Euro Gossip October 2009

October 8, 2009
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.

This time of year is normally full of leaked shots of new models to build up anticipation for the official press launches. However, these seem few and far between in ’09 and even the Japanese are being slow in launching. What details that have surfaced reveal relatively few really new models, just updates. Understandable in the current financial situation, but that makes those really new models even more special. As you will see from this month’s offering, there are a few glimmers here and there indicating things are getting better!


Scorpa Motors
French trials brand Scorpa appears to be another victim of this economy with a one-two-punch from their bank and Yamaha leading them to close their doors.

According to the French press, trials bike manufacturer  Scorpa has gone into liquidation resulting in the loss of 23 jobs. The French manufacturer was founded in 1995 and used Yamaha engines to power their off-road machines. However, Yamaha has recently suspended supplies of the motive units and this coupled the loss of support of their bank led to the Scorpa closure, despite interest from both Gas Gas and Sherco (who are in the same market) in acquiring the ailing firm.

However, it had been working on electric bikes and that part of the company, Scorpa Electric Vehicles (SEV), has been bought by investors and will continue working on it 40kg (88 lbs) electric bike with a 50km (31 mile) range.


The BMW Motorrad factory at Spandau, Berlin is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, although the first motorcycle was actually built in Berlin in 1967, that being an R60/2. Motorcycle production had gradually been moved up from BMW’s home plant at Munich as early as 1958, but the new factory was not opened until 1969.

In 2001 the millionth machine, an R1150RT, rolled off the production line in February of that year. The 500,000th GS designated machine came out of Spandau in May this year and the factory will produce the new S10000RR superbike there as well. Currently though production has been cut to deal with the current economic situation that is affecting BMW like every other manufacturer.

Meanwhile spy shots are currently circulating, which show a DOHC motor fitted to a new R1200GS. No other changes appear to be obvious apart from the heads on the engine. Watch this space for more details as and when they become available!


New Ducati Logo
Ducati is leaving their long time home factory and moves in to the 21st century with a state-of-the-art new facility only 1km away.

Despite rumors that the Italian Show EICMA at Milan in November was in danger of being canceled like Paris, the organizers have announced a healthy booking from all the major manufacturers with only Honda and Yamaha in doubt at the time of writing. Over 50,000 square meters will be covered by 420 direct exhibitors and 500 brands will be represented at the show which runs from the 10-15th of November. 

Ducati is all set to move from its traditional home in Bologna at Borgo Panigale for a brand new 165,000 square-meter new factory just a kilometer away, close to the Autostrada. The old factory has been home to the brand since 1926, but the outdated building that survived the Second World War will make way for a purpose-built estate to be built over the next three years, under a recent deal signed with regional authorities in Bologna.

This will house state-of-the-art production lines that are environmentally friendly as well as the race shop and R&D departments. There will also be a ‘Centre of Technical’ research, as well as a new home for the museum that houses their superb collection of race and technically interesting machines. A small test track will also allow customers to try out new models as well as a shop to purchase clothing and memorabilia.

2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796
Ducati’s 2010 Hypermotard 796 revealed in September. The first public showing of the Hypermotard 796 will be at Milan’s EICMA international motorcycle show.

It seems that the new Ducati road based big trailie we have been going on about here will definitely be called the Multistrada. It will have the 1098  Superbike engine in a detuned form, around 140 hp. Like its earlier forbear, hard luggage will be available to push its touring abilities, as it is very much a road-based bike and not intended for serious off-road use. But Ducati is not releasing too many details ahead of the official launch.

Interestingly Ducati has released details of their new Hypermotard 796 ahead of the Milan show. While they claim it is a new machine, it is clear that many of the components have come from other bikes in the range! 

Moto Guzzi is rumored to looking at producing a 1600cc two-valve version of its V-Twin motor to power a cruiser that can go head to head with Harley-Davidson. Pressure is apparently coming from the US importers and dealers who see the new 1600 Triumph Thunderbird stealing sales from the traditional American cruisers including Victory.

