Hit Parade: The best EICMA bikes of 2019

The best EICMA Bikes of 2019
In the moto world, EICMA is the Greatest Show On Earth. Held at the gigantic Rho Fiera exhibition center in Milan, it’s spread over several pavilions—and you can easily walk several kilometers a day without seeing everything on display.

All the big guns wheel out their concepts and new launches at EICMA, along with countless range refreshes and minor updates. So we’ve sifted through all the PR bumf and picked out the bikes we reckon have a significant chance of success—or are game changers in some way.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Husqvarna Norden 901 concept
Husqvarna Norden 901 concept After wowing previous shows with the Vitpilen and Svartpilen, Husqvarna has turned its attention to the ADV market with the twin-cylinder Norden 901.

The styling is crisp and original, and the specs suggest serious capability—starting with a 21-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear. Parent company KTM knows how to build dirt bikes, so we have high expectations for the Norden.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Husqvarna Norden 901 concept
The key phrase in Husqvarna’s press release is “class-leading lightness.” Few specs are available, but we know that the engine is 889 cc—the same size as the newly announced KTM 890 Duke R.

There’s no word on a release date, but Husqvarna tends to put its concepts into production—and that can only be a good thing for the notoriously conservative ADV market.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Harley Bronx
Harley-Davidson Bronx prototype So we now have a name, and some specs too. Harley’s liquid-cooled streetfighter will have a 975cc ‘Revolution Max’ engine—a DOHC 60-degree V-twin with a counterbalancer. The engine is a stressed member of the frame, and it’ll pump out at least 115 hp and 70 lb.-ft of torque. We’re also told that Brembo and Michelin are working on brakes and tires.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Harley Bronx
It looks good too, poised and muscular, with little visual bloat. There are just two (very big) unknowns: weight and price. If the Bronx isn’t competitive on those fronts, it will have a hard time in the showrooms.

The good news is that Milwaukee has finally delivered the bike so many have asked for. It’ll be competition for the Kawasaki Z900 and Yamaha MT-09, and may even draw some buyers away from the Triumph Speed Triple.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Scrambler Ducati Desert X concept
Scrambler Ducati Desert X concept Over the past four years, Ducati has frequently tweaked its Scrambler recipe, adding an 1100 engine to its steady flow of new models. Everything has been firmly ‘retro’—until now.

The Desert X concept catapults the Scrambler into the modern ADV segment, with a nod in the direction of the cultish Cagiva Elefant from the 90s.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Scrambler Ducati Desert X concept
The styling comes from the creased paper school, but in this instance it works exceptionally well. The ‘X’ uses the 1,079cc air-cooled engine, has a 21-inch front wheel and two fuel tanks, and a robust luggage rack. It also sports a pair of Dakar-style round LED headlights.

There was also a Motard concept on display, but that was a painting-by-numbers exercise compared to the Desert X—which was in danger of overshadowing the new Streetfighter V4 on the Ducati stand. We’d be surprised if this doesn’t go into production next year. Asphalt & Rubber has the full rundown.

EICMA 2019 bikes: Supercharged Bimota TesiH2
Supercharged Bimota TesiH2 In a move guaranteed to get sportbike fans fizzing at the bunghole, Kawasaki Europe has bought into Bimota. The Swiss owners still retain a majority stake by a very slim margin.

This means that future Bimotas will have Kawasaki power. The iconic Italian marque has celebrated with the launch of the frankly bonkers TesiH2, and there are no prizes for guessing what engine is used.

EICMA 2019 bikes: Supercharged Bimota TesiH2
Bimota has spent a large part of its history since the early 1970s scrabbling to make ends meet, so Kawasaki’s involvement is A Good Thing. Rumors are already swirling about the practical aspects of the deal—with talk of a new factory, and the possible return of former chief engineer Pierluigi Marconi.

But for now, we’ll just enjoy the ridiculous excess of the TesiH2, and rejoice that Bimota finally has a measure of financial stability.

EICMA 2019 bikes: Moto Guzzi V85 TT Travel
Moto Guzzi V85 TT Travel The rugged, air-cooled V85 is one of the better-looking ADV bikes on the market, and its simplicity is a refreshing change from the techno-monsters that usually dominate the sales charts.

Moto Guzzi has just released a new variant called the Travel, which amps up the retro cool factor even higher. It’ll go on sale next year, complete with big aluminum panniers, a tall windscreen, heated grips and other goodies—plus a lovely ‘Sabbia Namib’ livery.

EICMA 2019 bikes: Custom Moto Guzzi V85 by Officine Rossopuro
Officine Rossopuro also came to the V85 TT party with a custom called ‘Orizzonte.’ Aiming to give the V85 a more vintage look, builder Filippo Barbacane has modified the frame, installed Bitubo suspension, and crafted new bodywork (including a headlight that harks back to the classic NTX750). New exhaust pipework is terminated with a MassMoto can, and on the righthand side a curved aluminum toolbox mirrors the shape of the muffler. Weight is an admirable 188 kilos [415 pounds] dry.

EICMA 2019 bikes: BMW Concept R18 /2
BMW Concept R18 /2 It’s interesting to note that while Milwaukee is turning its focus away from heavyweight cruisers, BMW is heading in the opposite direction. The Germans launched the S 1000 XR sportbike and a pair of F 900 roadsters, but all eyes were on the latest ‘Heritage’ concept.

The gestation of the R18 has been extraordinarily long. We’ve already had the CW Zon ‘Departed’ build and the Revival Cycles ‘Birdcage,’ and a few months ago we saw ‘Concept 1’ in the Concorso d’Eleganza show at Lake Como, Italy.

EICMA 2019 bikes: BMW Concept R18 /2
This latest machine edges closer to production with a visible airbox, regular brakes, and all the trimmings you’d expect to see on a factory machine. Images suggest that the prototype was built with the help of the Swedish outfit Unique Custom Cycles—a relationship forged in the days when Swede Ola Stenegard was handling design for BMW.

The styling suggests that BMW is pitching this one at Dyna fans with more cash (and class) than the ‘Dyna Bro’ crowd. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Harley Pan America
Best of the rest Also at EICMA was the Harley-Davidson Pan America ADV behemoth, with a 1,250 cc version of the engine used in the Bronx. Triumph had a quiet show with modest upgrades: a TFC version of the Bobber, an RS version of the Thruxton, and ‘Bud Ekins’ limited editions of the Bonneville T100 and T120.

Yamaha unveiled a restyled Tracer 700 with a Euro 5 engine, Suzuki launched the V-Strom 1050 (no DR Big, sorry), and Aprilia is attempting to kickstart the long-dead middleweight sportbike category with its RS 660.

EICMA 2019 bikes: The Honda CB4X concept
KTM showed its 390 Adventure production ADV bike, Husqvarna tweaked its street bikes and showed a new 701 Enduro, and Honda revealed a CB4X sport touring concept with striking styling [above]. But like many Honda concepts, we’ll probably never see anything more of it.

The biggest surprise? No electric bikes from the big-name makers. The car industry is moving towards alternative power at a rapid pace, but so far, only Harley has dipped a toe into the turbulent waters on the moto side.

Still, there was plenty to enjoy from EICMA this year, and it suggests a European industry in rude health. Let us know if we’ve missed any winners from your scorecard.