Wow, what a few days I had, visiting the Milan bike show with my brother. EICMA has been on my list of shows to visit for quite a few years, however, I have always managed to miss it for one reason or another, usually, because I was having fun riding bikes over the summer and not thinking of the show season in time to arrange things, 2019 would be different though. I had my flights booked in good time and a hotel booked but didn't remember to invite my brother until it was almost too late.
Arriving at Malpensa mid-afternoon on Thursday I met Paul who had flown in from the UK and off we went to pick up our Goldcar hire car and found it was a Fiat 500, quite appropriate for Milan but maybe a little small for the two of us, it felt almost like a clown car for the first few miles. Into Milan, we went to find some food and ended ip in one of the restaurants inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the oldest shopping mall in Italy.
Pasta to start.
Pizza main course, I managed to stop myself before ordering a Tiramisu.
After a quick walk around the cathedral area, it was raining, we headed back out to our hotel for the night and to prepare for the bike show on Friday.
We decided as we were staying a little out of Milan to have a slightly later start than intended to try to avoid the morning rush hour and set off instead at 09.30 from our hotel near Malpensa. In hindsight this was a mistake as we ended up stuck in a queue for the car park instead, it wasn't too bad but we didn't actually get into the show until around 11.45 when it was already busy.
The first impression of the event is, it's huge, with stands from all of the major bike manufacturers as well as clothing, helmet and accessory companies all vying for attention. It was great to see so much on display but there was just so much to get around in a day especially a busy one. Some of the stands those with new 2020 models in particular, or pre-production and concept bikes were especially overrun. KTM was a good example of this, we returned a couple of times to check out the new Duke 890R and struggled to get anywhere near it, nevermind take any pictures.
Here are some of the stand out models.
Kawasaki Z1000 H2
The Kawasaki stand was full of bikes with a splash of green, with new models such as the Z1000 H2 shown above and updates on many others it was worth the crowds to look around. The Z1000 H2 divided opinion with a rather bulky headlight assembly and quirky styling, but the concept of a Super Naked with a Super Charger is bound to win votes with the buying public and Kawasaki will undoubtedly sell loads of them, assuming a sensible price.
Bimota TESI H2
The Bimota TESI in all its different incarnations has always been a fascination of mine, the new H2 version is no exception, yes its a little odd-looking, but its also an engineering marvel that I would love to have a go, on. Now that Kawasaki holds a 49% share of the Italian brand I expect that a whole fleet of Japanese engined exotica will start to flow from the small Rimini operation. Good luck to them if they all look as good as this they should do well.
I am old enough to remember when the first Italjet Dragster was released, not the first Italjet. The bike was a revelation with its quirky looks and became a bit of a cult machine in its time. The new for 2020 version is no different with an exposed trellis frame, single-sided front suspension similar to the Bimotot Tesi above, it certainly catches your eye. Personally I love it and if I was looking for a commuter bike this would be high up on the list.
The CCM Spitfire is another bike with an exposed frame and great engineering. It looks very simple, two wheels, frame, tank, engine, but its put together well with great attention to detail and a joy to behold.
KTM Duke 890 R
As the owner of a Duke 790, I was very interested in what the new KTM Duke 890 R offered over my standard version. Unfortunately, as KTM had two of the more eagerly awaited new models on display as well as a program of special guests it was very difficult to get on the stand almost impossible to take pictures. We tried twice and eventually decided on a stock photo.
With 15bhp more and a good amount of extra torque, the 890 looks like a lot of fun, it comes with fully adjustable suspension and Brembo brakes instead of the J.Juans of the 790, but is that enough to make a change? After reading all of the press releases and checking out the photos I will be sticking with the 790 unless I can arrange a test ride, then who knows.
KTM 390 Adventure
Another stock image I"m afraid, again this is a new 2020 model which was very popular, I did manage to sit on this one at least and was very impressed with the package. I like the controversial KTM LED headlight arrangement and their TFT displays are simple but work really well. I m considering a more off-road oriented bike to tackle some of our local trails in the Costa Blanca and maybe tackle some sections of the TET. My only concern with this as a contender is the alloy rather than spoked wheels. Spokes are undoubtedly better for serious off-road as they will give a little rather than bend or break however the alloys have the advantage of tubeless tyres which are much easier to repair in a puncture situation. A test ride may be in order, just need to clear a bit more space in the garage.
Triumph Scrambler 1200
There are a few variants of the Scrambler 1200, with many options within each version, however, I think this is my favourite. High mudguards, knobby tyres, engine guards and the great Triumph logo on the tank are all you really need. Big enough to tour on and capable of having some fun off-road, it's a great option for the adventurous.
Suzuki V-Strom 1050
I had heard rumours of the new V-Strom before the show and a bike with the look of the old DR Big 800 but wasn't sure what to expect. Suzuki didn't disappoint, for fans of the old DR the new V-Strom looks great, much better than the standard version in my opinion. The new TFT dash and extras of the XT model along with a target price of around 14,000 Euros should make it a popular alternative to BMW & KTM for the adventure tourer market.
Aston Martin AMB1
Aston Martin in collaboration with Brough had the AMB1 on display to show potential buyers of the finer things in life. Honestly, it was a good looking piece of kit, but I couldn't see myself riding one. From the people, I spoke to though there had been at least one order from the show.
There were many other new bikes on display such as the BMW XR 800 range and a few notable concepts like the Ducati Scrambler Rally as well as the Honda CB4-X and BMW R18. The star for me, however, was the Bimota Tesi H2, the Tesi has always been a bonkers looking bike, but then to add one of the most bonkers engines ever made for the road is a genius move. Good luck to Bimota.
Would I go to EICMA again?
I have been asked this by a number of people and would say yes, despite the fact that it is a different country requiring flights and hire cars to get to, it is well worth the effort. It is one of, if not the largest, bike show of its kind in the world with most of the new models for the following year are present, it can be very busy however and Milan is not the cheapest place to stay or eat.
My top tips to visit the show are;
- Use public transport if possible, there are trains and the Metro nearby.
- Visit as early as possible in the week as it is quieter, the first day is press only.
- Book early to get a hotel nearby at a good rate.
- Arrive at the show early, there are cafes and food stalls open before the show.