Center Stage At EICMA

Small Bikes and ‘Modern-Retro’ Variants Headline Milan Show

Unlike America, new unit sales are up in Europe, with new motorcycle registrations hitting double digits in key markets like Germany and Italy. So it is no surprise that the OEMs all saved some show-stopping models to show off to the more than half million consumers and virtually every motorcycle media outlet in the world at the five-day show.

Space is too limited here to cover all the major new model announcements, but the global media from Australian Motorcyclist and Bike EXIF to the U.S. editors at Cycle World and MPN agreed it was a big year for little bikes and modern-retros.

Officially known as the Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo, Motociclo & Accessori, the EICMA event in Milan, Italy, has grown to become one of the industry’s premiere motorcycle shows during the past 100 years. EICMA now encompasses more than three million square feet of exhibit space and demonstration areas and regularly draws a half million attendees… Simply put, the Milan show is center stage for the motorcycle industry and all the OEM divas down to the smallest bit players on the aftermarket side are there!

Part of the pageantry for 2016 included involving the entire city to create “2-Wheels Week” just like the “Fashion Week” festivities for the haute couture crowd. Outside of Milan’s city center Innovations, surprises and trends were highlights of the 74th EICMA at the Fiera Milano show facility (adjacent to the recent concluded World’s Fair site). With more than 1,000 exhibitors from 38 different countries, EICMA is truly the center of the motorcycling empire during 2-Wheels Week.

Ducati put its ‘modern-retro’ stamp on the new Scramblers.

From Honda’s revamped Rebels and 250-based “baby” rally bike to Suzuki’s diminutive GSX-250R, seems like less really is more. Local diva Ducati showed off the 1299 Superleggera, an updated Panigale and a couple of very cool variations of the Scrambler.

Meanwhile, BMW busted out the “baby” 310 and R nineT Urban GS (there are now five different variations of the nineT); Triumph teased with Bonneville-based retro bikes; Kawasaki kicked off the next generation of downsized sportbikes, Honda and Yamaha had Dakar Rally inspired concepts, even Royal Enfield stepped up to take the wraps off its much-anticipated entry level Himalayan ADV bike.

Although there was literally something for everyone, the basics were back for all the OEMs. “The center of gravity was the modern-retro scene, with the ‘modern’ part finally catching up with the ‘retro’ part,” claims Bike EXIF. “There were 70s throwbacks a-plenty, but also some intriguing new approaches to stripped-back, classic styling.” Even the die-hard Ducatisti sportbike fans were intrigued by the new Scrambler Desert Sled and the Cafe Racer variant.

“The existing Ducati Scrambler frame has been reinforced, there’s a new swingarm, and – most importantly – there’s now a substantial eight inches of suspension travel,” explains EXIF. “The new seat has added plushness too, and the 19-inch front wheel and Pirelli Scorpion STR tires mean business. Ducati’s Scrambler finally has real purpose – and looks like an absolute blast to ride.” Who are we to argue with logic like this?

A hallmark of the Milan show has always been the concept bikes. It is human nature to crave “unobtanium” and for more than 100 years, EICMA has been the leading supplier of the stuff that motorcycle dreams are made off. On a practical side, it also serves as a true bellwether as to where the global motorcycle industry trends are going to take us. With that in mind, Cycle World named their top five picks for best concepts shown in Milan.

In no particular order, Cycle World says Honda’s CB1100 TR Concept puts the “super” in superbike. Based off of Big Red’s unassuming CB1100, it adds Öhlins suspension to massive brakes and a fully custom swingarm. Husqvarna’s street-based Vitpilen Aero drew attention, as did the KTM 790 Duke prototype; for those looking to do it in the dirt, CW picked Yamaha’s T7 Tenere Concept and Honda’s Africa Twin Enduro.

Bike EXIF agreed with CW’s picks and added the Triumph Street Scrambler to their picks to click. “The launch of the new Bonneville range has been hugely successful, but until now there’s been an important piece missing from the jigsaw: the Scrambler replacement. Triumph has now plugged the gap with the reveal of the ‘Street Scrambler,'” says the web-based publication.

Doesn’t matter if Dakar-inspired Rally bikes, BMW-based erotica, Italian exotica or even a retro British bobber is your cup of tea, EICMA had it all. For more information about next year’s show, visit www.eicmausa.com.

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