Euro Gossip December 2008

December 2, 2008
Ian Kerr
Contributing Editor | Articles | RSS | Blog | Blog RSS

Our man in Europe, Ian delivers a monthly dose of those tasty rumors and hearsay from across the pond that make up our Euro Gossip column.

The world’s money problems are starting to affect the world of motorcycling, as you will see from the following. Non-appearances of bikes we have hyped here, with the reasons seeming to relate to delays and postponements, rather than deciding they are not the right machine for the current market. Cut-backs in production, it could be all gloom, but there are still a lot of good new bikes for us to throw a leg over in the coming months.

More people in power are waking up to the ‘green’ benefits, as well as a bikes congestion busting abilities. So beat the gloom and doom, ride your bike and enjoy it, before picking out a new one from some of these listed below for next year!


The KTM Zero Emission Motorcycle will allow for riding in more areas, even densely populated areas, without coming into conflict with existing restrictions.

Normally after the large shows I am happily pointing out how right we have been in this column throughout the year. Bikes that have been listed as rumors have broken cover in a blaze of glory while we have said, ‘told you so!’ However, despite my best predictions about the road going KTM Venom being feted on their stand at Milan, it failed to show. In fact we got less new bikes than we predicted overall!

We did get the new 990 SM-T, which stands for Supermoto Touring, and this should do well against the Triumph Tiger, now being more of an all-rounder. Most of the bike is the same apart from the new bodywork and luggage carrying ability, provided by a range of genuine KTM accessories.

KTM have joined the race to produce viable electric motorcycles. The Zero Emission Motorcycle has been designed to the point where it is now competitive with small capacity gas-engine enduro bikes. KTM claim it will be good for a 40-minute competition session and only take an hour to recharge!

Although developed as a sports machine to combat noise issue at venues, the technology could find its way onto road going machines in the near future.


We have mentioned before French designer Yacouba Galle who has designed a bodywork kit to transform the looks of the MV Brutale for just £5000. He first came to notice after the Paris Show in 2007 and attracted the attention of the Italian factory who gave him its blessing to go ahead thanks to his stunning designs. Now after several redesigns, the road-legal kit, which fits straight on to any Brutale transforming it into a brand new bike, is on sale to the public. More information can be obtained at


High performance dual disc brakes and a Paralever rear-wheel swingarm mean that the Lo Rider may sport an old school look but it s performance should be all 21st century.
High performance dual disc brakes and a Paralever rear-wheel swingarm mean that the Lo Rider may sport an old school look but it’s performance should be all 21st century.

BMW as we know is busy shedding its staid image, hence the move to World Superbike Racing. However, Milan saw the appearance of a wacky LoRider concept bike made up of many existing BMW components from current production machines. This suggests that given favorable reaction, it could well be a production reality quite soon.

Hendrik von Kuenheim, BMW’s General Director admitted as much, stating that while he wanted to target the Harley Davidson market share with the LoRider, he did not want to copy their styling like other manufacturers. Instead he wanted to create something different and build on the BMW heritage.


At the recent Milan Show one of the biggest stars was on the NCR stand.  The Italian race bike builder revealed the absolutely stunning Mike Hailwood TT (HTT) a limited edition of just 12 machines being produced as a tribute to his 1978 TT win. The £80,000 machine has been produced in collaboration with the Hailwood family and his son David unveiled the bike.

Loosely based on the Ducati Sport Classic it has been produced purely for racing.
Loosely based on the Ducati Sport Classic this NCR Ducati has been produced purely for racing.

Loosely based on the Ducati Sport Classic it has been produced purely for racing, although Hailwood has said that eventually a road going version could be available. He is masterminding (but not riding) an assault on the TT next year and will be running it at Daytona beforehand. A replica clothing kit is included in the price.

The bike itself weighs in at 136 kg, thanks to a lightweight titanium frame that tips the scales at just 5 kg. A double-sided swingarm is used with twin Ohlin’s race shocks matched by MotoGP-spec inverted forks at the front end. Carbon fiber abounds as you might expect, along with top-notch components like Bemba brakes.

In the engine department the capacity has been hiked to 1120cc and the crank is now machined out of aluminum, titanium valves are used in the reworked heads, with the same material being used for the exhaust system. There is little that has not been worked on or replaced with a higher spec item, and the motor now punches out 130 hp. 

Ducati now has a new logo which it claims is an evolution of the historic brand name! Big news, though, was the launch of the naked Streetfighter which we told you about here some time ago. Likewise the increase from 1098 to 1198 for the ‘09 faired version.

The Ducati Streetfighter sources a 1099cc  104mm bore x 64.7mm stroke  L-Twin featuring Marelli fuel injection.
Set to hits dealers in the spring of 2009, the Ducati Streetfighter blends 1098 performance with a stripped down Monster/Hypermotard look.

The Streetfighter retains the 1098 specification and for the first time brings traction control to the naked market sector. You can also still plug in a memory stick to download three-plus hours of riding data to view on your computer. A side-exit twin exhaust set-up replaces the under-seat system and adds to the aggressive look of the bike with its top level Ohlin’s suspension and Brembo braking set-up.

Strangely, though, the Strada Aperta, (their version of the BMW GS) which we quite expected to be launched there, was nowhere to be seen. However, sources say it has just been held back a while and will appear in the future, probably for 2010 model year. 

Moto Guzzi now has a V7 Café Classic and the Stelvio TT to bolster its range for 2009. The former is based on the V7 introduced this year, while the TT is essentially a kitted up version of the existing machine to rival the BMW GS range. Other new bikes for 2009 are revamped versions of the Griso and the Nevada 750, their entry level custom bike. 

