Jeffrey Zani heads to EICMA 2016 to discover the latest and greatest for 2017. Here's his top ten favourites in no particular order... Words & Images by Jeffrey Zani
Jeffrey Zani explores EICMA 2016, looking at some of the biggest unveils of the year including Ducati’s Superleggera, the new CBR1000RR, 390 Duke, R nineT Urban GS, YZF-R6 and much more…
Well, it’s that time of the year again. It’s when I pack a few of my belongings, catch a train and go from the city of Rimini, on Italy’s Adriatic coast often called the ‘riders land’ because of its concentration of racers and manufacturers such as Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Bimota, Vyrus, Benelli, Franco Morbidelli and Enea Bastianini among others, not to mention the Ducati headquarters just 130 kilometers from here.
I head to the business capital of the country, Milan, with over 1.3 millions inhabitants, fashion, TV channels, the stock exchange and every November, EICMA, the international motorcycle exhibition.
New models unveiled, new outfits for the models who sit on the bikes, with my colleagues from all around the world gathered for an event that this year counted 1078 exhibitors from 38 different countries, placed in a 280,000 square meters space.
The trend of the last shows (three at least) can be described in the following observations: the timid return of hi-performance street bikes and the explosion of cafe racers and ‘personalised’ motorcycles, which go along with a particular lifestyle of beards, checked shirts and rebel-looking faces.
BMW’s R nineT is expanding its catalogue, and so are Moto Guzzi with the V7 and Ducati with the Scrambler, which in 2015 sold 16,000 pieces, a number that has to be compared with the 54,800 bikes sold by the Borgo Panigale company in the past year in total.
My tour started on Monday at 4:30PM with the Ducati World Premiere. The event changed location from last year and moved from the Elfo Puccini theatre to the Nazionale theatre.
In a few words, it’s bigger and seems to have a broader stage. It all comes down to the ‘exclusive mood’ Ducati wants to transmit. CEO Claudio Domenicali unveiled four new models with guest riders Chaz Davies who sees, “Us as the reference in WSBK now” and Andrea Dovizioso who, “Hopes with coming teammate Jorge Lorenzo to find the last things we need to fix on the Desmosedici in order to fight for the Championship (in 2017)”.
Plus of course tester Casey Stoner, satisfied in the way the MotoGP bike improved in the last months, saying, “We saw massive changes”.
Racing is still one of the strong priorities of Ducati, but the company also pays a lot of attention to the hipster-lifestyle-oriented segment of the market and, as underlined by Domenicali, to safety, with a broad series of updates to the electronics that equip his bikes.
Sixteen hours later the EICMA gates opened for the press. I saw prototypes like the Enduro Yamaha T7, street fighter KTM 790, track-only BMW HP4 Race, as well as unique pieces with almost half of one pavilion filled with Italian ‘special’ builders and several new products available in 2017.
My goal was to pick my ‘top 10’ and share it with you. I have to say that spending a few days among all those bikes and people, with all the distraction involved, made it hard for me to focus. And I had a few problems with the models too, because for the first two or three hours I thought they were all smiling at me, while instead they were smiling at my camera and at those of all the other journalists. Look at the photos and tell me if those smiles don’t look true.
Still, at the end of the day I was able to write down my list. You’ll find it below, not in any particular order. It’s personal and reflects the amount of time I spent staring at them. The bikes – not the girls.
Ducati 1299 Superleggera
In Domenicali’s words the, “Power to weight ratio is insane.” The test bench says 215 hp, the scale says 167kg (curb weight). With the provision of producing 500 pieces, this is the first ever factory bike to be equipped with hi-end carbon-fibre for the swingarm, rear sub-frame, wheels and monocoque frame.
This last component, Ducati says, shows a 40 per cent saving in terms of weight if compared with the 1299 Panigale, which features aluminum parts. Performance is not in discussion, and the same can be said about the look.
Simple, functional, fascinating. During the Ducati World Premiere I had the chance to hear the engine running. Eargasm and that was at low-rpm. The exhaust is not only beautiful, with the snaky-shaped system ending just between the tail and the rear wheel, but it also delivers a great sound.
For those who put performances above all.
Honda’s 2017 CBR1000RR Fireblade
A quarter of a century after the release of the first CBR1000RR Fireblade, Honda brought to Milan its last version. The company describes the Fireblade as its spearhead, thanks to changes that involved 90 per cent of the previous components.
The power-to-weight ratio registers a 14 per cent increase thanks to a 15 kg diet and a total of 192 hp, 11 more than its predecessor. Honda has a reputation for having not the fastest street-bikes, but the most reliable and immediate to ride.
The CBR1000RR Fireblade promises to follow this tradition, adding a series of electronic features that include a new Power Selector which can be accessed through the new RMSS (Riding Mode Select System).
It offers five levels of power output variations, all having the same throttle response on initial opening but giving different results in the higher rev ranges, Honda says.
Talking about suspension, the bike mounts Showa 43mm Big Piston Forks (BPF) at the front and a Balance Free Rear (BFR) shock. One last reminder, the Fireblade is the most successful 1000cc machine at the Tourist Trophy, where it has won 23 races.
For those who don’t want to take risks with their investment.
