When I put my hand up to write a piece about EICMA 2022, I foolishly assumed that as with pretty much every year before, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Two-wheeled, internal combustion-powered fish. The fact that MIlan’s EICMA is where all the world’s biggest moto manufacturers show their hot new bikes is well known, just like the sun rising every morning and Italian politics being insane. But not this time…
Be it a remnant of COVID or the simple fact that 2022 has been equally as chaotic and unpredictable as the 2020 and 2021, there was a rather surprising sparseness at the Milan show this year. And if they did show up, Manufacturers tended to stick to safe bets like new colourways or minor updates to existing bikes. But with that said, there were a few very notable exceptions to this and in a funny sort of a way, it seemed to make the announcements that did happen much bigger and more impactful than they may have otherwise been if the schedule had been flooded with jaw-dropping tidbits. Here’s what took our eye.
5. MV Agusta 921S Concept
In 5th position is MV’s very healthy-looking 921s racer. And before you get your kevlar knickers in a knot, just be aware that it’s probably only a concept at this stage. I’m no expert, but the images do have a certain computer rendering vibe to them, so it may be that the bike doesn’t even exist yet. But with lines like that, do we really care? With clear cafe racer influences – note the classically styled Isle of Man gas tank and the nifty raised ducktail seat. The low ‘bars and the stripped-down look are also fairly big nods to the golden era of racing motorcycles. Gee, I wonder which classic MV the bike may have been based on?
That’s right, the 921S is a modern take on the brand’s well famous 750S from the early 1970s. The new bike’s imaginary power comes from a 921 cc in-line four, which they say will produce a tasty 115hp and 85 ft-lb of torque. There’s also Öhlins shocks front and rear (with the front set being electronically adjustable), Brembo stoppers, ABS, launch control, traction control, riding modes, a quick shifter and what looks to be one of the nicest billet swingarms I’ve ever seen. Watch this space to see if MV decides to pull the trigger on the real thing.
4. Honda CL500 Scrambler
Fourth spot was a run-off between the Honda you see here and the new Suzuki GSX-8S. I won’t kid you that there was a clear winner; I’m just a sucker for scramblers so in the end I made a call and the Honda got the nod. Looking back at the GSX just now, I think I made the right call. If you took the badges off the 8S and told me it was the latest bike from a Chinese manufacturer I’d never heard of before, I’d be more than likely to believe you; it’s just a little too generic for me I think. In my eyes, the Honda beats the Suzie in being just a little more original and interesting. Clearly based on their CMX500 model, the CL500 harks back to Honda’s heyday in the ‘60s and ‘70s when Americans couldn’t get enough of the little bush-bashing buggers. And just look at that exhaust!
As with most manufacturers, these modern “scrambler” bikes are more of a homage to the scrambling genre than being in possession of raw offroad skills which is borne out by the bike’s 192 kg (423 lb) curb weight. Still, it has 46 hp to skedaddle it along, all-LED lights, a 19 inch front and 17 inch wheel set with some decent rubber, a 791 mm seat height, a 12 ltr fuel tank and those high pipes. No doubt they’ll be one of the key deciding factors as to whether the CL’s new owners shell out their hard-earned or go with a scrambler option from another manufacturer.
3. MV Agusta Superveloce 1000 Oro
Decidedly less imaginary than the 921S, MV also revealed this rather lovely sports machine at the EICMA 2022 show. Begging the question, “Does MV even know how to make a motorcycle that isn’t stunning,” their new Superveloce 1000 screams the answer, “HELL NO!” at ear-watering volume right in your face. And while I do have my doubts as to whether or not road-going sportsbikes are now a thing of the past or not, there’s little doubt that this thing would be an absolute blast to ride on track. I’m also a sucker for good graphic design, and that two-tone silver faring with the stylised 04 racing number sure does float my boat.
Weighing in at 196 kg it’s no lightweight, but counter that with a prodigious 212 hp and there’s little doubt that you and the bike will be gettin’ where you are going rather hastily. Those GP-style wings seem quite pronounced from the side and front three quarter views, but from front on they seem nicely integrated and not as hooligan as you might imagine. Other drool-inducing features includes front brake covers that direct airflow to the discs and radiator, fancy aerodynamics and vents that create vacuums behind radiators, 40 carbon fibre components, a heroic 13.4:1 compression ratio and all the other gubbins you’d expect from a wallet-draining beast such as this. Namely ride by wire, a quick shifter, a bunch of throttle maps and more traction control modes than your average Italian gelateria has flavours.
2. Honda XL750 Transalp
Again with the Honda offroad? You bet. With the Yamaha Ténéré 700 and the KTM 890 Adventure in its crosshairs, the new Honda XL750 Transalp is scheduled to drop in Spring 2023 into a pretty competitive mid weight adventure moto category. With heritage dating all the way back to 1987, the Transalp family knows a thing or two about getting offroad. This new ‘Alp is apparently propelled by the same parallel twin engine as found in the recently-announced Honda CB750 Hornet, and presumably therefore has the same 67.5kW (90hp) peak power, and 75 Nm (55lb-ft) of torques.
And while it may look quite svelte, Honda says it’ll weigh in at 208 kgs. Is it just me, or are bikes getting heavier and heavier lately? Just try picking that up off the ground a few times in a row and you’ll damn well know about it. Still, it’d be better than picking up a BMW GS. You’ll also find a 270 degree crank and an airbox designed to give the bike a ‘low-end beat and raucous top-end howl’ – though hearing Honda say that feels a little like your parents talking about sex. There’s also a ride-by-wire throttle, a six-speed ‘box with a slipper clutch, four riding modes and a TFT screen. It’ll have to be a pretty amazing bike to beat the Yamaha and KTM competition. Watch this space for more.
1. Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650
Excuse me if I sound a little giddy, but for me there was a real stand-out at the show, and that bike was Royal Enfield’s new Super Meteor 650 cruiser. Based on the same 650 twin engine platform that spawned the Interceptor and the Continental GT in 2019. It’s a ground-up design that really only keeps the powerplant with pretty much everything else including the chassis being brand new. It’s also solid evidence that Royal Enfield have some real momentum behind them at the moment; if the rumours are to be believed then they’ve also got a raft of new bikes in the pipeline that will no doubt see other global manufacturers looking over their shoulders for years to come.
A clear and sensible inclusion in their line up after the success of the Meteor 350, this big brother Super Meteor weighs in at 240 kgs and with 50 hp and about the same torque at 2,500 rpm, it’s definitely aimed at the more relaxed end of the cruising market. A 740mm seat height also backs this up and will allow even smaller-statured riders to handle the weight without too much wrestling.
Other nice touches include upside down forks and LED lights, both a first for Royal Enfield. There’s two basic variations as you can see above; a stock bike and a Tourer model with a screen and higher spec seat that also features a small backrest for the passenger. And if accessories are your thing, there’s a bunch of goodies to choose from including bespoke panniers and crash bars. Expect an early 2023 launch date.