Sources suggest that an uprated and updated California with a bigger motor would be an easy answer that would not involve too much in terms of development time and cost. However, at the moment initial drawings show a more traditional cruiser on the drawing board, but with the arrival of Pierre Terblanche to the company, this could soon change. In case you are wondering why they do not use their Griso motor with eight valves, this can only be pushed to 1400cc in the current format!

2010 Aprilia RSV4 R
One of the most notable changes to the Aprilia superbike is the switch from Ohlins suspension to an upside-down Showa fork and a Sachs rear shock.

Aprilia has now revealed the RSV4-R as predicted here. The cheaper version of the RSV4 Factory is a lot cheaper (approx $3,000) thanks mainly to lower spec suspension, but it still keeps the same state of tune from the 180 hp motor. Changes also include losing the carbon fiber panels which add to a slight increase in weight, but for many this will not be much of an issue.

While it is good news for some, those eagerly awaiting the new V4 Tuono (based on the above) will have to wait a little longer. Apparently, while this was due to break cover at the forthcoming Milan show it was put on the back boiler while the above RSV4-R was finished and will not appear until 2010

MV Agusta has announced its 2010 models, the first under Harley-Davidson ownership. The Brutale a 990R and 1090R replace the current 989R and 1078R and the factory claim the bikes are 85% new. They come with traction control and two-stage adjustable engine mapping and are claimed to be lighter and more comfortable than the present bikes. While they have been open about these models they have not made any comment about claims in the Italian bike press that a three-cylinder MV has been photographed out testing.

2010 MV Agusta Brutale 990
The MV Agusta may not be a radical change visually, the Brutale still boasts many changes for 2010.

Although heavily disguised, it is thought that this Triple could be a machine to cash in on the success of the British Triumph 675. If they are right this would truly be the first really brand new bike under HD management, unlike the variants above. 

Moto Morini are in the final stages of testing the new Granpaso which will make it more road orientated and able to compete with the new Ducati Multistrada (see above). New cast alloy wheels and Sportbike-type forks, along with four-piston Brembo’s give it a more sporty feel and twin exhausts complete the look according to the pictures in an Italian magazine. Expect to see it launched at Milan in November! 

Piaggio has announced that its Mp3 Hybrid scooter will be in the Italian dealerships by the time you read this. They also claim that by the end of the year it will be in most other European countries and will ‘revolutionize urban mobility’.

The concept surfaced two years ago  but now its a reality as Piaggio introduces its MP3 Hybrid scooter - a gas electric hybrid coming to the US in 2010.
Earlier this year, Piaggio America’s CEO Paolo Timoni announced the hybrid MP3 would be available in the US by the first quarter of 2010.

It is the first hybrid scooter and combines a very environmentally-friendly 125cc internal combustion engine with a zero emission electric motor. Piaggio also claim a first in that it uses lithium-ion batteries that can be charged from the mains. A novel but useful feature is that the electric motor gives the three-wheeler a reverse mode – useful for parking.

A handlebar switch allows the rider to switch between four modes, two hybrid and two full electric. Regenerative braking is also employed to prolong battery charge and mileage. The battery pack and all the associated electronics is located under the seat, which is claimed still leaves room for a crash helmet to be stowed!

If the Italian giant’s claims are to be believed, they have stolen a large lead on all other manufacturers, with only Peugeot intending to launch a hybrid in 2010 and the Japanese currently leaving it until 2011.

We mentioned some time ago that BMW were to build a new HQ for Husqvarna based on their existing base at Varese. Well late September saw the opening of the new HQ by Hendrik Von Kuenheim, President of BMW Motorrad, and Rainer Thoma, President and Managing Director of Husqvarna Motorcycles. Invited to the opening apart from local dignitaries were many of the workers.

Husqvarna HQ
The three-tier Development and Operations Center offers 470,000 square feet.

