Retro Round Up – New Modern Classics from EICMA 2021
Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse one of our favourite motorcycle events on the planet got cancelled. Thankfully after a 1-year hiatus, EICMA is back and as always it’s delivered no shortage of new motorcycles for us to crave.
As you’d expect it’s the neo-retro modern classics that we look forward to most and EICMA 2021 hasn’t failed to deliver. This year we saw a new 650 twin concept from Royal Enfield, Kawasaki showed off the newest member of their Retro Sports family, Italian brands Bimota, Magni and Benelli all threw their hats in the ring and Taiwan brand Ovao Bike even added an electric cafe racer into the mix. Read on for a closer look at each of them…
Royal Enfield SG650 concept
We’ve been eagerly awaiting a new Royal Enfield based on their lauded 650 twin-engine for way too long now. At EICMA 2021 Royal Enfield finally came up with the goods in the form of the SG650 concept.
The Royal Enfield SG650 is a new cruiser concept that expands the brand’s 650 range. The bike has a look not too dissimilar to Triumph’s hugely successful Bobber with its floating solo seat, frame shape and overall stance. Unlike the Bobber, however, the SG650 has a classic twin shock rear that further enhances its retro appeal.
During the build of this bike, Royal Enfield employed CNC technology to fabricate almost all of its one-off components. That includes the sleek fuel tank which was milled from a single block of aluminium and the sexy headlight surround that bolts straight to the triple clamps.
Royal Enfield hasn’t given any hints of possible release dates or pricing but we are very excited by the prospect of this concept making it to the production line.
After teasing us with sketches of a retro sports bike 2 years ago, Bimota has just unveiled a production version of the design that’s slated for release in 2022. The new Bimota KB4 will be available to customers in 2 different configurations. A full faired model and a cafe racer style naked named the KB4 RC.
At the heart of the KB4 is a Kawasaki inline-four taken from the Ninja 1000 SX but Kawasaki’s involvement finishes there. The KB4 uses a purpose-made chassis which is a mix of tubular steel and machined aluminium. Bimota’s goal was to create a premium performance motorcycle so everything from the suspension to the brakes is top of the range. The manufacturer also didn’t cut any corners while trying to keep weight to a minimum. As a result, there’s ample use of aluminium and carbon fibre and the KB4 weighs over 40kg less than the Ninja, which is sure to translate to an exhilarating ride.
Cafe racer fans are sure to appreciate the classic round headlight and bar end mirrors of the KB4 RC. Pricing for both models is likely to be around the $40,000 USD mark and they’ll go on sale sometime in the new year.
Arturo Mangi will go down in history as the most winning team manager in racing history. His achievements as the frontman of the MV Agusta team in the 1950s are legendary and his experiences lead to the creation of his own brand, Magni Motorcycles. After the loss of their father in 2015 Arturo’s 2 sons picked up the reins and in honour of him, they have created a motorcycle that pays tribute to his legacy.
The Magni Italia 01/01 reconnects the Magni and MV Agusta brands. Sitting within the Magni built frame is a modern 800cc Brutale triple, an engine that is a distant relation to the ones Arturo helped to develop during his time at MV Agusta. Beyond the engine, the Italia 01/01 runs distinctly classic components. The half faired street racer features handmade bodywork, classic Brembo brake components, telescopic Oram forks and twin rear shocks, JoNich shouldered alloy rims and a stunning 3-into-3 blacked-out exhaust system inspired by MV Agusta’s iconic GP bikes.
Since 2005 Benelli motorcycles have been built in China, but the company’s roots remain firmly planted in Italy. From their HQ in Pesaro, the Benelli team designs, develops and markets their motorcycles just as they have always done for the past 110 years. As the second oldest motorcycle manufacturer in Italy, it goes without saying that Benelli was in attendance at EICMA 2021. This year they introduced a new engine to their range which will appear in 4 different 2022 models. Amongst them was one bike that piqued our interest, the scrambler styled Leocino Trail 800.
The Benelli Leocino Trail 800 gives Benelli customers the option of purchasing an offroad capable iteration of the Leocino platform. Similar to Triumphs approach with their Scrambler, the Benelli Leovinci Trail 800 is (almost) equal parts style and substance.
In order to tick off the customary Scrambler cliches, Benelli has fitted the Leovinco Trail 800 with a set of high mounted exhaust pipes, faux racing number plates and a decorative headlight cowl. On the more purposeful side of things the Leovinco Trail 800 is running a set of 19-inch rims wrapped in knobby rubber and tall Marzocchi suspension front and rear.
As for the new engine configuration the Trail 800 is powered by a new 750cc DOHC 4v per cylinder liquid-cooled twin. The engine provides a modest 76.2 bhp and 49.4 Nm of torque and it’s delivered to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox and slipper clutch.
This new neo-retro model from Benelli is also available as a street going Leovinco 800 variant but the Trail 800 is definitely our pick of the pair. Prices have not yet been announced.
