In­ter­mot shows few electrics, a lit­tle retro and lots of old-school bikes

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING - SPIROS TSANTILAS

WITH a record at­ten­dance of 220 000 vis­i­tors, In­ter­mot of­fi­cially opened the 2017 model sea­son in Cologne, Ger­many.

Al­though the man­u­fac­tur­ers saved some news for the up­com­ing EICMA show, a vir­tual walk around In­ter­mot’s six halls has much to re­veal be­sides in­ter­na­tional pre­mieres, in­clud­ing the new Honda Fire­blade SP, the next-gen­er­a­tion Suzuki GSXR1000R and the street-ori­ented Du­cati Su­pers­port.

The bi­en­nial In­ter­mot show makes ev­ery even-num­bered year a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing for mo­tor­cy­cle fans, start­ing the new model sea­son ahead of the annual EICMA show in Mi­lan, Italy. Euro­pean sales have been steadily pick­ing up pace in a slow re­cov­ery process from the economic hard­ships of re­cent years, with a 3,3% in­crease dur­ing the first eight months of 2016.

The Ger­man show pro­vided first-hand ev­i­dence of mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers’ cau­tious op­ti­mism, with 1 133 com­pa­nies from 40 coun­tries dis­play­ing their prod­ucts across In­ter­mot’s six enor­mous halls, and at­tract­ing vis­i­tors from 95 coun­tries — the record at­ten­dance bet­ter­ing the pre­vi­ous event by 17%.

If the first ma­jor in­ter­na­tional show of the 2017 model sea­son is any in­di­ca­tion of mar­ket trends, that would be the con­tin­u­a­tion of what we’ve seen dur­ing the last two or three years.

Sen­si­ble rather than ex­trav­a­gant new mo­tor­cy­cles, fo­cus­ing more on value-for-money in­stead of power-to-weight val­ues.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers in­vest with cau­tion, mak­ing the most out of suc­cess­ful model plat­forms by gen­er­at­ing more and more mod­u­lar spin-offs.

Mo­tor­cy­cle line-ups to­day seem more com­pact than 10 years ago, us­ing fewer en­gines to power sev­eral dif­fer­ent vari­ants that still keep show­rooms looking abun­dant.

An­other clear trend is the read­just­ment of the mid-ca­pac­ity mo­tor­cy­cle classes.

Aban­don­ing the race-replica hype of the past, Honda led the way in re­cent years with its su­per­ef­fi­cient NC700/750 and CB500 model plat­forms, Yamaha fol­lowed with the MT-07 se­ries, and now Kawasaki rolls out one ER-6 vari­ant af­ter an­other.

The mid­dle class has ev­i­dently started to ex­pand down­wards, with the 300cc seg­ment on a con­stant growth trend.

With the ex­cep­tion of Suzuki, the Ja­panese fac­to­ries are in­vest­ing heav­ily in this cat­e­gory, KTM and BMW have al­ready stepped in, and Tri­umph is also ex­pected to join in soon, maybe even as soon as Novem­ber at EICMA. Benelli also emerges as a very strong player, re­ju­ve­nated in China with a new 300cc line-up, while we are ex­pect­ing In­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers to un­leash their west­wards as­sault.

The con­stantly ris­ing Asian mar­kets are where the East meets the West. Mod­els like the BMW G310R and the KTM 390 Duke can serve as both af­ford­able en­try-level com­muters in Europe and the U.S., and as at­tain­able top-end bikes in Asia.

There’s no doubt we have a lot more to ex­pect on this front.

An­other boom­ing seg­ment ef­fi­ciently com­bines Asian mar­ket stan­dards with Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion. The 125cc class is ex­tremely pop­u­lar in vast mar­kets like those of In­dia, Thai­land and China, but it also caters for the up­per le­gal limit for new rid­ers in Europe (aged 18 to 21 years). In­ter­mot hosted a large num­ber of 125cc of­fer­ings, in­clud­ing sev­eral from Chi­nese mak­ers that seem to have grasped how to de­velop mo­tor­cy­cles with an ap­peal for de­vel­oped mar­kets.

Elec­tric mo­bil­ity oc­cu­pied a hall of its own, yet very few ac­tual new mod­els made In­ter­mot head­lines.

The ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers con­tinue to ap­pear rather in­dif­fer­ent to elec­tric mod­els and the ab­sence of ex­ist­ing mod­els or pro­to­types did leave us with a neg­a­tive im­pres­sion.

Har­ley-David­son, for ex­am­ple, didn’t bring the func­tion­ing LiveWire pro­to­type that it dis­played last year at EICMA, and Vic­tory also failed to dis­play the pro­duc­tion Em­pulse TT.

Even BMW didn’t bother to show the eRR con­cept racer in its huge booth, de­spite the fact that this was its home show.

Kumpan Elec­tric was the only Euro­pean man­u­fac­turer to oc­cupy a big booth in the elec­tric sec­tion, right at the en­trance of the ded­i­cated Hall 5, host­ing a world de­but of its up­dated 1954L scooter with fresh styling and richer features, like touch-screen in­stru­ments with smart­phone app in­te­gra­tion.

The In­ter­mot e-mo­tion sec­tion also hosted the de­but of the Greyp G12H elec­tric bi­cy­cle, and in­cluded a large in­door test­ing track that of­fered vis­i­tors the chance to try out some of the elec­tric mod­els on dis­play.

PHO­TOS: SPIROS TSANTILAS/NEW AT­LAS

Miss Ger­many as­sisted in lift­ing the cur­tain over the up­dated and re­freshed Kumpan Elec­tric 1954L scooter

Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers took one look at the prices old mo­tor­bikes are fetch­ing at auc­tions and started to make repli­cas like this old-school de­sign, new-school, 125-cc en­gine.

The new Suzuki V-Strom mod­els (shown here is the 1000) at­tracted a lot of at­ten­tion at In­ter­mot 2016 — and it wasn’t just be­cause of the beau­ti­ful model.

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