EICMA is sort of like Christmas for motorcycle fanatics. But instead of wondering if we’ve been naughty or nice—or whether Santa is going to bring us that new Call Of Duty video game—it comes as the payoff to time spent saving up for that new bike we’ve been hearing rumors about.
For motorcycle magazine guys, it also means getting up at 1 a.m. to write news stories on all the new bikes being unveiled. Don’t feel sorry for us though, because we’re just as excited as you are to see what’s being announced and it’s actually one of our favorite days of the year (plus, even Christmas doesn’t happen without a few last-minute arrangements and cookie eating in the wee hours of the morning).
This year’s EICMA show saw brands unsurprisingly pushing further into the café racer/scrambler/tracker thing and continue to tease midsize adventure bikes, which we really hoped were coming as production models. Now, with the show over, we’ve had some time to reflect on the motorcycles released. Here are the ones we’re dying to ride:
1. 2019 KTM 790 Duke
Sean MacDonald: For me the 790 Duke is one of the most exciting bikes from the show, and also one of the biggest disappointments as it won’t be available until the fall of 2018 as a 2019 model. KTM claims the best power-to-weight ratio in the class, but the Triumph Street Triple RS makes a claimed 22 hp more and weighs around the same (but these are manufacturer-claimed dry weights). At the end of the day, I often lean toward a twin over a triple, but this really will be a bike that we just have to wait and see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.
Joe Gustafson: When you hear a motorcycle enthusiast speak, a common bike is spoken of that doesn’t exist. One that is fast, but not superbike fast, with the reflexes of a supermoto, that you can take on the highway, and one that looks awesome but not retro or like anything out on the road. In other words, the perfect standard motorcycle that can pull commuting and track duty while still turning heads. The 790 Duke on paper seems to suit that build. The only question for me is the price. Because high service intervals and an affordable price matter. It will certainly not be cheap, but a riding impression should seal the deal if the final product is worth it.
Read more about the 2019 KTM 790 Duke here.
2. 2018 Ducati Panigale V4
Sean: Panigales have always had issues, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to see what 226 hp in a bike that weighs 430 pounds feels like. The Aprilia RSV4’s mill is likely my favorite of any superbike, and I’m insanely curious to see what Ducati’s will feel and sound like. Sure, the previous Panigales (and the Superleggera) had some instabilities in the chassis, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to throw myself down a racetrack at 150-plus mph on this to see if it does as well.
Joe: It will be fast, it will sound like a MotoGP bike, and it will be piloted by people who wear exclusively AGV and Dainese. I couldn’t care less. Namely because I don’t have a fifth of the ability to ride this thing at the limit. I’m ultra stoked that it exists and the superbike envelope is being pushed ever further, but it’s also pricing out most people and driving the premier literbike experience to ever higher tax brackets. Looking forward to seeing it at Starbucks. Color me more salty than actually critical of this bike.
Read more about the 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 here.
3. 2018 Indian FTR1200 Custom
Sean: Between the opportunities I’ve had to ride Indian Scouts with tracker mods from Roland Sands to my recent first experience with flat-track racing, the Indian FTR1200 could not have come at a better time. Add in the fact that this isn’t just mid-controls and bar risers but an actual chrome-moly frame and proper suspension make this thing incredibly attractive. It’s a full 20 percent lighter (100 pounds) than a stock Indian Scout, which makes that 100 hp seem a lot more lively. This could be the closest Indian come to replicating the performance of Aaron Colton’s Victory Octane “Octane 93” custom bike, and I need to ride it.
Morgan Gales: Of course I’m excited to ride the FTR1200 Custom; who wouldn’t be?! The chrome-moly frame, Öhlins suspension, Lyndall brakes—these are all the components of a custom racebike, not a production bike, so this thing is going to go, stop, and handle like a banshee. I hope Indian releases it for whatever ungodly price it wants and don’t change a damn thing. I want to ride this one, not a dumbed-down production version of it.
Joe: I’ll be excited to ride it if it ever exists. Fool me once with Project 156 shame on me, fool me twice with a Scout-powered flat-tracker for the street and I won’t get fooled again. I will ride this bike naked for publishing if Indian releases this bike for production and will be more than excited to do it too.
If the public screaming, attention, and synergies with its race program aren’t enough, for sure seeing me naked riding a production FTR is enough to sway Indian corporate to make this bike.
Read more on the 2018 Indian FTR1200 Custom here.
4. Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 Concept
Sean: Yes, I know this is basically just my Husky 701 Supermoto in cuter clothes, but the reasons that make it not all that special are the same ones that make me really need to live with this thing for a week or two. I love the Supermoto, both in performance and looks, but there’s just something about doing silly wheelies through downtown LA on something that also looks like this that I need in my life. I also have no idea why this, of all four bikes, is the one that has to wait another year, but so be it.
Morgan: Let’s be real—at Bonnier I tend to be more of the cruiser/standard/custom guy, so when something awesome and SuMo comes through the door, Sean snatches it up right quick. The Svartpilen looks cool enough for me to justify stealing it back from him, but it will still ride like the beast it’s based around. It seems to be the best of both worlds, and I really want that.
Read more on the Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 Concept here.
