Euro Gossip: August 2010

August 10, 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.
While shutting off speed cameras in the UK the Motorcycle industry in Europe has simultaneously reinforced its motorcycle advertising policies.

More good news this month in the UK to go with the warm weather that is encouraging more people to get their bikes out and enjoy the less congested roads during the holiday season. As a result of the massive cost- cutting that is being imposed on local government councils by the new coalition Government in the UK, speed cameras are being turned off. Despite claims that they save lives (despite areas with none having the lowest casualty rate) most of the motoring public have seen them as revenue collectors that have resulted in many drivers losing their jobs due to being disqualified from driving as a result of cameras.

Despite protests by road safety organizations in a cut of 40% for funding road safety, government Road Safety minister Mike Penning said it was “another example of this government delivering on its pledge to end the war on the motorist.” Coincidentally, at the same time these cuts were being announced came the publication of new plans for halving road deaths across the European Union. Figures contained in the European Commission report show that in 2009, the UK was the Member State with the lowest road fatality rate by population – at 38 fatalities per million inhabitants. This figure had fallen by 35 percent from 61 fatalities per million inhabitants in 2001 – also a year in which the UK had the lowest level of road fatality among Member States.

In the publication, called European Road Safety Policy Orientations for 2011-2020, the European Commission outlines seven strategic objectives: improved safety measures for trucks and cars; building safer roads; developing intelligent vehicles; strengthening licensing and training; better enforcement; targeting injuries; and a new focus on motorcyclists.

At the same time as this report was hitting the mailbox, ACEM, the governing body for the Motorcycle Industry in Europe, announced the reinforcement of its advertising policy detailing the commitment of ACEM Members to improve the road safety of motorcycle, scooter and moped riders to back this up. This set of guidelines outlines a common approach to “socially responsible communication,” which will be applied across the 27 Member States of the European Union where ACEM members operate. (ACEM also welcomed the European Commission’s Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020 and the inclusion of motorcyclists amongst its strategic priorities.)

The advertising policy adopted by the European Motorcycle Industry is there to ensure that all promotion and advertisements for motorcycles, scooters and mopeds destined for use on public roads show the vehicle used in a safe and responsible manner, in order to positively influence the attitude of the rider, which they see as central in motorcycle safety.

So, as a result aggressive riding styles and any depiction of unsafe behavior on public roads will be banned from ACEM manufacturers’ PR campaigns. Next to encouraging safe and responsible behavior, these measures apparently also aim at promoting safety enhancing features such as advanced braking systems.

Ironically the announcement was made by Stefan Pierer, ACEM President and CEO of Austrian manufacturer KTM Sport Motorcycles, who are widely regarded as having made one of the most outrageous motorcycle advertising videos ever.


Husqvarna recently released the TE 250  which comes equipped with a new air box  headlight support and 8.5L fuel tank.
Husqvarna recently released the TE 250, which comes equipped with a new air box, headlight support and 8.5L fuel tank.

Troubled French manufacturer Voxan, who had all its assets sold off in April, has seen the brand name acquired by the Monaco- based electric sports and utility car manufacturer Venturi. Apparently some new Voxan models will now appear in 2013 powered by electric motors.


Swedish firm Husqvarna, now owned by BMW, has launched new versions of its TE250, TE310 and TC250 models. The three bikes received new reinforced frames, new hubs, exhaust pipes with heat protectors, waterproof spark plug covers, and crank-cases with steel frame sockets. Each model also received specific changes too. The TC250 is equipped with battery-less fuel injection, new camshaft intake phasing and a new exhaust system ending with an Akrapovic titanium silencer.
The TE250 has been given a new air box, a new headlight support, a new 8.5L fuel tank and new hand guards. It also received a new CDI with two maps selectable from the handlebar (also on the TE310), a new silencer and new suspension settings.
Lastly the TE310 got a brand new engine and changes to reduce the overall dry weight to 106kg.
More details of Aprilia’s RXV1200 Tuareg continue to emerge and it seems as though they are aiming at providing a bike with real off-road capability – hence the 21inch front wheel. Sources suggest that they are looking at the KTM 900 Adventure as a target machine rather than aiming the bike at the more road based bikes of the genre.
The bike will be the first to use the new 1200cc V-Twin motor we mentioned here over a year ago and will feature advanced electronics, including traction control and ABS. It is likely that the bike will break cover at the forthcoming Milan show at the end of the year.

Moto Guzzis Clubman which was seen in last years Milan Show is set to go on sale in October following high public demand.
Moto Guzzi’s Clubman which was seen in last year’s Milan Show is set to go on sale in October following high public demand.

