High and Lows at EICMA 2018
The EICMA Show in Milan is always an eagerly anticipated time at the Cycle News office. EICMA is the big one, the show every manufacturer puts the most effort into, and the one they all want good publicity from.
It’s interesting to note how much the European manufacturers kick butt in Milan. EICMA has almost become a showcase for Euro forward-thinking and Japanese cowering, a case in point being the resurgent MV Agusta and the downbeat, almost heartbreaking Yamaha.
MV Agusta has endured the kind of repeated financial hardship, drama and near fatality that could only come from Italy. Under the ownership of the Claudio Castiglioni’s son, Giovanni, the famous Italian manufacturer from the banks of the stunning Lake Como in Northern Italy came out swinging at this year’s EICMA, releasing two all-new models, the limited-edition Brutale 1000 Serie Oro and the stunning prototype Superveloce 800, a rolling tribute to the machines piloted by the great Giacomo Agostini in the 1960s.
The Brutale was so popular, it won the Most Beautiful Motorcycle of EICMA Award, the first time in many years Italian arch-rival Ducati hasn’t taken the gong. MV is a company that can’t hold a candle to Ducati in terms of sales numbers, especially given MV’s horrid recent past here in the States, however, I can’t help but root for the underdog because the MV Agusta name is an extremely important one to world motorcycling, regardless of the number of titles won or how many Lewis Hamilton specials it churns out.
The buzz around MV Agusta at EICMA was contradictory to the glum feelings leveled at Yamaha, a motorcycle manufacturer many times the size of MV. After an exhaustive marketing campaign where Yamaha legends past and present paraded this new machine around the world in every area except North America, to find out the new Tenere 700 will not be coming to our shores until the second half of 2020 as a 2021 model was a kick to the you-know-what with steel cap boots for American ADV riders.
What exactly is Yamaha playing at here? This is a motorcycle that has already been in development for the past two years, using the MT-07 engine as its base in a proper ADV chassis and body. The official word from Yamaha is the European Tenere 700s are manufactured in Amsterdam, whereas the American Tenere 700s are made in the factory in Japan and, thus, additional time is required for tooling purposes.
Yamaha is a Japanese company, so why are motorcycles manufactured off shore in the company’s European headquarters getting to customers before the Japanese manufactured ones? One would think it should be the other way around, or at least on equal times. You can imagine the uproar if Harley-Davidson’s Indian-built bikes like the Street 500 made it into customer hands in India before they were released in the U.S. It’s a shame because the Tenere 700 is the bike we need right now, not in two years’ time. The midsize adventure market is the hottest ticket in town at the moment, one traditionally dominated by BMW with the F 800 GS—I just rode the new F 850 GS, and you can read the test here. Hint: it’s better than it was before.
The manufacturer laughing at Yamaha harder than most with the ball drop of the Tenere 700 was KTM. The Austrians have released a two-pronged attack on Yamaha in the last year, first with the just-released 790 Duke going after the MT-07 and the new 790 Adventure/Adventure R, all of which will be available next year to a public, especially in the case of the Adventure models, which are absolutely busting to get out and hit the dirt road. We know from chatting with KTM development rider Quinn Cody that the 790 ADV machines are going to be serious weapons, so Yamaha should be worried that their delay in bringing the Tenere 700 to market will result in the loss of a rather large chunk of market share.
Turning to the sportbike front, there were three new missiles: the Ducati Panigale V4 R (now with wings) that Chaz Davies hopes will bring him that elusive WorldSBK title, the new Aprilia RSV4 1100 (also, now with wings) and the new BMW S 1000 RR. The Ducati is a work of Italian art, as to be expected, heading an evermore-insane horsepower race with a claimed 221 horsepower from the crank and a price tag of $40,000. I could be getting old, but how much power are these bikes going to produce? The mark of 220 horsepower (granted it’s from the crank, but still) was purely reserved for MotoGP and WorldSBK racers not so long ago, and with current MotoGP machines pushing near 270 horsepower, you have to wonder how long it’ll be before we start seeing production bikes hitting the 240-250 horsepower mark. Fast times, indeed.
The new S 1000 RR was much more reserved in that charmingly Germanic fashion. This is the first ground-up redesign since the S 1000 RR blew the doors off everyone when it was released back in 2010, marking a nine-year production run for one bike. That shows you just how right the Germans got that one. My guess is the BMW will be a real dark horse in shootouts across the globe next year, especially in the M-Sport package they’re releasing for the S 1000 RR in the same program they do for their premium car line.
There were many other side notes to EICMA this year, like Moto Guzzi’s new V85 TT ADV bike, Suzuki’s Katana, the BMW’s R 1250 GS Adventure, KTM and Husqvarna’s electric kids’ bikes, a revised Honda CBR1000RR and, my personal favorite, the Aprilia RS 660 sport bike that will absolutely make me start racing again.
EICMA 2018 could be considered an interim year for some manufacturers, but there’s still plenty to look forward to in 2019. CN