Bimota has become the first manufacturer in the world to offer a carbon fiber frame on a production bike. The DB7 Oro Nero, surprisingly, only costs £32,000, despite literally dripping in carbon fiber, which has been used as much as possible throughout the bikes construction. However, as one might expect there are some aluminium inserts in the frame, such as around the swingarm pivot and likewise with the arm itself.

The Ducat 1098 engine is unchanged, although it gets a free flowing exhaust that helps it pump out 164 hp, giving the bike a power-to-weight ratio of one hp per kilo.

No new bikes from Aprilia were launched, although nobody knows why. The new V90 1200 engine did not materialize in a larger Shiver or an adventure sports bike. However, Aprilia seems determined to make the most out of each bike and utilize existing parts to create new models. Milan saw them use the 850 Mana ‘twist and go’ automatic motor to power their X bike, being shown as a concept vehicle. While there are apparently no plans to produce this trellis framed bike, more and more concepts are coming to production within a couple of years these days, so watch out for the X factor!

Husqvarna SMQ 450
Husqvarna’s new SMQ was revealed at Milan. It’s not clear when, or if, the supermoto design will be produced.

Husqvarna, the BMW owned Italian off-road firm showed its latest bike the rather wacky SMQ at Milan. The bizarre looking machine is powered by a BMW 450 motor, but if it goes into production as a different take on the Supermoto theme, it could get a 630 motor from their own dirt range.

On a more conventional front Husqvarna now has a TXC 310 motor to offer an alternative to the existing 250cc and 450cc versions. The motor is used in a new updated chassis, which is lighter than this year’s model. They have also launched a new SM510R as well.

Despite the interest in the Cagiva Mito 500  that has been shown at major shows for the last few years, it was missing at Milan. Sources say that this is due to the fact it was powered by a Husqvarna motor and now they can’t use that due to the sale to BMW. There is no time to sort something else out, as Harleys main thrust is to get the MV range revamped and selling! 

Piaggio now has a hybrid engine which it debuted at Milan in an MP3. A flick of switch moves it from electric to gas power, which also recharges the batteries when on the move.

Benelli have been tempting us with the 2ue for some time now and it seems it may well actually appear mid 2009. However, it we may also get a 600cc version as well, which will basically be a sleeved down version of the larger machine and aimed at the new rider.


The new GPR 125 use the new water-cooled single cylinder 125cc four-stroke engine featuring four valve technology  an engine already used for the successful Terra and Mulhacén 125.
The new GPR 125 uses a water-cooled, four-stroke, four-valve Single. The engine is already used for the successful Terra and Mulhacén 125.

Derbi showed a new 125ccGPR machine at Milan looking just like it had come off the race track. The entry-level bike is now the size of middleweight 600, despite its 15-hp single-cylinder motor nestling beneath the GP style bodywork. The 120 kg machine has 40mm inverted forks at the front of its aluminum beam-style frame.

United Kingdom
Last time we reported on the fact that the Norton name had returned to the UK and bikes would soon be rolling off the new small bespoke production lines at the Donington Park race circuit. Now it seems that there are still several aspects of the once great name that are not included in the reported deal, the company having been split on its various sales in the past.

But, it could all soon become one again as the business and assets of Norton Motors Ltd. are now for sale. Norton Motors is the home of the Norton Rotary motorcycle and holds all drawings, remaining tooling, stock of spares and service information for all Norton rotary-engined motorcycles produced up to 1993.

The assets for sale include: the company name, Norton Motors Limited, company registration, all of the IPR owned by Norton Motors – including but not limited to the original engineering drawings, as well as development and production issues, for the Interpol 2, Classic, Commander, F1 and F1 Sport models. All of this along with a whole host of other things that you would expect from a manufacturing concern.

AJS is back with some interesting new motorcycles.
AJS is back with some interesting new motorcycles.

Another great British name is making a small come-back with Chinese help. AJS is marketing the NKT1, a bike designed by the Spanish firm CSR and built by Chinese manufacturer Regal Raptor. The 125cc liquid-cooled bike will sell at £1799.00 in the UK.

The UK motorcycle world was stunned when the association that represents all the most senior police officers in the UK called for the government to totally ban all motorcycles. It cited 200-mph production machines being lethal on the road, but had to back down when the industry asked them to name one production bike that could achieve this figure. Despite being rebuffed, ACPO are still suggesting tighter controls on bikes with some no-go areas being muted at!

The Rest of the World


As one might expect given the current economic situation worldwide, Japanese motorcycle makers are cutting back production as demand in the US and Europe continues to cool due to the economic downturn. According to the Japanese press, total domestic motorcycle output came to 1.67 million units in 2007.

Just over 20% of the bikes were sold in Japan, while nearly 60% were exported to the US and Europe. With sales of bikes of 250cc and above making up a high proportion of sales in the two regions, the production cuts are focusing on these sectors. To back this news up, Honda has announced that it has downgraded its 2008 production plans in Japan to slightly less than 400,000 units, down 10% from a year earlier.

Yamaha too has lowered its production schedule for 250cc or larger motorcycles at its main factory in Iwata, to between 350,000 to 360,000 units, a drop of 20% from 2007 figure. The company also plans to trim production in Italy by the end of the year because of sharply falling sales in Europe.

Suzuki also has decided to reduce the total domestic output of motorcycles and buggy carts by 7% to 509,000 units this year. The company sees its motorcycle sales in the US declining 19% from a year earlier to 100,000 units in 2008.

Motorcycle sales have also been decelerating in Japan itself since the beginning of the year and the four major Japanese motorcycle makers are stepping up efforts to bolster their operations in emerging economies in Asia and South America. Honda for instance plans to increase the number of motorcycle dealerships in India by roughly 40% to about 5,000 over the next three years or so, with a focus on small stores.

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