The Intermot expo, held every year just across the Rhine from the gargantuan gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany, is a key date on the international motorcycling calendar. Motorcycle manufacturers, parts suppliers, clothing and accessory makers, stunt riders, custom builders and an ever-increasing tide of electric two and three wheelers from all over the world – they're all here, making deals, creating alliances and showing off the best of their new gear as thousands of bikers storm the halls.
The big launches on press day this year included the Indian Motorcycles team, there to launch the new FTR1200. This flat track-inspired streetbike is not only one of the sauciest pieces of production metal we've ever seen, it's also the first step in an entirely new direction for an Indian brand that has focused on cruisers up to this point.
To say these guys were excited about this launch is a huge understatement. And the reaction of the crowd was clear as well: the FTR is the belle of the ball this year, and an awesome start to this new chapter.
The FTR's main competition in terms of brand new production bikes came from Japan. Suzuki's revered Katana was a defining motorcycle of the early 1980s, and the company has brought it back as the Katana 3.0 for 2019. The new Kat looks terrific, if a little more comfort-focused than its grand-daddy, and it's built on the proven GSX-S1000 platform, so it'll go like the clappers.
Other notable new bike launches included Kawasaki's new H2, which ups the ante to a ram air-assisted 240 horsepower, making it officially the most powerful series production bike ever. Ducati pulled the covers off some sexy new Scrambler variants for 2019 as part of its Joyvolution update, Moto Guzzi unveiled its new V85 TT adventure machine, BMW brought in the new 1250 boxer bikes, KTM announced a thoroughly unnecessary but very welcome power upgrade on its barnstorming Super Duke 1290 GT light-speed tourer, and Royal Enfield displayed its new twin-cylinder 650cc Interceptors.
Can-Am rolled out its new Ryker trike, a much smaller version of the Spyder roadster, and it drew a surprisingly enthusiastic crowd.
It's not all about brand new bikes, of course. Intermot's gigantic halls allow all kinds of opportunities to get your backside onto just about any bike on the market, from the sublime – like the new Aprilia Tuono 1100 pictured below...
To the ridiculous, such as the 2019 Honda Monkey below – which might have been the most efficient and effective smile producing machine at the whole show.
Stunt shows every 15 minutes outside showed what's possible when you push the limits of technique and skill.
E-bikes were a strong and growing presence at Intermot this year, with dozens of new brands showing their wares. But nobody's really interested in e-bikes until they get a chance to ride one and feel what they're all about. So Intermot built several "e-motion" testing zones where people could jump on a range of different electric cycles and take them across some varying terrain.
In fact, the range of e-bikes and electric motorcycles (and many things that live somewhere in between) was truly impressive. We particularly liked this electric fat-wheel tilting three wheeled drift monster (below) that came screeching past us somewhere in Hall 8, but we couldn't keep up with it to find out what it was called!