Apparently the Moto Guzzi Clubman seen at last year’s Milan Show as something of a concept, will now go on sale in October due to public demand. The V7 based machine will retain the race number boards and heat wrapped exhaust, and will cost around $1500 more than a standard machine as result of some of the modifications – although the engine will not be tuned, apart from the Arrow exhaust system. Sources also suggest that there could be a new California Cruiser on its way from the Lake Como based factory. Apparently, like the HD Road King it will be offered in a full touring specification and also in a stripped down version without fairings screen or saddlebags.
Ducati has now launched the 848 EVO, replacing the 848, and is the most powerful Supersport bike the firm has ever produced. The factory has extracted more power from the Testastretta engine so it gets a 6 hp boost to 140 hp (103kW), and a torque increase to 72.3lb-ft (98Nm). The motor is mounted in the 848’s 168kg chassis set-up complete with Brembo Monobloc brakes. In addition it has iconic features from the World Championship-winning machines, such as the twin under-seat silencers and single-sided swing-arm to mention just a couple of items.
Meanwhile spy shots are circulating of the Ducati ‘V-Max’ contender, codenamed 0803. They clearly show a V-Rod styled machine that seems to be going so far away from Ducati’s core values it makes you wonder what the thinking is other than profit. No doubt as more information comes out we will find out what the thinking is, as it is rumored the finished item will appear at the Milan Show in November this year.
Rumors still abound about the potential purchasers of the historic MV brand and factory since it has been put up for sale by current owners Harley-Davidson. Currently three private equity funds are in the running to become the new owners according to the Italian press. Also linked is current President Claudio Castiglioni who claims to have secured backing from a major Italian investment bank.

In addition Frederico Minoli, who many regard as having saved Ducati and turned it around into the force it is today, is also rumored to be interested. Rumors suggest his backers are once again TPG, who he worked for when they acquired Ducati in the late ‘90’s.

Moto Guzzis Clubman which was seen in last years Milan Show is set to go on sale in October following high public demand.
MV Agusta has released the Brutale Cannonball which gets an upgraded ECU, valves and cylinder head as well as a new exhaust system.

Despite this uncertainty, MV has launched the new 165bhp Brutale Cannonball which they claim is a “Super Naked”. The new bike gets an extra 21bhp compared to the existing 1090RR thanks to a new ECU, valves and cylinder head, camshafts, and a new exhaust system. The engine work alone adds around $7,000 to the cost, with another $6,000 for the cosmetic changes, but MV claims the bike will be built to order so customers can chose what they do and do not want in the build state. However, with the standard bike being already in the $22,000 bracket, the extras might be a little too much for some given its nakedness.
Another buy-out/takeover is also back in the news as Moto Morini seems destined to become another name in the history books. We reported that Paulo Berlusconi, the brother of the Italian Prime Minister, was likely to become the new owner via the re-born Garelli operation which he heads. According to the Italian press all was going well with a firm application being ready to present to the Italian Bankruptcy court, when the unions failed to turn up for a meeting without explanation. As a result of this and other problems with the workers union, Berlesconi decided to pull out of the deal, describing it all as something of a “TV soap opera.” With the only viable interest now disappearing, it looks as though the union will have no workers to represent.
Figures from Italy now show that the financial incentive for scrapping old vehicles has finished, and the sale of powered two-wheelers is continuing to fall. For the first five months of this year scooter sales have fallen 16% and motorcycles have fallen 1.9%.
The Piaggio Group have approved a three-year plan to build a new factory to produce up to 150,00 two-wheeled units a year in addition to its already existing links to three-wheeled manufacturing. It is expected the Italian giant will invest around £25 million in its efforts to get a bigger share of the increasing Indian market having seen the Japanese increase their operations there.

We recently mentioned that the Spanish brand Ossa has come back to life. The historic marque, which sprang to fame mostly for its range of trials bikes ridden by the likes of Brit Mick Andrews in the 1970s, will soon be showing its new TR280i in a demonstration by former world championship trials rider Marc Colomer, who helped develop the machine. It is the company’s first new machine in 25 years and they claim the sleek-looking machine is the lightest in the world. The 64.5kg bike features a 272cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine with a rearwards canted cylinder and an assortment of other radical technologies. Apparently full production will begin in September, with the entire 1250-bike initial run being sold into dealers around the world. It is intended a second batch of 2500 will follow next year, by which time a newly-developed upside-down fork will be an option.
The original Ossa concern was founded in 1924, although it didn’t start making motorcycles until 1940. In the 1960s and ‘70s, its green and white bikes competed alongside other great Spanish trials machines, such as Bootlace and Montesa until sales began to drop off. Despite a merger with Bultaco in 1979, the Ossa factory was closed down in 1982. The new Ossa concern is now headed by CEO Joan Gurt and is based in Girona.

Although it has been tightly-lipped  recent shots from Spain possibly reveal a new mid-sized Triumph model based off the Daytona 675.
Although it has been tightly-lipped, recent shots from Spain possibly reveal a new mid-sized Triumph model based off the Daytona 675.

United Kingdom

Recent spy shots from Spain have confirmed earlier rumors of two new Triumph mid-sized adventure bikes based on the Daytona 675. They have shown it to have minimalist styling with a trellis style frame. The wheels and tires suggest it is aimed more at the road than the rough stuff, but the shots show a bike almost ready for production, indicating a launch before the end of this year.
Bad news has come regarding the bid to reinstate free roadside motorcycle parking in London that we mentioned before. The legal challenge has been defeated in a court ruling, which campaigners say threatens free bike parking everywhere in the UK. The High Court rejected claims by campaigners that Westminster Council’s £1-a-day charge was introduced only to raise revenue. However, the judge Lord Justice Pitchford said that the council’s objectives, including “the termination of discriminatory treatment between motorcycles and cars” were “perfectly legitimate.” Campaign group, ‘No to the Bike Parking Tax,’ which made the legal challenge, has said that barristers for the group were preparing an application for leave to appeal and its regular protests would continue. 

