Motorcycles at Barbican Turbo 2009 in Abu Dhabi

Shining chrome engines, exotically muralled petrol tanks and fat rear tyres were all on display in the customised bike section of Barbican Turbo 2009, the weekend auto-fest at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, which celebrated the world of two-wheeled touring. The event, which is the largest custom vehicle show in the region, had an array of incredible hand-built and specially crafted machines on show, including the amazing Abu Dhabi police Falcon.

Adham Badr, Brand Manager for Barbican, headline sponsor of the event, believes that the popularity of such bikes is soaring because of increasing road safety evident throughout the region. “The police have made incredible strides in raising the standards of driving over the past few years; meaning that bikes are now more popular than ever,” he said. “It also helps that there are a large number of clubs that have sprung up that cater for bikers, so there is a strong element of riding as a social activity,” he added.

The main draw for chopper fans was the Falcon police bike that looked a world removed from the traditional image of the ‘CHIPS’ style law enforcement motorcycles, which are generally associated with lights, sirens, aerials and bulky equipment carriers. This low-slung bright red machine instead featured a minimum of bodywork and was the lead mount of the spectacular 100-strong cavalcade of motorcycles, which snaked from the show down to the Emirates’ Palace on the Friday afternoon. The parade was escorted by police and civil defence vehicles and was joined by a number of biking groups who had turned up in support of the initiative, designed to highlight two-wheeled safety. Prominent among the riders was a 40-strong presence from the Abu Dhabi Exiles, who led the cortege behind the police bike.

The culmination of the three-day auto-fest; which attracted over 26,000 people, was the judging on the Saturday night. The finale saw Saud Al Sheerani pick up the award for Best Bike in Show for his stunning ‘Big Bear Chopper Athena Pro Street,’ which he had specially constructed in the USA at a cost of around AED 150,000.

“I knew my bike was special, as everyone was appreciating it – even the policeman who was riding the Falcon came over to admire it,” said Saud, a UAE resident. “When they were awarding all the other categories, I wondered why my bike wasn’t being called out. But then they got to the final category, Best Bike in Show – which meant the overall winner – and they called out my machine. Everyone cheered, so I know they thought the judges got it right,” he added.

Saud is certainly a connoisseur of two-wheeled transport, appreciating its rich history in addition to the modern scene’s culture of tuning and custom art work. “I also have a much older bike in as well,” he revealed, “It has a side car attached and it dates from the Second World War,” revealed the Emergency Preparedness Engineer.

Barbican Turbo 2009 is the largest such automotive event in the region. As well as to prizes being given out for custom vehicle paintwork and engines, there was also a ‘Sound Off’ contest, where competitors had the chance to win prizes for having the loudest and best installed stereo system. Demonstrations of high-speed drifting by the ‘Need for Speed’ European Drift Championship team proved a major attraction on the circuit outside and there was also a competition for visitors to go head-to-head to see who had the most powerful engine in the ‘Dyno Shoot Out.” An audio stage provided music for the occasion and a street art contest completed the urban feel. Anybody working up a thirst from all the activities taking place could refresh themselves with the mocktails on offer from the professional flarers, who impressed the crowds with their bottle juggling skills.

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