Euro Gossip June 2010

June 3, 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.

With a new party in office in the UK  the MCIA wastes no time in urging new motorcycle legislation and fixes to existing policies.
With a new party in office in the UK, the MCIA wastes no time in urging new motorcycle legislation and fixes to existing policies.

With the recent UK government elections now just another chapter in the political history books, the UK Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) is now calling on the new Government to urgently address the current problems with motorcycle licensing and to start taking motorcycling seriously in all existing and new Government policies.

“Despite the implementation of a ‘motorcycle strategy’ by the previous Government little has been done to visibly ‘mainstream’ motorcycling in headline transport and business policy. The previous administration did not seize the opportunity to maximize biking’s potential for society.” So says the MCIA.

In a recent submission, they point out that an economic survey found motorcycle support services, that includes leasing, publishing, insurance, couriers and training, contributes £940 million in Gross Added Value to the UK economy. An analysis of the hire and leasing sector suggests that this sector alone has an annual turnover of around £38 million, just over half of which is estimated to be GVA (£20 million). Another big sector is still the motorcycle courier industry which despite the Internet, still has an annual turnover of almost £800 million, with added value of over half of that at £480 million providing employment for 20,000 people. It is also estimated to provide a tax contribution of almost £200 million and so it goes on.

The MCIA also highlighted once again the 2009 introduction of the new European motorcycle test which, as we have repeatedly reported here, has been little short of a disaster. The Parliamentary Transport Select Committee was highly critical of the Driving Standard Agency’s (DSA) handling of the new test and once again the MCIA is calling for the new Ministers to work with industry to sort the situation out ASAP.

At the same time as they were making this approach to government, news emerged that a motorcycle test site was closed for a week after a learner crashed through a fence during a practice session, suffering serious injuries. No official releases have been made about this incident, but it is thought that the rider was a young woman in Nottingham, practicing maneuvers for the so-called Module One test.

James Toseland proved popular at the opening press conference and rider autograph session.
James Toseland brings home a lot of bacon, the English rider the only motorcyclist on a Sunday Times Top 100 UK Sports rich list.

A large number of the crashes that have occurred (now thought to be hundreds in the last year) have happened during this part of the test and some injuries have been life altering. This incident will of course increase the pressure to get this and impending legislation from Europe in 2013 thrown out, or modified.

Finally before moving onto news from individual countries perhaps the MCIA should employ two-time World Superbike champion James Toseland to help promote motorcycles as providing a source of earning potential and business opportunities. According to the prestigious Sunday Times rich list, he is currently worth £10 million. He was however the only motorcyclist in the newspaper’s Top 100 UK Sports people rich list, but he was ranked the 16th richest UK sports person under 30 years old. Apparently each world championship moved his earnings up a notch, but it was MotoGP that really increased his earnings from sponsorship payments despite not achieving any podiums!


New cylinder heads are the targeted area with each featuring four larger valves - the intakes are oversized 8.4  to 39mm and the sodium-filled exhaust valves increase by 6.6  to 33mm.
A lot of BMW’s popular adventure bikes will have to make their way to dealerships after a brake recall issued three years ago will require a new fix.

Once again BMW is hitting the headlines thanks to a recall, rather than its stunning progress in the sportbike market with new models. It has just announced a recall of 122,000 bikes worldwide over brake problems saying there is a risk of brakes leaking on boxer-engined models.

Models affected are the R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure, R1200R, R1200RT, R1200ST and K1200GT.
The recall affects bikes built since August 2006 and according to the factory brake leaks can result from vibration on the above models. The Bavarian firm has said : “We already had one technical service campaign three years ago, when we brought in new brake hoses for the respective bikes, but over time we realized that the outcome by using these new brake lines was not as good as we expected, so we developed a new solution.”

Meanwhile, BMW has officially denied the existence of a 600cc bike, or even the development of one based on the all conquering S1000RR despite news emerging that BMW actually owns the internet domain name The factory claims this was done purely to protect the rights to the name because someone else was trying to use it in Germany!

An official statement from BMW in Germany read: “Developing a 600 supersport bike is more or less as expensive as a 1000cc superbike; the production costs aren’t very much lower, but the retail price would be.” It goes on to state that: “Therefore, trying to recoup development cost for such a project would be much more difficult. Now BMW already has developed a successful superbike there are other market sectors for us to concentrate on that offer a better return on investment.”

Whether or not you opt for the Special Edition or an upgraded package on either model  both machines are phenomenal in their performance. Theyre the same old lovable Adventure Touring bikes weve come to expect from the propeller gang.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of BMW’s R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure – two bikes that have dominated a niche and carried the weight of BMW Motorcycles on their broad backs.

Protesting too much? We shall just have to wait and see!

