Euro Gossip February 2010

February 8, 2010
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.

2010 KTM 125 Race Version Concept
2010 KTM 125 Stunt Version Concept
The KTM Race and Stunt 125 concepts
revealed at Milan last year.

The weather over here in Europe for the past month has been pretty horrendous for motorcycling. Not only in terms of lack of riding, but it has meant that the motorcycle industry news has been pretty quiet, with very little happening in the way of leaks or sightings. Even the traditional warmer European circuits have seen little in the way of prototype testing taking place.

Certainly given the economic climate this has not helped the road to recovery, but as you will see from this month’s offering, there are a still a few glimmers of hope for a better year to come. At the risk of being accused of patriotic flag waving, this is highlighted by Triumph’s recently released figures showing their increase in market share!


Pictures are now leaking out from KTM of the new 125’s that are being built in India by its partner Bajaj. The four-stroke ‘Stunt’ looks almost identical to the concept model seen at the Milan show last November along with the ‘Race’ model. Sources claim the bike is undergoing final endurance testing and will be shown in final form at the end of this year for production in 2011 with the Race following soon after.


Bosch continues to be on the leading edge of motorcycle safety recieving an award from the ADAC.

German automotive component supplier Bosch has been awarded a prestigious ‘Gelber Engel’ (yellow angel) award, by the massive German ADAC motoring organization. The award is in recognition of the part that Bosch’s new motorcycle ABS is playing in motorcycle safety.

Bosch has actually been manufacturing brake control systems for motorcycles since 1994, but while all of the previous systems have been based on passenger car technology its new ‘Generation 9’ has been developed specifically for motorcycles at the Bosch competence center in Japan. Another big plus with the new system is that it is based on a modular design, allowing various levels of sophistication to be selected from a base system with basic functions, to a high-performance version. In the simplest version it weighs just 0.7 kilograms (1.54 lbs) and is half the size and weight of the previous Bosch units. Now in production, it is hoped that it will lead to more motorcycles being fitted with what many believe is a serious life saving aid.

Currently figures show only ten percent of new motorcycles manufactured in Europe are equipped with ABS, while taken on a worldwide basis, the figure drops to just one percent. In the passenger car market 80% have ABS as standard, but for the same distance traveled, the risk of being involved in a fatal collision for a motorcyclist is twenty times greater than a car driver in Europe. Various studies throughout the world, including the USA, show the risk of being killed is considerably reduced if ABS is fitted.

2009 BMW K1300R
BMW’s 1 millionth ABS equipped motorcycle rolled off the assembly line, a BMW K1300R.

The foregoing is of course something that BMW Motorcycles would agree with, having just announced it has just produced its millionth motorcycle equipped with its integral ABS system. The K1300R left the Berlin Spandau factory to join the other machines on the road that got the integral system in the last 21 years of production. Currently 90% of all BMW machines are now supplied with ABS and apart from the Enduro 450X, every machine is either fitted as standard or has the ABS as an optional extra. 

Metzeler tires have now released the full specification of its new tire, the Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact, which they claim will redefine the Supersport tire market. According to the release, it has a five zoned belt, special compounds, along with a new innovative tread design and built in lean angle indicator. It has five well-defined zones over the entire contour of the tire, to allow it to achieve the best grip for each lean angle, along with giving high stability and constant feedback to the rider, who gets a claimed 8% increase in the tire footprint at all angles of lean.

Tread wear is increased along with dry and wet weather grip thanks to new Greek letter shaped Pi’ tread pattern. On the shoulder are five lean area markings to enable the rider to see exactly what areas of the tire they are using, set at angles of approximately 25°, 30°, 35°, 40° and 45°. A new rubber compound completes the high specification tire which will come in 17-inch rim sizing enabling it to fit most current sportbikes

Schuberth C3 SRC
Schuberth has unveiled their SRC device for their line of helmets combining blue-tooth to your phone, music or GPS. Built in to a neck roll it should be an easy swap to ride with everything at your reach.

Schuberth, producer of some of the quietest helmets in the world, has recently introduced a new communication system for the C3 helmet. Combining multiple device blue-tooth connectivity to enable phone, music or sat nav to be heard either via blue-tooth or cable along with bike to bike communication, it is state of the art. But where it differs from similar systems is that it’s built into a neck roll which you simply exchange for the existing one, so there is no compromise to the helmets integrity!

