Friday, July 25, 2008

Kawasaki supports the Tour de France

This Sunday. the 2008 Tour de France arrives on the Champs-Elysee for it's final leg. And right alongside the powerhouse cyclists astride their skinny machines, you'll find a powerhouse of another kind...the Kawasaki 1400GTR.

This marks the 31st straight year that Kawasaki has provided motorcycles to the Tours organizer. The arrangement began in 1977 with the popular Z650 and has passed through a half-dozen models before the introduction of the Kawasaki's uber-touring machine, the 1400GTR. The 29 motorcycles are charged with everything from transporting event personel, judges and journalists, indicating the gaps between the breakaway groups and the peloton and providing medical and publicity services.

Source: Kawasaki France

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Les Soldes chez Triumph

Every year from the end of June until the beginning of August, France erupts into a shopping frenzy. 'Les Soldes' are a twice a year, government regulated, 6 week sale that authorizes merchants to discount well below the normal levels..up to 90% off! This is the time to stock up on necessities for the year or get great deals on end of season fashions.

So why talk about this on a motorcycle blog? Because great deals can also be had at your local dealership or accessory store that you wouldn't neccessarily find any other time of the year. Triumph is offer discounts from 30% to 50% on their entire clothing range until the 2nd of August. Whether it be protective leather or casual apparel, you're bound to find sometime to prepare you for the Bonneville 50th Anniversary celebration. Just check out their list of
concessionaires for a dealership near you.

Whether you are in the market for a new helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, bike accessories or just looking to pick up a new t-shirt, get over to your local shop and take advantange of the discounts. While they may be a bit smaller then you find at the nearby department store, you'll still be finding great deals for another few weeks. 'Les Soldes' are for everyone, including 'les motards'*.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2009 Triumphs Revealed

Look around the streets of any city in France and you'll notice there a lot of Triumphs, especially the popular Bonneville series. Quite a change from just 10 years ago; the French have really taken to these modern day classics.

Well the French, and the world alike, have something to look forward to next season, as Triumph just revealed details on the 2009 models at their Global Dealer Conference. While the Bonnevilles still remain true to the design we've come to love, there are some very evident changes to the line-up, most notably with the standard model. New for 2009 are 'seventies-look cast wheels', a dramatic departure from the usual spokes. Other significant updates include shorter mud guards front and rear and a reverse cone, megaphone style exhaust from the Thruxton. The seat height has also been lowered and the handlebars pulled back, both changes that should make the Bonneville more accessible to the female market.

Triumph also introduced the slightly up market Bonneville SE model, which will include spokes, two-tone paint, brushed alloy engine cases and extra instrumentation. While the T100 remains largely unchanged, except for color options, there will be a 5oth anniversary edition produced in 'a unique blue and orange paint scheme that echoes the original 1959' model. There will be a number of other detail changes to distinguish it from the standard T100, including a numbered, handlebar mounted plaque and a certificate of authenticity signed by John Bloor, the owner of Triumph Motorcycles Ltd.

For more about the 2009 models, check out Triumph News.

Source: Triumph Motorcycles Ltd.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Museum Exhibit: The Motorcycle Police of Paris

Le Musée de la Préfecture de Police in Paris has prolonged indefinitely a incredible exposition on the motorcycles and motorcyclists of the Préfecture de Police. The exhibit entitled 'Pleins Phares sur les Motards de la Préfecture de Police' literally means Headlights on the Motorcyclists of the Préfecture de Police.

The public is invited to discover the evolution of 'la Compagnie Motocycliste' since it's creation until recent time and the different responsibilities that can be entrusted to them (i.e. escorting of heads of state). The exposition also covers such special functions of this organization such as l’Equipe Spéciale d’Acrobatie (the Acrobatic Team), a group that has acquired international fame for their precision.

Much of the early information is only in French, but the images of the old motorcycle and uniforms and the artifacts are worth the look. The more recent information is offered in French and English.


