Milan Motorcycle Show 2017: PH2

Ducati was always going to steal the Milan headlines with the unveiling of its new Panigale V4 - and here it finally is in all its glory. Many of the V4's technical details were released ahead of time, so we knew it was a twin-pulse 90-degree V4 with the same bore as the MotoGP bike. We also knew it had a counter-rotating crank, desmo valve system and made 214hp (226hp with a pipe) and 91lb ft of torque from its 1,103cc motor. So what else is new?

Well, unlike the V-twin Panigale, the V4's chassis isn't monocoque but instead a new 'front frame' that uses the Desmosedici Stradale engine as a load-bearing structure. The front of the frame mounts directly to the upper half-crankcase of the front cylinder and the rear cylinder's head, while the swingarm is attached to the rear of the motor via a forged aluminium plate, and the subframe is also attached to the motor. Ducati claims this has allowed them to keep the weight of the front frame down to just 4kg, which is a major factor in the V4 weighing just 195kg. Add to that a full electronics package with all the usual traction controls, anti-wheelie, power modes etc and it promises to be a very potent beast indeed.

The Panigale V4 will come in standard trim with Showa forks and a Sachs shock for ยฃ19,250; with semi-active ร–hlins suspension and forged aluminium wheels in V4 S guise for ยฃ23,895; and as a Speciale - which is an S with extra bolt-ons and a race exhaust - for ยฃ34,995. There is no R version, that's expected to arrive in 2019 when the firm enters WSB with a 999cc version of the V4.

If you like your Ducati sports bikes to have two cylinders, there is also a new 959 Panigale Corse, which adds non-semi-active ร–hlins suspension and Termi pipes for ยฃ15,895. The more relaxed of you may be interested in the new Multistrada 1260 and 1260 S too, which feature a larger capacity DVT 1262cc motor and updates including revised geometry and an improved electronics package.

Fans of the Scrambler will be delighted to see the new Scrambler 1100. Ducati having expanded its air-cooled motor to 1079cc and added traction control, power modes and cornering ABS to the party as it makes 84hp with 65lb ft of torque. The bike comes in three formats with the Special adding spoke wheels, a brown seat and chrome details to keep it retro; the Sport an ร–hlins shock and cast wheels; and the standard Scrambler which looks a lot like the smaller model, but with underseat pipes. It will be interesting to see how these sell, as much of the Scrambler's charm is due to its smaller capacity motor. And no, sadly there are no plans for an 1100 Desert Sled.

Kawasaki pulled out all the stops out at the Milan show and unveiled a huge number of potentially very exciting and significant models. Topping the list in terms of styling was the beautiful Z900RS Cafรฉ, which adds an elegant nose fairing to the already cool Z900RS, and looks fantastic in green. Next up is the Ninja ZX-10R SE, which adds Showa semi-active suspension to the firm's WSB-conquering sportsbike. Interestingly, this is the first time the firm has ever used semi-active suspension on a bike.

Having already demonstrated its supercharged engine on the H2 models, the range of charged bikes increases for 2018 with the Ninja H2 SX, a supercharged sports tourer. Boasting 200hp from a version of the H2's inline four, the SX adds panniers and a 19-litre fuel tank, and is expected to be far less of a premium model in terms of price than the other H2 models. Supercharging for the masses? Quite possibly. And speaking of masses...

Kawasaki announced at Milan that it is building two 125cc models - a Z125 and Ninja 125 - which will be released by the end of 2018 and are aimed at expanding the firm's reach in developing markets, as well as attracting younger European riders to the brand. No word on where they will be built, but expect it to be Thailand or India to ensure they are competitively priced.

Royal Enfield
If you want to hear scary numbers, consider this. This year Enfield built over 800,000 bikes in their Indian factory. But the firm isn't satisfied with dominating its domestic market, they want a slice of the European one and with this in mind it unveiled two new models using a brand new parallel twin 650 engine in Milan.

The eagerly awaited 650 makes 48hp with 38lb ft of torque, is oil/air-cooled and is housed in a tubular steel chassis with 18-inch wheels and ABS. Released in two formats - the more relaxed Interceptor INT 650 and sportier Continental GT 650 - these could well be extremely significant bikes, certainly in India but also possibly in Europe. According to Enfield, the bike will be well priced, and with a focus on lightweight they are absolutely brimming with the fun factor that some more serious retros lack. PH2 will be watching with fascination. It is also worth remembering these bikes were developed in the UK by a team that consists mainly of ex-Triumph employees, so they really know their stuff...