Ovao Bike CR-21 Electric Cafe Racer
Although the motorcycling world still seems to be coming to grips with the idea of electric motorcycles there was no shortage of them at EICMA 2021. Amongst them was the Taiwan based electric motorcycle manufacturer Ovao Bike showing off 3 new models that included the CR-21 electric cafe racer.
The Ovao Bike CR-21 is the brands 21st-century interpretation of cafe racer style. Powered by an engine that’s roughly the equivalent of a 300 cc petrol powered unit. Unlike a petrol 300c c engine, however, the electric motor generates a respectable 279 Nm of torque. Designed with urban commuters in mind top speed is limited to only 130 km/h and it has a range of 230km.
The Ovao Bike CR-21 possesses all of the stereotypical cafe racer styling cues. From the clip-on handlebars complete with bar-end mirrors to the rear set footpegs and balanced bone line. Highlights of this design for us are the 17 inch Comstar styled wheels, the floating tail section with its retro leather saddle and the LED headlight that features an X configuration running light.
For those who haven’t heard of the Ovao Bike brand never fear this is no cheaply made gimmick. The company regards quality very highly and there are plenty of quality details here to drool over. That’s because Ovao Bike works with one of the world’s top parts suppliers who also happens to provide parts to Ducati and Harley Davidson.
We’ve been following the progress of Mac Motorcycles since they first appeared on the scene in 2009. Since then the British startup has had its fair share of challenges. These include the debilitating loss of the manufacturer of their prototype motorcycles engine (Buell Motorcycles). Thankfully the Mac team persisted and we are very happy to see them back in the spotlight again at EICMA 2021.
The bike on display at EICMA was Mac Motorcycles flagship model, the Ruby, and a lot has changed since we saw it last.
For starters, the Ruby is now powered by an Italian designed and built SWM engine. The 600cc 4-stroke liquid-cooled single puts out 52bhp at the crank. Power is delivered to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox and the whole assembly sits within Mac Motorcycles very own steel tubular frame.
The crew at Mac are a nostalgic bunch so when it came to kitting out their Ruby cafe racer they took a traditional approach. Ruby’s fuel cell was built by Italian aluminium artisans Acerbis. Although the bodywork is made using modern ABS plastic its lines are undeniably classic with styling cues borrowed from Alfa Romeo’s 156. The Ruby is also devoid of any excess and kitted out with premium suspension, brake and exhaust components.
Although no release dates or prices were revealed at EICMA we will have more to share about this exciting project for you soon.
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS
Although it had already been unveiled prior to the opening of EICMA 2021 the Kawasaki Z650RS was a welcome addition to this year’s show. The Z650RS is the latest member of Kawasaki’s hugely successful Retro Sports range.
Similar to its siblings, the Z650RS was directly influenced by a model from Kawasaki’s past, the 1977 Z650-B1. Often referred to as the ‘Son of the Z1’ the Z650-B1 was a middleweight version of the Z900. As its name suggests the Z650-B1 was powered by Kawasaki’s latest 650 cc inline-four. It was released to compete with Honda’s middleweight equivalent and was the epitome of UJM style and performance.
For the new Z650RS, Kawasaki has once again used the latest engine in their middle-weight range as the basis for the bike. This time around it’s a water-cooled 649 cc parallel-twin traditionally found in the brand’s Ninja Z650. It produces 67 hp and 47 nM of torque and will come as a restricted version in some countries to adhere to beginner licensing laws. Compared to the revvy inline-four of the Kawasaki Z900RS some may fine the twin to have more of a retro feel. The smaller capacity may also prove more attractive for city commuters or those newer to riding. The only drawback here is the appearance of the engine. This time around Kawasaki hasn’t added any retro look cooling fins to the unit as they did with the Z900RS. The modern muffler is also a bit of a letdown since it looks out of place alongside the bikes retro styling.
While the Z900RS got a bespoke frame the Z650RS uses the standard Z650 chassis. This isn’t a bad thing though since that chassis has more than proven its ability with the Ninja. Its tubular construction also looks right at home on this modern retro. As for the rest of the bike, it’s received a complete B1 styling package.
Starting at the pointy end the Kawasaki Z650RS it has a set of standard telescopic forks. Perched atop them is a classic round headlight running LED internals and a pair of analogue gauges that flank a liquid crystal display. The fuel tank, seat, side panels and rear cowl are all modern interpretations of the original Z650 and Kawasaki even offers the bike in a premium green colour scheme almost identical to the one on the 1970s Z650. Like the Z900RS this bike also comes with cast wheels that mimic the look of spokes and on the green version, they come in a very desirable gold finish.
Despite its retro look, the Kawasaki Z650RS is a thoroughly modern machine and comes with all the latest safety tech you’d expect on a 2022 bike. Priced at $8,999 USD Kawasaki are asking for a significant premium over the cost of a standard Ninja 650. For those chasing a modern classic however this positions it well to compete with the likes of Yamaha’s XSR700.