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Euro Gossip March 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007
KTM s venture into car industry moves closer to reality as it has already sold the first 100 X-Bow Roadsters.
KTM's venture into car industry moves closer to reality as it has already sold the first 100 X-Bow Roadsters.
Austria

KTM have finally unveiled the finished version of their X-Bow car fitted with a 2.0 litre Audi engine. The lightweight road-legal trackday car is devoid of any frills like a windscreen, doors, etc and has been developed with the help of chassis experts Dallara. Cost is expected to be around $54,000 dollars, but tuned versions are already on the way after the first 100 cars have been sold this year.

Germany

BMW Motorrad is once again making big news on the rumour front. The latest gossips says the German manufacturer is developing a sports bike to take on the likes of the Honda Fireblade and Yamaha R1 to be launched at the end of the year. Apparently this could be the basis of an all-out factory assault on the World Superbike title, despite previous rumours suggesting a MotoGP bike being ready. It is likely that this machine will have more electronics on board than any other bike in production. The launch apparently will be one of the largest ever, and experts are predicting an in-line Triple motor powering the bike!

Look for the BMW 450 Enduro at the German Enduro Championship as BMW looks to test the bike s performance under race conditions.
Look for the BMW 450 Enduro at the German Enduro Championship as BMW looks to test the bike's performance under race conditions.
Off the road, its new 450 Enduro bike has been spotted undergoing final testing in a competitive event. The bike features a co-axial chain drive and swingarm, which allows it move with the suspension rather than independently. This arrangement takes away the strain and keeps the chain at the correct tension at all times as well as increasing longevity.

The bike is powered by a single cylinder motor and the factory is clearly aiming at KTM's market share with this new bike, and as result have entered it in the German Enduro Championship to help test it repeatedly under proper race conditions. However, this does mean that the shaft-drive version that they took out patents on some time ago has gone onto the back burner while they concentrate on a more conventional and possibly more commercially acceptable chain-driven version!

If you still see BMW as a touring machine, leaked news of a new LT tourer may be music to your ears, especially if you think big is beautiful. A capacity of 1850cc from a straight-Six motor is rumoured to be under consideration for a new long-legged tourer planned for a 2010 debut. Watch this space for more news as and when it filters out!

BMW Motorrad's bikes are produced at their historic factory in Berlin. Last year for the first time ever they exceeded 100,000 units rolling off the production line. In fact, not only did they make more than that, they actually sold 100,064 bikes worldwide, the vast majority of these being sold in Europe.
With increasing sales figures led by models like the BMW R1200RT  the German manufacturer topped 100 000 units made in 2006.
With increasing sales figures led by models like the BMW R1200RT, the German manufacturer topped 100,000 units made in 2006.

As you might expect the home market was top of the league, followed by Italy and then the USA, with Spain in fourth place. Top seller was the GS range followed by the R1200RT tourer and then the F650. Since BMW was founded in 1923, it has sold more than 2 million bikes with 1, 616,016 having come from the Spandau factory since 1969.

It would now appear that BMW is looking at producing specific versions of bikes for different countries, having just released details of two machines that will only be sold in Holland and not be sold elsewhere in Europe. The F800S Sport Edition and the R1200 G Explorer have been built using the most popular aftermarket accessories, including Akrapovic exhaust systems.

Lastly from Germany, BMW factory-sponsored stunt rider Christian Pfeiffer has been crowned 2007 Indoor Streetbike Freestyle champion in Zurich after beating 15 other top stunt riders from across the world.
Companies like Qianjiang  which cranks out an astounding 1.5 million small bikes and scooters yearly  have helped China become the number one producer of motorcycles worldwide
Companies like Qianjiang, which cranks out an astounding 1.5 million small bikes and scooters yearly, have helped China become the number one producer of motorcycles worldwide

Italy

Two years ago Benelli was taken over by Qianjiang (QJ) , a Chinese manufacturer which churns out 1.5 million small bikes and scooters each year. Partially owned by the Chinese government (30%), they had plenty of money and know-how with small bikes but no knowledge of anything large. Benelli was at the opposite end of the spectrum, so it seemed a dream merger. With £25 million already invested and more flowing in on a regular basis, Benelli are now starting to play in the major league once again. So what is coming up in the next few years from the historic Italian firm?

