Tuesday was our second day in Milan and the first real day of the EICMA show, and things started to get interesting.
Unfortunately, the day started with an underwhelming launch from Suzuki. If I thought Honda’s presentation on Monday was light, then this one was really surprising, because like everyone I was expecting to see a GSX-R1000. They made it clear that the bike they showed was just a prototype and the final version is still in the works. There were lots of promises of great performance to come, but they haven’t delivered yet.
They also showed the SV650. Dustin, our post-production manager who is here getting these photos for us, owned one and loved it and talks about buying another one because he still longs for that bike. A lot of people felt that way about the SV650, so it’s good to see it coming back.
Of course as lovable and practical as the Suzuki SV650 is, shows like EICMA are mostly about moto-sexy. There was plenty of that on display, too.
First up, Aprilia is basically offering a turn-key world superbike with up to 230 horsepower straight from the factory. Just send them the rules for the superstock or superbike class you’re racing in back home, and they’ll build one for you.
Bimota served up a unique mix of sexiness with a new Tesi 3D RaceCafe bike, which combines their forkless front end with café styling. Bimota also showed a new bike with a carbon frame that cradles a Ducati Diavel motor with a supercharger! That should be good for about 190 to 200 horsepower. Very interesting, gorgeous, gorgeous bike. Bimota always does great eye candy.
As does MV Agusta. They showed their Lewis Hamilton Brutale, which is totally over the top with ostentatious bodywork. The paint still lacks a little, but hopefully they'll work that out, and the bike’s gorgeous regardless.
KTM’s 690 Duke definitely looked like a lot of fun, like something you could really rip it up on. It had a very minimalist front end and very hot color selections. Very, very cool.
At the other end of the spectrum was the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, which was a letdown, to me. If the V7 left you with questions, the V9 really will have you scratching your head. There were some positives, but lots of negatives. The bike was a rolling contradiction. Up front were horn and regulator covers made of billet that looked gorgeous. Other parts, like the panels under the seat by the battery tray, just didn't seem like they were designed correctly, leaving the battery exposed and making the bike look really unfinished. The neck of the bike looked like it was made out of cheesy sheet metal. What a strange, contradictory bike.
Of course we focused mostly on the bikes at EICMA, but we are gear geeks at heart, so a couple of new pieces of gear caught my eye. The first is the new HJC RPHA-11 helmet that kind of snuck in under the radar on us. It's definitely a significant update over the old RPHA-10
HJC has widened the eyeport, updated the RapidFire faceshield system and added emergency removal cheekpads. The really big update is the Advanced Channeling System and the vent closures. Very smooth action.
Another interesting product was the new Pirelli Scorpion Rally tire, probably a 70/30 tire with very large horizontal gaps in the tread that give the Rally a really aggressive look. It upped the meaty, beefy quotient for off-road use, but not so much so that it's going to act like a TKC80, where it's going to vibrate and be really loud and squirmy on pavement.
Speaking of going off-road, I had a chance to look more closely at the Ducati Multistrada Enduro and saw a few things that made me pause. For one, I'm a bit concerned about how far that front cylinder hangs out there. Even on the model shown with engine guards, if you come over a log, you could rip the head clear off the cylinder. On the left side of the bike, the edge of the water pump really hangs out there. The engine guard they sell isn't going to do anything to protect that. I'm sure an aftermarket vendor will come up with a design to save it, though. For a bike that's meant to challenge the BMW R 1200 GS, this doesn't inspire the same level of confidence.
Finally, in less sexy but very practical terms, there was a great little scooter company called Gogoro, which is based out of Taiwan. They have an electric scooter system based on replaceable batteries that just pop out. When you buy the scooter, you sign up for a monthly service, which lets you stop by one of their charging stations and swap out your batteries any time you're getting low, just like you’d stop at a gas station to refuel.
Think of it like Netflix. One flat fee gets you fully charged batteries you can swap out anywhere throughout the city. Right now, it's been introduced in Taipei, and they're going to be in Amsterdam next spring. These scooters have a cool look to them and can do a top speed of about 60 mph. There's an app to monitor battery life, tell you where the nearest station is, and reserve batteries ahead of time. A full charge will take you about 60 to 80 miles, depending on the load.
This is the other approach to addressing the issue of range with electric vehicles. In the early days of the internal combustion engine, there weren’t gas stations on every corner, either, but over the past century, the infrastructure developed. Does Gogoro have a new and fun solution to urban transportation? They caught my attention.