Common Tread

The rest of EICMA: What we saw, what we didn't see

Nov 10, 2017

Sometimes the annual EICMA show is as much about what we don’t see as what we do see.

Spurgeon already wrote yesterday about two anticipated motorcycles we didn’t see this year, at least not in production form. He and his fellow dirt-loving, adventure-bike-riding die-hards have been excited for a year now about the Yamaha T7 concept, but instead of seeing a production version, Yamaha showed another concept, the Ténéré 700 World Raid, and scheduled another year of testing. Meanwhile, we did see the KTM 790 Duke, and now the wait begins for the dirt-capable adventure bike based on that platform. Start planning for EICMA 2018.

Moto Guzzi V85 concept motorcycle
Moto Guzzi showed its "Classic Enduro" V85 concept bike at EICMA with a new 850 cc engine. The style pays tribute to the days when Moto Guzzi competed in the Paris-Dakar Rally. Moto Guzzi photo.

Sticking to the dirt side and Spurgeon’s dreams for the moment, we also didn’t see most of the changes to the Triumph Tiger that Spurgeon was hoping for. While both the 1200 and 800 Tiger lines got TFT dashes and more advanced electronic aids, Spurgeon will have to keep dreaming of the hard-core off-road version he fancies. Triumph has probably calculated how few riders actually venture as far into the woods as our Common Tread tester.

Aprilia RSVR Factory Works
The "Factory Works" kit for the Aprilia RSV4 not only gives you 215 horsepower, but also a fairing with winglets, so you can look like the guys in MotoGP. I don't know about you, but I'm certain I cannot ride fast enough at my next track day to avoid looking like a poser if I'm on a motorcycle with winglets. Aprilia photo.
Meanwhile, at the desk over by the window, Lemmy’s two biggest wishes for the past year have been for Indian and Kawasaki to come through with the bikes they’ve hinted at: namely, from Indian, the U.S.-built performance motorcycle Lemmy’s been yearning for since birth and from Kawasaki the new supercharged models they suggested were in the works. EICMA provided both, both only partially.

Indian’s Scout FTR1200 has all the right stuff but it’s not officially a production bike. Yet. Though the clues were enough to make Lemmy “cautiously recklessly optimistic” that Indian will follow through on its promises and move beyond heavyweight cruisers. Similarly, Kawasaki unveiled the Ninja H2 SE sport-tourer, complete with supercharger, but what Lemmy was really hoping for was some smaller, more affordable models with forced induction. Blowers for the masses. We're still waiting for that.

More of what we did see

While we’ve already covered the new bikes that we thought were the most significant models, there were many updates, model variations, or bikes unlikely to come to the United States that didn’t make the cut. Totally unsurprising is that stylish bikes ranging from all-out retro copies to variations on retro themes continue to proliferate.

Suzuki SV650X
Suzuki showed the SV650X at EICMA but suggested it's a Europe-only model. Suzuki photo.

Now that the neo-retro bandwagon is pulling out of Mixed Metaphor Station and chugging toward Parodyville, Suzuki is thinking about jumping aboard. Suzuki showed what it called an SV650X at EICMA, but suggested that even if it does go into production, it will be a European model. Meanwhile, here in the United States, Suzuki showed what it called a “Scrambler Styling Exercise” at the AIMExpo in September and there was a poll for visitors to fill out and give their opinions. That bike will also be on display at the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows. Lemmy already filled out the survey, so you might want to add your opinions, just so his views don’t skew the results. Suzuki could use something to compete in this segment and maybe capture some buyers flocking to Yamaha’s Sport Heritage line.

Suzuki Scrambler Styling Exercise
Suzuki is showing this "Scrambler Styling Exercise" at the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows across the United States this winter and soliciting your opinions. Suzuki photo.

At EICMA we also saw the Kawasaki Z900RS Café (see the photo at the top), an attractive variation of the Z900RS shown at the Tokyo show. Of course, if you really want retro, there’s Royal Enfield.

Over at the Honda corner, we covered the new CB1000R’s radical makeover, but we should probably also mention the updates to the Africa Twin. Honda added an upgraded model, the CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports. Both the base and Adventure Sports models get a new throttle-by-wire system that allows four rider modes and seven (instead of three) levels of traction control.

Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports
The Africa Twin Adventure Sports gets more protection and fuel capacity for lengthier expeditions. Honda photo.

The Adventure Sports model provides a larger 6.37-gallon fuel tank, more suspension travel, more ground clearance at 10.6 inches, better wind protection and standard heated grips. The white, blue and red paint and gold wheels are exclusive to the Adventure Sports model.

BMW K 1600 Grand America
The K 1600 Grand America adds the top box Lemmy was missing when he reviewed the K 1600 B. BMW photo.

Also in the category of upgrades rather than new models, BMW showed a K 1600 Grand America, which is the K 1600 B with a top box. Adding a top box wouldn’t usually be big news (half the commuters in the RevZilla parking lot are sporting some version of one, from stylish locking cases to milk crates), but what’s interesting is that the scarcity of packing space was one of the shortcomings Lemmy noted in his review of the K 1600 B. The saddlebags are small and there was no way to add carrying capacity to the swoopy rear section. Who knew BMW already had the fix in hand and ready to show us?

Chaz Davies on the Ducati 959 Panigale Corse
World Superbike runnerup Chaz Davies checks out the 959 Panigale Corse at EICMA. If he sticks with Ducati, Davies will be riding a V-four in 2019. Ducati photo.

While the big news at Ducati was the beginning of the four-cylinder era with the Panigale V4, most Ducati sport bikes will still be twins, for quite a while. To lead that portion of the lineup, Ducati unveiled the 959 Panigale Corse. It still produces a claimed 150 horsepower and comes equipped with upscale bits like the Öhlins suspension and the titanium Akrapovič exhaust.

Finally, though Yamaha has not yet put the ADV bike of Spurgeon's dreams into production, it is tidying up its global nomenclature. Get used to following the European style. FZs will now become MTs and the FJ will be the Tracer.

From Chinese-built Benelli scooters to Keanu Reeves' latest hyper-priced S&S-powered special (just 23 to be made!), EICMA 2017 gave us a lot to chew on, even when it didn't give us everything we wanted. We'll try to get our hands on as many of the more important and relevant machines as possible to evaluate them for you in 2018.