RE: EICMA 2018: PH2 show report

RE: EICMA 2018: PH2 show report

Thursday 8th November

EICMA 2018: PH2 show report

We can't stop staring at the record-breaking 221hp Ducati Panigale V4R. And it only got better in Milan...



It's November and it's Milan so it must be EICMA, which stands for a lot of very long Italian words that mean Bike Show. This year's Esposizione (told you) comes against the surprisingly cheery background of European motorcycle sales being 7.2% up for the first six months of 2018. Given that moped sales were down by 32% over the same period, you might come to the conclusion that manufacturers are getting increasingly good at mining niches in the 'proper' bike market. They're certainly getting good at charging for their products. The days of the sub-£10k bike that's worth having may be numbered.

Good news, then, that Royal Enfield is stepping up to the 'affordable fun' plate. The route they're taking is 'doing a Triumph'. Not modern Triumph: RE has a way to go yet to get to that level. No, they're doing an old Triumph by hashing up their range of post-WW2 design single- and twin-cylinder bikes for the 21st century, or for the later part of the 20th century at least.


Luckily for Royal Enfield, products like the recently launched and unexpectedly decent Interceptor GT and Continental GT café racer 650 twins (selling in the UK for £5500 and £6200 respectively) fit perfectly with the hipster craze which, against all the odds, is showing no signs of easing off just yet. For EICMA they have put together a Concept KX bobber based on a 1938 (!) Royal Enfield and powered by an 834cc V-twin engine that has a certain Morini look about it.

Not quite sure where that came from, as the only RE V-twin connection I'm aware of is with Australian customer builders Carberry who created a 1000cc vee for the company based on two 500cc singles. This Concept KX lump doesn't look anything like that, so it could well be a mockup. Front suspension is by girder fork, a format first seen in 1913, but thankfully the traditionally spine-shattering solid rear end has been averted in favour of a monoshocked single-sided swingarm.


The Concept KX was turned round in six months as a showoff project for the design team. Whether this sort of thing appeals is a matter of personal taste, but as a means of letting us know that Royal Enfield has a design team, it works. We wish them well.

Ironically, Triumph is itself 'doing a Triumph' by continuing to develop its own neanderthal offerings alongside its proper bikes. We mean that in a nice way: today's vertical twin Triumph is a hell of a lot nicer than the last one turned out by the Meriden co-op back in 1983. It's also a hell of a lot bigger in cubic displacement. Now they're up to 1200cc, which seems an unearthly amount for this inherently vibey engine format, but Triumph has managed to tame the throbbing. The Bonneville T120 Diamond on their EICMA stand has a MINI look about it, with phased-out Union Jack motifs a-plenty. A bit like the Shoreditch hipster, you'd have thought that this 'God save the Queen' trend might have waned somewhat by now, but there you go.


BMW recently released a 1250 version of its round the world backwards, forwards, anywhichwaywards flat-twin GS adventure behemoth. It's the sort of machine that won't let mountains or most other natural phenomena get in its way, but don't expect to be able to squeeze a broken one through a kindly Iraqi greengrocer's door of an evening because it won't fit. The new BMW F850 GS Adventure will, though - you'll just have to remove its engine bars first. It's a lot easier than taking the cylinder heads off.

The steel-framed 853cc parallel twin motor puts out the normal GS 95hp and 92Nm, which is more than enough for your average world trip. Standard F850GS owners beaten down by the hammering they get from the wind will be gnashing their teeth in envy at the sight of the Adventure's two-stage adjustable windscreen. That plus the extra suspension travel, wide enduro footpegs, LED headlight, 6.5-inch TFT dash, adjustable footbrake and gearchange levers, stainless steel back rack, multiple riding modes, emergency call function and 23-litre tank promising up to 340 miles between filling points suggest a degree of focus that should put the Adventure on any dust-basher's short list. It's no lightweight at 244kg though.

 

KTM is the thorn in BMW's two-wheeled side, so you'd expect them to use EICMA to annoy the Munich lads. And that's just what they've done, launching not only a loony 690 SMC R, which is sort of parkour on two wheels, but also a rival to the F850GS Adventure that's called the 790 Adventure R. Coming in two iterations - Adventure, distinguishable by its street-style front mudguard and Avon Trailrider tyres, and Adventure R with underlight fender, knobblier Metzeler tyres and long-travel suspension including 48mm WP XPLOR forks (up from the base bike's 43mm items). Both weigh in at 189kg dry.

