With the new model season ante portas, manufacturers have begun hinting at motorcycles that will be unveiled at the upcoming international shows in Japan and Italy. Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki revealed their common interest in the modern classic genre, with three café racers based on existing models.
On October 27, the 45th Tokyo Motor Show will open its gates, followed shortly afterwards by the EICMA in Milan, opening on November 9, sharing between them the main wave of 2018 motorcycle debuts. Ahead of these international exhibitions, three of the four major Japanese manufacturers have stated their intent to introduce new retro-styled motorcycles, following on Yamaha's example.
In Europe the neo-retro theme has claimed a large chunk of the sales' pie, with motorcycle series like Triumph's Bonneville, BMW's R Nine T and Ducati's Scrambler. Yamaha was the first of the Japanese to follow suit, first by getting people involved through the Yard Built customs and then by redesigning some of its production models accordingly. The successful MT (FZ in some markets) platform spawned the XSR series, starting with the 700 twin in 2015 and the 900 triple last year.
Honda's only classic-styled motorcycle was the CB1100, but it is now about to start a new model family called Neo Sport Café. The only available information is contained in a short video teaser, which doesn't really reveal much other than a naked bike with a round headlight and straight handlebars.
According to the Japanese press, this will probably be a naked CBR1000RR Fireblade, which may evolve to include several models, from café racers to streetfighters.
Honda describes the Neo Sport Café as "a new breed", scheduled to be unveiled on November 6, one day before the first press day of the EICMA show.
Kawasaki has also been teasing a Z900RS naked bike that will be formally introduced on October 25, just before the Tokyo Motor Show opens its gates. Once again, the video teaser doesn't reveal much and Kawasaki remains tight-lipped about the new model, subtly suggesting a retro-styled version of the Z900 naked bike that was introduced last year.
The Z900RS will probably be a tribute to the legendary Z1, taking its styling cues from the original 1972 model, although it would probably have made more sense for Kawasaki to have built it five years earlier at the Z1's 40th anniversary.
In fact, Kawasaki did outsource a custom reproduction of the Z1 for the occasion in 2012, based on the then-contemporary Z1000 (pictured below). That custom build has since appeared at several motorcycle shows, always enjoying enthusiastic reviews from the public all over the world, and it is believed to have inspired the upcoming Z900RS.
Suzuki recently announced the lineup of new models that will fill its Tokyo Motor Show booth, and among these the only motorcycle is a café racer called the SV650X. The only available description is limited to one image and a single sentence that describes the fusion of retro looks with modern technology; in other words, expect a mechanically unchanged SV650 V-twin, with several bits like the clip-on handlebars and ribbed seat.
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