Euro Gossip: October 2010

October 1, 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.

FEMA campaign against madatory motorcycle inspections in Europe.
The Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations has protested new laws which would make motorcycle inspections mandatory in Europe.

Just when you think things are going well and seem to be picking up here and there, you find that the Eurocrats in Brussels are getting bored and looking for something to do. As a result, the European Commission opened a public consultation on mandatory Periodical Technical Inspections (PTI’S) in Europe, which includes motorcycles. What they are proposing in simple terms is random roadside tests to determine the roadworthiness of vehicles. They claim the aim is to reduce accidents, which is ridiculous when you consider that technical or mechanical defects account for less than 1% of crashes.

Many countries like the UK have compulsory annual testing (after the first three years of a vehicles life), and countries like Germany have even more stringent tests. There are few countries where there is no testing at all, but even in these vehicle defects do not figure significantly into crash statistics – it is always the lose nut in charge of the vehicle that is the problem!

The Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations or, FEMA, the European riders group, has already protested and called upon riders to add their own protests and take part in the internet consultation. In an official letter to the Commission, FEMA complained that the consultation form was only available in English. As well as quoting statistical evidence against the move, it highlighted that the driving forces behind Periodic Technical Inspections is commercial gain, while accident reduction tends to be forgotten. The organization also criticized the cost-benefit analysis of PTI which fails to include the costs for the consumer in respect of time and money. Instead of these unnecessary measures, FEMA called for the promotion of effective safety initiatives like better training for all road users.

Talking of which, just when it seemed that things would be sorted out with a review of the current fiasco called a UK motorcycle driving/riding test, news has started emerging of people being refused full motorcycle licenses because they took it on a Chinese motorcycle, despite having successfully passed the test. Various brands are now on sale in the UK and one manufacturer, Jinlun, has sold over 2400 bikes since 2007 – primarily for the learner market. In fact, some training schools are running nothing but Chinese machines, which are comparatively cheap to buy and run and are ideal for learners. The problem stems from a list used by examiners compiled by the DSA, who administer the test for the government while using a list of bikes suitable for the various categories of license and the vast majority of these Chinese bikes are not listed. Investigation has shown that many Japanese bikes of 125cc over 10-years-old have also been missed off the list.

As a result learners having passed the test on a 125cc machine, which should give them a full motorcycle entitlement, are being issued with an A1 license which restricts them to machines up to 125cc. To gain a full license, riders would then need to take the test again on a 125cc bike which is on ‘the list.’ To gain a full motorcycle entitlement, a test bike must have a capacity of 120-125cc and be capable of exceeding 62.5 mph. An A1 license is for people who take their test on a bike between 70-125cc which is not capable of exceeding 62.5 mph, or 100 kmph and have no wish to ride anything bigger.

Chinese importers claim these bikes meet the requirements as many are old Japanese models revamped, and those operating the bikes at training schools are understandably calling for the DSA’s list of 252 bikes to be updated. But despite the heavy criticism, they have recently received in the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee’s (TSC)

The Inline Six configuration has been used extensively throughout the Bavarian marques automobiles  but is now showcased on the two-wheeled side - 2011 BMW K1600GT
The 2011 BMW K1600GT will have a 160 bhp engine, adaptive headlights and other features from existing models.

report on testing a request to prove their bikes should be on the list!


BMW, like all other manufacturers, are now looking at the burgeoning Indian market – well at least the wealthy side of it given the successful penetration of its cars into the luxury -end of the market. Rumors suggest that, despite a failure to make an impact some years ago with a joint venture with the Hero group (successful with Honda as Hero-Honda), BMW Motorrad are now looking to establish a dealer network to sell direct to the public with German factory-made machines, with the possibility of eventually establishing a manufacturing plant in the country.

Meanwhile more details are emerging about the soon to be released six-cylinder 1600, which it appears will come in two versions – a K1600GT and a full dress GTL version. Both bikes will have the same 160-hp powerplant, adaptive headlights, IDrive and a whole host of other features from existing models. Expect to see both versions at the forthcoming Cologne or Milan shows.


The first Van Veen OCR 100 to be built for 32 years has just hit the roads of Holland. Built out of a cache of spares purchased by Dutchman Andries Wielinga, it is the first out of a batch of 10 that he intends to build out of these original spares.

Costing £82,000 these bikes will literally be the last and there are already orders from as far afield as Australia. Only 38 of the original bikes were built using the Comotor twin rotary engines supplied by Citroen and NSU, who only supplied 50 to the company and was started by the Dutch Kriedler importer, Henk Van Veen, in the early 1970’s. It was when the supply of these dried up that the company folded.