Although the 790's engine is smaller than the BMW's, it's just as powerful at 95hp, and we already know from the 790 Duke that it's a right barrel of laughs. Throw in a TFT dash with smartphone connectivity, cornering ABS for angst-free madness and KTM's reputation for quality and robustness, and you can see that BMW really has got a job on here.


We won't even mention Yamaha's new Tenere 700, powered by the MT-07's 72hp 689cc parallel twin motor. Smaller than the German bikes and set to be a good bit cheaper than them too, this quad-headlight beast could be a very attractive and accessible option to the BMW and KTM if it's anything like as focused and functional as the original Tenere single of yore.

No show would be complete without the odd concept, and MV Agusta's Superveloce 800 fits the bill. Criticising an MV feels a bit like having a pop at a supermodel but the seat looks a trifle boudoir-ish and the small circular light motif comes across a bit '50s sci-fi comic. Add in the slightly overwrought yellow screen and leather tank strap and this could be one of those Italian bikes that looks better with the panels taken off, but full marks for the alloy wheels which are surely the spindliest ever. Doubt they'll make it to the production model that we're promised will arrive towards the end of next year.


Aprilia turned up with a more down to earth but still attractive concept, the RS660 Supersport. It's another parallel twin - what is it with parallel twins these days? Whether it will be coming to the UK is as yet unknown. The firm's press release seems to be suggesting it's aimed more at carving out a market in Asia. For UK riders requiring serious performance in a real Aprilia they'll be able to buy next year, the bike whose engine was chopped in two to make the RS660, the RSV4, has been bored out to 1074cc, taking its output to 214bhp. The rev-limiter is set at a heady and possibly window-destroying 13,600rpm.

Not to be outdone, Ducati whipped out a new 211hp Panigale V4S range-topper, also available in limited edition Panigale V4 Speciale format with a titanium exhaust, or with a production world-record 221hp in the leg-wetting V4R. They also brought a new version of the slicked-up/offroad Hypermotard 950 with 112hp, a monster 95Nm of torque and a modded riding position, and tweaked Diavel and Diavel S models featuring the 159hp/129Nm Testastretta 1262 engine with desmodromic variable timing (DVT) in a new, more agile trellis frame. The S has Ohlins suspension at both ends and clutchless shifting via Ducati's DQS system.


Naturally the Japanese were present in force at EICMA, and just in case you haven't had your fill of parallel twins Kawasaki confirmed the Z400 Ninja as a naked replacement for the Z300 while Honda announced some engine upgrades for its now 47hp CBR500R (also available in X adventure format). Both should be perfect for those with zero mechanical sympathy and a totally unreasonable expectation of big-bike performance from a small engine.

Mentalist rates of progress will be more easily achieved on the tuned-up and faired four-cylinder CBR650R (or naked CB650R version), or with ridiculous ease on the 2019 CBR1000RR Fireblade, coming this time in rather more attractive liveries than in recent years. To answer customer grumbles, Honda has reined in some of the Fireblade's more intrusive traction control and throttle systems. You can now be more aggressive coming out of corners and can more precisely fiddle about with the wheelie control settings. For 2019, the Fireblade's Selectable Torque Control will even factor in tyre profiles. Wow. It was never like this in my day, when the only traction control was your right hand and the only wheelie settings were Way-Hay! or Ow. Amazing stuff really.


Kawasaki trumpeted some electronics upgrades for its doughty Verysys 1000 tourer, and also managed to tick both the parallel twin and the retro boxes in one fell brown swoop with the re-release of the W800, a reasonably well liked machine in its own way but also a pastiche of a pastiche of a pastiche, given that it's based on a 2011 model that was based on a 1999 W650 model that was based on a 1967 model that was based on a 1946 BSA A7. Eeeh, there's nowt new under the sun.

If you want to gawp at all this stuff for yourself, Milan's a 665-mile hop from Calais via Switzerland. It's unseasonably warm at the minute so you could easily take the bike. EICMA runs from 8-11 November and it's 23 euros on the door. Or la porta, as they say over there.

Author
Discussion

smilo996

Original Poster:

1,441 posts

105 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
A great period for motorcycling.
A shame more of the car nuts drooling over thenlatest uber hypercar do not realise, the new Ducati has @1400bhp per ton. How much fun would that be.
The MV is beautiful too and much better than the recent retro one off.

ZX10R NIN

12,105 posts

60 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
That Ducati looks like an absolute weapon but the MV looks truly awesome shame it's not an F4.

BuzzBravado

2,575 posts

106 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
"The days of the sub-£10k bike that's worth having may be numbered."

