EICMA 2012–The Show

I’ve posted the story of how I chose to go to the EICMA show last year, and having got through the turnstiles the plan was to get to the BMW stand as soon as possible to see the new R1200GS. The show is huge and was quite different to our regular fare at the Scottish Bike Show.

As soon as we got in there were folks handing out fisherman’s friends. Yes you read right, and I still can’t quite believe it. If you don’t know these are menthol cough sweets made in Feetwood, Lancashire. And they were handing them out in Milan, Italy…

It was a long long walk to the BMW Motorrad stand through about three halls and by the time we got there the goody bags had run out, but the scale had to be seen to be appreciated. The stand was very large and there were several hundred people there.

The new GS looked excellent (in the ugly GS way) and my favourite would be the one with the satnav integration, the off-road pegs and the rallye seat to give a bit more height. Unfortunately I didn’t have the scoop on seeing the bike as my pal Joe had seen it at the international dealer launch in Cologne a few weeks earlier, but I was to get a slight scoop in that there was one of the few running GSs at the show – in the car part being thrashed by Chris Pfeiffer. Personally it wasn’t until April 2013 that I would get a ride on the new GS, and that would be on knobbly tyres and mainly off road. I’ve since had a brief ride on road and in Dynamic mode the new bike is quite a step up from the previous model – really likes to rev.

I’ve not been to the Birmingham show so I can’t compare scale but EICMA was huge and very busy, MrsL took a rest at one stage and I wandered around a few of the stands and it was great to see the size of the main manufacturers. They were strategically apart in different halls and this meant that I missed Yamaha completely, managing to see BMW (of course), Honda and others like KTM and Triumph. Of course Ducati was well represented, as were the scooter manufacturers. Wandering around I found the World Superbike stand with two guys called Tom Sykes and Carl Fogarty being interviewed – this was quite hilarious with them being interviewed in Italian – think banal on banal interview questions. The crowd loved it.

All the accessory dealers were there, and Touratech had a big stand – I now have their catalogue in Italian!

Huge and busy is how I would sum it up. Out the back was a show by Chris Pfeiffer which was an unexpected result – he was demonstrating on his usual F800R and a new R1200GS, and there was also a supercross stage which was well impressive. All in all there was too much to see in a day – an excellent result.

Like I mentioned before it is a proper trade show, so you will not find anything to buy – it is open to the public but there is a lot of trade networking going on with new model launches and nothing being sold on the stands. If you like to go to Motorcycle shows to see stuff (but perhaps not buy) then I would go.

EICMA 2012 from Edinburgh

Further to my previous post here is a shorter summary post on our Itinerary.

How we got there

We flew EasyJet from Edinburgh Airport to Milan Malpensa with one item of hold luggage. The Winter schedule is quite light midweek so watch for this adjustment. In hindsight we would travel with proper full size hand luggage and use that instead to be quicker and save the extra cost.

I bought return tickets for the Malpensa Shuttle from Malpensa to Central Rail Station. You can buy tickets on the EasyJet flight for the same amount of money as online. Almost everyone from the flight caught the shuttle so it is very easy to find if you follow the crowd.

To get to the show from Milan we used the Metro Red Line and used the Porta Venezia station direct to the RHO Fieramilano. There is a special zone ticket for 5 Euro Return. The  ticket machines in the station are multilingual and take notes, so simply switch the display to English (or your language of choice). The journey is fairly long but it was great to see the train fill up with people going to a Motorcycle show, fantastic. Again at the RHO Fieramilano follow the crowd; there is a huge underground passageway that takes you from the platform to the entrance to the show.

At the show

The show was very busy when we got there, fortunately I had my ticket already. MrsL was handed a ticket as soon as we found the queue, and streamed to a turnstile specifically for the visiting “Ladies”. This was a bit hard to see in the scrum at the entrance but look for it if it applies. I joined the rest of the males in the big crown going through, as it was busy I sent MrsL through and she had a chat with another visitor from France who had also left her husband to queue up too.

The show is very very big and we literally stumbled on events and parts of the exhibition, we popped out for some fresh air and found Chris Pfeiffer doing a show. We completely missed Jorge Lorenzo on the Yamaha stand. It is a tough call to cover in a day but worth the research. It is a proper trade show so as far as I could see you can’t buy the stuff you see, and in a way it was similar to work trade shows in terms the variety of large and small companies.

