EICMA Leaks Like A Sieve

Somehow, official photos of new motorcycles have been leaking out prior to the officially scheduled release at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.

Here’s a photo gallery of what we’ve gotten so far

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EICMA 2009

The big motorcycle show, Italy’s EICMA, will be happening in 20 days. Traditionally, this is a show that always brings some surprises for the new year.  So, what’s up this year?

Obviously, Aprilia will be rolling out the RSV4 and RSV4-R.  That’s a no-brainer.

BMW might be an interesting presence this year.  The rumors of what is going to happen with the R-Series bikes has been rampant, with everything from a new 1300cc boxer, to the 1200cc boxer getting an update with the 130HP DOHC motor ported from the HP2.  I’ve written about the GS getting that motor, but there are rumors that the whole R-series will be getting that upgrade as well, which would make both the GS and RT extremely attractive.  And with 130HP, the lighter-weight RT would approach the performance of the FJR, making it a true sport-tourer.  The 1300cc K bikes and the S1000RR are old news already, so the only conceivable surprise would come from a revamping of the R Bikes.

Ducati’s new 1200cc Multistrada and Hypermotard 796 will be there.  We’ve already seen the Hypermotard.  And we’ve seen the new Multistrada, too, except with lots of duct tape hiding the fairing.  The removal of the duct tape will be Ducati’s big event.

MV Agusta has had the same model lineup of two bikes–the F4 and Brutale–for the last decade.  This year looks to be a little different, however.  We’ve already seen the two new Brutale models, so, while they’ll no doubt be there, no one will care.  What we haven’t seen is the revamped F4, other than the teaser image MV released several days ago, So I expect that to be unveiled.  But what we really haven’t seen are the two entirely new models that have been rumored over the last month or so.  The 675cc triple that has shown up is spy shots, and the company’s new Superbike, which is expected to lead MV Agusta back to participation in WSS or WSBK racing.  We don’t even know if it’s a completely new model, or WSBK-compliant F4 model.  But, after a decade with the same old line-up, MV might be the surprise of the show this year.

Neither Honda now Yamaha will be there, which, in Honda’s case seems a bit odd, since their new VFR1200F has just debuted, and it’s supposed to be the basis for a whole new line of motorcycles from Big Red.  So, it seems strange that they won’t be at EICMA so show it off.

Triumph will be there, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the new Street Triple R show up, with its new black and gold paint scheme, reminiscent of the John Player Special motorsports paint scheme of beloved memory.

But, surprises aside, with thingsas bad in the motorcycle manufacturing and sales world as they are, it seems that this year will mostly be a low-key affair, which the absence of two of the Big Four won’t help.

BTW, I wonder if Harley-Davidson will be pulling the Buell 1125R from the show?

2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796

Ducati has officially announced the availability of the new Ducati Hypermotard 796 for the US market for 2010.  The b ike will have an air-cooled engine, and tip the scales at just 368 pounds.  According to Ducati’s press release:

A brand new model for 2010, the Hypermotard 796 incorporates many new features requested by Ducatisti worldwide; striking color selections, lighter weight, lower price point, lower seat height, and the inclusion of a super-light action APTC clutch. Whether it’s dicing through the daily commute or attacking the open roads, the 796 perfectly balances Ducati’s unrivalled twin-cylinder power and sportbike heredity with the lightweight and minimalist Supermotard concept. The Hypermotard 796’s engine is a brand new powerplant; air-cooled with 2 valves per cylinder as per Ducati tradition. Rated at 81hp and 56 lb/ft of torque, the engine promises to deliver an exhilarating ride without compromising the smooth tractability found in Ducati’s other L-Twin engines.

Continued chassis development to the Hypermotard includes redesigned top and bottom fork clamps, and an improved frame layout which eliminates almost all of the forged elements used previously on the 1100. This adds up to an agile, lightweight, 368 pound package that is guaranteed to attack corners.

The bike’s official unveiling will take place in Milan in a few weeks, and it should start showing up in US showrooms–with a price tag under $10k–in December.