Honda's focus at Milan was on the 'neo retro' market, which is a flash way of saying cool looking naked bikes. Leading the charge is the firm's CB1000, which is a Fireblade-powered cafรฉ racer with thoroughly modern technology. The motor has been retuned slightly, but you still get 145hp with 77lb ft of torque and a full electronics package in a very cool looking machine. It is joined in the neo retro range by the smaller capacity CB300R and CB125R, which look great and should sell well.

Also new from Honda is the expected Africa Twin Adventure Sports model, which adds a larger fuel tank (24.2-litres) and more off-road orientated suspension and chassis components to the Africa Twin platform. It's basically Honda's take on the GS Adventure and comes in a great modern take on the classic Twinky paint scheme.

The firm also unveiled a Monkey 125 concept (err, ok), slight updates to the popular NC750 models and a Super Cub 125 concept.

Milan saw Yamaha consolidate its model range by updating its best selling models rather than releasing anything too radical. The hyper naked market accounts for over 167,000 of Yamaha's European sales and the bike that dominates in terms of volume (55 per cent) is the MT-07. For 2018 it has been given some new bodywork, a new headlight, an improved riding position and seat, and sportier fork and shock settings - which should eliminate some of the overly soft feeling that the old bike suffered from.

Speaking of sorting out suspension, the MT-09 is joined in the 2018 model range by a new MT-09 SP. This is essentially the same bike but with an ร–hlins shock and upgraded forks, which come with gold anodising but are Kayaba and not ร–hlins units. There is some criticism from sportier riders when it comes to the MT-09's standard suspension, so this will be music to their ears.

On the touring side of things, the Tracer 900 has been upgraded with a more relaxed riding position and adjustable screen and also joined by a GT model. The Tracer 900 GT comes with fully adjustable forks, a remote preload shock adjuster, colour TFT dash, quick shifter, cruise control, heated grips and even hard panniers. There will also be a 2018 Super Tรฉnรฉrรฉ Raid Edition, which is basically a slightly pimped, fully equipped, Super Tenere with carbon panels, fog lamps and 37-litre panniers. And what of the T7 concept bike that was shown last year? This year Yamaha has called it the Tรฉnรฉrรฉ 700 World Raid and admitted it is a prototype that will be being tested all over the world before release in 2019 as a hardcore adventure bike. And finally, PH2 understands the mad Niken three wheeler will be in the UK by mid-2018 - we can't wait to try it out.

Suzuki was conspicuous by its absence in Milan. The firm had a stand, but no press conferences and no new models, aside from the SV650X cafรฉ racer, which is just an SV with a body kit and has already been seen. What's going on with Suzuki? Last year was so promising and hinted the company's woes, and lacklustre model range, were behind it.

Husky finally revealed production ready versions of its 701 and 401 Vitpilen and 401 Svartpilen, which will be in the UK by March 2018. The firm also unveiled the (fairly predictable) Svartpilen 701 prototype.

KTM revealed it is expecting to sell a staggering 230,000 models in 2017, which is an incredible number and is thanks in a large part to sales of its small capacity models in developing markets. But in Milan the firm was looking to Europe with the 790 Duke.

Unveiled last year as a prototype, the production version of KTM's new 799cc parallel twin is an all-singing naked model that boasts 105hp and 63lb ft of torque. This in a 169kg bike with a full electronics package, including cornering ABS and traction control, as well as power modes and even launch control. With WP suspension and radial brakes - it is a serious bit of kit when it comes to destroying corners - this could be the star of 2018. And it won't sit alone in the 790 range for long.

Alongside the Duke, KTM displayed a 790 Adventure R prototype, which houses the 790 motor in a 'hardcore' off-roader. With styling influences from the firm's Dakar bikes as well an off-road tailored electronics package, it will be on sale in 2019 for those serious about hitting the dirt paths.

BMW have taken a well-trodden route as well as a fresh path with their new 2018 models. The new F750 GS and F850 GS are basically larger capacity models of the outgoing F-series bikes, with the extra ccs allowing them to not only meet Euro4, but also boost power and fuel efficiency. Both bikes are now 853cc (yes, the names are confusing) with the F750 making 77hp and the F850 95hp. The motor has been totally reworked though, with a new 270/540-degree firing order and twin balancer shafts. Pleasingly, while ABS is standard, you can now spec the bikes up to include dynamic ABS and traction control, and they can both be made A2-licence compliant.