5. 2018 Kawasaki H2 SX
Sean: I’ve actually never had much interest in riding the original H2 because modern sportbikes are plenty fast and there are things I need to accomplish in this world before I launch myself off a cliff at 200 mph. But the idea of a supercharged sport-touring bike is intriguing. Superchargers are often used for outright power and speed, but their performance bumps can be applied in friendlier ways. I’m still waiting to see it in a 600cc sportbike that puts down the power of a 1,000, but this will do quite nicely for now.
Joe: Can someone say Cannonball Run redux on a supercharged sport-tourer? Sign. Me. Up. This is a fantastic extension of the class and I desire to see an Aerostich-wearing and modular-helmeted pilot fly past me at supersonic speeds.
Read more on the Kawasaki H2 SX here.
6. 2018 Yamaha Niken
Morgan: I know this thing is weird, but I don’t think Yamaha would have released it unless it was pretty darn good. At its display in Milan, Yamaha had it set up at this crazy lean angle and I want to feel what it’s like to get that low on three wheels. Also, it’s rear wheel drive, but you can turn it off, so I obviously want to Tokyo drift it like a Polaris Slingshot.
Sean: It isn’t so much that I’m excited to ride this bike as it is that I’m excited to watch Zack or Ari wheelie it. Sure, I’m curious to see what it will feel like, and, while we’ve seen Piaggio release technology similar to this, it does seem like Yamaha is the best brand to really push this into a sportier space. But I feel like once or twice will be enough, and then I’ll just want to see what the guys or someone like Aaron Colton or Josh Herrin can do with it.
Joe: EICMA this year was all about accessibility and how the form factor of a “motorcycle” will change to attract new riders. This is an intelligent, headline-grabbing experiment in that regard. There have been three-wheelers before, but specifically for the commuter market. This seems like a wholehearted effort by Yamaha to bring the experience of riding a motorcycle fast to a three-wheeler. I’m intrigued and bullish on this model’s success. I can already see it festooned with LEDs at Daytona Bike Week and that’s a good thing.
Read more on the 2018 Yamaha Niken here.
7. 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS
Morgan: This thing looks amazing and puts out more than 100 hp. For some reason the idea of a modern sport standard with performance that’s actually comparable to sport bikes in the segment is pretty much exclusive to Yamaha's XSR line (sorry BMW and Triumph), and I want to see someone else’s take on it. On paper (and the showroom floor), this thing looks incredible, but I won’t know until we spend some time with it.
Read more on the 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS here.
8. 2018 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide
Sean: I wouldn’t have been excited to ride this bike if I hadn’t been on the launch and ridden all of the other Softails (review here), but I was truly impressed at The Motor Company’s ability to make each bike feel different. I like the Glides, and a mating of the two seems really interesting. The photos of this bike didn’t do much for me, but the video we posted in our roundup showed its various angles better. This could be such a fun bike to tour on.
Read more on the 2018 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide here.
9. 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XC
Sean: 2018 was supposed to be the year of the middleweight adventure bike, but both Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 and KTM’s 790 Adventure are on hold for another year. We did get a new Triumph Tiger and BMW F850GS, and I have many friends who love the Tiger as an off-road machine. With a ton of new updates, I’m curious to see what the hype is about and if it can come close to what we’re going to see next year.
Read more on the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XC here.
10. 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100
Sean: I’m half excited and half terrified to ride this bike. On the one hand, I really applaud Ducati for adding things like cornering ABS to something meant for daily riding, and I love a lot of the ergonomic changes it’s made to this bike. I’m also very curious to see if Ducati has worked out issues with the fueling and suspension, my two biggest gripes with the 800. On the other hand, I’m worried I won’t be able to get past the exhaust or the fact that this gained 300cc and only like 10 hp.
Read more on the 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 here.
All of the other Husqvarna things
Sean: I know you were probably expecting these to be higher on the list, but I feel like we actually have a pretty good idea of what these will feel like. The biggest things left to see are how they look in person, and if the riding experience will be special enough to justify whatever the likely large price will be. If I’m being completely honest, I’m more excited about doing photo shoots on these bikes than I am curious to ride them because we’ve ridden these motors plenty.
KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid Concept
Sean: These are easily the two bikes I was looking forward to the most at this year’s EICMA show, so it makes sense that we have to wait yet another year before we see what production models might look like. The KTM 790 Duke gave us a good idea at what some figure might look like for the 790 Adventure, and I have to admit that video made my heart do all sorts of things.
Royal Enfield Interceptor and Continental GT
Joe: They’re about as standard as it gets with specs ripped straight out the 1960s, but by god do I want to ride these bikes. They’re backed by the $120 million investment effort by Royal Enfield to create its first new modern motorcycle in more than 60 years, and spirited by a mission to bring motorcycles back to basics. I want to see where these bikes fit in the market, and if they’ll put more people on two wheels.
Morgan: I’m incredibly excited to ride the new Enfields. These are the bikes designed to take Royal Enfield from the motorcycles that drives India to one that drives the rest of the world as well. Larger displacement and higher top speed paired with timeless style and affordability make these bikes an easy target for beginners around the world as well as vintage enthusiasts and utilitarian bikers alike. I really like the way they look; I got to hear them at EICMA and think they sound awesome. I’m just eager to ride them and see how it all adds up.