The new headquarters has been built to allow for foreseen growth and expansion and uses all modern building techniques such as solar panels to keep the carbon foot print as low as possible. MD Thoma explained that, “the new Headquarters and its organization have been planned to facilitate the development of the product and to integrate all the production units involved in the creation process of the entire Husqvarna Motorcycles range in an optimal manner”

He went onto say that, “the production capacity of the plant can, with only minor further changes, arrive at a quota of 40,000 motorcycles a year,” Brave words in the current financial climate unless he knows something about their new model range we do not!

Italian figures show an encouraging fall of only 2.4% over the first six months of this year compared to last year. Scooters rose 8.4% while motorcycles fell 21% and mopeds (under 50cc) also fell a whopping 24%. Looked at as a whole though, analysts were expecting far worse and some categories actually showed encouraging rises.


We have previously reported on the dire state of the Spanish Powered Two Wheeler (PTW) market, which has dropped even further with a loss of 50%. Now the Spanish government has finally listened to the trade organization ANESDOR and announced a package of incentives and discounts for manufacturers in line with those offered to the car market.

United Kingdom

Norton Motorcycles
Norton continues to move forward in getting production up to healthy numbers under the guidance of Stuart Garner.

Norton continues to move towards becoming a viable manufacturer again under the stewardship of Stuart Garner who recently set an unofficial speed record (173 mph) for a rotary engine bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Menard Competition Technologies who are well known in the F1 car world, has just signed a deal to produce 500 engines a year for Norton at their Oxfordshire factory, these then being shipped to the Norton factory at Donington Park race track for assembly into the chassis. Norton themselves have just employed Peter Williams one of their most brilliant riders (F750 TT winner) and development engineers from the seventies to help develop new bikes.

In the meantime Norton just announced it will produce a café racer variant of their new 961 SE that will be on display at the November British bike show at the NEC Birmingham.

2009 KTM 990 Super Duke R
The government could be getting involved with the KTM Super Duke brake issue if KTM is found lacking you can expect a recall.

We mentioned earlier this year that KTM Super Dukes were having brake problems in the UK resulting in rider being thrown from their machines. KTM issued instructions for cleaning and drying brakes on bikes that were used in bad weather and suffered from road salt that caused the pads to swell in the calipers. However, the government body The Vehicle and Operator Standards Agency (VOSA) is now looking into the matter after more complaints. If KTM are found lacking, they can force the company to issue a recall and replace defective parts with new or modified items.

Rest of the World


China is all set to run a major motorcycle, scooter and trade fair in Canton, southern China next year thanks to an agreement signed with EICMA the organizers of the Italian trade show at Milan each year. The company already co-host the successful Singapore show we have reported on here, but expects the new show to become the biggest on the Asian continent. The clame is based on the realistic prediction that China will see 32 million PTW’s by 2010 with interest in them growing just as fast!


Like many other markets, the Indonesian PTW market has suffered and has shrunk by 17% in the first six months of this year. However, that still equates to 2.54 million units! Analysts in the country predict a rise for the second half thanks to cuts in the bank’s lending rates!

Honda EV-Cub Tokyo Motor Show concept
With the Tokyo Motor Show comming up quickly you can expect to see some new and interesting concepts, like the electric Honda Cub, leading up to the show.


The 41st Tokyo Motor Show will take place over a 13-day period at the end of October and will see the launch of seven new motorcycles, according to their press release. No details or clues as to what are being given, but it is not surprising given the lack of European shows this year. It also states that the ‘Big Four’ will be providing bikes for test rides along with Harley-Davidson.

No real surprise that official trade figures from the Japanese trade body show that there was a fall of 39.25% for the first six months of this year compared to last year in the domestic market. This is the third year in a row they have fallen. Suzuki posted the biggest fall (51.3%) followed by Yamaha (39.2%), Kawasaki (33%) with Honda showing a drop of only 29.6%.


Piaggio has opened its first plant in Vietnam in an effort to take a slice of one of the biggest scooter markets in the world. The $30 million factory in Vinh Phuc near Hanoi is expected to produce 50,000 Vespa scooters a year for sale into its home market.

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