2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796
2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796
A brand new model for 2010, the Hypermotard 796 incorporates many new features requested by Ducatisti worldwide; striking color selections, lighter weight, lower price point, lower seat height, and the inclusion of a super-light action APTC clutch. Whether it’s dicing through the daily commute or attacking the open roads, the 796 perfectly balances Ducati’s unrivalled twin-cylinder power and sportbike heredity with the lightweight and minimalist Supermotard concept. The Hypermotard 796’s engine is a brand new powerplant; air-cooled with 2 valves per cylinder as per Ducati tradition. Rated at 81hp and 56 lb/ft of torque, the engine promises to deliver an exhilarating ride without compromising the smooth tractability found in Ducati’s other L-Twin engines.

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Continued chassis development to the Hypermotard includes redesigned top and bottom fork clamps, and an improved frame layout which eliminates almost all of the forged elements used previously on the 1100. This adds up to an agile, lightweight, 368 pound package that is guaranteed to attack corners.

2009 Streetfighter Comparo

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Motorcycle USA has their comparison of 2009 streetfighter motorcycles online.  In this comparo, they put the Ducati Streetfighter, Buell 1125CR, and the Aprilia Tuono 1000R head to head, both on the track, and on the street.

You’d probably think that the Ducati Streetfighter would be a shoo-in to win this comparo, but surprisingly, they though it was too track-oriented to be a good daily ride.  They liked the Tuono, but thought it was just a tad too light in the torque/acceleration department.  The Buell, on the other hand, had a significant horsepower deficit.  When all the pluses and minuses were added up, Motorcycle USA concluded:

Never in a million years did I think the 1125CR could best the Ducati. But it did. And it isn’t because it’s the fastest or prettiest – because it’s not. Not even close. It’s top dog because it delivers the most important intangible sensation when riding: Fun. It handles so perfectly that you feel like the bike is an extension of one’s being. Its ergonomics are well thought out and while its engine isn’t the fastest, it still has character and delivers all the right sensations, albeit at a tad slower speed. In fact, our only real complaints are some very minor styling and fit-and-finish issues. So, if it’s the best handling, most fun, easiest-to-use Streetfighter that you’re looking for, look no further. Say hello to the 2009 Buell 1125CR.

It really is interesting how often the Buell 1125R comes out on top in these comparison tests.

2010 Ducati Multistrada 1098

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Over the past month or so, some spy shots of the 2010 Ducati Multistrada, equipped with a 140HP version of the 1098 engine, have been popping up.  The trouble is that all of the bike’s body panels have been covered with electrical tape and wrapped with padding or something, so you can’t really see what the bike looks like.  Since that’s the case, I’ve refrained from mentioning it.

Until now.

2010 Ducati Multistrada 1098 - Now with luggage!
2010 Ducati Multistrada 1098 - Now with luggage!

Because this spy shot, taken out of someone’s car window in Italy, shows a little something extra.  Ducati is apparently offering saddlebags and a touring trunk with the new Multistrada.  Yes, the rest of the bike is still covered up with tape and whatnot, but the luggage appears to be shown in all its glory.

The Multistrada isn’t truly an adventure bike competitor with the BMW R1200GS, but with this luggage, it’s just jumped into the  “very nice and versatile sport-tourer” category.

Ducati Execs Do the Right Thing

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It’s no secret that the recent worldwide economic downturn has seriously affected motorcycle sales, sending them plunging by a third.  Now here in the United States, it’s become a common thing to see executives at big firms take huge bonuses, even when the company isn’t doing so hot.  The most egregious example of this was when failed insurer AIG took billions of dollars in Federal money for a bailout of the company, then promptly paid off millions and millions in executive bonuses with it.

Apparently, things are different in Italy, where senior executives at Ducati, faced with slumping sales, did the right thing.

Senior executives at Ducati have taken a 10 per cent cut in their pay and will not receive any bonuses because of the decline, while [Ducati CEO] Mr [Gabriele] Del Torchio said he had taken a 20 per cent pay cut.

Let’s leave aside any legalistic or other arguments about whether the executives should be compensated or not.  At the end of the day, when you’re cutting production, and laying off staff, it seems only right that the pain should be shared by everyone else in the company, all the way to the top.

Kudos to Ducati for setting an example of shared sacrifice.

Motorcycle.Com’s Best of 2009

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The annual march of media bike choices continues, with Motorcycle.com weighing in with thir top picks of the year.  Their choices are interesting, and a bit different than I would have expected.

Triumph Street Triple R: Motorcycle.Com's Bike of the year for 2009.
Triumph Street Triple R: Motorcycle.Com's Bike of the year for 2009.