Two Ducati Multistradas will be used as special escort vehicles during motorcade security for the Pontiff. This is the first time in history that the Vatican Gendarmerie Corp will use motorcycles as part of their security duties.
Two Ducati Multistradas will be used as special escort vehicles during motorcade security for the Pontiff. This is the first time in history that the Vatican Gendarmerie Corp will use motorcycles as part of their security duties.


Ducati Motor Holding have prepared two Multistrada’s to be used as special escort vehicles for the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City during official motorcade security duties for the Pontiff. Resplendent in the special yellow and white livery of the Pontifical State, they were presented to His Holiness, Pope Bendictus XVI, at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Rome in September by Ducati’s President, Gabriele Del Torchio, on behalf of the iconic manufacturer. The bikes are fitted out with all the usual police accessories such as blue lights and sirens, and it is the first time in history that the Vatican Gendarmerie Corp will use motorcycles as part of their security duties.

Following on last month’s piece about Aprilia being embarrassed by the leaking of an owner’s manual for the new Dorsoduro 1200 on the web, the company itself has now published a single image of the Supermoto-styled bike, which it will show in finished form at the Cologne INTERMOT show at the beginning of October. It clearly shows the all-new 1200cc 90-degree V-Twin engine in place as predicted here, which is predicted to produce 130 hp. It’s expected that the bike will also get ABS as an option and the Aprilia Traction Control (ATC) system currently used on the Aprilia RSV4. The shot clearly shows a mixture of aluminum and steel tubing forming a trellis fame with large castings supporting the swingarm and the rear of the engine. Inverted 43mm Sachs forks keep the front end up with Brembo discs stopping things.

Other new models expected to be shown for next year, probably at the later home show at Milan in November, ( include a new naked 180-hp Tuono V4, which would make it the world’s most powerful production naked machine.

Now that all the fuss about the sale and acquisition of iconic Italian manufacturer MV Agusta has died down, the company has released two shots of their new 675cc three-cylinder sportbike we have mentioned over the past few years, despite recently stating it would not appear until at least 2012.

Brand new images of the MV Agusta F3 reveal a trellis frame  and hopefully well see it launched at the forthcoming EICMA Milan show.
Brand new images of the MV Agusta F3 reveal a trellis frame, and it’s expected that the bike will be launched at the upcoming EICMA Milan show.

Clearly aimed at the Triumph 675, it looks very small and compact with a full fairing. Bizarrely, the images came with just a very brief two paragraph statement stating that the bike shown was the ‘real’ MV 3. Despite lack of technical information, a trellis frame can be seen in the images, which look like they are of a finished bike – so expect to see it launched at the forthcoming EICMA Milan show.

The machine will clearly be the first to come from the ‘new’ company which is clearly proud of its heritage as it has just added a ‘virtual museum’ to its website. Here can be found images and specifications for all of its most historic road bikes from the ‘40s through to the ‘70s. As you would expect, it also focuses on racing which gave them numerous domestic and world championships between 1952 and 1976.

Staying with special machines, they have just produced 11 special-edition F4’s to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Italy’s national aerobatic display team called the “Frecce Tricolori” (tricolor arrows). The bikes are named after the Italian Air force group and have a red, white and green livery as well as being fitted with custom-made carbon fiber and titanium components. All 11 bikes will be paired with each one of the 11 demonstration jets thanks to a silver plate attached to the steering head giving details of the plane it is associated with.

Moto Guzzis V7 Cafe Racer has been given the go ahead as a production bike and will cost £1 000 more than the existing Classic.
Moto Guzzi’s V7 Cafe Racer has been given the go ahead as a production bike and will cost £1,000 more than the existing Classic.

Massimo Tamburini, who designed the F4 for the company as well as the seminal Ducati 916, said in a recent interview that he may be tempted out of retirement now that MV are a wholly owned Italian brand. (He retired in 2008 under a contract that forbade him to design bikes for other manufacturers.)

Moto Guzzi has announced that the V7 Cafe Racer, first seen as a concept at the Milan show last year, is to go ahead as a production bike with virtually no changes apart from the loss of the heat tape around the exhausts. Based on the Cafe Classic, but with many subtle styling changes (the engine remains standard), it will come with a plate to indicate a limited production run and will cost around £1,000 more than the existing Classic.

Also, Italian police have infiltrated an illegal bike racing ring that regularly raced on the public highway at speeds of 180 mph while others bet on the result. The Carabinieri seized eight motorcycles and impounded another after covert filming showed the gang’s dangerous activities. The 12 riders of the bikes have apparently been charged with

Greeves Motorsport has just launched their first new bike with a 280cc engine and is selling for a whopping £6 800.
Greeves Motorsport has just launched its first new bike with a 280cc engine and is selling for a whopping £6800.

membership of a criminal organization, which police believe they have now shut down.