KTM’s 2017 390 Duke
Features include new bodywork and a new design for the 390 Duke, with a new steel trellis frame combined with 43mm WP suspension and a 320mm front disk brake, bigger than the one that equipped the previous version.
According to KTM this single-cylinder bike can deliver 44hp and weighs almost 149 kg (dry). The 390 Duke can also count on technological highlights like the new multifunctional TFT display and the optional KTM My Ride that allows operating the hands-free function and audio player via the dashboard and a handlebar menu switch. The company simply defines the 390 Duke as a corner rocket.
For those who are not ready for the big thing, but want to enjoy themselves.
BMW’s R nineT Urban GS
The time machine brings us back to the ’80s and puts us in front of a classic and familiar shape, with a white-blue-red colour mix, that represents a tribute to the R 80 GS.
Is it all about how it looks? Yes and no. This is the moving celebration of a two-wheeled icon, but it also offers features that can satisfy demanding customers. The 1170cc air cooled boxer twin delivers 110hp, weight is 221kg, seat height 850mm.
Basically, BMW followed the quote of former soccer player and coach Vujadin Boskov, “There is no point in changing a winning team”. No revolution consequently with this model, but a technical update and some new elements like the light alloy cast wheels and 19-inch front wheel in enduro style.
For the nostalgic folks.
MV Agusta’s 2017 Brutale 800 RR
New camshafts, new valve guides, new countershaft, starter motor and primary gear drive. These are among the main changes that MV made to its 800 RR in order to deliver a tasty product for naked and powerful bike lovers.
Listening to the unique roar of its three-cylinder engine, the rider can count on 140hp to move a 175kg bike that gets new 17-inch forged alloy wheels and updated MVICS electronics, including a full ride-by-wire throttle and eight-level traction control system. MV also revealed its top speed, which should get close to 250 km/h.
For those who like it naked.
2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 Racing
Full-titanium Akrapovic Evo exhaust, dual Brembo T-drive front brakes, Brembo rear brake and an Öhlins cartridge kit up front. What Yamaha defines as “full-blooded racing machine” is inspired, in its design, by the MotoGP M1 (pay attention to the central forced air intake) and the YZF-R1 (look at the tail).
Talking about electronics, the “race-ready” R6 offers a Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) and a Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I) for a high degree of controlability in a wide range of conditions.
The new YZF-R6 also comes with an advanced Traction Control System (TCS) that is adjustable by a switch on the handlebars. Yamaha’s Supersport design team was also able to improve the aerodynamic, with an eight per cent improvement given by the new front cowl, windscreen and a low drag front fairing.
For Supersport lovers.
2017 Kawawsaki Z650
Kawasaki expands the Z family with a 649cc bike powered by a parallel twin engine surrounded by an all-new lightweight chassis. The key word for this middleweight supernaked is “agility,” according to Kawasaki and the trellis frame painted in metallic green (15kg) and swingarm (4.8kg) were the key to the Z650’s ultra-light handling.
The total weight declared is 187kg. The handlebars are flat and wide, the riding position sporty and at the same time relaxed. Everything was made in order to be compact, like the front cowl, the tail and the instrumentation. Rather than top end power, Kawasaki decided to tune the 68hp engine in order to have low to mid-mid range power and torque.
For those who like to take it easy.
Moto Guzzi V7 III Anniversario
Half a century after the first V7 was sold, Mandello’s company puts on the market a version that elegantly celebrates the history of style and riding pleasure of this model, which will be produced in no more than 750 pieces.
Among the special parts are the chromium finished fuel tank, the genuine leather saddle and the brushed aluminium mudguards. The base is the new V7 III, which shows a 10 per cent increase in the power delivered in comparison with the previous version, thanks to a new engine.
The steel frame maintains the dismountable double cradle layout of its predecessor and the same weight distribution (46 per cent front and 54 per cent rear), but the front part, Moto Guzzi has explained, was completely revamped and reinforced. A new steering geometry was also introduced, looking for a more dynamic ride in corners and better handling and stability.
For the classic guys.
2017 Suzuki V-Strom 250/ABS
Road use, off road use, urban use or just for those who never owned a bike or are coming back after a period on four-wheels only. The small V-Strom smiles at the wallet, while being capable of a riding range of over 500km with a full tank of gasoline.
Speaking about the look, the beaky fairing and rugged bodywork recall the bigger 650 and 1000 siblings, no doubt about that. The engine is optimized to maximize low to mid-range torque and counts on new intake valves in order optimize airflow into the combustion chamber.
Suzuki claims that the cam profile delivers maximum acceleration performance at speeds between 20km/h to 90km/h. If you want more you can switch to the 650 or 1000 models.
For the first ride.
Triumph Street Scrambler
A complete update for one of Triumph’s most popular models, according to the English company the 900cc twin now, “Delivers much more torque and power low down and in the mid-range.”
This is thanks to changes that involved the adoption of, “a charismatic 270° firing interval,” for smooth, linear power delivery from the slick five-speed gearbox.
In order to improve the rider experience a new chassis is adopted, together with longer rear shocks, wider handlebars and a 19’’ front wheel.
For those who plan to have a drink at the Ace Cafè.
Well, my job is done. Now I can go back to Rimini, where bikes are all over the place and not on pedestals. In a few months I’ll be seeing the 2017 in their real habitat – the street.