The unprecedented growth of motorcycling has affected more than the Japanese manufacturers. Several European manufacturers are experiencing unprecedented growth. Most notably, Triumph, Aprilia and Ducati. Several smaller manufacturers are expanding as well, including Benelli and Laverda.
Many European manufacturers have been known for the “character” of their bikes, but also for quality control problems. This is changing, however, as quality has improved at many manufacturers (notably, Ducati, following American investment). Triumph has also improved the quality and reliabillity of its bikes and, with the introduction of its 600 is now at the leading edge of technology as well.
Moto Guzzi, in the process of being taken over by Aprilia, is set to expand on its great history, and combine new technology with its traditional transverse v-twin engine design.
It is a great time for motorcycling, and these European manufacturers are playing a greater role each year,. The ability of the smaller manufacturers to react quickly to market changes, and their willingness to develop innovative products, will allow them to flourish in niches left unfilled by the Japanese manufacturers.