If you haven’t heard of the Trump administration’s plan to impose sizable tariffs on steel and aluminum (25% and 10%, respectively), then you have done a remarkably good job of ignoring current political events.
Trump’s plan caught many by surprise, and the details of the tariffs are still forming, but one thing is clear: it doesn’t bode well for Harley-Davidson.
Like most manufacturers, an increase on raw steel and aluminum will mean an increase in costs, but Harley-Davidson also has the dubious honor of being part of the European Union’s focus for retaliation.
This is because the EU says it will tax motorcycle imports from the United States, in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Surprisingly, Harley-Davidson has been quiet about all these maneuvers in the political space…until now, that is.
The popular Kawasaki Z900 continues to get the attention of the folks at Team Green, first with the teasing of the Kawasaki Z900RS vintage street bike model, and now for our European readers, an A2 version of the Z900 is available for beginning riders.
This means that for the 2018 model year, a 70kW (93hp) version of the Kawasaki Z900 will be available to A2 license holders, and Kawasaki has gone to great lengths to make sure it keeps the looks and character of its full-power sibling.
Reading motorsports websites all over Europe recently, you would think it was Doomsday for motorcycle racing, and all forms of motorized sports.
Even in as august a publication as The Times (of London, that is), the headlines warned of impending disaster:. “EU insurance rule ‘will destroy British motor sport’“. Is the end nigh for motorsport in Britain?
The short answer is “No, but it’s complicated”. So where did these warnings that the sky is falling come from?
On Wednesday, the MCIA (the Motorcycle Industry Association, the body representing the British bike industry), the ACU, and the AMCA (both representing motorcycle racing, on road and off road) issued a joint press release, warning that motorsport in the UK could come to an end due to a ruling by the European Court in Luxembourg.
The ruling stems from a judgment in the case of Vnuk v. Triglav, case C-162/13 before the European Court of Justice, and known as the Vnuk judgment. The case involved a Slovenian farm worker, Damijan Vnuk, who was injured when he was knocked off a ladder by a tractor reversing with a trailer.
Vnuk was working on a farm at the time, and sued for compensation from the motor vehicle insurance policy of the tractor. The lower Slovenian courts rejected his claims, but the Slovenian Supreme Court referred the case to the ECJ.
Coverage of Brexit, the United Kingdom’s referendum whether to continue as a member of the European Union, has largely been ignored in the United States, and it certainly hasn’t been a blip on the radar recently within our microcosm of the motorcycle industry.
But of course, the United Kingdom’s place in the European Union will have far-reaching consequences, even in our beloved little two-wheeled world.
If you check the timestamp on the most recent Paddock Pass Podcast posting, you will see that I was up late enough into the evening to get word that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, with the “Leave” supporters edging out the “Remains” by the narrow margin of 1.3 million votes.
There is a lot of politics at play here, and I don’t care to rehash it, other than to say that it could be a foreshadow of what could come soon in the United States as well. What I do have to say though is an examination of how the United Kingdom leaving the European Union can and will affect the world of motorcycling.
In an effort to improve safety for motorcyclists, BMW Motorrad has developed what it calls an “Intelligent Emergency Call” system, which allows motorcyclists to call for help with the touch of a button on their motorcycle
The system is part of a larger push in Europe for an “eCall” emergency SOS program that would alert emergency personnel to a vehicle crash with greater expediency and efficiency.
According to the pan-European eCall trial, systems like BMW’s can bring emergency services to a crash scene 40% to 50% faster, and the European Commission estimates that an eCall system like BMW’s could save up to 2,500 lives each year (saving €26 billion in the process, as well).
The BMW Intelligent Emergency Call feature has been available on cars in Europe since 1999, and by will be mandatory for vehicles in the EU by 2018. To aid two-wheeled motorists, BMW Motorrad hopes to bring eCall technology to motorcycles by 2017.
It’s tough cookies if you want to order a Yamaha YZF-R1M in the European Union right now, as what is shaping out to be the superbike of 2015 has sold out in every European country.
This means only those riders who pre-ordered an R1M online, on Yamaha Europe’s registration system, will be able to get a 2015 model — perpetuating the saying from the translated French: “you snooze, you lose”.
To rub salt into the wounds, all European customers of the R1M will get to join Colin Edwards and other Yamaha racing staff at an upcoming Yamaha Racing Experience events in July. Schwing!
Chalk a victory up for the two-wheelers, as Germany’s famed Autobahn road system is set to go the way of the toll road…except for motorcycles that is. The new toll system will interestingly enough apply only to vehicles with foreign license tags, with permits to circulate on the autobahn being sold at border crossings into Germany and other locations within the country.
While for the most part 2012 was a growth year for the motorcycle industry, not all of the OEMs faired the storm equally. Posting a 5.4% sales loss in 2012 compared to 2011, Yamaha also saw a massive decrease in net profits last year.
Generating ¥1,276 billion 2011, Yamaha saw a 5.4% decrease in revenues, with sales totaling ¥1,207 billion in 2012. While units sales and sales revenue were down only a modest amount, net income was down a massive 72.2%, ¥7.5 billion (2012) vs. ¥27 billion (2011).
The final rubber stamp of approval to Audi AG’s acquisition of Ducati Motor Holding, the European Commission has cleared the transaction of any antitrust red tape. A deal that was over a year in the making, the German automaker bought the Italian motorcycle company for a cool €860 million, including debt. Positioning Audi, and its parent-company Volkswagen, to take-on the likes of the BMW Group, the deal was met with mixed-emotions in the automotive and motorcycling communities during its announcement.
Several publications are reporting the possibility that the European Commission (EC) could be preparing to implement a European-wide limit of 100HP on motorcycles when the European executive power meets this summer. The issue arises after France instituted a 100HP ban on new motorcycles, causing the country to be out of line with the rest of European Union. France’s new law places an undue burden on manufacturers, who must now make a French variant for each new EU motorcycle model (or just not offer the bike in the French market all-together), and as such the EC aims to bring the EU under one policy.
This has created cause for alarm in the industry (or just in sensationalist journalists) who fear that the EC could place 100HP limits across the entire EU, along with other hindering provisions as well (mandatory ABS brakes seems to be the other main concern), in order to bring balance to the Union’s approach on motorcycles. If that sounds ridiculous to you, then you’re in the same boast as us. Considering how the EC and EU directives, regulations, and decisions actually operate, the real likelihood seems to be the possibility of France’s law being repealed, but that doesn’t mean activists have any less cause for alarm.
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Harry Mallin that was originally published on the eMotoRules blog. Mr. Mallin is a lawyer by day, and in the motorcycle world is better known for his work as Brammofan, the Brammo Motorcycle enthusiast blog, and as the TTXGP Technical Rules Wiki moderator. In his post Mallin explores concerns about the FIM’s alleged anti-competitive behavior, and postulates about how the FIM may find itself brought up under antitrust charges in the European Union.
The sport of motorcycle racing has a rich history that winds its way through 20thcentury United Kingdom like the narrow roads on the Isle of Man. Recently, this history has included a new avenue of opportunity: electric motorcycle racing. But controversy, no stranger to motorsports, has already touched this new sport, and recent events indicate that a shockwave of change may be in store for the sanctioning bodies that currently organize the upcoming racing series.
According to an email recently published on, of all places, the personal blog of Ivar Kvadsheim, a Norwegian journalist who writes primarily on the subject of electric motorcycle racing, a UK government agency is likely to bring charges of anti-competitive behavior and monopoly practices against the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (International Motorcycling Federation, or the FIM).