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Ibis Milano Centro and I bought the cultural package online to get breakfast. Breakfast was a continental buffet arrangement and it was interesting to try and guess who else was going to the show. The event is that big and there were at least three groups that I reckon were at the show based on their branded clothing. The front desk staff were great in accommodating me by speaking English and very helpful. Unlike British hotels you don’t get tea & coffee making facilities.

In terms of the locale, the bits we used were:

  • We used the Porta Venezia metro station on the red line. This got us both to the show and to the metro nearest to the start of the City Sightseeing Tour.
  • The Ice Cream shop we visited was Grom on Corso Buenos Aires. There are a few of these shops around Milan. They have several chocolate flavours.
  • There is a Supermercato Punto around the corner in Via Lazzaretto which opens late and is great for grabbing supplies.

Where we eat

This was a short stay and on the cheap so don’t expect posh:

  • The local McDonalds right beside Porta Venezia had the usual expected fare plus a few local twists, and they have an espresso bar which had fantastic tiramisu.
  • We eat breakfast at the hotel, this was a continental buffet with cold meats, cheeses, croissants and other pastries, fruit juice machines and coffee machines to help yourself to.
  • We had lunch at brek San Babila which is a middling walk from the Duomo but slightly tricky to find – it is behind the main street and seems to sit in the middle of a parking area. From the Piazza del Duomo follow Corso Vittorio Emanuele II then slight right across to Via Borgogna and it is on the left through a passageway. There are all sorts of different dish types on offer which you pick up then pay for. It can be busy (good sign) but is reasonably priced and there is a big seating area down the stairs.

Motorbike Show ? Try Italy

I’ve been to a few Motorcycle shows over the years. Our local show is the Scottish Motorcycle Show at Ingliston, about 20 minutes drive from the house and tends to be the first weekend in March. Then a few years ago there was a one off show at the SECC in Glasgow, on a smaller scale. Then I’ve also been to a couple of events that the Police have run, the family and I went to a couple of the Cumbria Police events at Carlisle Race Course – they always seemed to do well with their live bands which went down well with MrsL. I struggle to remember the proper name for the event – RoadSafe rings a bell as it was supposed to be a general road safety event, not just bikes. It was a great venue and speaking to a Lancashire Bike Cop who was also an observer for Morecambe IAM got me on to the IAM instead of Rospa. I’ve also been to Durham BikeWise a few times and will be going this year, MrsL likes the atmosphere and the historical centre of Durham has its own charm.

In terms of proper Motorcycle Events since I got a bike and some kit the only reason for going to the Scottish Motorcycle Show was to see a supplier of earplugs to get moulds taken. The ticket price for MrsL and I of £24 in advance (+ fees) or £31 on the door seemed a bit steep to me, and I’d rather put the money to the bike to keep it on the road or put it towards a meal for me and MrsL. There was also an element of the same old for each visit.

I considered the national show at Birmingham, but again costs of travel and accommodation plus admission fees put me off. And for some reason Birmingham didn’t quite appeal to MrsL as a destination.

Then I read a two page spread in BiKE magazine suggesting things to do – one of these was to attend the EICMA show in Italy. They claimed Milan was well served by Budget Airlines. So I checked, and indeed EasyJet had a direct flight from Edinburgh Airport (next door to Ingliston) to Milan Malpensa. Total flight cost for the trip would be around £133 for MrsL and I, and for some reason Milan was more appealing as a destination for MrsL. It was beginning to shape up, especially as the cost of flights was about the same or less as Birmingham or London would be. And being the great people that they are, the Italian show organisers have what they call a “Ladies Day” on a Friday – women get in free! And the ticket price was 12 Euro – less than the Scottish Scottish show and for one of the biggest shows in Europe. And there was a rumour going that a new BMW boxer GS was about to come out, and EICMA is traditionally a launch show for the big manufacturers.

As I kicked in to planning mode I started looking for Accommodation and connecting transport. The EICMA show is held at Fiera Milana Rho which has a few hotels in the vicinity but as I began to realise is miles out from the centre. Malpensa Airport is a fair distance out from the city too, meaning about 30 minutes by train or 45 minutes by coach. The popular coach service (they sell tickets on the EasyJet Flight) stops off at Fiera Milano Rho so that may have been an option. My favourite, a city metro service, is a strong feature in Milan and looking at the website it strongly featured a ticket to the Fair – Five Euro for a return ticket.

