Have I died and gone to motorcycle heaven? Pretty much. EICMA is the world’s biggest motorcycle trade show; anyone and everyone who has anything to do with motorcycling is there. From all the OEMs, to aftermarket performance parts manufacturers to riding gear and apparel companies – it’s all there in unimaginable abundance. I was tasked to sniff out the top five coolest things at EICMA this year and thought – well, that ought to be easy! Boy was I mistaken…
There’s something neat / cool / interesting / you-name-it, just about everywhere you look. Perusing the show for two days I could have shown you a list of the top five best (read: worst) man buns, or the top five most interesting haircuts (one guy had a two-inch mohawk with a twelve-inch rattail, for real, no joke), or the top five most beautiful girls – oh wait, there goes another one… But this is MO, not Maxim.
Below are five things (in no particular order) we found that really caught our attention that are unique each in their own way. I wouldn’t say they’re absolutely the top five best things at EICMA this year, but they’re all pretty damn sweet and certainly not things you see everyday.
In a sea of blue and yellow at the Suzuki exhibit I found their Virtual Reality (VR) Rider Experience. Here you can put on a mask, VR goggles and headphones, get on a real 2018 GSX-R1000R and try to chase legendary GP champion, Kevin Schwantz, around the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with a 360-degree view. The best part is that you actually get to hang off, lean the bike over and drag virtual knee! All without thrashing those new €300 designer jeans…
There was obviously no shortage of trick, one-off motorcycles littered across the fair, but one that caught our eye and really stood out was the BOTTPOWER XR1R. BOTTPOWER is a small Spanish motorsport engineering company that specializes in designing and building race bikes, prototypes and street-legal machines, most often using Buells as the foundation. The XR1R was designed and built to race the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where the track ascends the mountain with 156 turns spanning 12.42 miles and finally crossing the finish line at 14,110 feet. The goal was to build a bike with 150 hp weighing 150 kg (330 lbs).
The XR1R is powered by a 1340cc Buell XBRR Factory Racing motor fed by two giant 62mm throttle bodies. Just about everything is custom made with the goal of keeping the power-to-weight ratio as high as possible. All the bodywork, including the gas tank, fairings and wheels, are carbon fiber, and there’s extensive use of one-off 3D printed parts. The front suspension is an Öhlins unit from a Ducati Panigale that’s been developed by Ceracarbon, a Dutch suspension company, that features a pressurized Öhlins TTX 25 cartridge.
The inner tubes are fabricated with carbon fiber and have an external white ceramic coating. These carbon fiber inner tubes supposedly save 3.3 lbs compared with the standard steel tubes. Other interesting weight-saving techniques worthy of note are an aluminum subframe that saves 2 lbs and the lack of a starter motor that nixes an additional 13 lbs. The XR1R is without question designed to haul the mail and placed a very respectable fourth place in its class this past November.
Perhaps the one bike at the show that screamed “TAKE MY MONEY!” the loudest was the Honda Monkey 125. Styled after the Z50, the most widely used minibike in history, and based on the Grom platform, Honda revealed a beautiful retro-classic with all the modern goodies. The Monkey 125 features a 125cc SOHC, fuel-injected motor, inverted fork, dual rear shocks, disc brakes front and rear, LED lights and digital gauges. There’s no announcement on whether the new Monkey will make it Stateside yet, but the exhaust looks like it’s hiding a catalytic converter, which gives us hope here in America. There is no limit to how much fun you can have on these minis because, not only are they easy to ride, they’re affordable too. If the popularity of the Grom and Kawi’s Z125 is any indication, the Monkey 125 should sell like hotcakes as well. Fingers crossed!
It seems as though Asia and Europe get all the cool stuff that us Americans can only drool over from across the pond. Case in point, this fully street-legal Honda CRF450RX Enduro Supermoto. After a little bit of digging, it seems like this bike will be available in Europe only. But why? There are few motorcycles that can carve the pavement with the lightness and flickability of a supermoto; they’re an absolute riot. If you’ve never had the chance to ride one, we suggest you give it a shot – it might just change your life. The U.S. legal system stands to benefit as well, with all the law infractions the CRF450RX Supermoto owners are bound to make. From wheelies and stoppies to curb jumping and other “reckless” driving violations, the amount the government can make off supermoto hooligans is boundless. We at MO often joke about having to spend our own money on motorcycles, but if either of these two Hondas were to make it Stateside, we would be first in line, blindly putting money down to pre-order our own.
Last but not least was what we found at the Akrapovič exhibit. The Slovenian exhaust manufacturer had an interactive Experience Room where visitors could fully immerse themselves in the sound, design and craftsmanship of Akrapovič products. Many took the opportunity to sit in the all-enveloping aural experience of the Akrapovič Sound Chair to fully absorb the unique tone of an Akrapovič exhaust system. What was neat about the Sound Chair was that one could compare the sound and feeling between just about any motorcycle’s stock exhaust back-to-back with an Akrapovič unit. There was also an interactive game function where you could try to decipher which motorcycle you were listening to, as each powerplant emitted its own unique sound.
Until next year, EICMA!