Okay, fine, maybe this should be titled “Top 10 I’d like to see at My Own Private EICMA-ho”, though I did accept a little input from my MO compadres. Last time I was at the big show in Milano was in 2011, and there were so many things on display it was hard to get through them all in two days. Come to think of it, I don’t want to actually see any of these at EICMA, I want Tom Roderick or Duke or Troy to see them and post info ASAP while I man the Home Office…
10. Triumph Speed Twin
Sure, Triumph’s been doing great with its Bonnevilles ever since the turn of the century, a hit with classicists, hipsters and everybody in between. But I’ve never understood why it’s never cashed in on the name that made Triumph Triumph way back in 1938: Edward Turner’s 500cc Speed Twin was what started it all. Honda’s happy, high-tech, light and inexpensive CB500F is a good starting point for what should be the more stylish, less retro, more exciting liquid-cooled Speed Twin Triumph needs to sell to the masses – a lighter, less powerful Bonnie for under $7,000. Fine, make it a 700 to compete with Yamaha’s excellent $6,990 FZ-07. Sounds like what we’re getting instead is a bigger, heavier, pricier Bonneville next year. What do I know? Bupkus…
9. Honda VFR1000RR
Maybe it’s time to just give up on the V-Four supersporty bike a lot of us have been waiting for ever since Honda built its first four-stroke MotoGP bike in 2001, the RC211V. At first we didn’t ask for much, only that it be packing a V-Four with gear-driven cams for that nice whirrr. But now that Honda’s made us wait this long and bait-and-switched us with VFR1200s and $186,000 RC213V-Ss, we demand more: I want my VFR1000RR to come standard with electronic suspension, cruise control, heated grips, BMW S1000RR horsepower and the NC700X’s storage compartment dammit. This needs to happen with Nick Hayden entering World Superbike next season.
8. Suzuki RG500 22nd Anniversary Schwantz Special Edition
This one’s for Trizzle Siahaan, who innocently said, “maybe a cool new Suzuki will show up!”
Yes, and maybe monkeys will … never mind. If anybody’s in need of a little corporate identity at this point, it’s Suzuki. Hats off to them for jumping back into MotoGP and for doing surprisingly well in their first season back. KR Jr. won the MotoGP title for Suzuki in 2000, but the one everybody remembers is Kevin Schwantz and the RG500 way back in ’93. What better way to celebrate than with a 21st century square-Four two-stroke! The snowmobilers and outboard motor people have been making clean-burn strokers for years now. All the same guys who snapped up the RC213V-Ss and H2Rs would have to have one, and Suzuki might even have the decency to build a stripper version for the rest of us. Fine, it’s not going to happen. But there is a new GSX-R1000 on the way for 2017 according to numerous insiders.
7. BMW S1200TFU
BMW just needs to pipe down, take a couple years off and give somebody else a chance to build the Motorcycle.com Superbike of the Year, Adventure Bike of the Year, etc. They’ve already fulfilled all our motorcycle dreams in the last couple of years. We know they can’t sit still, though, so I suggest something along the lines of the R7 concept bike they built in 1937 (which somebody shared with me on Facebook a couple days ago). It’s a sweet cruiser as it sits; with hard bags and a Batman fairing, BMW’s right in there battling it out with the H-D Street Glide and Indian Chief, no? Sadly, the R NineT might be the closest we get to this. BMW’s EICMA announcement might be only its new entry-level Single, the G310.
6. KTM FreeRide E-XC
I’m highly suggestible to all the great videos KTM uses to market these things; I think the bike will make me able to ride the way those guys do. It won’t. I probably really don’t want this street-going lightweight electric, because if I had one I’d never ride my bicycle anymore and wouldn’t get any exercise. Just as well, because KTM only sells them in Europe. I could probably be just as happy on a new Zero DSR, but when it comes to exotic motorcycles, the grass is always greener on the other side of the Pond.
5. Victory Octane
Polaris’ Indian Scout is our current Motorcycle of the Year in large part due to its excellent 83-Dynojet-horsepower V-Twin, among other things. Now that sister company Victory is allowed to move in a less traditional direction, why not drop a version of the modern 1131cc V-Twin into something more sporty (and extract a few more hp)? Duke predicted this one a couple of months ago in his editorial about Victory, saying its Project 156 Pikes Peak racebike is a sure sign we’ll see a hot-rodded version of this motor in a Victory. How many General Motors vehicles were powered by the small-block Chevrolet? We were expecting a Sport Scout from Indian, but it sounds like it’s coming from Victory, and will probably be named Octane. This one I didn’t even have to make up. It’ll be at EICMA November 16.
4. Kawasaki H3 Supercharged Versys
Enough motorcycles for the trust funders already. Sure the H2 is cool, but I don’t need 200 horsepower most days. Now that Kawasaki has figured out how to build a supercharged engine with no intercooler, why not bolt it onto everybody’s favorite everyday Kawasaki? The last Versys 650 we tested (very nicely upgraded for 2014) made 55 horses at 8200 rpm. Fifty-percent more power and a big bump in torque off idle from a pressurized version sounds about right, and I’d be willing to pay (well, I mean if I ever paid for anything) an extra $2K for the exclusivity – $9,999 seems reasonable to me. And while you’re moving things around to make the supercharger fit, you may as well add a Honda NC700X storage compartment up top there. And heated grips and cruise control.
3. Yamaha WR450R with License Plate Bracket
Whatever KTM does to make its 500 EXC eligible to wear a license plate, Yamaha needs to do too, with the new WR450F it just introduced. And Honda needs to do likewise with its CRF450X. Many of us who live in urban areas, excluding Baltimore, don’t have time to go for a 500-mile adventure every day. Where’s our worthy, somewhat affordable off-road bike we can hop on and ride the six or seven miles of pavement to where the dirt road begins to the top of Saddleback Mountain, the one that requires a license plate? I don’t want an XR650L, and, no, a 250 is too small. No, moving to Montana or Mexico is not an option.
2. Moto Guzzi Griso Delux-o
The V7s are just too small and too soft. And the new California 1400-based Guzzis are okay, but to me they’re just tooooooo big. Why doesn’t my favorite Guzzi, the Griso, get any love? It’s just right. On our dyno, the Griso’s 1151cc V-Twin made 95 horses to the 1380cc California’s 83 – and a measly one lb-ft less torque quite a bit higher up the tachometer. At heart, the Griso engine is a revver, the California more an H-D-style chuffer. Also, the last Griso we had on the scales weighed 556 pounds (curb) to the California 1400 Tourer’s 708. Wheelbase wise, the Griso is more than five inches shorter than the California.
I’m not sure what I want Guzzi to do with my favorite Guzzi (and an all-time fave motorcycle), but something cool, something sporty, something modern! Surprise me! Instead, we’re probably going to see this new California Bagger at EICMA. I’m underwhelmed.
Did I mention EICMA is big? Here’s a list of exhibitors for the doubters. One that’s missing is EBR (Erik Buell Racing), which went belly-up recently after a financial falling-out with its Indian partner Hero. Not to worry, however. Absence makes the crotch grow fonder, and after sitting down for this interview with Buell’s new patron, Bruce Belfer, we’re willing to let them sit one EICMA out while we hopefully anticipate what might be in the works. EBR’s 1190SX was one of a few big naked bikes able to bring the fight to the KTM Super Duke R, and for years before that EB’s been bringing bikes to market that never fail to stir the pot, nearly always in a good way. The 156-rear-wheel-hp SX was amazing, but I personally would be content with an old XB9-SX City repop … basically we just all want to see goodness triumph over evil once again.