In Sport Sponsorship, Sports Marketing

Show bikes (also showbikes) are replicas of the motorbikes used by riders during competitions. The Teams normally make them available to major sponsors and partners for marketing purposes during special and important events such as exhibitions, conferences, trade fairs and meetings.

Show Bikes: what are they?

A show bike, which literally means a motorcycle used for display, is a replica of the bikes competing in the MotoGP Championship that has the same exact appearance as the originals. Show bikes are not normally supplied with an engine (or they are fitted with a sealed engine) and they do not feature some electronic components, for contractual reasons agreed with the manufacturers, but they look exactly the same as the prototypes racing during competitions. To be honest, it is not merely a matter of looking like the originals. In most cases, a Team’s show bike is made out of the actual motorbike used in the previous championship whose outer body is renovated with the livery of the current Championship.

Show Bikes: the charm of an unattainable item

One of the peculiarities of the MotoGP (and of Formula 1 and Formula E alike) is that competitions are for prototypes only. Motorcycles darting on worldwide circuit tracks every two weeks in the talented hands of their racers are built by hand and in extremely limited numbers by their manufacturers, for the sole purpose of racing the competitions of the Premier Class. Unlike the motorbikes in the Superbike championship, which are converted for extreme uses out of models that are sold to private buyers as well (although at extremely expensive costs), the bikes racing the MotoGP are unique pieces and, as such, they are endowed with an extraordinary charm – the charm that only priceless objects have.

Having the chance to personally see one of these wonderful creations of engineering is a unique emotion for both fans, who admire the war horse ridden by their heroes, and curious people, who immediately understand the incredible level of technology and sophistication of these items. Seeing a motorbike of the MotoGP live and having the opportunity to admire its shape from a few centimetres would be an unequalled event for most of us, I bet.

Teams have quickly understood that this charm could be channelled and used as an excellent marketing tool to make some moments in their sponsors’ life unforgettable: an item to channel attention, to make an event memorable, to leave an indelible memory in the mind of all those present.

An efficient tool for sponsors and partners

Teams who own a show bike (as well as the staff and equipment required to move it from one event to the next one) offer it as part of the marketing benefits contemplated in the sponsorship agreement. The show bike is one of the marketing tools offered to the sponsors in combination with the use of the team image in communication activities, hospitality passes, social media support and much more. Sponsors, on their turn, ask to use the show bike in the course of the most significant events in their marketing calendar: exhibitions with a large number of visitors (to attract them to the sponsors’ stands), international conventions (to give a “premium” flavour to the event) or important opening events at corporate level (to make the moment even more memorable). Normally, the permission to use the show bike is granted to partners on very few occasions, which are properly dosed according to their economic support. Be aware that this tool is hardly granted to a company more than twice in one year. The reason for this is that the show bike is one and it is allocated electively among the team sponsors who are entitled to it on a case-by-case basis. The team directly take care of this extremely valuable item, including its transport, installation on stands and subsequent dismantling.

Highly impactful activation for all-round marketing

We have often emphasised one key concept in this blog: sponsorships are far more than a label on a motor bike, a racing car or a soccer jersey. Sponsorships are, on the contrary, ecosystems of benefits and rights, communication opportunities and storytelling: a fire that is ready to burn in its magnificent splendour, but still requires a spark to get started.

Needless to say, show bikes too are part of this ecosystem. Their judicious use is a very powerful activation, a certainly effective method when it comes to drawing attention, creating unforgettable memories and giving newsworthiness to an event. Effectiveness is even greater if each gear in the complex mechanism of a sponsorship work in sync at multiple levels, with the involvement of various communication tools, at different times and with different audiences. The results can be really stunning in cases where all these elements are networked with precision, competence and perseverance.

Now, take a moment and try to imagine you have to organise a very important convention with your major customers, partners and investors. While your guests are taking their seats in the wonderful room you have arranged for them, a large screen displays touching images of the team you are sponsoring to show the highlights of a breath-taking season in which you have legitimately plaid a leading role. At the centre of the room, right where the protagonists of the evening will be delivering their speeches, a motorbike is parked, the same motorbike used by the racers in the images to achieve their victories. And the motorbike has your brand on its fairing. Guess what! You have created an indelible moment and you have been able to do it even before the protagonists of the event have uttered a word.

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