Saturday, November 14, 2009

EICMA Roundup: Personal View

EICMA 2009, the 67th international motorcycle show in Milan, Italy was a big event as usual. I spent 2-full days touring the 6-main halls. The show was well organized and the facilities are top notch. The numerous bars served excellent coffee and pretty decent food at reasonable prices.

The economic downturn had its impact. Some major manufacturers (Honda & Yamaha for example) were not present this year. The large spaces left by those who didn't turn up were eagerly absorbed by the multitude of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean factories selling everything from scooters to LED turn signals.


For me, the two big hits of the show were...

...the new Moto Guzzi Le Mans concept, and the new CR&S DUU prototype.

I'll be writing more about the DUU in future blog articles. The Le Mans concept is spectacular and represents something of a breakthrough in integrated motorcycle design. This is just what you would expect when two of the world's greatest designers, Pierre Terblanche and Miguel Galluzzi, are unleashed together on a blank sheet of paper.

What I hadn't expected is that it would be Moto Guzzi, not Ducati or MV Augusta, who would be unveiling the most exciting designs this year. I'd grown used to expecting the same tired old bikes from Guzzi who seemed stuck in the mold of retros that are a poor shadow of the original or clunky transverse V-twin versions of BMW's. This year's Guzzi stand then was a welcome breath of fresh air.

I can't express how pleased I am to see Terblanche, designer of the Ducati Supermono, MH 900E and 999 superbike, creating cutting-edge motorcycles once again. The Le Mans concept has a very clean and appealing overall appearance. But it is the re-thinking and integration of every tiny detail into the whole which impressed me the most. For example, using cameras and small screens instead of big clunky sticking out mirrors, the 'upside-down' monocoque alloy frame that supports the combined fairing, tank and seat unit which, in turn, can be swung open to reveal the ultra-clean component layout underneath. Very nice.

Guzzi also had on display the mouth-watering V7 Clubman Café Racer. Finally a retro that improves on the original, both technically and aesthetically.

I should stress that the Guzzi Le Mans Concept is just that, a concept. Whether it ever goes into production is up to the world economic outlook, you the motorcycle buying public, and the unpredictable whims of the Piaggio Group management.

KTM had a sporty single-cylinder naked prototype on display...

Penned by consultants Kiska Design this lightweight sports all the best equipment, from White Power shock absorbers to Brembo racing calipers and fuel injection.

Very tasty, but it's only a 125cc for the under-18's market darn it! Us 'older boys' are still forced to wrestle overpowered and overweight superbikes around the tight roads (unless you own something like a VUN of course). KTM could, but won't, produce an RC4 single cylinder version of their RC8 superbike.

BMW, of course, had their new 1000 RR superbike on display, but that really didn't interest me more than just a passing glance. I'm happy to see BMW competing in the World Superbike championships with this bike, but other than that, I'm not very interested in yet another me-too superbike.

BMW did have a pretty interesting looking 6-cylinder concept bike on display. It was interesting really only to look at and go ohhhhh. The concept of a 1.6 liter 6-cylinder modern superbike is quite ridiculous in reality. Who needs 6-cylinders with all that complexity and weight when a 165kg v-twin can put out 180hp (see Ducati 1198).


Ducati had an enormous and elaborate stand and were very proud of their new Multistrada...

click on image for a larger view

It's not my style I'm afraid. There were some upgrades to the Hypermotard and one or two other bones to chew on. The 849, 1198 superbikes were there as usual. These bikes are what they are: well designed, well made superbikes with an awesome racing heritage. But as good as they are technically, they are a rather conservative reflection of the iconic 916 designed by the legendary Tamborini in the early 1990's.

MV Augusta unveiled their new F4 superbike. Some technical changes, square pipes under the seat instead of round ones, etc. This new bike also seems to me a pale watered down version of an iconic Tamborini design from the 1990's (I'm referring to the old MV F4 of course). Pity, there was talk of a 600cc lightweight pocket rocket at one point.

Aprilia and Cagiva are also companies that have superlight real sports bikes on the drawing board but are unwilling or unable to put them into production. Instead, Aprilia have their new superbike of course and Cagiva are stuck with their 125 2-strokes.

Morini, Benelli, Harley, and pretty much everyone else didn't really have anything new to show. New colors here, a new seat design there.

Electric Anyone?

It looks like electric bikes are still not ready for the main stream. The only electric bikes on display (that I saw) were scooters and the like, or the three-wheeler from Peugeot. However I did bump into Azhar Hussain at the KTM stand on Tuesday. Azhar is the enthusiastic force behind the TTXGP electric superbike race series and the successful Mavizen electric race bike. I wrote about the Mavizen in an earlier blog article and will be writing a followup soon.

Saddest Stand in Show

Buell occupied a small corner of the Harley-Davidson stand. There were about four bikes on display and almost nobody was visiting their stand. Perhaps the public felt embarrassed for them as this week coincided with the announcement of the last Buell to roll off the assembly line.

No Shows

In addition to Honda & Yamaha both Bimota and VΨRUS were absent. Pity about VΨRUS as they have some hot new models this year that I really wanted to see.

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely a good descriptoin and roundup for the week. I'm going to run back in and checkout the VUN once more before I head back to the US in the morning. See you in a minuet!