New Bikes unveiled by Manufacturers at Milan?s EICMA Motorcycle Show
New Levels of Superbike Performance and Technology displayed
It would be great to be able to attend the annual International Motorcycle Exhibition in Milan, Italy, which is officially known as the Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo e Motociclo e Accessori, or more simply as the EICMA Show. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to attend the ?Mother of all Motorcycle Shows?. This year marked the 72nd edition of the EICMA Show, which happens to be the biggest motorcycle show in the world, with the most new-bike unveilings as well as the largest floor plan. Over 1,000 manufacturers of riding machines, gear and accessories from 35 different countries exhibit their wares at this legendary show each year.
Ty van Hooydonk, director of Discover Today?s Motorcycling and a senior advanced instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Federation seems to always attend the Show each year, and he was gracious enough to serve as our correspondent and to supply us with text and photos providing an early look at some of the more significant examples of the amazing crop of new bikes making their debut at the gigantic Fiera Milano convention center.
Here is a glimpse ahead at some of what will be available coming up to ride in the 2015 model year. Please keep in mind though, that not all of these machines, and certainly not the concept models, have been announced for the U.S. market, and prices have yet to be set for many of the machines.
We?ll be providing a brief preview of 24 selected examples that were displayed at this year?s EICMA Show, but we?ll break them up into two groups to be presented in two separate columns. The first group of 12 are featured this week in Part One, with the remaining second group of 12 machines to be posted next week in Part Two.
All-new or heavily updated big-engine sport bikes dominated the model unveilings this year. Japanese and European brands held nothing back, rolling out the highest-performance, most technologically advanced two-wheelers ever seen in the now show?s 100-year history.
Several machines on display boasted manufacturer-claimed outputs of 200 horsepower or more for the nearly half million paying attendees, Electronic rider aids from lean-sensitive ABS to automatically adjusting active suspension, and bike-to-smartphone connectivity, were included on an ever increasing range of machinery. Certainly beyond imagination a century ago, such technological features will be on sale for everyday consumers next year.
Timing is key, and the sport bike design team at Aprilia couldn?t have asked for a better lead-in to the EICMA show, as just two days before the debut of their new RSV4 RR, the factory Aprilia race team won the World Superbike Championship at the series? 2014 finale in Qatar. This new model will form the basis for the team?s future race bikes and has a redesigned, lighter, 1,000cc V-four engine that features a claimed 200-plus horsepower, housed in a twin-spar aluminum frame. Electronic aids on the Italian machine for the rider include adjustable-on-the-fly traction control; wheelie control; launch control, for racetrack starts; an electronic gearbox, for rapid, no-clutch shifts; selectable engine maps for changing throttle response; and anti-lock brakes. The RR also connects to smartphones, allowing the rider to change certain bike settings, access ride data, monitor tire wear, analyze engine faults and even pull up the service manual. An optional race pack includes lightweight forged aluminum wheels and high-end ?hlins suspension components. The RF version has a paint scheme more like the factory racing bikes, along with race pack components.
The Tuono, Aprilia?s big-bore naked bike, also benefits from several changes for 2015, many are the same featured on the RSV4 RR sport bike. The Tuono comes with a street mission in mind, featuring more comfortable, upright ergonomics. It has a larger, 1,077 cc V-four motor, with about 25 fewer horsepower but more torque for the road, where thrust coming out of slower corners matters. The Tuono has the same key electronic rider aids as the sport bike and, with help from the Aprilia accessory catalog, it?s possible to link a smartphone to the Tuono to change bike settings and gather post-ride data. The bike will be available in two versions, the RR and the Factory, the latter having suspension and tire upgrades plus a team themed paint treatment.
BMW has revised its middleweight naked bike, with the continued development of its parallel twin lineup. The 2015 F 800 R delivers added power, different gear ratios for its six-speed transmission, new inverted front forks with radial-mounted dual-disc brakes, and lighter wheels. A new aluminum handlebar and a 10mm-lower seat alter the riding position benefiting shorter riders. The styling received a facelift, including a new symmetrical headlight. ABS is standard, with Traction control as an option, along with BMW?s Electronic Suspension Adjustment that allows on the fly rear compression adjustments.