On a BMW good news front, amazingly it was way back in the autumn of 1980, that BMW unveiled the R 80 G/S. Nobody could have known then that it was a bike that was to pioneer the Adventure Motorcycling machine. Now to celebrate 30 years of the iconic ‘Gelande-Strasse’ (on/off-road) range, BMW has announced a “30 Years GS” special edition version for the BMW R1200GS, the R1200GS Adventure, the F800GS and the F650GS. The special edition “30 Years GS” models will be painted in BMW Motorsport colors of the eighties. As well as the retro color scheme, each “30 Years GS” model has a range of additional features and equipment above standard specification. 

Husqvarna has just announced two new 125cc four-stroke models, the TE125 and SMS4. Both are aimed at young riders with the TE 125 aimed at those that want an off-road look, while the SMS4 is for those who want the Supermoto style. Styling it is claimed comes directly from the works bikes used in world championship competition by the official Husqvarna team.
2011 Husqvarna SM4S
Husqvarna will launch two newbie-friendly bikes to its 125cc line-up with the  2011 SM4S and TE 125  pictured .
Husqvarna will launch two newbie-friendly
bikes to its 125cc line-up with the
2011 SM4S (top) and TE 125 (bottom).

Both machines use a mono-beam in Cr-Mo steel chassis with a steel circular cross section and rear seat rail. The engine in both is a single-cylinder, four-valve, four-stroke, with an actual capacity of 124.45cc, complete with a six-speed gearbox and liquid cooling. Electric start is standard. Maximum power is 11KW (15 hp) making them learner legal for the European markets like the UK.

The weight of the two new models has been kept as low as possible, with both bikes having a dry weight of just 257lbs. The colors of the bikes are racing red for the TE and white for the SMS4 and will apparently be available to official dealers in late June.

German accessories and customizing specialists LSL has produced their own limited version of the Triumph Bonneville called ‘Tridays’ in conjunction with the annual ‘Tridays’ three-day Triumph motorcycle festival in Neukirchen, Austria. Held this year from June 25-27 the town even uses the English version of its name – Newchurch for the period, such is the British fervor.

Based on the latest 2010 Bonneville, it costs 12,950 Euros, but the purchaser gets a trip to the event included in the price, as well as a commemorative T-shirt. The 20 bikes get totally reworked, fitted with a Remus exhaust and YSS shocks to name just a few of the changes that will all be to LSL’s acknowledged high standard.


Tricolors adorn Biaggis 2010 Aprilia.
If you are a fan of Biaggi and have deep pockets, Aprilia will be releasing a nearly identical Biaggi World Superbike replica with a hefty $50,000 price tag.

Inside sources suggest that Aprilia will launch two new adventure bikes on the GS Adventure theme at the Milan bike show (EICMA) later this year. It is thought that the 750 Shiver motor will be used for the smaller machine and a new 1200 V-Twin motor will power the bigger machine. No names or any other details have emerged.

However, expect a RSV4 Biaggi replica costing around $50,000 to be available soon. It will be as close as possible to the bike that ‘Roman Emperor’ rides in WSB. Weight will be pared to 385lbs, a digital dashboard, race spec Ohlin’s front and rear, along with race spec brakes. Advanced electronics will include traction control, braking adjustment, a quick-shifter, the list goes on. All will be adjustable by an Aprilia Palm computer that will be part of the deal!

Launched at Assen during the fourth stage of the World Superbike Championship, Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli has introduced the first motorcycle tire you can customize with your own initials, or name, individual words, whole messages, images and even logos. These can then be applied to the tires’ sidewalls with special labels, which are stuck to the sidewalls of the new Diablo Rosso Corsa tires.

Apparently the rider creates six unique tire labels by accessing the dedicated Pirelli site: which has logos, banners and letters in different colors. It is then a case of designing your own labels and they are then sent to your home with all the glues needed to attach them to the tires. 

Bimota S.p.A continues its march forward to convince buyers it is once again a serious player. It has set up a UK-based operation with test bikes available, although they will arrange for consumers wishing to test ride any one of the new Bimota range to do so from the manufacturer’s factory based in Rimini, Italy.

It will be up to the customer to initially fund the cost of the flight and hotel, but if that test is converted to a sale with an order placed with the deposit while still at the factory, the cost of flight and hotel will be refunded against the purchase price of the machine.

United Kingdom

2011 Triumph Sprint GT
Triumph gives the Sprint GT a new look with an updated fairing and repositioned exhaust.

We have mentioned before the fact that free bike parking has been scrapped in the capital city London, leading to mass protests and a legal challenge. Weekly protests have been stepped up causing chaos to rush hour traffic and now that is to be taken a stage further with thousands of motorcyclists set to lap London’s notorious 121-mile M25 ring road in a protest ride on the 19th June. Organized by the campaign group ‘No to the Bike Parking Tax’, it is hoped the ride will bring the issue to a wider audience as well as help raise money for the court battle. The group fears free motorcycle parking will be scrapped nationally if the challenge is unsuccessful.