BMW's two other models are aimed at very specific markets. First up is the K1600 Grand America, which is basically the K1600 Bagger with a top box and larger front fairing. Targeted, unsurprisingly, at the American market, it's a bit of an odd bike as the K1600 GT already kind of fulfils this role, but it does look a stylish tourer and this is its main selling point.

Finally, we have the C400 X. BMW are no stranger to the scooter market with the C600 Sport and C650 GT as well as their electric scooter, but the C400 X is the firm's first mid-sized scooter. Powered by a single cylinder motor with a CVT (twist and go), the X makes 34hp and comes with ABS and traction control. It's an interesting idea, and has good extras such as connectivity, but a lot will depend on its price in this tough market.

Triumph have revamped their entire Tiger range for 2018 with the 1200 and 800 both receiving major updates. The Tiger 800, which will still be available in XC and XR formats (as well as x and low seat height versions), has received over 200 upgrades and now gets a lower first gear, updated engine, 5-position screen, cruise control, 6-power modes and a TFT dash alongside other more subtle changes. The Tiger 1200 has over 100 alterations; now 11kg lighter it boasts improved ergonomics, a TFT dash, adaptive cornering lights, cornering ABS and TC, extra power modes and more upgrades to its chassis and ride quality.

Alongside the Tigers, Triumph also announced they were working with Indian company Baja (the world's 3rd largest motorcycle manufacturer) to develop a range of mid-capacity bikes, which is very interesting seeing as they developed and then canned a small capacity bike just a few years ago.

MV Agusta
Nothing technically new from MV, but the firm has unveiled a series of RC (Reparto Corse) bikes that are basically limited edition models with a few accessories, small gearbox updates, Euro4-compliance where required and a flash paint job. There is a Brutale 800 RC, F4 RC, F3 675 and 800 RC and Dragster 800 RC. MV have also built a limited edition Brutale 800 RR Pirelli, which is a link up with the tyre manufacturer and has either blue or red stripes on its tyres' walls depending on the bike's colour scheme. There is talk of a new F4, but that's a 2019 model.

A quiet show for Aprilia sees their RSV4 and Tuono V4 bikes receive updates to their electronics packages alongside new colours and not a great deal else. The bikes were already Euro4-compliant, so it's a case of consolidation for Aprilia and hopefully a bit more excitement for 2019.

Moto Guzzi
Guzzi's stand was fairly devoid of new models, but the firm did show a concept bike powered by its new 850cc motor. Called the V85, it sits between the V7 and V9 models, makes a claimed 80hp, and is housed in a classic enduro-styled bike. Aside from this concept, Guzzi's stand was a bit barren apart from colour changes to the Roamer and Bobber models. Like Aprilia, we are hoping for more in 2019 with a new range based around the 850.

Moto Morini
Not wishing to miss the retro vibe, Moto Morini has released a new version of its 1200 V-twin called the Milano. Producing 110hp, the Milano is Euro4-compliant thanks to a new electronics package and looks pretty cool too. The only concern is that Morini declares, 'availability and price to be announced at a later date' which is always worrying when a small Italian manufacturer is involved. Don't hold your breath...

Finally, there was one new model from Harley to round off our look at this year's Milan show. The Sport Glide, which is a lightweight Street Glide, based on the new Softail platform. It brings removable panniers and screen, and 43mm inverted forks to the party to give it a bit of a sporty edge.

So there you have it, our summary of everything two-wheeled to look forward to in the new year. Which bikes have you excited? Which manufactures have left you a little underwhelmed? Let us know in the comments below.



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Comments (18) Join the discussion on the forum

  • smilo996 08 Nov 2017

    Nice one Jon, all nicely wrapped up in one article.

  • ZX10R NIN 08 Nov 2017

    The Aprilia is always a bike that seems to get overlooked but it's a weapon.

  • Max5476 08 Nov 2017

    Nice summary, I thought I had kept up with the releases, but there were still a few that slipped through.

    I'm excited to see the Kawasaki Z900R, Honda CB1000R, KTM 790 Duke and the Honday Monkey 125 Concept at the NEC show, all on the possible future list.

  • D200 08 Nov 2017

    The bike market has gotten v good again this last couple of years after being stagnant for a while

    There are now about 10 new bikes I want to purchase !

  • Biker 1 09 Nov 2017

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............... That KTM 790 sounds very tasty! I hope its not too expensive - I really want one!

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