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EICMA: The Other Brands

Moto Morini might be only half functional these days, lack of cash flow means that production continues at a very slow pace, but that didn’t stop them from showing the impressive GranFerro, KTM Super Duke killer. The 1200 c.c. bikes do perform and if you need further proof, a half official entry won this year’s Italian naked road racing class. It’ll be a shame if these guys fold.

 

EICMA 2009 will most likely be remembered for Ducati’s new Hypermotard, as well as the recession driven desertion by Honda and Yamaha. My own agenda of gauging a show’s innovation level is called: “The tooling count”, i.e., the number of new engines that required new tooling for production. Development of a new motor from the ground up is what really eats up resources in a factory, and nobody should be surprised if the balance this year is very very low. Honda’s new VFR1200 wasn’t even there, while BMW’s 6 cyl mill’s status is not that clear (although they indicate a tourer is coming).

Still, between the huge aisles in the show there were quite interesting wares from the lesser known manufacturers that are worth noting. BMW made waves with its wild concept thing, but Moto Guzzi was showing muscle too with a surprisingly interesting range of concept bikes based on the same basic frame (see today’s other story). Others were pushing towards sustainable two wheelers, while groovy little 125s are making a comeback (look for pictures of some of the 125s later this week). None of this will rock our biking lives, but this year’s EICMA showed an industry in a state of survival and reflection.

Think trials are dead? After last year’s introduction by Gas Gas of a side valve engine, now good old Ossa raises from the ashes with an innovative “backwards” two stroke. With a 280 cylinder that points towards the seat (!), the new pro-trials mount can be extremely slim and short. With top of the line componentry and 150 lbs weight, the Tri-280 is aimed at expert riders.

 

After the three wheeled Piaggio MP3 we get the … USB. Though in this case it’s a green concept model shown here by Piaggio, and USB stands for Urban Sports Bike. The actual drive motor is electric and mounted directly on the rear wheel, Vectrix style. The battery pack running it can get its charge from a wall socket while parked as well as from an internal, clean emission two stroke unit. This type of mixed charging is becoming more popular, solving the huge autonomy issues of pure battery “fuel”. The hinging seat support can transform the USB into a two-seater or even become a rack, old Buell RS1200 style.

 

It might not be a very well known fact but Peugeot; the French car manufacturer has been making two wheelers since 1903 and is still in the business selling scooters in central Europe. These are powered mostly by Piaggio made power units but now, the French are trying to step into the green vehicles sector. The Hybrid3 Evolution has a mix of a traditional 300cc power plant driving the front wheel while two small electric motors are mounted on the two front wheels. The concept strength is not so much in the pure electric mode but rather on a mixed use where the gas engine gives good cruising speed while the electric motors step in to give added acceleration or zero emissions while in town. Like in the MP3, the two front wheels can lean into the turn.

 

Giuseppe Ghezzi, the engineer behind the amazing Ghezzi Brian Guzzis and the man behind the MGS01 has now joined a new venture and the Alba is the result. Made by setup run by Mille Percento, a big Guzzi dealership in Milan, the Alba uses the cam in head 1200 motor albeit installed in a chrome molly multi tube frame with impressive side air ducts to deliver fresh air to the airbox.

 

Ever felt the need to swing a leg over a raw and brutal 500cc, 180 HP two stroke GP racer? Paton used to run a private effort in the 90’s against the might of the Big four, in 500 GP. But unlike NSR500’s and YZR500’s, new replicas of the amazing Paton are still made in Italy by the son of Giuseppe Pattoni, the Paton’s founder. Not for the meek.