Sherco, Ossa, Montesa/Honda and Jotagas.
The first five named machines are all familiar so it was the Jotagas that caught my eye and whilst first details about the new bike backed by seven times world champion Jordi Tarres appeared nine months ago, and actual pictures of the machine have appeared in the press and on the internet recently, to look at it in the cold light of day was fascinating.
Of course, we’ve no idea whether the machine will be good, bad or indifferent but it definitely looks the part. It may even have been an engine shell with no internals as the gear lever was able to rotate without connecting anything, but it is not my intention to be negative as anybody who can design and manufacture a new machine from scratch deserves praise.
Comments on TC back in February were disparaging, referring to the bike being an updated Beta frame/Gas Gas engine copy, but any new design is likely to look similar (Ossa apart) simply because it’s a trials bike and that is what it is!
Steve Saunders has been announced as the UK importer and according to his website, machines could arrive as early as next month for demonstration and testing purposes before production gets into full swing in the New Year.
As I have said, I was really impressed with the innovative appearance and the quality of finish, which, if replicated in production should give no cause for concern.
However, let me put a scenario to you.
This new bike is a Jotagas. It looks the business and let’s assume it is the business. So, how many machines will sell in the UK (and worldwide) when there are five other well established marques on sale, in what has to be said is a very small market?
Let me now put another scenario to you.
Imagine removing the Jotagas badge, replacing it with a Repsol Honda sticker.
Now ask the same questions. I can already hear the responses; “at long last, Honda have come up with a two stroke; yeah, that looks the part; so Honda have joined the trials game again etc, etc”.
Quite simply, a badge can make all the difference in the world.
When I first saw the bike in the flesh on Friday, it’s how I imagined a new Montesa/Honda would look, which is what prompted this column. It’s not a Montesa of course and I’m not suggesting there is any connection, but it will be fascinating to see how Jotagas is received on the world trials market.
We should wish them well.