Britain’s biggest annual motorcycle show, Motorcycle Live, kicks off at Birmingham’s NEC this weekend and there’s plenty to see and do for the 100,000 or so motorcyclists expected to make the annual pilgrimage. Britain’s biggest annual motorcycle show, Motorcycle Live, kicks off at Birmingham’s NEC this weekend and there’s plenty to see and do for the 100,000 or so motorcyclists expected to make the annual pilgrimage.
But for all the great shows that take place during the nine-day event, for many people the show’s USP is still the fact that it is the first place to see the new-for-2018 models before they arrive in showrooms. So, to help you decide where to head to first, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bikes you’ll see from the top 10 manufacturers.
It’s been a quiet year from Aprilia (and their parent Piaggio Group) in general.
The only real story, other than new graphics for the RSV4 range, is updates to the headline grabbing, MotoGP derived, RSV4 FW.
If you’re not familiar with the FW, it stands for Factory Works, and is a special kit that can be added to the RSV4 RR or RF. The kit increases power to a staggering 215bhp at the crankshaft, sheds 10kg and improves aerodynamics through the fitment of winglets, which were fitted to Aprilia’s racers before being outlawed at the end of last season.
It’s a bedroom wall bike for the next generation of bike fans. Just don’t ask how much it costs…
There are plenty of new models to check out on the BMW stand. The C 400 X scooter and K 1600 Grand America are important additions for certain markets, but here in the UK it’s the F 750 GS and F 850 GS that will be the volume sellers. These will be shown in Britain for the first time, as will the new Triumph Tiger 800 with which it goes head-to-head in the highly competitive mid-range adventure bike sector.
Sports bikes may be falling out of favour with many British bikers, but there’s no doubt that a sexy superbike still gets riders drooling.
So who else to steal the limelight at the Milan show earlier this month but Ducati? The new Panigale V4 is a red blooded Italian sportsbike in the purest sense and is the closest any mass produced motorcycle has ever got to a MotoGP machine.
If that’s not your thing, there’s plenty other new stuff coming out of the Bologna factory, most notably the Scrambler 1100 and Multistrada 1260.
Harley usually swim against the tide when it comes to new models, releasing new models in the summer rather than at the end of the season. This year, though, they’ve got something new for the European shows in the form of the ‘all-new’ Sport Glide.
Half tourer, half hot rod, the latest model to utilise Harley’s new Softail frame comes with the latest Milwaukee-Eight motor, detachable fairing and panniers. It sounds all kinds of wrong in words but looked great in the metal at Milan last week. Judge for yourself in Birmingham.
The big news from the world’s biggest manufacturer was the introduction of not one, but three new bikes under their Neo Sports Café banner. The CB1000R was expected, having been trailed at the Tokyo show, but the similarly styled CB125R and CB300R came like a bolt out of the blue and gives the big H two attractive new models that could well take sales from KTM and Yamaha.
Also on the Honda stand, you’ll be greeted by an updated Africa Twin and an all-new version of the iconic GoldWing tourer. Talking of icons, Honda showcased concept versions of a Monkey 125 and a new Super Cub in Milan. Although not official production models, they give us a glimpse into what we can expect from Honda in the coming years – and we like it!
Kawasaki’s headline bike at Motorcycle Live is the supercharged Ninja H2 SX, a headline grabbing 200+bhp sports tourer that’s likely to find a good following from fans of the old ZZR models.
A bit more mainstream, the show also marks the debut of the entry level Ninja 400 sports bike and the retro Z900RS, two bikes that could be a frequent sight on British roads in coming years.
It’s difficult to miss the KTM stand and there’s an exciting new model for fans of the orange brand.
The new 790 Duke goes wheel to wheel with Triumph’s Street Triple and the Yamaha MT-09 in the sporting naked middleweight class. As you’d expect from KTM, it looks more extreme than its rivals with super light weight (169kg), 103bhp and cutting edge electronics.
While the 790 Duke is the only new model from KTM in 2018, the Austrians have already announced that there will be a Dakar styled model based on the same platform for 2019. Called the Adventure R, a prototype was shown in Milan and is likely to make its way to Birmingham in time for Motorcycle Live too.
Having refreshed almost its entire range for 2017, it’s hardly surprising that there’s not much in the way of new models from Suzuki in 2018.
Indeed the only ‘new’ bike is the SV650X. We’re not sure if it’s meant to be retro or futuristic (check out the picture and see it for yourself at the show) but it’s based on the venerable SV650 and features an interesting range of extras, including a natty little nose cowl, clip on handlebars and a new seat to turn the commendable commuter into a faux café racer.
It’s Tiger-tastic at Triumph this year, with updated versions of the long in the (sabre) tooth Tiger 800 and Explorer.
Both look pretty similar to the models they replace but have a plethora of updates aimed at making up ground lost to rivals, in particular the 800 challenging Honda Africa Twin (not to mention the new BMW F 850 GS).
The Explorer name has been dropped and the bigger bike is simply renamed the 1200. It gains tech and loses weight – although whether it’s a match for the all-conquering R 1200 GS remains to be seen.
Two new cruisers also make the short journey down the A47 to Birmingham, with the new Speedmaster and Bonneville Bobber Black gracing the show for the first time.
Yamaha’s headline bike in Milan wasn’t really a bike, but a trike. The NIKEN 900 is based on the MT-09 and has a pair of wheels at the front and just one at the rear. It promises the experience of riding a motorcycle, but with added front end grip and feel. It looks weird to most motorcycles but it’s well worth a look as it should be great fun to ride.
Talking of the MT-09, there’s an SP version of the epic triple for 2018 as well as small updates to the standard machine and the entry level MT-07. The Tracer 900 has some updates too, and there’s an accessory laden version of the unloved Super Tenere, known as the Raid Edition, for fans of big adventure bikes.
What there is not, surprisingly, is a production version of the much anticipated T7, or Tenere 700, that has been showcased in prototype form over the past 12 months. Don’t be surprised to see a revised concept bike though, as it was shown in Milan last week with a new frame and fuel tank – suggesting that a proper launch is imminent.
Not just new bikes
Remember, it’s not just about new motorcycles at Motorcycle Live. There are chat shows and games taking place on the main stage all day, every day, live action in the supercross arena and plenty of cool displays and features that are exclusive to the show.
And while you’re at the show, head over to Hall 3 and say hello to the guys at Carole Nash. The stand will have plenty of cool classic and custom bikes, a unique ‘pit stop’ photo booth feature and meet and greet sessions with star racers Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea on the opening day,