This year’s new-bike season has yielded a bumper crop of new bikes, despite a weak global market for large-displacement motorcycles. In addition to the Ducati Diavel, Honda Crossrunner and various nakeds we’ve already told you about, there are all kinds of odds and ends at the massive EICMA show in Milan, where tens of thousands of visitors are expected to come to drool and ogle through Sunday. Here is some more of what they’ll see:
Aprilia: 1200 Tuono and RS4 125
Apparently, Aprilia’s product planners were charging ahead despite the recession; they’re continuing to widely expand Aprilia’s streetbike lineup. The new Dorsoduro 1200 shouldn’t surprise you. This might qualify as the worst kept ”secret” in the industry … the owner’s manual and pictures have been online for months.
I have ridden the 750 Dorsoduro and found a very impressive motorcycle, a bike that belies an underwhelming spec sheet. It’s heavy and has horsepower numbers that won’t exactly win bar bets. But when ridden back-to-back with its competitor, the Ducati Hypermotard 796, it comes out ahead, with more compliant suspension, a smoother motor and a more refined, usable feel. So how can you go wrong adding another 450cc of displacement? You can’t.
At the heart of the Dorso Grande is the liquid-cooled, dohc, 90-degree 1197cc V-Twin. Unlike previous Aprilia Twins, this one is designed and built by Piaggio, Aprilia’s parent company, rather than Rotax. Piaggio is known for building ultra-reliable scooter (as well as aviation and marine) engines, but this is no buzzy little weed-wacker. It makes 130 horsepower at 8700 rpm and 85 ft.-lbs. of torque at 7200 rpm—not exactly an 1198R, but plenty strong for the street.
The chassis is well-suited for a streetbike. The bike’s pushing 500 pounds or more wet, so it looks more like a supermoto than it really is, but the hybrid steel-tube and aluminum chassis should be rigid and nimble enough. Fully adjustable, sportbike-spec suspension and radial-mount Brembo brakes make this a potential track weapon (again, maybe a bit too heavy) and a definite twisty-road tool. Like its 750cc little brother, the 1200 has fuel-injection, ride-by-wire throttle and three fueling maps the rider can switch between on the go. The bike will be coming to the USA in April, but no word on pricing—my crystal ball says about $12,000.
Aprilia’s other new model (there’s also a new version of the RSV4 Factory V-Four—read about updates to the electronics in our Nakeds story) may be a tougher sell. Our readers love small-displacement bikes, and constantly ask why the USA market doesn’t have more available, so they may be excited by the RS4 125. It’s a replica of the RSV4 in an 8th-liter package, with an aluminum twin-spar frame, full bodywork, inverted 41mm fork, radial-mount four-piston caliper and 300mm disc. Wet weight will probably be well under 300 pounds, which should keep the claimed 15 hp of power output interesting enough for the teenaged audience (most European countries restrict new riders to small-displacement motorcycles) the bike is intended for. It’s actually coming to the States, and for USA buyers, this bike will probably be an interesting disappointment—it will probably be priced well north of $5000 and won’t be freeway legal in most U.S. states, even if it will probably be capable of 80 mph.
Which makes me wonder why Aprilia is going through the trouble to bring this model in. Just getting a product in compliance with Federal and California emissions requirements can cost many times the profit margins on 1000 of these. I would wager it’s a way to keep a buzz going about Aprilia products, or maybe the Aprilia people just think it’s cool. Why don’t they put the 550cc SXV V-Twin or maybe a 650cc Single in there? That would be so many shades of awesome even I would run out of metaphors, but it will probably never happen. But who cares? I’m going to try to get one on a go-kart track and have a good time anyway.
BMW: Concept C
BMW is bound and determined to go into markets it has no business being in traditionally. But at least now it has some credibility when it does, thanks to the wild success of the S1000RR superbike.
So why not jump into the maxi-scooter pool? When there are superhighways everywhere in India and China, well-heeled interurban commuters will want a stylish and sophisticated way to get stuck in those emerging giant’s traffic jams. So BMW—which says it will be making big scooters in its Berlin plant—rolled out this tough-looking big scoot in Milan.
Unlike some concepts we could name, there are a lot of well-developed details about this bike, which means we could see it as a production model sooner than we think. It uses a twin-cylinder engine, CVT transmission (of course), and big superbike-style swingarm—which indicates the motor is mounted motorcycle-style in the frame for optimum weight distribution and handling. Inverted forks and radial-mount brakes hint at the bike’s sporting nature, and a GS-style bash plate gives the bike adventure-touring cred, if not actual ability. LCD displays (with Nav!) and rear-facing cameras replace mirrors—hey, it’s a concept bike—and everything about it looks clean and modern. Think of it as a scooter for James Bond. Or at least James Franco.
BMW promises two “premium scooter models” and is also considering some kind of alternative electric drivetrain as well. I think there might be a bubble in the maxi-scooter market, so BMW might want to take a lesson from Mini and develop a premium, yet affordable smaller scooter for developing nations. But I’m not the one with a multi-billion-dollar global corporation. There’s probably a reason for that…