This is a new style of bike for the brand, and the fourth BMW to take advantage of the German company?s high-performance inline-four powerplant. They?re categorizing it as an ?adventure sport? bike, which is fitting, given its basic, tall adventure-type silhouette that?s applied to a motorcycle aimed primarily at street use. BMW claims that the liquid-cooled, double-overhead-cam motor produces 160 horsepower, with a healthy torque spread across the rpm range. Traction control, and two engine maps keep it manageable in a variety of riding scenarios. Optional Dynamic ESA allows for both damping and spring preload electronic suspension adjustment, and the also-optional ABS Pro allows computer-assisted braking even while leaned over in a curve unlike typical motorcycle anti-lock brakes that are for quick stops with the bike in a vertical position. The S 1000 XR is destined for the U.S. market, with a price to be announced on BMW?s website.
Only 500 of these special limited edition Titanium model Ducatis will be produced, differing primarily from other Diavel power cruisers by featuring finishes, materials and limited-edition, numbered plaques. The name references the titanium material used for the ?tank? shrouds. Side-panel inlets are carbon fiber, rendered in a new shape exclusively for this bike, and various other elements are executed in the lightweight composite as well. The header pipes are no longer bare metal and now appear in a matte Black finish. The 10-spoke wheels are unique to this model, as is the seat that features suede-like Alcantara composite fabric. The Diavel?s Testastretta 11? L-twin Desmo engine is not new, and still packs 160 horsepower.
Ducati?s Panigale gets a major refit for 2015 after only three years of production. Increasing from 1,198cc to 1,285cc meant that the V-twin?s cylinder bore, had to be increased to 116mm ? a lot when compared to Kawasaki?s old Vulcan 2000 V-twin at 103mm. This Ducati?s pistons are huge, pumping at more than 10,000 rpm, and helping the bike to crank out more than 200 claimed horsepower. Ducati also lists an impressive torque figure of 106 pound feet, which is on par with the instant-on mega-twist of a Zero SR electric sport bike. And it only weighs in at about 420 pounds wet. An electronics package with up-and-down quick-shift, engine-braking control, lean-sensitive anti-lock brakes and wheelie control is optional. The S version adds a premium ?hlins Smart EC semi-active suspension system that?s integrated with the Bosch Inertial Platform, instantly adjusting compression, rebound and damper tension, on the fly. Both Panigale models, in addition to an R version that?s homologated for Superbike racing with a 1,198cc engine, are headed to American showrooms.
The third all-new version of Ducati?s Multistrada all-round bike, loaded with mechanical and software innovations was revealed. The 1200 L-twin has the world?s first desmodromic (cams close the valves, rather than typical coil springs) cylinder head with variable timing for both intake and exhaust valves. Desmodromic Variable Timing, utilizes a computer to automatically and continuously determine optimum valve timing, delivering a claimed 160 horsepower and 100 pound feet of torque with efficient fuel economy as well. The S version of the Multistrada adds electronically adjusted suspension, a Bluetooth smartphone connection, TFT liquid-crystal instrument panel, and automatic LED cornering lights that shine into the turn. The Multistrada D I Air (Yes, that?s D I Air) model adds a wireless connection to separately purchased Dainese airbag apparel, triggering airbag suits worn by rider and passenger when a crash appears imminent.
A new high-end Italian electric motorcycle company, Energica, unveiled its second model – a naked or street-fighter version of the firm?s Ego sport bike. The Eva does away with the Ego?s sleek bodywork, and features a taller, tubular handlebar, while trading the one-piece alloy wheels for traditional spoked rims. Energica claims that the sporting, $34,000 Ego is capable of accelerating to 150 mph and generates 143 pound feet of torque. Ducati?s new Panigale 1299, a new model that will have one of the highest torque figures of any gas-powered sport bikes at106 pound feet.
