With Vectrix filing for bankruptcy, Buell
closing shop, Moto Morini limiting
production and MV up for sale it was a
turbulent year for motorcycle
By the time you read this it will be 2010 and hopefully a new year that see things improve all round, especially in the motorcycles sector, which is struggling big time. Latest figures show a 25% drop in European sales in 2009 compared to 2008. And with 150,000 people depending on the motorcycle industry to earn a living, it is indeed a gloomy time.
Last year we carried the news that three European brands either went bankrupt or moved into liquidation (Morini) and of course MV is once again up for sale. Add in the demise of Buell and Vectrix on a global basis, plus Harley’s financial situation, and it is worse, with recent figures suggesting that Japan is now producing fewer bikes than they did 50 years ago!
You will see in this latest gathering of news and rumors new ‘green’ UK legislation coming into force that, while not directly aimed at the PTW market, will impact on it with undoubted price rises that take it into account. Ironically PTW’s are one of the greenest forms of transport on the planet.
On the plus side there is talk of a new European-wide standard for roadside crash barriers which will take into account motorcyclists’ safety which could be with us by the middle of 2010. The new standard will include an impact test for motorcycles, joining the existing car test and the barriers will need an additional lower guardrail to help stop riders hitting the solid upright supporting posts, which tend to cause most of the current injuries.
You will also see the odd new bike mentioned to give us something to look forward to after a year of understandably few new models breaking cover. So let’s be positive and make use of every good day’s riding and wear our bikes out. Then we can justify buying new ones, so the manufacturers will release some of the models they are keeping back at present to tempt us to part with our cash.
KTM links their loss last year in part due to costs from their X-Bow venture in the automobile world.
KTM has recorded an 81.4 million euro loss for the last financial year with part of the loss (nearly a third) being linked to the tooling costs for the X-Bow car they produced. However, the management are putting on a brave face for the forthcoming year and predicting a rise in sales, citing the fact that as a small company it is able to adapt far more easily than larger companies in all areas to help cut costs. The new 125cc models produced in India with partner Bajaj, that we have mentioned here many times before, are expected to help lead the revival.
An all-new race circuit in Mettet, 50 miles south of Brussels, is close to completion and has mainly been financed by the local bike club. The 1.4-mile counter-clockwise circuit varies in elevation and even has a drop of 1:3 similar to the famous Laguna Corkscrew. There are seven left- and five right-hand corners with plenty of run-off areas on the track, which has taken 12 years to bring to fruition. Permission has already been granted for seven weekends of racing a year.
The Ex-Works ISDT 1953 BMW 594cc R67/2 is just one of the many rare pieces in the Willy Neutkens BMW collection. This piece of history was secured by the BMW Museum for 26,000 Euros.
The move to invest in classic motorcycles instead of the more traditional banking options continues unabated if the recent Bonham’s auction at the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany is anything to go by. The sale of more than 90 BMWs attracted at least 320 bidders and sold for more than a million euros, but the bikes did not come from BMW, despite the location. In fact it came from one of its dealer’s private collection. German Willy Neutkens’ collection sale was one of the largest in history and included a 1924 BMW 493cc R32. This unique machine alone attracted a bidding battle from three continents, resulting in a bill for its new owner of 109,250 Euros almost triple its original estimate.
The race to capture sales continues using modern technology. German motorcycle tire manufacturer Metzeler has introduced a new mobile website for web capable mobile phones, which offers quick access to their product range, local sales points and even product information. Metzeler’s new mobile site can be found at (http://m.metzelermoto.com)
The arrangement will give VW access to
Suzuki’s small car and motorcycle
technology while Suzuki will benefit from
Volkswagen’s engineering advancements
in hybrids and electrics.
PR is a strange thing! Last month we mentioned that Suzuki was vigorously denying any actual, or potential, link-up with German car giant Volkswagen. A month later an announcement appears that the two have “reached a common understanding to establish a close long-term strategic partnership” and a framework agreement has been signed to that effect.
Given the desire of VW’s boss, 72-year-old Dr Ferdinand Pech to own a motorcycle company, this could be seen as a halfway step, but it is anticipated that both companies will ‘establish a cooperative relationship while respecting each other’s independence’. Under the terms of the agreement, that is yet to be ratified, Volkswagen will purchase 19.9% of Suzuki’s issued shares and then the Japanese company will re-invest half of this in VW shares!
Could this be Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta’s new middleweight Sportbike?
Despite the fact no buyer has come forward or been confirmed, it seems business as usual at MV as spy shots have appeared of the new 600cc machine being tested at the Almeria race track in Spain. As well as the usual quality suspension and braking items, the picture clearly shows a single-sided swing or mono-arm at the rear. Although MV have admitted has admitted it will launch an entry-level 600cc in 2010, it has not confirmed the engine configuration. However, the French press have pictures of a three-cylinder head claimed to have been taken in the MV factory this year!
Despite a posting in the internet stating that Moto Morini had ceased production totally, the company, which is currently in voluntary liquidation, has issued strong denial to the press. It would seem that they are only producing to order, while clearing a backlog, but they are still trading and actually only closed for an Italian public holiday. The release expressed optimism in their continued search for a new investor!
This new invested money will hopefully bring the newly revealed platform dubbed the Moto Guzzi V12 to market. (Moto Guzzi V12 STRADA version shown above)
Moto-Guzzi confirmed it has been given ten million Euro by parent company Piaggio, enabling them to bring at least one of the prototypes they debuted at the recent Milan Show to production. The two concept machines from the Mandello factory wowed the crowds, starved of new models, by their striking appearance.
