Post & Images by Horst Roesler, Motographer.de
November 23rd – 28th, EICMA Motorcycle Fair in Milan/Italy
Yes they’re back! Europes biggest motorcycle show of the year did decide to face te realities and did open the doors who were eager to trade and to meet their clients. Yes, the exhibition space was smaller, 5 instead of the usual eight, but there was also motorsport, stunt and Freestyle-MX action, most important there were some exciting new motorcycles to see – and it is always a great benefit not just to see them and walk around, but eventually sit on top and, at least in some cases, ride them at demorides. First and formost, I have to hand it to Royal Enfield, who really made this event worth coming: They celebrated the 120th year of contiuous production and presented some anniversary surprizes. Including having their own “branded” Stuntrider, doing crazy things of the twins which sure will put the cool looking twins in the spotlight again!
When Royal Enfield invited for a 2nd press date on wednesday, spreading word about presenting a 120 year old motorcycle, quite a lot of people did come to the outdoor demo ride area, which also presented selected “survivers” and “milestones” of Royal Enfield’s 120 year heritage. What they presented the day after the 120th Anniversary “specials” was a private fueled enterprise by company employeers who did – out of thin air – re-create the first-ever Royal Enfield of 1901 from only a few period newspaper articles and the pictures in those articles. However, with the anniversary year approaching, the project was finished in time, including some 120 year old components which were integrated into the CAD concept of the researched antique motorcycle. The long lost first Royal Enfields still had the bicycle DNA of early motorisation, a massive engine on the handlebar (!), fed via a super long manifold as the carb is situated next to the tank. The interesting detail on the first Royal Enfield is that the rear wheel was driven by a belt reaching from the handlebar to a belt pulley at the rear.
For several reasons we did not hear the sound of the CNC-machined motor, one of which was that – as most early motorcycles – this is an “all or nothing” type of motorcycles: No clutch, no gears, rudimentary brakes – and no space on the demo ride area to operate it. But the Royal Enfield team made good for that by presenting their latest clou: British Stunt-Pro Lee Bowers has moved to the brand, adding two brandnew taylor-made stuntbikes – one a “drifter” the other for acrobatic performances – to his programm – and Lee could not resist to burn off a little bit of rubber…
Hall 15 neighbour Triumph also was not shy to come out with the full range: Albeit most news have been already presented through the year, it was good to see them “life” and to have a seat aboard. It seems that the “Brexit” has not resulted in less popularity for the “Brits”, the sales results they presented said different.
As EICMA is THE Italian show – and the definite showcase of Italian Motorcycle ingenuity and design: Not all what is shown here will become “mainstream”, as some bikes seem to be designed either by Papa Smurf or the Minions, but even the strangest concepts are presented – and may spark off new ideas. To some it might be surprisinng how many “classic” names from Italys long motorcycle heritage remain in business, yet many of them are either united in the Piaggio Group or have other partnerships. Including many electric powered brands that often don’t make it to the next fair, especially in these difficult times!
One surprize exhibitor, well known from his customizing history, was Luciano Andreoli: Having partially designed the V-Twins for the China-based “Brenda” motorcycle brand, the 300 and 125 cc V-Twins look very stylish and are exactly the downscaled “customs” neccessary to enter the scene. Andreoli and Rizzi are looking for more partners in Italy as well as distribution partners in Europe – well timed, as it seems that Harley-Davidson themself plan to launch a 300-400 cc range motorcycle in 2022, also to be manufactured in China. With quite a number of China-based manufacturers at EICMA, this market is “taking on steam” and the quality of the bikes is getting better and better…
With the current Covid Panic reaching new heights in Italy too, all visitors had to show their “Green Pass” at the gate, followed by mandatory “masking” in the halls. Not the nicest way to talk business, but at least some girls took off the masks for allowing pictures. Show activities were kept to a minimum, except for Valentino Rossis well orchestrated “One More Lap” goodbye from his fans, much of the event days, except the press and trade day, weather did not really favour demo rides and stunt shows or the Moto Live activities.
Since the EICMA organizers dropped the “EICMA CUSTOM” portion of the show, the number of “customized” bikes has dropped considerably, this year reaching probably an all-time low. With Harley-Davidson and Indian missing, Royal Enfield did score the majority of “classic” and “customized” bikes on their booth! Added from all halls, two Pan America’s and one Sportster S were on display, Drag Specialties had S&S Cycles Martin Sziagowski on their booth and a customized 2021 “Road Glide” by Harley-Davidson “Gate 32”, Milano’s local Harley dealer.
Usually, we would not dwell too long on electric motorcycles, as many of them would be history by next years fair, but there was one exemption: When walking the halls, we caught the view of one strange looking “Dirt Track Style” e-bike that did not look “themed” but more “built to purpose”. And that purpose being Dirt Track Racing! With a little bit of luck, the builder was present: Philippe Stella of Trevor Motorcycles presented and explained his outstanding electric dirt track racer which is programmed to perform like a combustion engine type racebike – and currently running in the “normal” race field. Especially Dirt Track is a great testbed, as it need a specific power curve to have the bike drifting into turns at the right moment while less weight and optimized traction will give the edge out of the turns. Check out his ideas at www.trevormotorcycles.com.
As always at EICMA, several new “safety ideas” were presented, some of which seem to be developed by designated motorcycle haters that want to make motorcycle riding as annoying and uncomfortable as possible. Beside Airbag-equipped trousers and airbag-vests, it is a mystery that anybody riding a motorcycle in Italian cities would create a product like Ride Vision’s mirror warning lights? It’s your worst nightmare come true: This radar-operated warning light that will make your mirrors flash hectic when you get to close to a car/vehicle. Imagine that in Milan downtown traffic or on German Autobahn: These hazard lights would flash continuously! Well, as (after a little web-research) the start-up manufacturer of the AI-based system is based in Israel, it is to be feared that it’ll soon become mandatory in Europe…
As the visitor numbers following the two press/trade days proved, interest in motorcycling is still very much alive, at least in Italy. The motorcycle not just remains a very handy matter of transport that uses up less fuel and much less parking space – it still IS a way to escape the hardships of daily live and work, including media-hyped panics of all sorts. How long that freedom will last is in question, but it’s up to us to notice it…
Graphics & Logos: EICMA