Fast and fashionable

The Milan Motorcycle Show is a feast for the senses as speed and style compete for attention

It is not surprising that Italy hosts the world's largest motorcycle show.

It is, after all, the country that specialises in really fast two- wheeled beauties.

Think Ducati, MV Augusta, Aprilia and their lineage of sportsbikes.

It is also the country that sets the bar on sartorial elegance. In this case, the fashion element translates to ride-and-be-seen motorbikes.

This year's EICMA or Milan Motorcycle Show, from Nov 8 to 13, had plenty of fast bikes.

The event's fashion quotient was upped by the influx of bikes that blend modern technology with retro cool, such as Harley-Davidson's new Milwaukee-Eight engine-equipped street cruisers, stylish cafe racers from Triumph and Royal Enfield, and cute scooters such as Vespa's Elettrica and Honda's X-ADV.


Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide


Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

We may not see too many of these big bikes cruising down Singapore streets now, but that may change once Harley's new Milwaukee- Eight engine earns a reputation.

Coming in two sizes (1,750 and 1,870cc), the eight-valve engines are said to be more powerful, reliable, smoother, cooler and eco- friendlier while still retaining the classic Harley sound.


Vespa Elettrica


Vespa Elettrica. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

Hipsters get a plug-and-play ride by late next year when the Vespa Elettrica is expected to hit the roads.

The electric scooter will be built with the latest zero-emission technology while retaining Vespa's characteristic style and charisma.

No technical details were revealed, but that did not stop the blue-tinged scooter from hogging the attention at the show.


Honda X-ADV


Honda X-ADV. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

Scooters are meant to be tame, commuting machines. Not the Honda X-ADV.

The Japanese manufacturer tags it the SUV of the two- wheeled world and uses terms such as "off-road appeal" and "adventure" when marketing it.

In fact, Honda's mantra when designing this bike was "go have fun".

Equipped with a 745cc engine and riding on wire wheels wrapped with dual-purpose tyres, it certainly has potential for fun.


Suzuki GSX R1000


Suzuki GSX R1000. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

Get ready to see flashes of blue on Singapore's expressways, caused by the 2017 Suzuki GSX1000R, a 200bhp bike which redlines at 14,500rpm.

Add 10 levels of traction control (two for wet conditions) tucked into a slimmer frame and you have a road rocket that will run with the best.

If that is not enough, opt for the R version, which is loaded with launch control, quick-shift transmission, anti-lock braking system and better suspension.


Ducati 1299 Panigale Superleggera


Ducati 1299 Panigale Superleggera. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

What do you get when you wrap a super-light carbon-fibre frame around a V-twin engine that cranks out 215bhp?

You get a super expensive, super limited bike guaranteed to produce super thrills on a track. Ducati will make only 500 1299 Panigale Superleggeras (all apparently spoken for).

The price is reported to be £72,000 (S$127,363), compared with the top-of-the-line "normal" 1299 Panigale S ABS, which retails for over £21,000.


Zero SR


2017 Zero SR. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

Is this the future of motorcycling? The 2017 Zero SR is an electric bike that goes a long way in placating naysayers who complain about limited range and the need for frequent charging.

Loaded with a Z-Force lithium-ion power pack, the SR provides the thrilling torque of a 1,000cc bike and the range of an average CB400 with half a tank of gas (325km in the city conditions).

Twist the throttle on the highway and it will take you over 160km at 110kmh.


Duke RC 390

Is this going to be the bike that eventually knocks Honda's 400cc stalwarts off Singapore's Class 2A pedestal? KTM wrapped a fairing and a perky seat around the naked Duke 390's trellis frame and strapped on a 373cc engine to produce an agile and sleek bike.


BMW R Nine T


BMW R Nine T. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

While BMW's big launch at this show was the HP4 Race, the all-carbon-fibre speed streak is not street-legal. Hence, most eyes were on the R Nine T, which oozed nostalgia and diversity.

The German manufacturer rolled out three new versions: Scrambler, Racer and Pure. However, while the engine stays the same (1,170cc Boxer), the long list of factory-supplied options will ensure you do not see too many similar versions on the road.


 Yamaha TMax


Yamaha TMax. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

It may not be a new model, but the TMax still attracts lots of attention with its svelte shape, sleek style and hot power. Equipped with a punchy 530cc engine, this "sport scooter" gets a new aluminium frame, traction control, keyless ignition and two-helmet storage.


Triumph Bonneville Bobber


Triumph Bonneville Bobber. PHOTO: PRADEEP PAUL

1930s American cool meets English pedigree in the new Bonneville Bobber. Loaded with a powerful 1,200cc engine, the Bobber exudes old-school Harley- style attitude: single seat in hard-tail set-up (with a mono-shock suspension providing respite from road imperfections), optional high handlebars and more than 150 factory-designed accessories for a customised ride.

•The writer is an occasional contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Fast and fashionable'. Print Edition | Subscribe