For the overall bike of the year, they picked the Triumph Street Triple R.

Best Sportbike honors go to the Kawasaki ZX-6R, with the runner-up being the Honda CBR1000RR.

The Ducati Monster 1100 gets the nod for best standard motorcycle, with second place going to the Harley-Davidson XR1200.

The best cruiser pick is the all new Triumph Thunderbird 1600, with the Suzuki Boulevard M90 taking an honorable mention.

The award for best touring bike goes to the BMW R1200RT, closely followed by the Honda Gold Wing.

BMW also take both first and second place spots for sport-touring, with the K1300GT winning, and the F800ST getting the honorable mention.

BMW stays in the winner’s circle for best off-road bike, with the top honors going to the F800GS, and the second spot going to the Aprilia SXV/RXV 5.5.

They also have picks for best eccentrics, scooters, technology, and more, so why not go there and read them?

Europe’s Top Bikes

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Our cousins in The Old Country love motorcycles as much as we do, but they don’t love the same motorcycles, apparently.  The French automotive magazine MotoRevue has released their list of top five motorcycles in Europe, and, as you might imagine, they’re quite different from the Motorcyclist picks of the year I wrote about a few days ago.

Three Italians–the Ducati Streetfighter and 1198, and the Aprilia RSV4–head the roster.  One Brit bike, the Triuph Speed Triple, makes the list. And the 2009 Yamaha Star V-Max rounds it off.

Apparently, our European cousins are speed freaks.  But then, they tend to have speed limits that are a bit less stodgy than those on this side of The Pond.

Motorcyclist’s 2009 Picks of the Year

The mavens at Motorcyclist magazine have announced the winner of the award for 2009 Motorcycle of the Year, as well as their other picks.

Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1
Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1

The bike picking up the top award this year is the Yamaha YZF-R1.

Modern sportbikes are engineered so close to the edge of the performance envelope that we’re conditioned to expect incremental changes: a shaved pound here, an added pony there. It’s almost unimaginable that any sportbike could surprise us with a novel riding experience that realigns our understanding of what a liter-class sportbike is, and what one can do. The 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 is exactly that sort of bike-which is why it’s our Motorcycle of the Year.

Other notable picks include:

Ben Spies as the Motorcyclist of the year.

The Kawasaki ZX-6R as the best sportbike of the year, closely followed by the Ducati 1198.

The Ducati Streetfighter as the Best Naked Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson XR1200 Sportster.

The Kawasaki Concours14 as the year’s Best Touring Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

Best Adventure Bike honors go to two BMWs, with the F800GS in the top position, and the R1200GS Adventure in second place.

The Best Dreambike is the Aprilia RSV4, with the BMW S1000RR as the follow-on.

Best Bang For The Buck goes to Kawasaki, with the ER-6n as the winner, and KLX250SF as the second-place finisher.

For Best Cruiser, Motorcyclist goes strictly for muscle this year, with the Star (Yamaha) V-MAX ruling the roost, and the Harley Davidson V-Rod Muscle in the supporting position.

Best Dirtbike is the Husaberg FE450; second best is the Honda CRF450R.

Best New Technology is the Honda Combined ABS system, followed by the Ducati Traction Control.

And, finally, the Best New Product honors go to the Gopro Motorsports Hero Wide Camera, with the Bazzaz Performance Z-FI Traction Control taking the runner-up position.

Scooter + Ducati Monster = Scootster?

Italian motorcycle designer Oberdan Bezzi is convinced that Ducati will be revealing a new scooter at the Milan EICMA Motorcycle show in November.

Oberdan thinks the motor will be an 850 and offer a multi-mode transmission like the Aprilia Mana. That’s not a bad assumption; I just had a conversation with a source at Piaggio, who told me Piaggio loves to sell powertrain units to anyone who’ll buy them. “Would they sell one without heads so Ducati could install Desmo heads,” I asked? “Sure” was the answer. Oberdan’s drawing shows the Testastretta motor’s deep sump, so maybe that’s not what he had in mind, but it’d make sense, no? He also envisioned an “S” version, with Öhlins suspension and maybe some lightweight 16-inch wheels as well.

Bezzi also has a concept drawing of this supposed cross between a scooter and a Ducati Monster.

Ducati Scooster
Ducati Scooster

Huh. We’ll see.