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EICMA 2021 Preview – What to Expect in Milan

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The 2021 EICMA show is nearly upon us, with the first media day kicking off on Tuesday in Milan, Italy. After a break from it last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show is back this year…sort of.

I say this because this year’s edition is a bit strange in itself – several big brands are missing from the lineup, and because of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, and the effect its having on global supply chains, manufacturers are rethinking their timelines for new-bike launches for the 2022 model year.

As such, this year’s preview of the show is just as much about what we expect to see in Milan this week, as it is an overview of what we don’t expect to see at EICMA 2021.

So without further ado, let’s get into it and see what’s in my crystal ball for EICMA 2021.

Yamaha – A Premature Release

Part of the reason we are watching the slow decline of the international trade shows is that OEMs are getting wise to the fact that debuting their new bikes in the tsunami that is the EICMA show isn’t exactly giving them the spotlight they want for a new product launch.

As such, we have seen a number of manufacturers cheat the system by holding pre-event launches in Milan, with the hope of stealing a day of press to themselves.

This year’s early-release player was Yamaha, with the tuning fork brand showing us a handful of predictable models. The “big” releases here were the Yamaha XSR900, Yamaha MT-10 SP, and the two Yamaha YZF-R6 track bikes.

It’s an underwhelming debut of bikes, but perhaps not a surprising one.

Honda – The Big Red Mystery

Will 2021 be a big year for Honda at the EICMA? The Japanese manufacturer tends not to disappoint at the Milan show, but then again anything can happen in these uncertain times.

That being said, Honda Motor Europe is fairly consistent in its ability to show us a concept bike or two that we will drool over (and which will almost certainly never see the light of day, in the form of a production model).

In terms of bikes that will actually land on a dealership floor, we have only a couple of guesses.

Talk of a true middleweight ADV bike has been going on for a while now, a notion that has been helped with Honda re-upping the trademark on the Transalp name.

The machine has been tipped at the 850cc displacement, but it remains to be seen if it will actually come to fruition. Could 2021 be the year? Could EICMA be the place? If so, how will this bike compare against the Honda Africa Twin 1100 in the lineup?

There is also good reason to believe that the Honda CBR1000RR-R will get an update for 2021. 

Not exactly setting the world on fire in WorldSBK, the notion is that Big Red needs to take another stab at the superbike to homologate some changes needed for the production racing series, and that means a model update.

I wouldn’t expect too much here that would affect the typical superbike consumer – maybe some minor chassis changes. A refresh on the electronics wouldn’t be a bad idea either, but we’ll see.

What else could come from Honda? Honestly, I’m not sure. We have already seen the Honda Navi and the Honda NT1100 debut, which takes some wind out of the EICMA sails. The 500cc lineup has already been updated as well.

As such, I don’t expect to see too many new machines at EICMA from Honda…but I’d like to be wrong here.

MV Agusta – Time to Get Lucky

The Italian marque from Varese will be the second press conference at EICMA this year, and we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from MV Agusta this year.

Both MV Agusta and Ducati are treading on their shared Dakar history through the Cagiva brand this year, and for MV that means the launch of its “Lucky Explorer Project” which is more than just a bike release.

The Italians are sure to talk more about how they plan to engage more riders with their rally-raid history, but for our purposes here, I want to just focus on the new motorcycles that they plan to present.

A lot of talk has been made about MV Agusta’s new 950cc three-cylinder platform, and the ADV bike that will debut it.

Looking very off-road capable and sporting a 21″ front wheel, this bike is just one of the many entries into the middleweight ADV space this year.

What is talked about less is the company’s 550cc twin-cylinder platform, which will power a new lineup of more affordable machines.

The Italian brand has let us exclusively reveal to our A&R Pro readers that MV Agusta will also debut a second ADV bike at EICMA, this one with the 550cc parallel-twin platform as its base. Boom goes the dynamite.

Triumph – A Bevy of Options

For the most part, Triumph has been doing its own program on releasing new motorcycles for the 2022 model year.

Accordingly, we have already seen the Triumph Tiger Sport 660, the Triumph Speed Triple RR, and news of the company’s plans to make a proper dirt bike lineup.

The big reveal in Milan for the British brand could be the all-new Triumph Tiger 1200.

The Brits haven’t been bashful about showing the machine off lately, and our only question is whether they have marked the ADV bike’s debut for the EICMA or some other special event that they will host themselves. I can make arguments for either case.

EICMA could be a good time for Triumph to launch the second of its middleweight ADV bikes though.