Then I discovered something called a winter schedule which is an adjustment to flights that airlines make in the winter for weather and passenger volumes. In the case of Edinburgh to Milan, it meant a single flight out every other day and similar back. So it would mean an extra day there – we would fly out Wednesday and come back Saturday to be there on a Friday. So that gave us a day for sightseeing, which would be an open top bus tour for as much as we could stand.

So it all shaped up. In the end I chose the Ibis Milano Centro to stay in, having stayed with Ibis or Accor hotels in Reading and Berlin. The price for the room was excellent and they had a package that included breakfast (and tickets to the roof of the Duomo). This hotel was also near to one of the routes of the bus tour, and included a shopping area which again was another feature to sell the idea to MrsL. It was also mid way between two metro stations, one of which was the direct line to the Fiera.

The trip was excellent, although my lack of Italian and experience of travel made it a bit of a stressful experience but the show was massive and a lot better than the UK has to offer. We liked the hotel which was nice and clean and at an excellent price, and I was really glad that I had gone for the “Culture” package that included breakfast. The metro was excellent, though like Berlin they confusingly have their Urban railway network under the ground too. The unitary ticket system doesn’t help either – the ticket we had for the metro got us on to the platform for the railway. The clue was the double decker trains though, the metro is single decker.

A latter discovery exactly round the corner from the Ibis was a small supermarket – which we discovered on the last evening and I’d wished we had noticed sooner as the hotel vending machines were typically on the pricey side at least in comparison. MrsL also told me that the local wine was excellent, as usual the local stuff was cheaper and of better quality than the export stuff we get.

We also had a good run on the city sightseeing tour, after an initial bit of confusion with the online booking I had made – you just use it on the bus –we went round both routes once, and then again and got off at the Duomo.

Other highlights were the ice cream shop we found round the corner on the first night, and it was a bonus that the chap who served us had excellent English. The double plain chocolate ice cream / fondant was amazing. Even on a chilly November evening. And the view of the Alps on the way in to Malpensa was a delightful if obvious surprise.

I’ll follow up with another two posts, a shorter summary of travel and accommodation, and a post about the show itself.

Replacing old Virtual PC / Server additions with ORCA

Over the last six months or so I’ve been assisting on a project to migrate some old software between data centres. The new data centres have Windows 2008 Server R2 and all the matching versions of SQL Server and SharePoint – not the latest versions but up to date when it comes to corporate land.

Part of my consulting support has involved regression checks of both source and running software in test environments. With the apps being almost 8 years old the support and test machines are thankfully virtual but date back to Virtual Server time. It’s great having the ready built machines available but Hyper-v has a few issues when working with the machines.

One of these is the additions – not the Hyper-V additions but the original Virtual Server additions which will not remove due to an issue in the original setup. And you can’t add the new ones until the old are removed.

So over to a post by Arvind Shyamsunder over on MSDN (Virtual PC / Virtual Server 2005 to Hyper-V Additions) which describes a solution – it’s a hack but it works. It involves modifying the installed installer for Virtual Server additions to remove a check so that it will de-install. Then you have a clean machine which you can install the hyper-v additions on.

ORCA is a tool for working with msi files which is in the Platform SDK – full details in the referenced article.

Off Road Skills Level One–April 14th and 15th 2013–Conclusions

The quality of instruction and course content of Level One at Off Road Skills are excellent and I thoroughly recommend it. I would also recommend the R1200GS as the bike of choice but I might be biased because of my size. My hope is finances permitting (I did go and buy a new R1200 GS Adventure this year) that I will be able to do Level One again next year. It is longer than helpful from a learning perspective but we all have to live within the limitations we have.

Things I took away:

  • The R1200GS is the easiest bike for me to ride (ok well I haven’t tried the F800GS to properly support that statement).
  • Shifting body weight on the pegs is essential for turning off road.
  • Keeping my legs straight most of the time cuts down fatigue (and later quad muscle pain).

Things I would like to achieve by going again (and again):

  • Not slipping the clutch – just dipping it when needed.
  • Being comfortable with counterweighting and the slow speed techniques.
  • Relax Relax Relax.
  • Better machine control so I can do a complete run of momentum.

I would also thoroughly recommend the package arranged by Motorrad Central  – it is a new idea from them to support the opportunity for their customers to attend the ORS events without the considerable effort to bring ORS to Scotland. The travel and accommodation costs are a given, so being able to share these with others makes great economic sense and also brings the support of a group for the learning experience. I paid £649 which compares favourably to the base cost of Level One with ORS of £479. Big thanks goes in particular to David Brown who both looked after the group on and off road and did all the driving.