WORDS & PHOTOS: Michael Lichter
There always seemed to be one more building, one more booth, one more motorcycle to digest. Despite my big appetite, I was full the first day, but I couldn’t stop myself.
The EICMA Motorcycle Industry Expo in Milan, Italy, in the middle of November was a veritable feast.
Not only were there unveilings of new motorcycles and products thrilling, the location itself was spectacular. With jet lag adding to my condition, I was basically overwhelmed until I figured out my own way of moving through this temporary metropolis of two-wheel enthusiasm.
When I first entered the expo, I thought it seemed to go on forever. Building after building, any of which would be a large convention center in the U.S., housed a total of 1.4 million square feet of motorcycling displays from 1046 brands in 35 countries. There were brands from China and Korea that I couldn’t begin to pronounce let alone recognize. I couldn’t have imagined that electric bikes were developing so quickly around the world until I saw the number of products, from scooters to superbikes on display. Impressive, especially when I learned that the battery powered Energica unveiled at EICMA from Italy’s CRP delivers 134 horsepower and a top speed of 137 mph.
The manufacturer booths were over the top. BMW and Honda’s displays exceeded 20,000 square feet. Every detail was accounted for including sound, which in Honda’s booth consisted of a three-part soundtrack timed with two immense, two-story displays as well as the monitors paired to each bike pedestal. Their music kept building to some sort of climax that boldly said, “something is coming” and this was the place you had to be. In addition to all that you could see out front were offices, meeting rooms and fully serviced cafes for customers and VIPs. It was easy to understand why it took a team of workers a week to build these fully finished spaces.
I did go to a number of the press announcements but this didn’t make it any easier to take photos or get info. These events looked more like feeding frenzies with journalists vying for position to get the first shots of new products as drapes were lifted and bikes revealed. EICMA has two days reserved for the press, where they can act like hungry wolves without their readers noticing, and then four days open to the public.
It was much easier to go back when it slightly more subdued to get a better look at all the new offerings, including the full range of Ducati models (Hypermotard, Hyperstrada, Panigale R, and Diavel Strada), the new MV Agusta Rivale, and a few Moto Guzzis as well. Sure, there were a few bike we saw introduced at the German Intermot show in early October, but as this is Milan, most of the Italian brands held the news for EICMA.
Coming from the custom V-twin side of motorcycling, except for one hall that contained the “EICMA Custom” area, this was all new to me. I took it in like a dry sponge and loved every bit of it. It was amazing to see how much goes into getting information out.
My days in Milan were long. As if you wouldn’t be exhausted after a day of running around a show like this, you had to—or should I say something compelled me to—go out each night. There were parties all around town, some hosted by the bike manufacturers, plus companies like Metzeler for the release its 2013 calendar, various European magazines, and even the Hell’s Angels party—the place to be on Saturday night,
It wasn’t until the flight home that it hit me just how gluttonous I had been. Yes, Milanese food and drink is hard to beat, but I was full of information. I could have never imagined so much could be ingested in such a short time, but with the digestive process now kicking in, I’m enjoying making sense of all that I saw.
Check out more of Michael’s photos from EICMA 2012 here.