Probably the biggest news is the 1000cc V-6 Superbike called the Tornado. The engine is already up and running giving 200-plus bhp, and you can expect this bike to be on the World Superbike grid in 2009.
Does Benelli have its sights on the World Superbike title  With the construction of a 1000cc V-6 Superbike in the works  this may be more fact than fiction.
Does Benelli have its sights on the World Superbike title? With the construction of a 1000cc V-6 Superbike in the works, this may be more fact than fiction.

Next up is a 600cc in-line Four to compete with the Japanese, and also a large-capacity maxi scooter along with some smaller items. The dual-sports Tre-K 1130 will be joined by a three cylinder 900cc version in 2008 and, believe it or not, a turbo version of the TNT will appear at some time in the future!

On a far mores sensible note, the mass-market Due 756 designed by a Spaniard called Carles Solsona, who is being tipped as a new Tamburini, will be seen first. This is a naked twin-cylinder machine (TNT minus one pot) that is as stylish as it is practical. Prototypes are already up and running and it will be launched at the end of this year. Given the tough competition, it will be interesting to see how it fares against established naked middleweights like the Suzuki SV650.

For the Bimota Tesi 3D  the front and rear swingarms have changed  utilizing a trellis frame made of stiff  light alloy that is less bulky than the 2D s.
For the Bimota Tesi 3D, the front and rear swingarms have changed, utilizing a trellis frame made of stiff, light alloy that is less bulky than the 2D's.
Leaks from the Bimota factory suggest that the Tesi 3D could be in production within months.

The sole owner of Moto Morini is now Morini Franco Motori, previously only a 50% owner of Moto Morini. He has now purchased the remaining 50% from the Berti family to gain total control, which he sees as important to driving the company forward in an ever toughening market.

To this end, back at the factory, Moto Morini has decided to turn the prototype MM3 adventure bike into a production machine. First shown at the Milan show last year, it will be offered to the public by the end of this year, albeit with a few changes.

Originally shown with a whole host of electronic aids like traction control, ABS and fly-by-wire throttle, production versions will lose some of these features to keep costs down. The bike is based on the Corsaro 1200, which is already an expensive machine when viewed against competitors, and the new bike would end up nearly costing the same if they all stayed for production versions. There will also be changes to the bodywork to accommodate mirrors and other legal niceties like indicators, etc. The motor will lose a few bhp dropping from 138 to 125 bhp to make it more manageable according to inside sources. No prices have been decided on, but it needs to be competitive up against its direct competitors like the BMW R1200GS, Ducati Multistrada and the new Triumph Tiger 1050.
Morini Franco Motori now has complete ownership of Motor Morini and plans to convert its MM3 adventure bike into a production machine based on the Corsaro 1200.
Morini Franco Motori now has complete ownership of Motor Morini and plans to convert its MM3 adventure bike into a production machine based on the Corsaro 1200.

Insiders also hint that a full-on sports bike may be next on the agenda using the Corsaro 1200 as a basis. Apparently the engine can produce considerably more power than it does at present. Given the success that Ducati is currently enjoying with their 1098 and with the imminent arrival of a 1200 RSV-R Aprilia, it seems a foregone conclusion if they want a slice of sales cake in the sportbike market sector!

Moto Guzzi has shown its dealers its new 1200cc Stelvio big trail bike, although they are not making any public announcements about it or releasing any official facts or pictures. They claim the bike shown to dealers was still a prototype and was shown to gauge reaction before finalizing production specification.