United Kingdom

Historic brand Greeves is once again reborn, joining the long list of names like Triumph and Norton to get a second chance in the 21st century. The small Essex firm was once the giant killer of motorcycle competition sport with their Villiers engine competition machines, until it was finally squeezed out of production in 1978. Despite having won major championships like the European 250 Motocross title in the early 60s and having won at the Isle of Man, the small company could not compete any more, especially as its road bikes were no match for the Japanese invasion with its more sophisticated machinery. However, now the company is back, albeit as Greeves Motorsport and has just launched its first new bike with a 280cc engine costing a whopping £6800. The British engine is like the bike designed and built in the UK, but the machine – complete with box section frame for which the company was noted – uses top quality suspension from Marzocchi and Ohlins to help it achieve its 143-pound claimed weight.

Carbon fiber abounds as well, and company owner Richard Deal hopes that its style and weight, along with its heritage, will mean that riders will pay the extra £2000 above the cost of a similar spec Gas Gas to obtain one of these machines. Already the company has orders for 20 and it is hoped that they can sell 200 a year to start with while they develop a whole range of machines with different capacity engines based on the current unit.

Recent spy shots of the new 800 Triumph adventure bike shows it to have graphics confirming its 800cc capacity and Tiger family name.
Recent spy shots of the new 800 Triumph adventure bike shows it to have graphics confirming its 800cc capacity and Tiger family name.

As predicted, spy shots of the new 800 Triumph adventure bike undergoing final testing shows it to have graphics confirming its 800cc capacity and Tiger family name. The engine is hung from a trellis frame similar to Ducati, and the bike comes with inverted forks and a definite road bias. Expect a 1200 version to break cover as well, probably at the Milan show when it is expected the 800 will reveal itself to the world, although a fairly complete prototype has already been spotted testing in Europe.

In fact, Triumph have had problems in keeping anything quiet lately as its own website already shows the accessories for the new Tiger, and even shows pictures of the new Speed Triple soon to be launched as well.

MINI, the car firm owned by BMW, have recently been courting the non-sector bike press with the announcement of their new two-wheeled vehicle set to be officially launched at a world premiere at the Paris Motor Show. According to the extensive press release BMW’s press office has been sending out, “The MINI Scooter E Concept is an innovative new vehicle that combines the agility and brio of a two wheeler with zero-emissions sustainability through its electric power plant. The drive concept incorporated in the study underpins the consistent development efforts of the BMW Group in its quest to achieve CO2-free mobility.”

The scooter will apparently come in two versions: a sporty single-seat version and a twin-seat version, both being powered by an electric motor which is integral with the rear wheel. Recharging of the motor’s lithium-ion battery is achievable from any conventional household power socket using an integral, retractable five-meter charging cable. Clearly aimed at the younger ‘city slicker’, there is a snap-in adapter for a Smartphone which operates as the vehicle key, display and central control element as well as providing infotainment, communication and navigation functions.

The MINI Scooter E Concept will come in two versions: a single seat version and a twin seat version  with both models powered by an electric motor.
The MINI Scooter E Concept will come in two versions: a single-seat version and a twin-seat version, with both models powered by an electric motor.

The release mentions little about motorcycling or its launch at the up and coming motorcycle shows. Given the recent showing of the electric BMW C1, which disappeared without a whimper, you just wonder where this is all going.

A team of British engineers have come together with the aim of building the world’s fastest motorcycle under the name of the ‘Angelic Bulldog Project.’ The team consists of no less than 50 engineers, whose aim is to break the Motorcycle Land Speed Record in 2011 or 2012, depending how long it takes to raise the £100,000 needed for the project. The UK last held the record in 1937, and the intention is to build a bike that will break the 400 mph barrier and return the title to the UK. To achieve their goal, the team intends to build a streamliner fitted with a ‘ground-breaking’ supercharged engine of 700 hp.

The goal is to utilize a British design along with manufacturing and engineering products and from around the UK. It is also the intention to run the bike on E85 Race blend bio-ethanol to propel it to an amazing nine seconds per mile. If they can achieve their aim, it will be the first machine to exceed 400 mph on two wheels.

Talking of high speed, revitalized British firm Norton continues to be feature in the news due to its new 961 Commando SE, which has broken a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The bike, ridden by journalist Alan Cathcart, recorded an average top speed of 129.191 mph, nearly three more than the 126.398 which was taken on Buell last year in the 1000cc Production Push-rod class.

Ducati UK are bucking the current sales trend with UK registrations up over 80% versus August 2009 thanks mainly to sales of the new Multistrada. Bikes over 50