Motorcycling is a very broad church – nothing attests to this like EICMA. Any and everything with two wheels, or three, or in some cases even 4, is packed into the vast halls of Rho Fiera in Milan for the week-long Expo. Cruisers, track weapons, step-thrus, electric mules, Harley badged bicycles - and thankfully a load of other things that I actually like – are assembled for mass delectation. The scale of EICMA is absurd, but thanks to a thin veil of fog, a cancelled flight and some shoddy work from City Airport ground crew my two-day pilgrimage was reduced to a one day blitz of the show. As the “Retail Guy” my primary remit is to view the latest gear from the finest brands to curate our shop offering for the season, but I also attend EICMA to get a handle on what is new in the broader industry – to see the trends, and to try and decipher what they might mean for our ‘Shed shaped slice of the pie. My big take away this year? ADVENTURE. But not just incremental development of the thriving wanderlust fuelled, Gore-tex clad, technical segment we already know – but a new angle, driven as much by aesthetic as fuel capacity. Rad looking machines wrapping their globe-trotting potential in retro styling cues, squarely targeting your and my heartstrings and wallets. Perhaps RAD-VENTURE? I’ll get my coat. I double checked I was not just seeing what I wanted to see (I ride a black on black Africa Twin) but all of my conversations confirmed - Adventure was definitely the vibe.
The crowds set the tone. Ducati’s glorious 1100 Desert X concept received more attention than the lycra-clad WD40 girls, whilst Husqvarna’s Norden 901 concept required the sharpest of elbows to get close. Echoes of the desert conquering Cagiva Elefant, the late 80’s Yamaha XTZ750 and original Honda Africa Twin laced both designs. Even Harley were joining the game with their new washing-machine-on-knobblies dubbed the Pan-American. Moto Guzzi gleefully smirked that they were ahead of the curve with the second iteration of their popular V85 TT while Yamaha’s long awaited Ténéré 700 was definitely at its best in retro red and white. Suzuki’s new V-Strom, an unashamed homage to the iconic DR BIG, even made me hanker for a neon yellow and bright blue steed. Honda may have ridden a more asphalt path with their CB4X design, but the style was unmistakably adventurous.
If these concepts can carry their handsome looks all the way to production they will surely tempt the traditional Scrambler crowd to a more faired / adventurous way of thinking. But this being EICMA there was of course still plenty for those with a round headlight loving heart.
BMW’s R18/2 cruiser concept that captured my attention at Wheels & Waves earlier in the year was developed further still, dominated by that glorious motor it was truly captivating. Triumph’s stand boasted the stunning new Thruxton RS, Bobber TFC and beefcake Rocket Three. Harley debuted their brutal Bronx concept and elsewhere the beautiful MV Augusta Super Veloce was visible without a naked woman writhing atop of it. Elsewhere Kawasaki blew everyone’s collective mind with their Bimota TESI H2 and Honda unveiled their latest ‘Blade.
Amidst the machines the latest gear did not disappoint. More detail on that will be found in next week’s Shop Floor Newsletter – sign up here. My apologies for the poor iphone imagery – everything was snapped at a furious pace – but back at my desk in Shoreditch the Ducati Desert X has already made its way onto my screensaver… Fingers crossed the manufacturers make good on their concept promises. Let us know your thoughts and opinions on all of the new metal from Milan in the comments - Gareth