Eicma 2019 – Part ONE – What we saw in Milan

For the few who don’t know yet what EICMA is – or for the ones who don’t know how big it is – here are some numbers:
744.000 – visitors to 2018 edition
1800 – the brands that are present with a stand
77 – the editions
43 – the countries exhibitors come from
8 – the halls used (and they are huge)

Eicma 2019 Photo: Simon Palfrader ©/Red/Eicma

But the above are just numbers, and they cannot capture the vibe and the mood of motorcyclists of any age and gender that filled any hall. This is why we have absolutely no intention at all to make a list of new models. You will be able to read that on any established magazine website.
What we will try to do is to narrate what we perceived walking through stands and talking to the ones that buy and use motorcycles.
And, of course, we will add our considerations.

Why do motorcyclists go to EICMA?

Let’s face it. Motorcycles are an irrational mean of transportation.
We buy and use them because they move something inside of us. We love them because they embody some of our dreams. Be it the will to travel in unusual places, or the sense of freedom we believe we can get using them, or – maybe – the sense of empowerment we can have in mastering riding a Sportbike, or even we just love the look of them, how they make us feel when we look at them or when someone stops us and congratulate us for being the owner of one.

Eicma 2019 Photo: Simon Palfrader ©/Red/Eicma

The common trait we believe is: you buy a motorcycle using your gut, not your brain.

Therefore, going back to the question at the beginning of this paragraph, it is our opinion that a motorcyclist goes to EICMA for two main reasons:
1. We do already have a clear idea of what we like and we want to trigger our confirmational bias.
2. We are genuinely curious and we want to discover which model moves our emotional strings the most.

Let’s explore our inner ‘Rider modes’ then!

If you are in a rush

If you are in the office and reading this instead of that “Urgent” sales plan you were supposed to read instead, Don’t panic! You can jump to the mode that suits you better clicking one of the links here
Bonkers mode
Sport mode
Touring mode
Adventure mode
Look-at-me-mode
Electrified mode
Cheeky mode

Bonkers mode

One can talk for hours about “intelligent” bikes, about motorcycles that can actually be used on the open roads.
YET
The ones that we end up talking about are the bonkers ones. And at this round there were many.

Heavy Metal

No, not in the musical sense – even though we can imagine the soundtrack coming out of that exhaust.
More in the sense of a lot of metal and a rather heavy one.
Enter the new Triumph Rocket 3
2458 cc, bore x stroke 110.2 x 85.9, 167 Hp, 221 Nm at 4000 Rpm
There is enough torque to invert the rotation of Earth at any opening of the throttle, in any gear, in any direction.
Declined in two variants – R and GT – whatever angle you look at it you will not be able to find a gap to pass a needle to the other side. It seems it has been carved out of a solid block of iron.

Wings! Wings everywhere! (except one)

Once upon a time, there were Naked bikes.
Then things got a bit out of hand and we had Super Naked bikes.
Now things got totally mental and we do have Hyper Naked.
And we love them!
Yes, 200+ Hp on a 4 cylinder naked bike and 180 Hp on a V2 will hardly be used on any open street, but… Who cares!
I mean, look at them!
And with the only notable exception of the KTM SuperDuke 1290, that was the first one to open the asylum’s doors, they all have wings in one form of another.

Ducati Streetfighter V4

MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Rush and RR

Kawasaki Z H2

KTM SuperDuke 1290 – MY 2019

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Sport mode

Sportbikes – being SuperSport or SuperBikes – saw a slow but steady decline in sales since around 2007.
Yet, we can’t help but get excited when a new one comes out. Especially if it is not just another incremental iteration of the same model, but it is something new and engineered with the sole purpose of shredding to pieces lap records on a circuit. Or to shred to pieces our driving licenses… Wait, we are all sensible riders and we would never – and I say NEVER – drive irresponsibly, would we?


Someone says… It seems that… We heard through the grapevine…
Apparently someone in Japan had more than enough of being cautious and went full-on in engineering the ultimate SuperBike weapon, with the sole purpose of winning everything and some more.
Here it is.
The only perplexity we have is how the next model will be named? RR-RR? And the one after? RRR-RR-SP
Etc..

Honda CBR 1000 RR-R Fireblade

Back in Europe, someone else remembered that they had already in house a V4 engine and wondered if they could split it in half and create a beautiful, lightweight, and very flickable middleweight Sportbike for the real world.
They realised they could and voilà!

