Duke's Den – Notes From Walking Miles Of Aisles At EICMA
This was my third consecutive year of reporting from the world’s largest motorcycle show, EICMA, held annually in Milan, Italy. It’s a cornucopia of everything related to motorbikes, and it’s the premier event for unveiling all the new machines preparing to be shipped to dealers around the world.
Motorcycle.com once again kicked ass in our coverage, posting no less than 47 articles about the bikes displayed at the show! But I take only the smallest of credit. It was the estimable MO crew at home who toiled night and day (Milan is nine hours ahead of our California home base) to write updates as they were happening across the ocean.
Well, that’s a crappy thing to do, you might think, taking a trip to fabulous Italy to attend the show, only to pass the grunt work on to my colleagues back at home. What the eff was I up to? Well, there simply is no free time to follow all the presentations and sit down to write all about them.
The ceremonies begin Monday afternoon and continue from morning to late afternoon on Tuesday, with still more presentations on Wednesday, the final media day before more than a half-million civilians invade the 3 million square feet of display area over the next four days. So, rather than wait until the end of each day for me to write about all that was proffered, I instead emailed notes and pictures and moved on to the next presentation, letting the crew back home churn out the articles as quick as humanly possible. Many thanks go out to the MO crew, including our workhorse in Toronto, Dennis Chung.
This year’s show was atypical for its relative lack of big surprises. Rather than waiting for the glut of news experienced during the 2.5 days of EICMA, this year some OEMs released information in advance, like the latest ZX-10R from Kawasaki or the early screenings of Triumph’s new line of Bonnevilles. We were also given details of a few new bikes ahead of the show, which allowed us to pre-write a few pieces that were turned live on Motorcycle.com the second the embargo was lifted.
So, what’s it like to be a journalist being led around Milan to see the latest moto news the world has to offer? Let me take you for a tour of some of the highlights. I’ll ignore what’s already been shared in our EICMA landing page and instead fill you in on some news and notes of other info gleaned during my travels, including glimpses of 10 MotoGP riders. And be sure to make it to the bottom to see a home-built DOHC V-8 stuffed into a bespoke chassis that’s intended to go into production!
The first stop on the tour was at a theater for Ducati’s presentation. Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali was happy to report that the Scrambler, with 14,644 worldwide sales, cracked the top 10 of best-selling motorcycles. It slots in behind Yamaha’s FJ-09/MT-09 Tracer in ninth. Aside from BMW’s R1200GS (third), Yamaha’s FZ-07/MT-07 (fourth), and FZ-09/MT-09 (seventh), the other five bikes in the top 10 are all Harley-Davidsons! “Scrambler means the future,” said Domenicali, adding more Scrambler news will be released in February 2016.
After Ducati’s presentation, it was Honda’s turn. Surprisingly for such a big company, Big Red’s new-model announcements were minimal this year. The production version of the Africa Twin was rolled out (and will be tested next month by our own Tom Roderick), but there was little else other than an updated CB500F and three interesting concepts.
Then it was Yamaha’s turn to close out the night, debuting two new models, including the R1-based super naked MT-10 which, inexplicably, isn’t yet slated to make it to North America.
Tuesday dawned early while trying to shrug off jet lag and the previous night’s supply of free vino. In typical Italian tradition, our shuttle brought us to the show too late for the Bimota presentation, so we trundled over to see what Suzuki had on tap. I was happy to see the rebirth of the SV650 and pleased to get a tease of the upcoming GSX-R1000.
After Triumph, we dashed off to the KTM presentation,where we were told the Austrian company is on pace to sell nearly 200,000 bikes this year, making it the largest European motorcycle manufacturer. Evans Brasfield will be testing the new 690 Duke next month, while I expect we’ll all be wrasslin’ for the Super Duke GT’s launch in a few months.
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