10 motorcycle trends to look out for in 2024 - both good and bad

Following a slew of new reveals at EICMA, we’ve a fair idea of how the industry’s looking for 2024

Yamaha XSR900 GP with Racer Pack

With the dust settling on another EICMA Show in Milan and, with it, final confirmation of (most of) the new models we can look forward to in 2024 – and at Motorcycle Live at the NEC later in November – now’s the perfect time to take stock and ask: ‘What are likely to be the best bikes of 2024, and which manufacturers (if any) were the most disappointing?’

It’s subjective, of course, and, arguably, a little premature – after all, for the most part, we haven’t had the chance to actually RIDE any of these newcomers yet. But while it’s still fresh in our minds, here’s our pick of the ten best (and worst) new bikes and trends for 2024.

1. Historic Italian brands hit the big time 

Reborn Italian brands, often now under Chinese ownership, such as Benelli, Moto Morini and Fantic have been bubbling along for years now with their assortments of mostly smaller bikes, but Milan saw them truly hit the big time once again.

Fantic, following its 700 twin Caballero earlier this year, showed a couple of pure street 125 concepts, the Stealth and Imola, Benelli had a new family of Tornado 500 twins, but the biggest and easily best of all were Moto Morini’s twin new 750cc Corsaro V-twins and its return to the 1200cc class with its new X-Cape 1200 and Milano.

2. Supersports 600s are back! 

As discussed elsewhere, one of EICMA’s undoubted stars was Honda’s 2024 CBR600RR, complete with electronics, aero and an optional HRC race kit. But it wasn’t the only one. Kawasaki’s earlier reintroduction of a new, now Euro5-compliant ZX-6R plus a concept 500 four-cylinder sportster imminent from CFMoto confirms, surely, after years in the doldrums and repeated reports of the class’s death, that, finally, Supersports 600s are back – and then some!

3. ‘Adventure sports’ is the next big thing

The idea of ‘adventure sports’ bikes – adventure-style, ‘tall-roaders’ with no real off-road ability but plenty of street performance and practicality – is nothing new: Kawasaki’s four-cylinder Versys 1000 and BMW’s S1000XR have been doing it for years. But EICMA underlined their growing popularity and significance with a raft of newcomers.

BMW (which wasn’t at EICMA) had already unveiled its updated S1000XR and wild 200bhp M1000XR; Ducati has its Multistrada V4 RS but the true surprises in Milan were Suzuki’s affordably priced GSX-S1000GX, effectively a ‘tall’ version of its popular GSX-S1000GT sports-tourer and, at the other extreme, Bimota’s new Tera, using Kawasaki’s four-cylinder, supercharged, 200bhp H2 motor allied to a Tesi style front end.

4. But adventure bikes are still healthy 

There was never any likelihood the conventional, dual-purpose adventure bikes were going away any time soon – BMW’s all-new R1300GS in September was proof of that. But the number and variety of new or updated models in Milan was still reassuring.

Honda had its facelifted, updated Africa Twin, Moto Morini had its new X-Cape 1200 and MV Agusta its so far still ‘concept’ LXP Orioli. But, arguably, the most pleasing of all was the predicted debut of Moto Guzzi’s new Stelvio, as based on its 2023, liquid-cooled Mandello. It may not be a BMW-beater, but for a mix of real-world performance, practicality and character they’re unlikely to get much better.

5. Middleweight sportster twins are here to stay 

For years it seemed that lightweight, affordable, middleweight sports twins were starting to be the successors to the seemingly dying supersports class (although the resurgence of the latter now appears to have kyboshed that).

First, there was Aprilia’s RS660, then Yamaha’s R7, but Milan cemented the class’s status with not just Suzuki’s GSX-8R, Benelli’s new 500 and, sauciest of all, Aprilia’s new RS457 which, in Milan was also shown in race ‘Trofeo’ form. How long now until Honda’s version based on its Hornet CB750?

6. Hornets everywhere… 

Oh, and speaking of Honda’s Hornet, Big H surprised most showgoers in. Milan with a big splurge of the ‘buzzing breed’. First, it renamed (and updated) its CB500 A2-friendly family. The old CB500X is now the NX500 with the roadster CB500F now called the CB500 Hornet, so joining this year’s CB750 Hornet, but the biggest shock of all was a re-engineered, restyled CB1000, which now also bears the Hornet name.

7. Yet another ‘Duke’, too 

Another familiar ‘naked’ name welcomed a new addition in Milan, too. Just when you thought you’d seen enough KTM Duke variants to last a lifetime, the Austrian marque unveiled another all-new version at EICMA – and it promises to possibly be the best yet. The 990 Duke is derived from the already potent 890 parallel twin machine, but is bigger, punchier, has a new frame and new looks. The 990 produces 120bhp, is light weight and packed full of class-leading electronics, so it promises to be an absolute blast.

8. Retro sports is the new heritage class 

We’ve had retro roadsters and retro trail and adventure bikes (Ducati’s Scrambler and Guzzi’s V85TT, for example) and now we’ve got ‘retro sports’. Yamaha’s new triple-based XSR900GP as unveiled in Milan takes the already brilliant 118bhp, three-cylinder XSR and gives mouth-watering 1980s/90s Marlboro GP style. Yes, you may argue MV’s exclusive Superveloce 800 got there first, but with that bike also getting in Milan a new 1000cc big brother, it all proves ‘retro sports’ are here to stay.

9. A conspicuous lack of EVs 

Where are all the electric motorcycles from big OEMs? Not in Milan, they weren’t – not yet. Apart from Kawasaki’s new Ninja 7 HEV hybrid and some new colours, limited editions and revised colourways from Zero, full-size EV bikes were conspicuously thin on the ground in Milan, although there were plenty of scooters and other options from brands you’ve never heard of.

Then again, most manufacturers, BMW and Honda among them, have long been talking about 2024-5 for their upcoming EV launches, so perhaps it’ll be a different story at the next EICMA.

10. Disappointment from the Brits

It has to be said: after the repeated ‘hurrahs’ of historic British brands at previous EICMAs (we’re thinking not just Triumph but also Brough Superior and even Matchless in fairly recent years), there wasn’t much to get excited about from the British brands in Milan.

Triumph’s new 400s, though impressive, are already familiar, its Tiger 900 and Scrambler X were a little underwhelming while there was nada, zilch, nothing from. BSA, Norton and more. Maybe they’re all holding back until Motorcycle Live, or maybe they just don’t have a whole lot to shout about right now.