Aprilia RS 660

And since they were at it, they also thought “Hang on a sec… Let’s take some pieces of the fairing out and put higher bars on! And let’s take some hp out just because we are sensible people”
And tah-dah!

Aprilia Tuono 660

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Touring mode

Some motorcyclists are interested in discovering other places and love to ride for miles in new landscapes.
Thankfully, it seems that manufacturers took notice, and in Milan we saw some interesting new or refreshed models. Both for riders who want to travel in comfort and to the one who wants to tour in a hurry.

Kawasaki, for example, is a bit biased on the “hey, presto!” side of touring with the new Ninja 1000 SX, the Supercharged H2 SX, and the Versys 1000

Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX, H2 SX, Versys 1000

BMW just renewed its S 1000XR and introduced a more affordable and relaxed inline twin called F 900XR

BMW S 1000XR, F 900XR

Ducati kept the radar pointed to their Multistrada introducing the 1260 S Grand Tour

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour

Notable mention for Yamaha that took out the hat a completely refreshed Tracer 700. And if the numbers we see on our Instagram account tells something, it looks like motorcyclists like it a lot!

Yamaha Tracer 700

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Adventure mode

And to push the boundaries of touring mode to the next level, let’s talk about Adventure bikes.
After the undoubtful success of the BMW GS and more specialised off-roader like the KTM adventure line, it seems like more and more riders are interested in smaller, more manageable and more affordable options.

One we didn’t see coming and was a nice surprise is the new Moto Morini X-Cape 660. The clue is in the name and the design is just beautiful. Powered by a 660 cc inline 2 cylinder engine was an eye-catcher.

Moto Morini X-Cape 660

KTM was still committed to their Adventure 790, but introduced a smaller sibling, the Adventure 390

KTM Adventure 390, Adventure 790

Another unexpected surprise was the Swedish design interpretation of the adventure made in Mattighofen that is the Husqvarna Norden 901. It is still a concept but looks pretty much definitive and, we daresay, it actually looks great!

Husqvarna Norden 901

A very pragmatic bike that was never nominated for a beauty contest – for a reason – was the Suzuki V-Strom.
We now saw the new model, and looks much better!

Suzuki V-Strom 1050

Even though it’s not new, we cannot ignore the fact that when we posted photos on our Instagram, the profile almost exploded with visualisations!
We weren’t expecting that! Therefore here she is.

Yamaha Tenere 700

Similarly, not a new bike, but it was impossible to approach it due to the ludicrous number of people around it. There is no doubt it has personality

Moto Guzzi V85 TT

And last but not least, one that we would have prefered it remained a concept (and quickly forgot).
Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But, how can we put what we think about this in a way that doesn’t sound too harsh to the ones who designed it?
Meh… We’ll leave it to you to discover what to think about it…

Harley Davidson Pan America 1250

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Look-at-me mode

We believe that there are some motorcycles whose sole purpose is to pamper the ego of the owner. The writer of this article actually believes he owns one precisely for that reason.
They might be great to ride, or they might just be beautiful, or intriguing to look at.
Yet, they are the bikes that left parked in a gathering of motorcyclists, inevitably attract curiosity, interest or awe.
And at EICMA 2019 there were plenty.
Obviously, beauty is subjective but with these, we couldn’t help but stop, take some photos, watch them and thinking “I’d like one in my garage, provided I had unlimited credit, unlimited space, or both”.

MV Agusta Superveloce

Bimota Tesi H2

FB Mondial

Indian Motorcycle (all of them)

Brixton Motorcycles

SWM

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Electrified mode

Some purists might disagree, but we personally like the idea of electric motorcycles.
We had the opportunity to drive electric cars and – in terms of pleasure to drive – we find that the instant and flat torque an electric engine provides, returns a very pure driving experience. One that allows you to focus on where to put the wheels with unprecedented focus.
Yes, the range might be a bit of a concern. And more than range, the time to recharge the battery will prevent, for the moment, their mass adoption.
However, this year we noticed a lot of movement in this direction.
And like in the automotive sector, more often than not from startups or from directions we were not expecting.