Such a bike would be the dirt-focused Triumph Tiger 660, and we expect this machine to be very much like the Triumph Tiger Sport 660, but with dirt-focused wheels and knobby tires.

There is a chance that we could hear at EICMA some news about the company’s smaller displacement machines, being built with help from Bajaj. We could also hear more about Triumph’s electric motorcycle project.

Suzuki – Please God, Not Another K5

I don’t expect to see too much from the Suzuki brand at EICMA this year, primarily because it seems that Suzuki has already launched its 2022 models earlier this year.

This tends to be the case with the Japanese marque, as they focus on EICMA being more about the consumers getting to see the lineup up-close, rather than a jumping off point for a new model release.

Suzuki could surprise though, and if they did, I would expect it in the 650cc displacement. A full-fairing SV650? An updated V-Strom 650? That sounds right, but is now the time? We’ll see…just please not another K5-based motorcycle, Suzuki.

Moto Guzzi – The Old Bird Learns a New Trick

We already know very well what to expect from Moto Guzzi, as the Eagle brand has shown us its Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello motorcycle. We expect this bike to be the Piaggio Group’s big release for the EICMA show.

We have a pretty good clue that the Mandello will come in two trim levels, and be a sport-touring focused machine. It also seems to be playing a lot with aerodynamics, which is an interesting move for Piaggio with the Moto Guzzi brand.

What will the spec-sheet be on this handsome ride? That remains to be seen, but I bet the price tag is just as attractive as its 1990’s lines.

Aprilia – An Off Year

The Piaggio group seems to focus on one brand at a time when it comes to EICMA, and with Moto Guzzi getting the nod this year, we’re not expecting too much from the Aprilia brand (or Vespa…or Piaggio’s scooter lineup).

That is not the same as saying that we won’t see anything from the Noale factory, I just don’t think it will be the Caponord V4 that I hope and prey for every year.

Next year though? Probably 12 different 660 models, and a revised V4 platform…maybe.

Bimota – A Long Time Coming

Bimota’s EICMA debut has been known for close to two years now. It is the Ninja 1000 based KB4 retro sport bike. We have seen no shortage of concept sketches, spy photos, and teasers for this bike.

Not much is unknown here, though we could see a more race-focused KB4 RC variant, which I guess is news.

Kawasaki – Good Things Come in Threes

Team Green has already made it clear that we can expect three new motorcycles to debut at EICMA, so the question is merely which ones they will be.

There was some talk that one of the bikes could be a ZX-6R, but I am more inclined to believe the model to be a ZX-10R, as feedback to the liter bike’s update has been met with criticism from racers around the world, including some guy named Jonathan.

Maybe it’s a 400cc four-cylinder sport bike – there has been some chatter of that, but I’m not swinging for the fences on that rumor this year.

The other two bikes under wraps are clearly more upright machines. Talk of a Kawasaki Versys 650 updated is very, very loud…like a 99.9% certainty. The other bike though? Hmm…we’ll see.

Benelli – Another ADV Entry?

Chinese owned Benelli is an EICMA regular, and they have surprised on more than a few occasions over the years with the Milan debuts.

This year, Benelli is teasing what I think looks like the front-end of a new ADV bike. Expect it to be 500cc or less, but also expect it to be surprisingly well-developed.

The Brands We Won’t See at EICMA

KTM – The Austrians are one of the big pullouts for EICMA 2021, and we have seen them already debut the KTM 1290 Super Duke R EVO. The other orange bikes we expect for next year are a KTM 890 SMT, and just today we got news that KTM is testing an RC890 street bike. We could soon see our first bike from the 490 platform, as well.

Ducati – Every two weeks, we have been given a new Ducati model, and we only have two left. As I wrote already, I expect to see a Panigale V4 R to debut this week, and we know for a fact that the final installment will be the Ducati DesertX ADV machine.

BMW – The Germans usually go big at EICMA, so it is a surprise to see them missing this year. We have already seen their K1600 update, but what’s next from Bavaria? Yeah, I don’t know either, thanks to COVID.

Harley-Davidson – Not usually an EICMA regular, the American brand’s move into the mainstream has seen them taking EICMA more seriously lately. The next bike we expect from them is one of the 950cc twins, but it won’t be in Milan.

IndianIndian’s product roadmap for its FTR platform has been heavily delayed, but the next bike is expected to be a 1,200cc ADV bike…just in time to compete with Harley-Davidson. Someone in Medina is surely upset about that.