Harleys to Hondas - the 10th international Motocykl festival

Photo: CTK

Now, when you think of sport in the Czech Republic, the first that come to mind are the winter variety, with ice hockey and skiing most popular among Czechs during the cold season. But once the snow has melted, we find other sports coming to the forefront. One of these is motor sport, something that is rapidly gaining popularity here. As the biking season gets underway, Thursday saw the opening of the 10th Motocykl international motorcycle and accessories exhibition, and I went along to find out how this sport is really moving up a gear in the Czech Republic.

Photo: CTK
I'm currently standing in the right wing of the Prague Exhibition Centre in Holesovice on the opening day of this year's Motocykl international motorcycle and accessories exhibition. You can hear behind me the sound system of the Biker's Crown stand, and as I walk round the exhibition I can see on my left for example a classic Harley Super Glide, and further up on the right there's a sleek Honda CBR600. Now the hall is packed with visitors, and this hardly comes as a surprise since the show is celebrating its tenth year this year and over 190 exhibitors have come to this years expo, that's an all time high for the festival. Standing next to me is one of the organisers of the festival, Zdenek Lnenicka. Mr. Lnenicka, could you tell me a little about the purpose of the expo when it was first opened 10 years ago?

"It was based for such purposes as to present our population in the Czech Republic with motorcycles of course and also with the importers and producers of our own Czech territory. That was the reason why the exhibition was established."

Now the festival has seen significant growth since then, why do you think that motorsport is so popular here?

Photo: CTK
"Practically from the beginning of motorisation in the Czech Republic the motorcycle was the most popular motor powered vehicle in the country so the history of motorcycles in the Czech Republic is over 100 years old."

Indeed the Motocykl festival has seen a great increase in popularity in the past ten years, in spite of the unfortunate decline of the motorcycle manufacturing industry in the Czech Republic. Whereas in its first year, the expo attracted 25 firms, today's figure of 191 has seen the festival expand in size by over 7 times. Last year over 53,000 visitors came to see the thousands of gleaming motorcycles and quad bikes on display, showing just how popular the sport is in the country. I asked a few of the fans at this year's exhibition what they thought of it:

Photo: CTK
Young man 1: "The exhibition is actually bigger than last year and every year it grows so for us it's good to be here."

Middle aged man: "I think that this kind of exhibition is popular in the Czech Republic for the market because the season is starting and everybody likes to see new models and new kinds of motorcycle and equipment so I think that it is a good idea for the Czech Republic to exhibit motorcycles in this kind of exhibition."

Young man 2: "I think that the exhibition is more fun, more interesting than last year. There are more new models and new people."

And so it seems that this year's show has once again exceeded expectations for both visitors and exhibitors and many hope that the boost in popularity of motorsports here will give the Czech motorcycle manufacturing industry a much needed kick start. But with bike imports still on the rise, for most of the 60,000 Czech fans expected at this years festival, 2 wheels are always better than 4.

The Motocykl festival will be on display at the Prague Exhibition Centre until Sunday 12th March.