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2017 EICMA

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We had to search high and low for information about the 2018 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR – it doesn’t help that MV Agusta’s press site is offline right now – but it seems just about every news publication missed the fact that this attractive roadster got some serious changes for the 2018 model year. These unnoticed changes certainly are partially due to the fact that MV Agusta went without a press introduction at this year’s EICMA show, but it is also due to the company’s never-ending line of “bold new graphics” changes, one-off customs, and special livery designs, which only muddy the waters for when actual changes occur.

We here at Asphalt & Rubber are all about the scooters. Mmm…yes, we love us some scooters! Scooters. Are. The. Best.

Ok, I will admit that it is hard to get excited about a scooter, even if it is from a luxury brand like BMW Motorrad. So loath is the lowly scooter to the modern rider, most motorcyclists won’t even extend a wave when one passes by in the other direction.

This will probably be the case with the new BMW C400X, but don’t be so quick to judge this 400cc class scoot, as it is an integral part to BMW’s urban mobility plan, and it compliments the German brand current lineup of 650cc scooters.

More importantly, we need to embrace the fact that transportation is changing, and the truth is that the more two-wheelers there are on the roads, the better it is for all motorcyclists…even if those bikes are maxi-scooters like the BMW C400X.

The middleweight ADV segment is hot in Milan right now, with a bevy of models in this category debuting at this year’s EICMA show. For BMW Motorrad, its a two-pronged effort, showing the updated BMW F750GS and BMW 850GS models.

This space has always been a big crowded in the BMW motorcycle lineup, with the F700GS and F800GS having considerable overlaps. For 2018, the Germans explain how they see the F750GS and F850GS as differing.

Accordingly, the BMW F750GS is designed for riders who prefer a travel enduro that has a low seat height, good power, and plenty of bang for the buck.

Conversely, the new BMW F850GS boasts more power and torque, is more feature-heavy, and is designed with extensive off-roading in mind.

You would have to be living under a rock not to notice the heritage theme that has taken the motorcycle industry by storm.

That being said, Suzuki’s hibernation, as we like to call the company’s complete withdrawal from the two-wheeled space during the recession, is a lot like living under a rock.

Finally seeing the daylight, the Japanese brand is a bit late to the post-authentic retro game, and finds itself having to scramble to stay relevant. That is to say, this is how we read the fact that Suzuki has only one new machine for 2018: the SV650X.

Kawasaki made an impression at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, debuting the new Z900RS standard. The premise was simple there: take the potent Kawasaki Z900 street bike, and dress it in retro clothing. The effect was something that looked incredibly like the Kawasaki Zephyr of old, but with modern brakes, suspension, traction control, and even a slipper-assist clutch. Now we see that Team Green plans on already expanding the line, debuting today the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja Z900RS Cafe. Basically the Z900RS with a bikini fairing, this modern café racer should be a perfect fit for those riders that want an older looking motorcycle that doesn’t run like an older looking motorcycle. Mostly a visual exercise, the basic stats of the Z900RS Cafe don’t stray too far from the donor bike from whence it came.

For the 2018 model year, Kawasaki continues to develop its superbike package. As such, the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE brings some special new features, to earn those extra letters after its name. The big addition is the new Showa electronic suspension, which is the only semi-active suspension system on motorcycles that includes built-in stroke sensors. These stroke sensors are able to measure the movement of the fork and shock internals, allowing Showa’s suspension to measure and change its damping settings on the fly, as you ride. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE also gets the forged aluminum wheels found on Kawasaki’s homologation-spec superbike, the Ninja ZX-10RR, which should help the Ninja ZX-10R SE feel more nimble on the race track, despite its 459 lbs wet weight.

We are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the new KTM 790 Duke is the bike of this year’s EICMA show. Making a potent 105hp from its 799cc parallel-twin engine, packed into a 418 lbs (wet)steel trellis body, the 2018 KTM 790 Duke brings a host of features to the middleweight sport bike category. In typical KTM fashion, the 790 Duke left no angle behind in its high school honors geometry course, and the LED headlight builds upon the common design features that KTM has been putting together on its street-going machines. Not quite the vision that was the KTM 790 Duke prototype, the production model still evokes the same emotions, and is handsome in its own right – allaying our fears when seeing spy shots of the machine.

We have had to wait two years to see it come into production, but the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 will finally be available to motorcyclists in March 2018. As an added bonus, the street-going machine stays true to its concept design, which wowed the crowd at last year’s EICMA show. This year in Milan, the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 is all the talk of EICMA, and while “Best in Show” at EICMA almost exclusively goes to an Italian marque, the real winners are surely coming from Austria, as both the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 and KTM 790 Duke look like winners. A duality from Mattighofen, KTM and Husqvarna approach motorcycles from two opposite spectrums. KTM lives in the extreme, with an edgy focus on its “Ready to Race” mentality. Conversely, Husqvarna is subtle and sophisticated…maybe even understated.

The Aprilia Factory Works program has always been an impressive part of the Noale company’s lineup, and it offers the 250hp Aprilia RSV4 R FW-GP to any mere mortal who can afford such a thing. For those of us who have to work for a living, perhaps the Superstock version of the Aprilia RSV4 RF factory works bike is enough to suffice for our track and racing needs. It makes 215hp at the crank, is totally race legal, is hand-built by factory race technicians in Italy, and oh…IT COMES WITH WINGLETS. Aprilia prefers the term “aerodynamic appendages” in its press release, but we all know what they are talking about. Developed by Aprilia Racing as part of the Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP bike program, now you too can benefit from GP-level aerodynamics.

In addition to showing us the production-ready Husqvarna Vitpilen 701, the Swedish brand also teased us with its dark side, debuting the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 as a concept model.

A neo-retro take on the flat tracker aesthetic, this “black arrow” street tracker was designed to boast both minimalistic and sophisticated lines to motorcyclists around the world.

Centered around the same 690cc single-cylinder engine as the Vitpilen 701, the two bikes are a sort of ying and yang to where the Husqvarna brand is headed with its street bikes.

They share common design elements, like the round headlight, exposed pod air filter, fuel tank shape, and muted color palette.

Likely to be a 2019 model, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 concept is very close to what we can expect to see on dealership floors, if the debuted Vitpilen 701 can be believed.

A quirky bike in its own right, the Moto Guzzi Stelvio had a strange cult following behind its bulky adventure-touring frame. As such, it was missed when it disappeared from Moto Guzzi’s lineup. Well, now it’s back…sort of. The following is what’s being called the Moto Guzzi V85 concept. It’s a loud enduro model that picks up where the Stelvio left off, and it also boasts a new 850cc engine platform from the Italian brand, which with its 80hp, will sit between the V7/V9 family of bikes, and the big 1400 cruisers. Strangely, Moto Guzzi isn’t sharing too many details about the new V85 concept, though we know that it will have a fully digital dash, as well as LED daytime running lights.