On paper the bike has the potential to go head to head with the BMW R1200GS. The eight-valve motor currently produces 109 bhp and 80 lb-ft of torque in the Griso, so it would cross over quite well. However, there are also plans for a 75-bhp 850cc version in the future.
 New Blue  was designed in a collaboration between NCR and Ducati North America as a tribute to the 1977 Daytona-winning Ducati 750SS ridden by Cook Neilson.
'New Blue' was designed in a collaboration between NCR and Ducati North America as a tribute to the 1977 Daytona-winning Ducati 750SS ridden by Cook Neilson.

Italian Racing and tuning firm NCR has had so much interest in its 'New Blue' model that it is building another 50 of the $50,000 machines. Designed in collaboration with Ducati North America as a tribute to the 1977 Daytona-winning Ducati 750SS ridden by Cook Neilson, it has really attracted more interest than first thought.

The bike is based on a 2007 Ducati Sport 1000S, but bored out to 1100cc and tuned to produce 116 bhp. A whole host of top quality components are then added to reduce weight and add exclusivity. More information at www.ncrfactory.com

Holland

Though the Netherlands isn t the first name that comes to mind when thinking of custom builders  bikes like Violator Motorcycle s Riot Act might put them on the map as a builder to be reckoned with.
Though the Netherlands isn't the first name that comes to mind when thinking of custom builders, bikes like Violator Motorcycle's Riot Act might put them on the map as a builder to be reckoned with.
The Netherlands is not the first country you would think of in regards to custom bikes, but Violator Motorcycles are carving out a good reputation for themselves amongst the European custom community. Their bikes are all hand built to customers requirements using their own low-rider frames and single-sided swingarm which give very low seat heights. All of them have very highly tuned Harley Evo engines fitted as the motive power, with tuning that gives figures above 200 bhp. The exhaust system is also pretty trick, also forming part of the rear hugger! Prices start at $60,000 for these mean, lean, minimalist machines!

United Kingdom

We have mentioned before that there was likely to be a naked version of the Triumph Daytona 675. Well, that rumour has now been confirmed at a top secret dealer conference. No name has been allocated to the machine, although it is being referred to as the 'Street Triple' to give it a familiar ring and associate it immediately with the brand.

The bike has a revised riding position thanks to new handlebars, twin headlights and twin upswept silencers. The engine now has even more mid-range and less top speed, which should see it do well in the real world of road riding, where the latter is not that important.

Apparently the original prototype first tested in 2005 was a Daytona 675 stripped of its fairing with higher bars and a retuned (for mid-range) engine, which was apparently awesome during testing. However, the cost was seen as too prohibitive, so it has been reworked to provide a bike that can be sold at less than its sibling. This will allow it to compete with other naked 600s from the Japanese manufacturers.

England-based GP legend, 'King' Kenny Roberts, is apparently going to build 50 trackday specials using Honda Fireblade (CBR1000RR) engines. The motors will be supplied as standard by Honda but will be tuned by Roberts' GP team and then housed in their own chassis. The Banbury-based team will also supply fairings and exhausts for the limited-edition machines.
 King  Kenny Roberts is said to be in the process of building 50 trackday specials using CBR1000RR engines housed in a custom-made chassis.
'King' Kenny Roberts is said to be in the process of building 50 trackday specials using CBR1000RR engines housed in a custom-made chassis.

Roberts has always wanted to produce his own road bike, but the move to 800cc MotoGP bikes has meant that this has had to go on hold. However, these track-only machines are seen as the first step in moving the project forward. No prices have been announced for the bikes that will be built at the end of this seasons racing, they are expected to sell for around $50,000.

Last month we brought you news of the last ever factory-built Vincent motorcycle was coming up for auction. This month we can tell you that the Vincent Owners Spares Company, which makes unobtainable parts to keep these relatively rare beasts on the road, has produced a brand-new one. Built as an exercise to show that they can supply everything you need to keep the bikes running, it has attracted so much interest they are going into limited production.