Kymco UK is introducing the new Downtown 300i Sports-Tourer Scooter. Already a big hit in Europe, notably France & Italy, the Downtown is credited for offering a genuine 300cc capacity and a highly technical specification. According to Kymco, the Downtown 300i has been engineered and aesthetically designed to deliver maximum technological performance and comfort. The modern styling is the work of Italian designer’ Massimo Zaniboni, while at the heart of the machine is Kymco’s new liquid cooled four-stroke, single cylinder, fuel injection engine which can propel the machine to a top speed of 85 mph.

Kawasaki has joined the growing list of manufacturers having to issue safety recall notices in the UK. In this it covers a recall of some 2010 model Z1000 machines, including the ABS variants. On affected

Already a big hit overseas  the Kymco Downtown 300i offers a fine balance between performance and comfort.
Already a big hit overseas, the Kymco Downtown 300i offers a fine balance between performance and comfort.

machines, the left front brake hose may make contact with the brake disc during extremely heavy braking. This can damage the hose leading to a fluid leak, which could cause brake failure and result in an accident. In addition, Kawasaki has become aware that on some units of 2009 and 2010 ER-6f models, the rider’s footwear may contact the top edge of the lower right cowling when operating the rear brake. In a limited number of cases this can obstruct the rider from operating the rear brake pedal effectively. The recall campaign for the affected machines, in both standard and ABS form, is to replace the right hand foot guard and adjacent lower cowling bracket.

The UK’s governing body for motorcycle sport, the Auto Cycle Union (ACU), has recently announced that it would not be sending teams to participate in the 2010 ISDE. Following the withdrawal of all Club teams and experienced Support Personnel, it was concluded at a recent meeting that the ACU would not send a Trophy or Junior Trophy team to this year’s event due to serious security concerns in Morelia, insurance problems and the escalating costs of freight transportation amongst other problems.

Rest of the World


One manufacturer bucking the trend is Royal Enfield motorcycles. The Indian factory has recently announced that demand is so strong that they intend to double production, with progressive increases in capacity over the next three years. Output is forecast to grow from 52,000 motorcycles this year to 70,000 units for 2011, reaching 90,000 in 2012 and finally 100,000 units or more by 2013.

To go with this predication they have recently announced a new variant with a historic connection. The Bullet Classic will be now available in a ‘Battle Green’ uniform color scheme as a tribute to the Indian Army. The firm has a long association with the army dating back to 1949. The bodywork, frame and wheel rims of the tribute model will be painted in matte green to emulate the military model. However, while aesthetically it may look dated, it is in all other respects a modern motorcycle being powered by the latest 500cc fuel injected engine that was introduced in 2009. Other changes from the original army bikes include smaller 18″ wheels (compared to the previous 19″ size) shod with Avon Road Rider tires.


Now that Norton is fully operational in the UK they are looking to move globally and have appointed a Japanese importer. PCI will start selling the Commando 961 in September and are aiming to sell 200 units a year.
By comparison, Triumph sold 1,700 motorcycles in Japan in 2009.

As the lone tire supplier of the Moto2 class  Dunlop has organized its racing info into one convenient place for Moto2 fans.
As the lone tire supplier of the Moto2 class, Dunlop has organized its racing info into one convenient place.

Tire giant Dunlop is the sole tire supplier to Moto2 and has collated all its Moto2 information into one place, offering a single portal for Moto2 lovers to find out all the gossip from the series. The site is packed full of Moto2 action, including the latest news and views from all of the rounds, along with video clips, photos and tire technology information. (Check out the site here at:

Finally, things could be on the turn given the latest figures from Honda. According to their latest figures, Honda’s consolidated net income for the first fiscal quarter totalled JPY 272.4 billion, an increase of JPY 264.9 billion from the same period in 2009. Motorcycle unit sales totalled 2,887 thousand units, an increase of 28.2% from the same period last year. Unit sales in Japan totalled 45 thousand units, which is the same compared to the same period last year. Outside of Japan, total unit sales were 2,842 thousand units, an increase of 28.8% from the same period in 2009, due mainly to increased unit sales in Asia – especially India – Indonesia, Thailand, and other regions including South America.
Yamaha too are reporting a JPY7.5 billion net profit for the first quarter compared to a JPY15.8 billion loss for the same period last year. Sales were up 16% according to the report which states motorcycle sales saw a 36% improvement in Asia, although other markets including Japan and the USA were down by a significant amount. However, despite these encouraging figures the Tokyo Motor Show, which sees many motorcycle manufacturers’ debut concept models each year, is shrinking in size for 2011. In addition it is also moving to a cheaper location after 20 years of being in one place and after the 2009 show saw a 56.9% drop in visitors.