Italian factory CRP Racing has announced it is producing an electric motorcycle for teams who want to participate in the new TTXGP 2010 series. This has been billed as the world’s first zero carbon, clean emission motorsport event, which will see races taking place in the UK, North America and Italy. CRP claim the eCRP 1.0, is a pure racing bike, easy to handle and has been developed using ‘their extensive knowledge and experience in motorsport and state-of-the-art technologies’.
Derbi has jumped in to the electric motorcycle game with their GPR EV. Will they race it this year in an electric racing series?
Spanish manufacturer Derbi based in Barcelona and best known for their small capacity machines, is apparently close to unveiling an electric race bike. Sources suggest it is based on its GPR50 learner sport bike and will be called the GPR EV. The same sources suggest the bike remains almost identical except the two-stroke motor has been replaced with an electric motor and some of the legal niceties have been removed. The prototype has been seen practicing at a local track fuelling rumors it could be one of the first ‘proper’ factory entries into the proposed electric race series.
The FIM is the governing body of motorcycle sport in the world. This historic body based near to Geneva has just launched its first ever official book called Trial 2009. As the title suggests, this limited edition publication covers all the rounds of the 2009 SPEA FIM Indoor Trial World Championship, the 2009 SPEA FIM Trial World Championship plus the prestigious Trial des Nations team event. Two of the world’s best snappers, Ray Archer and Eric Kitchen, have provided the super quality images that are splashed across all 144 pages in the oversized A4 book, which also takes a look behind the scenes, as well as showing all the best of the action.
With a new year comes new legislation and laws coming in to effect with one aiming to make motorcycle tires friendlier for the environment.
Two new pieces of legislation come into force for the new decade that will affect the motorcycle industry. From January 2010, all new motorcycle tires sold in the UK have to be made with clean, eco-friendly oil, which features low PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). This is due to the concerns about the level of pollutants previously discharged into the environment throughout the life of a tire.
As a result of this historic British tire manufacturer Avon Tyres, which have been in business since 1885 and making motorcycle tires since 1911, has announced it will be “utilizing ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘clean oil’ in all its tires from this year” (2010). The firm claims it has already been doing this for some time. As well as being better for the environment; the change has not affected many of their products, and has actually increased the grip of some tires.
Next up is new legislation, designed to ensure that all waste industrial and automotive batteries are recycled in the future, this also coming into effect on January 1st, 2010. In a nutshell, this means ‘producers of industrial and automotive batteries will be required to arrange the collection, treatment and recycling of such batteries, free of charge, if requested by business end-users and final holders’. No doubt that potential cost will be built into the purchase price!
While Buell closed its doors late last year its making an impact on motorcycle sales in the UK with deals buyers can’t pass up as dealer clear their stock.
Despite an overall fall of 24.4% in UK sales in November compared to 2008, sales of naked bikes have again risen. The market statistics, released by the Motor Cycle Industry Association, the governing body showed the number of bikes registered totaled 5680, compared with 7517 a year ago. Despite the declining weather conditions, large-capacity machines performed strongly, with Buell coming out on top. (This is due to many dealers selling them off at rock bottom prices after the closure was announced!) Yamaha was the biggest-selling manufacturer.
The UK International Motorcycle Show, one of only two to run in Europe, closed in early December with a final total of 110,974 visitors over the ten-day period. This is a drop of 17% against last year’s figures and reflects the general drop of 20% in overall registration figures.
Triumph gives its Thruxton the special edition treatment for 2010 with powder-coated red frame and white bodywork.
Triumph is set to introduce a special edition of its café racer-styled Thruxton for 2010, giving a new look to the bike. The name Thruxton comes from the British racetrack where Triumph successfully raced in the 1960s and the Special Edition gets a red frame and Crystal White bodywork with red stripe. A color-matched, factory-fitted fly screen and blacked out engine cases complete the changes, which will come at a premium price compared to the standard machine.
Well-known Triumph riding legend and Triumph specialist Norman Hyde in conjunction with Harris Performance have finished testing the Hyde Harrier Jubilee, which has been created to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the original Hyde Harrier and also the 50th anniversary of the Triumph Bonneville itself. It is the result of a two-year project and kits are now available to transform a modern Triumph Bonneville into a Cafe Racer. A Triumph Bonneville (2000 onwards pre-EFI) is required as a donor vehicle, plus the conversion kit which consists of a replacement frame and swingarm, fuel tank, seat unit, rearset footrests, rear mudguard and prop stand, plus other necessary fittings. It also costs £3995 + VAT on top of your donor machine.
The confirmed race program for the 2010 Isle of Man TT Races has now been published and remains the same as the 2009 event, although the Billown TT Races will no longer form part of the main TT Race program. Qualifying week starts with a Free Practice session on Saturday, May 29th, and runs until Friday, June 4th. Race Week proper begins with the Superbike and first Sidecar Race on Saturday, June 5th. Monday, June 7th will see the Superstock and first Supersport Race, the second Supersport and Sidecar Races following on the Wednesday June 9th. The racing culminates with the Senior TT on Friday, June 11th. There is also likely to be another zero carbon emissions race as per 2009 on the Wednesday and there will be the Suzuki 50th Anniversary Lap of Honour and the TT Classic Parade on the morning of Senior Race Day.
Rest of the World
The ET-120 and its fuel efficiency has put EKO vehicles in the spotlight. Are these hybrids the more immediate future for motorcycles?
Indian manufacturer Eko Vehicles claims it will produce a hybrid electric/petrol capable of 280mpg for 2010. Given that an Anglo-Indian machine won the inaugural TT race in 2009, this may well be a realistic claim. The ET-120 Hybrid has a petrol-powered engine backed up by a battery pack that will give a 20-mile range solely on electric power, but it is not known if it is intended to sell it outside India.
Happy New Year and Stay Safe, from the other side of the pond!