As we predicted earlier, five years after the introduction of the 1050cc Sprint ST sport-tourer, the Triumph Sprint GT () has been launched. Intended to “improve the Sprint ST’s practicality without transcending into pure tourer territory” it is already achieving critical acclaim in the launch tests.

The GT features newly-styled reflector headlights and cockpit area with a useful multi-function computer. At the rear the ST’s underseat exhaust has been replaced by a side-mounted triangular system to free up underseat storage space. A new seat sits the pillion lower than on the Sprint ST and there is a built-in luggage rack with grab handles as standard.

Triumphs 20th anniversary festival line-up continues to grow with the addition of the headliner band The Stranglers.
Triumph’s 20th anniversary festival line-up continues to grow with the addition of the headliner band The Stranglers.

A longer wheelbase, new front and rear suspension along with revised brakes featuring lighter discs, rigidly mounted are just some of the other changes. Others include engine modifications lifting peak power by 5 hp to 130 hp (@9,200rpm) over the Sprint ST. It has also been tuned for even stronger mid-range performance.

Classic British rock band The Stranglers have been confirmed as the musical headliners at Triumph LIVE, a day-long festival for Triumph customers and motorcycle enthusiasts. The event takes place on September 18th at Mallory Park race circuit in Leicestershire, not far from the factory, to celebrate the new company’s 20 years of success.

The annual UK Dirt Bike Show is looking to expand its horizons this year and has changed its name to the International Dirt Bike Show. Its aim is to attract more overseas exhibitors and visitors from Europe, the USA and beyond, but will remain at the Stoneleigh Park Exhibition Centre, near Coventry. It will run from November 4-7 2010 and currently remains the only major off-road show in Europe.

It could be good news for all bikers and car drivers, after car driver Andrew Fowler embarked on a landmark legal case to prove the readings from Gatso speed cameras could be wrong in sub-zero temperatures. During the recent extreme cold weather the electrical engineer was photographed allegedly doing 41mph in a 30mph, but he was sure his speedometer was reading 30mph. He believes at low temperatures timing circuitry slows down, resulting in the timing slowing and the machine thinking you are going faster than you actually are.

If Fowler wins it will open the floodgates to appeals from all sectors of the motoring public caught speeding during sub –zero temperatures and could prove very costly to the government in refunds and administration costs!

British Grand Prix Fans
Racing could return to the famous Donington Park soon, as a new group has taken on the task of upgrading the track and bring everything up to code.

Pictures and news continues to pour out of the new Norton concern based at Donington Park race track regarding the £15,995, 961 Commando SE. With over 20 having already been delivered to customers from the 30 strong work-force, just over 18months after the company was rescued by Stuart Garner, the knockers are having to eat their words . Work is apparently already underway on the next generation machines and the firm is already recruiting additional design, engineering and assembly personnel to make this happen.

Bike and car racing could resume at the historic Donington Park as early as this year after an agreement was reached to lease the blighted circuit to the Adroit group. The 25-year lease allows plenty of time for the group to bring the circuit “back up to a world class standard,” according to MD David Broome.

“The entire site needs attention whilst much of it will require a total overhaul from the track itself to the medical centre, hospitality suites, phone, radio and PA systems, IT systems, CCTV and general ground work” he continued. “£1.5-2m has already been earmarked to be spent on the track by the year’s end.”

The tack lost its license after attempts to bring it up to modern standards ran out of money, leaving Silverstone to host all UK rounds of MotoGP and World Superbike events.

Yamaha is starting to show signs of recovery from the economic slump as it posts a 7.51 billion yen profit for Q1 of 2010.
Yamaha is starting to show signs of recovery from the economic slump as it posts a 7.51 billion yen profit for Q1 of 2010.

Despite a tough time for sales in the UK one brand seems to be doing well at the bottom end of the market. Kymco’s sales have accelerated, if you will pardon the pun, in every respect, as it reports healthy growth in its 50cc and 125cc scooters and motorcycles. Compared to April last year the firm states sales are up by more than 16% on the same period last year, when other major brands are struggling showing maybe price is key at present!

Rest of the World


Good news for a change from at least one of the Big Four with Yamaha Motor posting a net profit of 7.51 billion yen for the first quarter of this year to March, compared to a 15.76 billion yen loss for the same period last year. It puts this down to increased sales in Asia and states sales in Europe and the US still remain weak and remain pessimistic about overall yearly sales figures.

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