The 'new' Black Shadow is identical to the original apart from electronic ignition and an alternator. The bike was never built to be sold, so no costings were done, but this has not stopped enthusiasts placing orders, despite the fact that each one will take six months to build out of replica parts and is unlikely to be cheap!

Arai is celebrating the centennial running of the Isle of Man TT races by offering its slick-looking limited-edition TT Centenary helmet.
Arai is celebrating the centennial running of the Isle of Man TT races by offering its slick-looking limited-edition TT Centenary helmet.
Another name that has been synonymous with motorcycling for decades is Castrol Oil. Once a major bike sponsor, they have just announced the introduction of a new range of products and services in the biggest re-launch of the brand in its 100-year history. The move sees Castrol modernizing its brand to deliver more powerful and relevant modern motorcycle products. Apparently, historic oils like Castrol R will still be available from specialized suppliers.

Renowned helmet manufacturer Arai is celebrating 100 years of the Isle of Man TT races with the launch of a limited-edition TT Centenary helmet. Based on Arai's flagship model, the RX-7 Corsair, the special paint scheme has been designed by Italian legend Aldo Drudi. Only 750 of these special TT helmets will be made available worldwide, making them very desirable, as well as exclusive. The Centenary replica will retail at $1,000 (sizes XS - XL) and will come with its own specially embroidered helmet hold-all. It will actually be on sale at the TT races, but you can reserve one on their website beforehand. A percentage from the sale of each helmet will be donated to the TT organization. See Arai's Euro website www.araihelmet-europe.com for more details.
Excuse me  Mr. Biaggi  but if you re going to race in the UK  you need a license plate on that bike.
Excuse me, Mr. Biaggi, but if you're going to race in the UK, you need a license plate on that bike.

Currently a piece of legislation is making its way through the UK parliament that shows how stupid politicians can be. If passed, it would mean that all bikes, including all competition machines that are not road legal, would need to be registered in the same way that road legal machines are now, complete with number plates (license plates).

Designed to deal with the social plague of mini-motos, it makes no allowance for sporting machines. If it does become law, MotoGP and World Superbike machines raced here may have to display number plates. I don't think so!
In order to deal with the  social plague  of mini-motos  the UK is considering making all bikes register and to display number plates.
In order to deal with the 'social plague' of mini-motos, the UK is considering making all bikes register and to display number plates.

India

The Indian motorcycle market grew 13% to 7.5 million units in 2005. It is now roughly 10 times the size of Japan's market and only trails China, now coming in as the second-largest motorcycle market in the world.

Last year the Royal Enfield factory, located in Chennai, Madras, produced 33,000 machines and plans are in now in place to boost production by 10% for 2007.

Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha, as we have widely reported in the past, have various deals and collaborations with factories in India to help cut costs. Now it appears they are having to fortify Indian production and marketing activities to fend off increasing competition from local rivals who are now racing ahead with technology (relatively speaking!).

As mentioned last year, Suzuki resumed motorcycle sales in India after a four-year hiatus and now markets just one 125cc-engine model there. However it now plans to debut a 150cc model and an automatic-transmission-equipped scooter this year and gradually increase annual production until it reaches 500,000 units.

Honda too is preparing to boost output by 50% to 7 million units by 2010. This will be partially achieved by assisting the local Hero Honda Motors Ltd. (in which Honda owns a 26% stake) to build a motorcycle plant on the outskirts of New Delhi, that will be able to churn out 9.5 million units a year.

Lastly, Yamaha, whose line-up consists of mainly low-priced offerings, will improve its range of 125cc motorcycles and target wealthy and younger customers in an effort to gain a greater share of the ever-rising market in India.

A new squad using 28 motorcycles called COBRA has been formed by the Indian police in Allahabad to combat rising crime. Each bike will be equipped with sophisticated and advanced weapons and communications systems to "nail the miscreants in the area committing crime at will," according to the local police chief. The bikes will be in operation 24/7 and manned by two officers.


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