What is Honda and what can it do? Every once in a while the Japanese manufacturer builds a motorcycle to answer both questions. Their RC213V-S prototype is the latest example. When it goes into limited production, it is very likely to be the closest thing ever, to a genuine MotoGP racer with lights, mirrors and horn. The MotoGP World Championship has been won by Honda two years running with the full-race version, a one-liter V-four crafted from various lightweight metals and carbon fiber components wherever possible. Specs on these late-model racers haven?t been published yet, but some details about of them have been revealed. Connecting rods are made from titanium, as are the intake and exhaust valves, which are pneumatically operated, closed by compressed air. Unusually shaped cams for those valves are gear driven, and gears throughout the engine are adjusted to tolerances many microns thinner than a human hair. Highly experienced engineers assemble the engines by hand. These details are the reason why factory MotoGP machines now cost some $2 million apiece. The machining and welding visible on this show bike suggest that the S version of the RC213V is likely to be extremely expensive, a rare collectible for only those who can afford it, and just possibly the most astonishing street bike made yet.
Honda has been absent from America?s adventure touring market in recent years and for those desirous of a modern-day Africa Twin or Transalp, this concept bike represents a stimulating tease. Honda released minimal informaton about this display only machine, while suggestively parking it between old and new Honda works off-road rally racers. Unlike a lot of ADV machines intended primarily for the street, this prototype aims at genuine off-road use, evidenced by the large-diameter spoke wheels, engine case guard, stout hand guards, and long seat that is almost dirt-bike slim. On the other hand, the twin front discs, with ABS ring clamped by radial-mounted calipers, hint at a large displacement model, as do the twin header pipes and big muffler. The big surprise however is the lack of clutch and shift levers on the bike, from a company that?s seemingly committed to its Dual Clutch Transmission technology. Honda has yet to apply its DCT to a dual-purpose production model. Obviously, Honda is thinking of leveraging its past and current Dakar Rally success with another use of its automatic gearbox. They might not be that far off from a production version, judging from the prototype?s camoflage paint scheme, along with a very finished look beneath all the dried mud effect.
Husqvarna is now a member of the Austrian KTM family and the motocross-pioneering Husqvarna marque has enjoyed a recent revival in the global off-roading scene. The former Swedish motorcycle company, flying somewhat traditional blue and yellow colors, is focusing on street-market expansion, first crossing over to the road featuring this big-bore supermoto example, with its near-700cc, single-overhead-cam single motor that cranks out a claimed 67 horsepower. Meanwhile, the machine?s stated dry weight is under 320 pounds, which should yield lively acceleration and quick cornering, in a typical tight, twisty backroads supermoto environment. Ride-by-wire throttle control, switchable engine maps and a slipper clutch, to smooth corner entry, should also help. The chassis includes a triangulated trellis frame, high-quality HP suspension, and ABS implementing a more-than-adequate single front disc with radial-mounted Brembo caliper. The ribbed seat is slim, extending over the radiator shrouds, is designed to help the rider stay in contact with the bike for better control. Husqvarna is predicting a late summer release for the 701 SUPERMOTO.
Two concept models were displayed by off-road specialist Husqvarna, that look ahead to future street-legal machines, suggesting what the brand might do with the single-cylinder four-stroke engines already at the company?s disposal. The Vitpilen (Swedish for ?white arrow,? and a nod to Husqvarna?s 1953 Silverpilen street model) is a light, narrow caf? racer that pushes a ?less-is-more? design style with a one-piece seat/tank cover and simple, consolidated parts like the headlight bracket/handlebar mount. The Vitpilen only needs one front brake disc and radial-mount caliper due to its Spartan makeup. The light weight, premium WP suspension, stout trellis frame and presumably torquey motor will likely make this bike a joy to ride on a tight, twisty back road. Should Husqvarna decide to put the 4-01 Vitpilen into production, the result will be a decidedly popular flickable, and versatile machine.
Part Two of the EIMCA preview will appear next week – Friday, November 28, 2014
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.