To coincide with November’s EICMA show in Milan we’ve seen a cascade of new bike launches from every major bike company – but while there was plenty of new metal to hog the limelight not everything planned for the 2023 model year has been launched quite yet.
Several new models intended to be on the market next year remain under wraps, with companies planning to wait until nearer their on-sale dates to reveal them instead of vying for attention alongside dozens of other new models and risking being forgotten by the time they reach dealers, potentially in several months’ time. Here are some of the most notable upcoming machines that are still missing in action at the moment:
Moto Guzzi V850X logo, above, has appeared. The bike itself hasn’t.
Back in July Moto Guzzi filed EU type-approval applications for a new bike, dubbed V850X, as a 2023 model – but so far it hasn’t been officially unveiled, suggesting there are plans to launch it either later this year or early next.
Although on the V7’s platform, with a similar twin-shock chassis and 66hp V-twin engine, the V850X is expected to look nothing like those retro models. Wire wheels with deeply-treaded tyres will give it something of a flat-track stance, while the bodywork is understood to take cues from 1980s Guzzis like the V65 Lario.
As well as the standard 66hp version, Guzzi has type-approved a 47hp, restricted V850X to suit riders with A2 licences.
Back in 2018, the 975cc Harley Pan America was expected by 2021.
It was as far back as 2018, when the original prototype of the Harley-Davidson Pan America was revealed alongside the company’s ambitious expansion plans, that we got the first official word that a 975cc version of Harley’s first adventure bike would follow the introduction of the initial 1252cc model. Since then, while Harley’s upper management has changed and many of those plans have been revised, the Pan America has been a huge success and the smaller version has remained on the cards.
The Pan America 975 was initially expected to appear in 2021 as a 2022 model, to the extent that in America the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, already has web pages set up for any future recalls on the 2022 model year versions of the bike. Those pages show both an ‘RA975’ and an ‘RA975S’, suggesting there will be two variants, mirroring the existing Pan America and Pan America Special in the current line-up (those are the RA1250 and RA1250S). Now that the smaller 975cc version of Harley’s liquid-cooled V-twin is in production and available in the Nightster, it's surely not going to be long before the Pan America 975 gets an official launch.
This is the ZX-25R, but the planned ZX-4R is expected to be visually nearly identical to it
For much of this year there’s been widespread expectation that Kawasaki is re-entering the 400cc, four-cylinder sportsbike market with a new Ninja ZX-4R based on its existing, 250cc ZX-25R. And while the ZX-25R is limited to markets in Asia, the 400 is expected to be offered more widely.
Rumours of the bike in the Japanese press were bolstered by patents showing the ZX-25R but specifically referring to a 400cc four-cylinder engine, and in the middle of this year documents were purportedly filed with American authorities that showed two variants of the ZX-4R are due on sale in the US market in 2023. Those documents are no longer online, however, replaced with versions that don’t include the bike.
While there remains a chance that the ZX-4R will be shown as a 2023 model, and that it could even reach markets as far west as the USA, the chances of European sales are slim to the point of invisibility. Sales wouldn’t be likely to cover the cost of making a high-revving, four-cylinder, 400cc sports bike meet Euro emissions rules.
Designs for the Benda VTR300 Turbo appeared early this year, 12 months after it was first teased, but the production model is nowhere to be seen.
One of the most intriguing machines to be under development at the moment is the Chinese-made Benda VTR300 Turbo. First promised in a teaser from the company at the start of 2021, designs for the bike broke cover in IP filings in January 2022, but ten months on there’s still no indication of when the real thing is going to be shown.
In the meantime, Benda – one of China’s most intriguing new bike firms – has revealed the country’s first homegrown V4-engined bike, and got its LFC700 and LFS700 four-cylinder models into production, but the idea of a turbocharged, 300cc V-twin sports bike remains fascinating.
China’s ongoing ‘zero Covid’ strategy is still causing havoc in the country’s industrial sectors and the repeated lockdowns are likely to be a reason for the VTR300 Turbo’s delay in being shown.
A presentation by KTM parent company, Pierer Mobility, in early 2022 included reference to several upcoming electric bikes including the KTM E-Duke and its close sibling, the Husqvarna E-Pilen – both expected to share the same underpinnings – but the only electric model to be given a target intro date was a battery-powered enduro bike, the Freeride E LV. The presentation showed the Freeride E LV was due to hit the market in 2023, using a 9kW motor and a swappable 5.5kWh battery pack, with a target price of under €10,000.
In a more recent presentation to accompany the company’s financial report for the first half of 2022, the E LV appeared again, but with the price and the target launch date removed, indicating that it might not be on such a firm schedule after all. Instead, the Husqvarna Skutta, a step-on scooter that is essentially the firm’s BLTZ concept from 2021, is due next year.
The delay to the Freeride E LV could all be related to Pierer Mobility’s position in the Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium, which is hammering out specifications for a standardised battery pack that multiple manufacturers can use, making it far easier to create a network of battery-swap stations. The E LV is a candidate for just such a battery, so the design could be on-hold until the final battery spec is finalised.