Starting from the brands that are precursors in this space.
Energica capitalised on the exposure due to providing their bikes for the Moto-E championship, and pushed the rage of their Eva series to the next level with the “Ribelle” (“Rebel” in English): 107 Kw, 215 Nm (that is Triumph Rocket 3 territory, see above), and 21,5 kWh batteries allowing 400 Km range and DC rapid charging technology (CCS)

Energica (The EVA Ribelle is the one in red)

Innovation sometimes comes from places you don’t expect.
Last year Kymco introduced their SuperNex concept. That looked great but was… A concept. And you could tell it was since, at a closer look, it was clearly a static model.
This year Kymco’s CEO actually rode on stage the apparently fully functional prototype of their RevoNex.
It might not be production-ready yet, but it actually moved on her own power. That seems suggests that it shouldn’t be too far away.
And boy, we like it! We like it A LOT!
Oh, and for some reasons it has a 6-speed gearbox!

Kymco RevoNex

The other established reality in electric bikes is Zero Motorcycles
Like in 2018 they choose not to be fully present with bells and whistles and their own stand inside of EICMA. Instead, they scattered their bikes in other stands and organised an event in a posh venue in Milan.
It actually works well IMHO, because this way you are able to see their creations out in the real world where they belong.

Zero Motorcycles

Established and well-known motorcycle brands are starting to jump into the electric bike arena. Some with real determination, like Harley Davidson with their LiveWire, some others just testing the waters with a concept, like Kawasaki with their EV Project – yes, this is the official name.

Harley Davidson LiveWire

Kawasaki EV Project

And there are also totally unexpected ones.
Motorbikes that you think they are just design concepts, then you discover that they are real, functioning bikes.
The Verge TS is actually usable and, according to their engineers, it will be production-ready six months away from the moment we are writing. Which means somewhere in May 2020.
Presently, Verge financed production via pre-ordering, and it appears they’ve been successful.
Oh, in case you are wondering, the electric motor IS the wheel rim (!!!!)
Now, we think we know what you are thinking. The engineer we talked to acknowledged that unsprung weight is, of course, bigger than in a conventional wheel. But it’s not too bad and the bike rides very well.
We would LOVE to test it ASAP.

Verge TS

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Cheeky mode

And to conclude, here you will find motorcycles we found cheeky for one reason or another.
Some unashamedly refer back to a famous model of the past, some others are just cute, and others vaguely resemble another bike of another brand without actually looking like that bike.

We will start with the Benelli Leoncino.
Benelli took the name of a bike the produced decades ago and that very few people outside of Italy remembered – and even less in the rest of Europe – and slapped it on a cool designed 500 cc bike.
When they discovered it was successful they came out with the 800 cc, that will capitalise on the success of its younger sibling. Clever!

Benelli Leoncino 800

Take a bike you do already have. One that was designed from day one to be customised.
Now take a bike that was manufactured 30 years ago with your engine, but not under your brand, even though you were part of the same group.
A motorcycle that won the Paris Dakar with Edi Orioli, when it was still running from Paris to Dakar. The Cagiva Elephant 900.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you the Ducati Scrambler Desert X. Spot the difference.

Ducati Scrambler DesertX

Ducati was not the only one play on the nostalgia of Paris Dakar and Rally-Raid in the desert. Suzuki too couldn’t resist.
At the end of the day, they had a bike that was nicknamed “Desert Express”, the DR 750 S BIG. That was a thumper, albeit a very big one, this is the new V-Strom 1050 V Twin.
Yes, we mentioned her already, but look how cheeky these colour schemes are! And they also had the original Desert Express inside the stand!

Suzuki V-Strom 1050 – Desert Express colour schemes

50 years ago and for an entire decade, generations of motorcyclists drooled on an Italian “scrambler”.
Fast forward a couple of years ago, after a long agony, the brand was resurrected together with today’s incarnation of that bike.

Fantic Caballero

Walking through the stands you notice a concept, and you like it! You really like it! No, seriously!
Then you happen to pass by another stand when there is another bike you like and notice something with the corner of your eye.
You take a couple of photos, compare them and you notice the – maybe unintentional – “Tribute”. Ah, that’s why I liked it!
Probably we are the only one who noticed, but we did.

Honda CB4 X Concept

Once upon a time, there was a 350 cc motorbike called 3 1/2.
Now we have one called 6 1/2
Fair enough Moto Morini. Take our money when it will be available.

Moto Morini 6 1/2

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Stinger (Giangi)

Father of a whirlwind and a bulldozer, underslept and overthinking at times. One day I woke up and said "Shall we do something different today?" I called a friend and we started this website

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