This isn't going to help motivate the upcoming generation get into bikes at all, which we are all told is crucial for the industry to continue.

ZX10R NIN

12,105 posts

60 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
There are still good bikes for under 10k the licensing system is the biggest problem.

dibblecorse

4,424 posts

127 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
Did you actually go to the show ? And if so why all the catalogue images ??
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GroundEffect

11,028 posts

91 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
smilo996 said:
A great period for motorcycling.
A shame more of the car nuts drooling over thenlatest uber hypercar do not realise, the new Ducati has @1400bhp per ton. How much fun would that be.
The MV is beautiful too and much better than the recent retro one off.
Bike power/weight ratios are so unrealistic though since a huge percentage of the weight is the rider. Put an 80kg rider (more with leathers and helmet!) on it and you're at 955BHP/tonne. Still a massive number but so far removed from what is published.

JMF894

2,638 posts

90 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
GroundEffect said:
smilo996 said:
A great period for motorcycling.
A shame more of the car nuts drooling over thenlatest uber hypercar do not realise, the new Ducati has @1400bhp per ton. How much fun would that be.
The MV is beautiful too and much better than the recent retro one off.
Bike power/weight ratios are so unrealistic though since a huge percentage of the weight is the rider. Put an 80kg rider (more with leathers and helmet!) on it and you're at 955BHP/tonne. Still a massive number but so far removed from what is published.
But then throw in the cost of a bike vs hypercar. My CB has a power to weight ratio of 432bhp/tonne and cost me £6500 brand new. So many cars these days that were once accessible are no longer due to the state of the classic/ enthusiast market. It's why I got back into bikes. My old chugger E46 commuter will have to suffice for now.

V12GT

18 posts

25 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
Article said:
"It was never like this in my day, when the only traction control was your right hand and the only wheelie settings were Way-Hay! or Ow."

Been there, done both of those things - the second quite often shortly after the first...

Made me giggle and think about getting on a bike again after 8 years (since the last, big, Ow).

73RS

67 posts

143 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
Will be interesting to see how the Tenere and KTM790 are in reviews. Both seem like fair attempts at real world adventure bikes - capable off road, but reasonable tank ranges. The 650GSA is too heavy IMO.

2smoke

53 posts

46 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
I don't understand why the 850GS weighs so much. That is pretty much the same as the outgoing 1200GS LC which by comparison has shaft drive, tele/paralever suspension, bigger motor etc. Perhaps a missed opportunity with these incoming competitor bikes from KTM and Yamaha.

ITP

846 posts

132 months

Thursday 8th November
quotequote all
That V4R panigale is 998cc too, instead of the 1100cc V4S. 221bhp (234bhp with the optional race exhaust!) is amazing bhp/litre for a normally aspirated engine. What a machine.

Arsecati

92 posts

52 months

Saturday 10th November
quotequote all
Plenty of bikes 'worth having' under £10k (coming from someone with 9 bikes including everything from a CRF250 to a Triumph 675 racebike and a Panigale S!). You've already mentioned the new Royal Enfields, but other bikes which are a lot of fun and worth a look are the SV650, MT07/MT09/MT10, 790 Duke, Ducati and Triumph Scramblers, Beemer R NineT, CBR650, etc., etc.

Problem is, we're all so fixated now on massive numbers, we've forgotten what it actually means to have fun on a bike now. I rarely ride my Panigale on the road these days - it's just too damn fast for the road: you can't get anywhere near its limits, so you have to push it harder to get the 'thrill'. But the problem is, that other road users, cyclists, sheep, walkers, etc., etc. are all still going the same speed, and THAT is just too scary. My previous 1098 was far more fun, and I now far prefer to take out either my old FZR1000 Exup or 916 on a Sunday morning for a blast than the Pani. The Pani was - to me - the point where we started going backwards in regards to enjoying bikes on the road: incredible piece of kit on track - but that's not where I do the bulk of my riding!

Gixer_fan

284 posts

133 months

Saturday 10th November
quotequote all
I think the golden age was mid to late 90s (maybe to early 00s) Bikes plenty enough powerful, good chassis tech, not too complex, and roads not full of cyclists and cameras !

BVB

532 posts

88 months

Saturday 10th November
quotequote all

The Ducati....and that MV! Wowsers. Beautiful pieces of machinery.

Robert-nszl1

199 posts

23 months

Sunday 11th November
quotequote all
Living in London with no off street parking owning a decent bike is now almost impossible. 3 stolen in 3 years, the last left the tracker on the pavement.....