EICMA is a highlight of my year. Not because I walk 10 kilometres (a colleague had a pedometer) to make my way around all the launches and other stands, but the mere fact that I’m prepared to do that is an indication of how much I like it. This, far more than racing or rallies or whatever, is motorcycling showbusiness writ large. From the biggest stands to the tiniest booths there’s stuff – new stuff – that you couldn’t even imagine before you pushed your way through those electronic gates.

The Tuesday of the show is meant to be press day, but you only need to see the crowds lining up at the ticket offices to realise that this is taken lightly by the organisers; after all, journalists get in free. So who are these people buying tickets? Never mind; no public event ion Italy would feel right without a crowd.

As always the bikes were of course amazing. But I’m torn. What was the most important new model at EICMA this year? I will wait for the first pub argument, but here are my contenders, in no particular order.

What’s the first thought that comes to your mind? “Beautiful” or “weird”? Or just “want it!”

Bimota/Kawasaki

For the first time in recorded history, it looks as if Bimota might be on a firm, sound financial base, with Kawasaki’s assistance.

The Kawasaki/Tesi is a work of art, pure and simple. To my eyes, anyway.

The two firms have formed a new, refinanced company called IMI “on April 16, 2019 to manufacture and sell the top class motorcycles under the BIMOTA brand in Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, Italy… Through the supply of engines and other key components, Kawasaki Motors Europe N.V., along with the KHI Group, will support BIMOTA’s revival.” I had an epiphany when I rode my first Bimota, a DB1. I am delighted that the company’s work will continue.

Nothin’ soft comes outta the Bronx… let’s see how hard this one will work for the Motor Company.

Harley-Davidson

We all saw the Pan America coming (how could we help it with all the pre-publicity?), but I, for one, definitely didn’t see the Bronx on the horizon. Whatever you might think of the styling of the Pan America – for me, the jury is definitely still out – the Bronx Streetfighter has the potential to turn the marque’s fortunes around. Milwaukee deserves a lot of credit for the creation and introduction of the Revolution Max engine (pity about the similarity of the name with that dud Boeing). I am looking forward tom playing with both of these bikes, and perhaps seeing the rebirth of a strong Motor Company. Now, can we talk about that new logo…

Whether you’re actually a sports bike rider or not, the 660 will give you a shiver down the back.

Aprilia

That RS660 might be half of a Superbike engine-wise, but it promises to be a lot more than half the fun, and there were a lot of young blokes on the stand whose wallets were clearly itchy. Writing as somebody who has ridden the Aprilia RSV4 and has been too terrified to write about it, this bike is an open invitation to lose my license while having fun doing it. At 169kg dry and with nearly a hundred horses on tap, it’s still scary but not impossibly so. A cracker bike for a niche that holds so much enjoyment for so many people.

Small but perfectly formed, as they say. KTM gives the ‘small is better’ movement a shot in the arm.

KTM

Woo hoo. That 390 Adventure looks like the real deal, and retains most of the good bits of the Duke and the RC bikes with the same engine, one of which I rode at the launch in Italy and nearly bought. Mrs Bear’s question – “what for?” brought me to my senses. I am not in the catchment age for that bike, but I might be for this one. High-spec, adjustable suspension with good travel – 170mm at the front and 177 at the back – plus a tidy dry weight of 158kg and a 15.5 litre tank all combine to make this a true adventure machine. Some people might find the 855mm seat a little high, it’s true.

The Scrambler lineup spreads its wings wider again.

Ducati

As usual, the Bolognese wizards took out the prize for the most beautiful bike, this time (also predictably) for the V4 Streetfighter (see opening photo). Of more interest to me, though, was the Desert-X concept in the Scrambler range. The other concept, a Supermotard, got more attention from the crowd but not from me. I’m usually a fan of understatement in adventure-type bikes, but the styling won me.

There are other bikes that look like winners, not least BMW’s F 900 XR, which is not-really-an-adventure bike, just like its big four-cylinder sister. I also just loved the R 1800, which I had expected to be a bit cobbled up but which is a beautifully and thoroughly designed piece of work, consistent with its retro/futuristic vibe. Many others obviously agreed.

Good news for motorcycling dwarves: the seat is lower than any production motorcycle seat I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. I’d really like them to go ahead with production. The new Fireblade looked the goods, too, as did Indian’s FTR Rally.

Give me wings so I can fly… Honda’s race-inspired addition to the FireBlade.

But of course there’s more to a show than just the show ponies.

As a longtime admirer of Moto Morini’s 3½, I was taken by the 6½, especially in the red and white paint. Sometimes you can go retro without being at all obvious about it. And while I was over at Morini, there was the concept X-Cape, an adventure bike with a future if I’m any judge. And… no, the 10 kilometres have been walked. There’s more for me to see tomorrow.

 

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