The 5th Thailand Motor Expo served as the bookend to 2018, revealing the many new motorcycle models the rest of the Asia Pacific markets can expect to see in 2019.
The event, held last Nov. 29 to Dec. 10, was staged at the IMPACT Challenger exhibition hall in Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok. The show was open for 12 days with a broad array of new models, concepts, as well as exhibitions and demos.
For fans of two wheels, the show did not disappoint, boasting the particiation of 23 motorcycle brands from 7 countries. These are: Aprilia, Benelli, BMW, CF Moto, Ducati, GPX, Hanway, Harley-Davidson, Honda Big Bike, Kawasaki, Lambretta, Lifan, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Piaggio, Royal Enfield, Royal Alloy, Ryuki, Suzuki, Triumph, Vespa, Yamaha, and Zontes.
Among the highlights were the Asian launches of models like the Royal Enfield twins, the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650; Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC and 1200 XE; and Harley-Davidson FXDR 114.
Besides these highly anticipated models, we also noticed a few that stirred a lot of attention.
Much like in the Philippines, BMW had a lot to show off in Bangkok, with a wide array of models like the F850 GS with optional Garmin GPS integration. They also took the wraps off the C 400 X large scooter which drew stares with its edgy looks.
A large number of them were in the Kawasaki booth, with the Z400 drawing the most stares. Based on the Ninja 400, the Z400 is a stripped naked with the same 399cc parallel twin. Other than its lack of fairings, the most significant difference is its tweaked styling and more comfortable riding position.
Those that find 400cc a tad intimidating could also find the Z250 nearby. The smaller version featured LED headlights, an elongated visor and fully digital instrument cluster. The overall styling is now similar to the current line of Ninja and Z models. Powering this baby Z is a 249 cc parallel-twin engine.
Still drawing quite a crowd is the Versys 1000. The liter-class adventure tourer, receives cosmetic, mechanical, and electronic updates over the outgoing model. It gets the new headlight style, sharp nose fairing, and refreshed side panels. For the rider, there's a full-digital LCD screen. As for tech, it gets a six-axis IMU system. This is in addition to the ABS and electronic control suspension.
Another crowd drawer is a brand we have yet to see locally, Benelli. The Italian manufacturer showcased its broad offerings in the form of the Leoncino scrambler, TRK adventure tourer, and cruiser.
However, easily stealing the show was the 502 S Cruiser. The middle-weight cruiser is more modern than your average Harley, looking as more appropriate competition for the Ducati Diavel. It features wide handlebars, a scooped seat, long fuel tank and high-set tail section. It's powered by a 500cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine that produces 47-PS and 45Nm of torque. It is mated to a six-speed transmission.
One model we're hopeful of seeing in our market is the Yamaha MT-15. The smallest member of the MT family sports similar styling to its bigger brothers. It shares a platform with the R15 but boasts of more modern naked styling. It makes an entrance with LED head- and tail lights, gold inverted forks and an aluminum swingarm. It's 150 cc liquid-cooled engine produces 9.3-PS at 10,000 rpm and 14.7-Nm at 8,500 rpm. Power is transferred to a 6-speed gearbox with assist and slipper clutch.
Among the anticipated launches was that of the 2019 FXDR 114, the most performance-oriented and weight-saving Softail yet. It's powered by the larger 1,870cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin which explodes with 161 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm. It is built around the Softail chassis, but foregoes a lot of the steel, instead opting for an aluminum swingarm and a welded aluminum tube subframe. Its tail section and fenders are now made of lightweight composites. The rider sits on a deep solo saddle and grabs the aluminum handlebars to pilot the 2019 FXDR 114, which can achieve the greatest lean angle of all the Softails (32.6° left and 32.8° right). The motorcycle features all-around LED lighting, an LCD display, keyless ignition, an H-D Smart Security System, and a USB charging port. It has a fuel capacity of 16.7 L, a ground clearance of 134.6 mm, a wet weight of 303 kg, and a low laden seat height of 703.6 mm.
Present at the show was the 2019 Scrambler 1200 in XC and XE trim. The bike is built around a tubular steel frame with an aluminum cradle and aluminum swingarm. It is powered by the Bonneville’s liquid-cooled 1200cc parallel twin — tuned to make 90 PS at 7,400 rpm and 110 Nm of torque at 3,950 rpm.
Both the XC and XE are dual-sport motorcycles that can be ridden on and off pavement, while the XC is meant to handle both terrains for balanced adventure riding, the higher-spec XE focuses more on off-road capacity. Equipment on both models include all-around LED lighting, DRL, ABS and switchable traction control, keyless ignition, USB charging, and cruise control. The TFT dash of the Triumph Scrambler 1200 can also be connected to an optional Bluetooth module that can control a GoPro system via a switch on the left bar — a world’s first. It can also provide turn-by-turn Google Maps navigation, music operation, and connectivity with the Triumph mobile app.
Besides the known brands, the Thailand Motor Expo also served as a showcase of some we might not be so familiar with. We already have brands like CF Moto and Zongshen, however in Thailand, there are a couple more which are quite unique.
In our past coverage of the Bangkok International Auto Show, We've introduced you to GPX, which produces smaller versions of bikes with big inspiration. A couple of other brands have taken to the show to do that as well.
In Thailand, Zongshen Ryuki focuses on Cub-inspired creations while Royal Alloy pays homage to Lambretta.
We know Lifan as a car brand, but in Thailand, they apparently produce motorcycles too.
The Thailand Motor Expo certainly mirrored many of the launches we've already had at the start of this year, and could give us an idea of what else to expect in 2019.