Historic bike manufacturer Sachs, which produced its first bike in 1904, having been founded in 1886, has recently unveiled a new ‘RS’ version of the popular Speedjet sports scooter. Fitted with a 50cc air-cooled, two-stroke engine that, according to them, now offers both high performance and excellent fuel efficiency while being very green thanks to a catalyzed sports exhaust system.

This is mounted in a tubular steel frame, with telescopic front forks, adjustable monoshock rear and sport profile tires to ensure the bike can handle and live up to its sports tag. To maintain safety along with street credibility, it has wavy disc brakes with hydraulic calipers front and rear. Practicality has not been lost in the name of performance as the substantial underseat storage area remains. For the gadget conscious urban about town rider, there is a dual function 12V socket for charging mobile/MP3/sat nav etc.

4-Stroke superbike engines dont come any more compact than the RSV4Rs 999cc V-Four.
Shortly after the release of the new Aprilia RSV4-R sportbike, there is already a recall for the whole engine! The dealer is contacting all owners, if you haven’t been contacted for your RSV4-R contact your dealer.


Not what anybody wants to do or hear about, but Aprilia is recalling RSV4–R and Factory models for full engine replacements. It would appear that a faulty set of conrods from an external supplier is the cause, with several bikes failing during the press launch for that very reason last year. However, Aprilia is not stating the exact cause, but the recall is voluntary and a spokesperson has said the move is a proactive one as there have been no complaints from customers. 

Bimota has launched the DB8 Superbike with an uprated 1198 Ducati engine complete with a dual seat. Many were expecting a rival for the naked Streetfighter, but Bimota have gone for a machine to attract those who wish to keep domestic harmony by taking their partner out with them. Billed as an entry level machine to the marque, it is expected to cost around $30,000.

Italian PTW registrations rose a massive 25% in November, with scooters alone climbing 36%. Industry analysts are putting this down to the Italian government funded scrappage scheme stimulating growth and putting sales figures on a par with 2008.

During the Milan Show in November (EICMA) police seized apparel and helmets from ten stands after it was found the goods were in breach of international patents and intellectual property rights. Apparently all stallholders were charged with counterfeiting!

The MV F4 retains its slipper clutch.
MV Agusta continues to operate through the search for a new owner but things aren’t looking too good as funds are drying up to pay workers.

Despite the fact that MV Agusta continues to trade while a new owner is sought following Harley-Davidson’s decision to sell the brand, the company is now asking workers to volunteer for redundancy. Managers hope that any job losses will not actually be required if a buyer is found quickly, but as the situation drags on, working capital is getting scarce to fund paychecks.

Italy is all about fashion, so no surprise then that Vyrus famous for their hand-built hub-steered Superbikes have sold the first one to the Italian fashion house Prada. Lorenzo Bertilli the 20-year-old son of boss Miuccia Prada took delivery of the first 987 just before Xmas. Previous purchasers of the exclusive and innovative Italian brand include actor Tom Cruise.


Ossa TR 280
The old school brand Ossa looks to be making a come back with their new Trials bike the Ossa TR 280. Check out the Ossa website for specs and details.

The Spanish manufacturer Ossa started making movie projectors for the home market back in 1924. In the 1960s and ‘70s it came to prominence around the world thanks to its two-wheeled competition machinery. Despite gaining some success on the race track it was trials bikes that took Ossa to victory and brought the brand to most riders’ attention, but it folded in 1982. Now Ossa is back with a new 280cc six-speed trials machine as trick as any on the market, which should be in production by the end of this year.

United Kingdom

Despite the problems of many other manufacturers including all the big Japanese players, Triumph had record sales in the home market last year despite there being a 10% drop in the UK’s large capacity motorcycle market.

Instead of contracting, Triumph increased sales by 26% in 2009, selling 7450 new motorcycles to become the fourth largest big bike brand in the UK, deposing Kawasaki in the ratings. The good news continued right to the end of the year outselling all manufacturers in the month of November and trailing Japanese giant Honda by just one unit in December in the UK marketplace. Worldwide, this trend has been mirrored with Triumph increasing its market share in all major markets in which it operates. In fact, it is currently the world’s fastest growing motorcycle brand bar none!

