Duke's Den – Notes From Walking Miles Of Aisles At EICMA

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

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.

EICMA 2015: Milan Motorcycle Show

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.

Ah, glamour at every step.

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.

Oh, Italy, I love you so.

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.

Claudio Domenicali (center, flanked by MotoGP riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone on left, and Davide Guigliano and Troy Bayliss on right) said Ducati exceeded 50,000 bikes sold by November 10, a new record for the Italian company and up 23% over 2014.

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.

MotoGP racers Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez took to Honda’s stage to add some glitz among a fairly glitzless presentation. Oh, Honda supposedly retained its number-one market share in 2015, at 16.5%.

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.

Two highlights of Yamaha’s presentation: the FZ-09-based XSR900 and Valentino Rossi. Oh, and also MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo (third from right).

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.

The unveiling of the spectacular 2017 Gixxer 1000 and the underwear of the Suzuki booth babes. We’re anxious to ride it when it enters production sometime late next year.
And it appears MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro is anxious to ride it, too. Teammate Maverick Vinales looks on.
BMW Motorrad chief Stephan Schaller introduces the new G310R, which he says will give BMW access to a much broader range of customers. To keep production costs low, the single-cylinder roadster will be built in India by TVS Motor Company in a dedicated production area modeled after Motorrad’s Berlin factory.
There wasn’t much news from Kawasaki this year, but we’re still feeling neglected by not having Team Green’s retro-cool W800 offered for sale in North America.
We were happy to see Energica back at EICMA, the Italian electric-bike manufacturer returning with its Ego superbike we’ve reviewed and the Eva roadster that it revealed last year, seen here in its latest form.
This image illustrates the throngs of journalists and photographers (some 6,000 were registered) to fight through at each presentation and the mediocre performance of my smartphone’s camera while I stand on the passenger pegs of a Triumph Tiger to attempt to see something. That evil-looking fella looking at me is former World Superbike champ Carl Fogarty, who has signed on with Triumph to be a brand ambassador. Triumph says the strong response for the new Bonnevilles and Thruxtons has caused the company to increase its production capacity.

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.

This picture is notable because there are at least two women visible in it. Despite inroads to recruiting females into the moto lifestyle, EICMA’s media days are pretty much a big sausagefest.
Roberto Colaninno, chairman and CEO of the Piaggio Group, discusses the future of Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, and Vespa. He notes that India – with 1.5 billion people, many of them young and potentially interested in motorbikes – is as an important market to Piaggio as the USA.
Colaninno speaks to Aprilia’s roadracers, Lorenzo Savadori (Superstock 1000 world champ) and MotoGP riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista. Bautista was showing off his man-bun, which is a hairstyle uncomfortably gaining in fashion, according to what I saw in Milan.
MV Agusta’s tie-in with AMG seems to have helped solidify the little Italian brand’s financial footing. Sales were up 40% this year. I’m really looking forward to riding the revamped Brutale 800 and am hoping its press launch will include hot laps in the 500-hp AMG GT.
The Benelli stand had a couple of interesting new models you can read about here. Despite attempts to find out if the Chinese-owned Italian company will be operating in North America, we were unable to get a firm answer. Anyway, the Benelli we didn’t get to write about yet is this Tornado Naked T, which is said to be available in Europe during the second half of 2016 in 125cc or 135cc versions. I dig the MV Agusta-inspired exhaust pipes. Shootout with a Grom…?
The re-emergence of Mondial was a surprise at EICMA. Also a surprise is the name given to the attractive 125cc and 250cc single-cylinder roadster: the Hipster. Ugh. Mondial claims it will debut three new bikes with different engines by 2023. We hope they’ll have monickers more palatable than this one.
Tucked away in a corner was the Italjet display, which is a brand I hadn’t heard much about lately. This little beauty, the Scrambler, is powered by the same air-cooled 250cc V-Twin as its stablemate, the Cafe Racer. Both are slated to retail for 6,500 euro. We’re digging into more details, including whether these lightweight roadsters might make it across the pond to our shores.
In another corner was this monster, the Aurora Hellfire OZ26, styled by designer Tim Cameron. I was so blown away by the home-built 2575cc V-8 motor that I neglected to get a decent shot of the 417-hp machine. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it’s the product of a somewhat loony ex-pat Aussie, Vincent Messina (pictured next to Aurora’s Alison Scoullar), who’d been dreaming of his “ultrabike” for years. Its monocoque design sees a Hossack-style front end and a shaft-driven rear end bolted to the 80-degree, flat-plane-crank motor, yielding a claimed dry weight of 594 pounds. I’d like to accept donations for airfare to Thailand where Messina and the Hellfire reside so I can give it its first proper road test!
Bonus Rossi shot for T-Rod’s wife.
Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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3 of 6 comments
  • Chris Cope Chris Cope on Nov 24, 2015

    You had a shuttle taking you places? Lucky dog. I was camped out at a hotel all the way out at Linate and relying on the subway and good running shoes to get from place to place. This was my first year at EICMA and I came away realizing there was a lot to learn for next year.

    I hadn't expected the show to be that big. The convention center where it's held is larger than anything I've ever encountered. Also, you left out my favorite EICMA sight: https://pbs.twimg.com/media...

    • Kevin Duke Kevin Duke on Nov 24, 2015

      Good meeting you, Chris. You should've shared your hot spot with me!

  • SRMark SRMark on Nov 24, 2015

    Doesn't that W800 just piss you off? But it's something to wish for for next Christmas