The Esposizione Mondiale del Motociclismo, as it’s officially called, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, around 7000 journalists attended the show this year while well above half a million people visited the show in 2014. The gargantuan scale of EICMA is intimidating. This year’s show boasted an enormous 3 million square-feet of display area within six pavilions of the Fiera Milano-Rho convention center, which makes American shows like AIMExpo and the IMS events seem like a high-school gymnasium compared to EICMA’s Rose Bowl.
The breadth of new motorcycles shown at EICMA was a good indication of the revitalized health of the Motorcycle industry, a status backed up by the 628,600 visitors who made their way to the annual show. This amounted to a 14.7% increase over the 2013 edition, which was an 8% increase from 2012. Germany’s Intermot event was held a month earlier than EICMA, and it debuted several of the new models we’re excited to ride in 2015. Of particular note was the official unveiling of Kawasaki’s supercharged Ninja H2R, while Ducati took the wraps off its retro-flavoured new Scrambler, a relatively affordable Ducati that is sure to be the hipster’s choice in 2015.
BMW displayed in Cologne the majorly updated S1000RR, plus new versions of the liquid-cooled R1200 Boxer series, the half-faired R1200RS and the naked R1200R roadster. Interestingly, neither uses BMW’s Telelever front suspension like previous R-series bikes and the current R1200GS and RT.
Then it was EICMA’s turn, and we were nearly overwhelmed by the deluge of new models unveiled in Italy. Ducati struck first on the eve of the show, holding an exclusive event to highlight the category-busting 1299 Panigale that boasts an incredible 205 horsepower from its 1285cc V-Twin and a phalanx of electronic rider aids such as cornering ABS and auto-blipping downshifts. Also of note, Ducati presented a much fuller redesign of the Multistrada than was expected. The new variable valve timing motor, which Ducati representatives say, makes the V-Twin engine much more tractable and 10-hp stronger, wasn’t a surprise to us, as the Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) engine was already teased prior to EICMA.
What we didn’t expect was a new chassis, standard cruise control, the optional headlights that peer into corners, nor the S model’s 5-inch, full-colour TFT gauges that can sync to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The already incredibly high tech Multistrada just became, considerably better.
Then there was Yamaha’s announcements for 2015. We knew a fresh R1 sportbike was on its way, but we weren’t quite prepared for the ground-up overhaul and bleeding-edge electronics it contained, including a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit that features a Slide Control System that goes beyond what a traction-control system can offer. And the up-spec M version boasts an electronic suspension system from Ohlins, carbon fiber bodywork and a wifi- and GPS-enabled computer that can download performance data from the bike. A little lost in the R1’s shadow was the new FJ-09, a Multistrada-ish take on the best-selling FZ-09 and its thrilling 847cc three-cylinder engine. Updates include new gauges, an adjustable windscreen, traction control, ABS, and a fuel tank enlarged by 1.1 gallons to a more tour-ready 4.8 gals. It’s an incredible motorcycle for just $10,490.
The star of the show was the much-hyped Kawasaki Ninja H2, the supercharged street-legal version of the 300-horse, track-only H2R shown at Intermot. A force-fed litre bike would be news on its own, but the H2 also includes high-spec suspension, numerous rider aids like TC, launch control, a quick shifter and adjustable engine braking, Brembo monoblock brakes and full LED lighting. We suspect Kawasaki is understating its true output.
Surely, the oddest unveil came during the Honda presentation when Big Red unveiled a pair of intriguing prototypes: a street-going Moto GP-derived RC213V-S and a new adventure bike dubbed, rather uninspiringly, “True Adventure.” No other details were. The True Adventure has an aluminium chassis and a parallel-Twin engine with no known cc output, but that’s about all we know.
No info was given about the exquisite RC213V-S, either, but a little digging revealed that it will be an extremely limited-production machine that will be built by hand at HRC, rather than on one of Honda’s production lines. It appears to be a very close facsimile of an actual GP bike, though it’s unlikely it will have the RC’s pneumatic valve-train. What we are certain about is that it will be stratospherically priced, perhaps into the six-figure bracket! (that's Dollars, mind you!).
Who can forget the significantly updated sportbikes from Aprilia. The Tuono V4, gets new Tuono 1100 nomenclature to reflect its bigger engine, now up to 1077cc and 175 claimed horsepower. More power from a hooligan bike is always appreciated, but sharper steering geometry, smart-phone linking and a slightly lower seat height has got us excited. Also of note is Aprilia’s latest version of its RSV4. Having earned yet another World Superbike title in 2014, we weren’t expecting any revisions to it, never mind the comprehensively updated version shown at EICMA. The Italians have coaxed out an additional 16 mad horses from the 65° V-Four, now pushing the magic 200-hp threshold. CNC-milled cylinder heads improve flow, and all rotating components have been lightened, the intake cam itself lighter by more than a pound. A half-inch longer swingarm helps the RSV4 put its newfound power to the ground more effectively. Time again to rack up the superbikes for another round of shootouts!
We wish, someday we would also be able to visit EICMA in al its glory, till then we will try and give you as in-depth reporting of these Shows as we can possibly do.
Take care and Ride Safe.