While the MP3 isnt any where close to Sportbike status you can take mid speed corners with ease.
Riders of the Piaggio Mp3 are drawn by its unique styling and Unique three wheeled design.

One big disadvantage of a single track vehicle generically referred to as a Powered Two Wheeler (PTW) is that it can fall over once the gyroscopic forces acting on it are not sufficient to keep it upright. Alternatively, when the cohesion between the tire and road surface is broken, the same thing happens, the rider crashes.

This inherent danger explains why the banking three-wheeled Piaggio MP3 has been selling so well, you can’t fall off it. The two front wheels give the machine the stability and the banking allows it to feel, if not handle, like a conventional PTW. Piaggio has taken the concept on further by increasing the track of the front wheels so it gets classed a Quadracycle and can therefore be ridden/driven on a car license in Europe, thus increasing its sales potential.

4mc Concept
Are four wheels better than three? Nick Shotter believes so with his 4MC. Taking the Piaggio concept one step further.

But, what do you get when you add a fourth wheel? Well according to British engineer Nick Shotter you get a two, three or four – wheeled machine just by adding or subtracting spacers. According to current legislation, if the wheels on the same axle are less than 460mm apart, they are classed as one wheel, over that, and then they are two wheels.

So his prototype 4MC vehicle can be anything you want it to be to appeal to different markets without any real changes, apart from 2mm wheel spacers. This means bodywork and all other running gear would not have to be changed, or the machine’s appearance altered in any way

The London-based engineer has spent 20 years on the project, which he has extensive patents on and has invested over £400,000 (mainly his own money) to get it to its current stage. He now hopes that a major manufacturer will buy the intellectual rights from him and take the development to production levels for sale to the public.

Yamaha Tesseract leaning over.
Yamaha’s Tesseract concept four wheeled leaning machine revealed back in 2007-8.

Yamaha has already shown what the finished machine could look like when it debuted a prototype called the Tesseract at the Tokyo Show in 2007. The machine used similar banking and steering concepts to the 4MC, but to date it has had trouble getting past the patents that Shotter has filed.

Ironically it came about after he went to the Japanese giant for help when working on the engineering prototype, although they insist the similarity is purely co-incidental. There is a tie-up in that the British machine is powered by a Yamaha Majesty scooter engine and uses many parts from the donor machine that Yamaha supplied at a very agreeable price. However, the frame and all the steering and banking concepts are all his own design and tests have already shown the machine to be extremely stable even when sliding under power on a skid pan.

The idea to produce such a machine came to him after being injured in a road traffic crash when working as a London motorcycle courier. Despite the extra wheels, he has specifically designed the 4MC to get its rider through traffic safely, yet as efficiently as a conventional PTW.

Given that the finished machine could be powered by a variety of power-plants, including electric motors, its designer has high hopes for its future on the roads, especially now that machines like the Piaggio have paved the way. Despite some offers from smaller concerns, he is holding out for a major manufacturer to take it on and market it in the same way the three wheelers currently on the market are sold!

Rest of the World


China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition
With the markets growing in China, many manufacturers are increasing presence there by showing their latest offerings at the 8th China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition.

Many motorcycle companies worldwide have joint venture operations with Chinese companies, so it was no surprise to see brands such as Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Piaggio and even Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha and Suzuki exhibited at the 8th China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition.

Held at the Chongging Exhibition Centre, which is the heart of China’s motorcycle manufacturing region, it attracted in excess of 140,000 trade visitors, 333 exhibitors and 27 manufacturers exhibiting over 1000 motorcycles. According to the recently release figures visitors came from over 40 countries.

None of the figures are surprising when you consider that of the 50 million machines sold worldwide, 27 million came from Japan. With 1.3 billion people living in China now demanding more mobility, their motorcycle market and potential sales are still on the increase even if other markets are shrinking!

Mira Motorcycles MT80
Mira Motorcycles is bringing its MT80 to life, with a 250cc not far behind.

New Zealand 

Mira Motorcycles is a new company based in Auckland, New Zealand, with an assembly plant in ChongQing, China. It has now announced it is ready to launch its own range of machines first shown as prototypes two years ago. The water-cooled 80cc two-stroke is available in Motocross and Motard versions and there is a 250cc four-stroke already under development.