Entry: Free
Dates: February 20, 2009 until ??? (get there before it's's free)

Hours: Monday to Friday from 09h00 to 17h00, Saturday from 10h00 to 17h00


Musée de la Préfecture de Police

Commissariat du 5ème Arrondissement, 2ème étage
Rue de la Montagne Ste-Geneviève, 75005 Paris

Métro: Maubert Mutualité

Monday, July 21, 2008

Great Rides in France

If you've got a few days free and have been yearning to explore a bit of the Hexagon, have I got a great guide for you. Created by 3 brothers, each contributing his own specialties, 'Routes et Motards' offers you 10 spectaculars routes. 'Routes et Motards' (Roads & Motorcyclists) is actually a incredible detailed kit that includes a DVD, GPS charts and a guide book. You can preview excerpts from the DVD that includes 2 hours of videos showing highlights of the various routes on their website. The 88 page guide book includes Michelin maps, photos, road notes, plus addresses of places to stay and eat. It's even printed on waterproof paper. The only thing that's not included is French language lessons if you want to soak up all the valuable information this guide has to offer. In any case, for the small price of 19,50 euros you get a tremendous amount of information that can be used regardless of your linguistic background.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rent a Desmosedici in France

Been dreaming about taking a spin on the ultimate sports bike, but don't have the 50K+ to pony up. There are a few rental opportunities available in England and the US with rates ranging from £150 ($300) to $600. Even this sound a bit expensive? Sure it'd be great to spend the day on a Desmo cruising around town or hitting some local twisty, but between the speed traps and worrying about all the cagers around intent on making you day as stress filled as possible, how much are you really going to enjoy the experience?

Well, on your next trip to France, plan on a little detour to the Circuit -
Pôle Mécanique d'Alés-Cévennes. Conveniently located within a few hours drive from Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier or Toulouse, Dussauge Formation Détection (DFD) offers the usual group or 1-on-1 track day courses and bike rentals. But what makes them unique is the Desmosedici track session they offer. You can choose from two different experiences. 4 laps piloting this amazing Moto GP bike around the 1.5 mile courses nestled in the foothills with cost you 145 euros ($229). Or, if you are a little two timid to take the reins of a 200 Hp racer and try to fully exploit what it has to offer, sign up as a passenger for the very rare experiance of a Desmo biposto ride. 4 laps with a professional pilote ringing ever ounce of spectacular two-wheeled sensations will set you back only $59 euros ($93). For either option, they even include all your piece leather suit, back pad, boots and helmet. And the best part, no dealing with dodgy cagers!

For more info, contact: Dussauge Formation Détection (in French)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Harley-Davidson Acquires MV Agusta

If you haven't heard it yet, here's the official press release:

Milwaukee, Wis., July 11, 2008 — Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE: HOG) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to purchase the Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta Group (MVAG). Under the agreement, Harley-Davidson will acquire 100 percent of MV Agusta Group shares for total consideration of approximately 70 million euros ($109 million), which includes the satisfaction of existing bank debt for approximately 45 million euros ($70 million). In addition, the agreement provides for a contingent payment to Claudio Castiglioni in 2016, if certain financial targets are met. MV Agusta Group is privately held, with the Castiglioni family owning 95 percent of MVAG shares.

The acquisition
is expected to close in several weeks, pending the satisfaction of contingencies and receipt of regulatory approvals. Harley-Davidson intends to fund the transaction primarily through euro-denominated debt.

MV Agusta Group has two families of motorcycles: a line of exclusive, premium, high-performance sport motorcycles sold under the MV Agusta brand; and a line of lightweight motorcyc
les sold under the Cagiva brand. MV Agusta’s F4-R motorcycle, powered by a 1078cc in-line four-cylinder liquid cooled engine, is rated at 190 hp. The company sells its products through about 500 dealers worldwide, the vast majority of them in Europe. In 2007, MVAG shipped 5,819 motorcycles. During 2008 MVAG has significantly slowed production due to financial difficulties.

“Motorcycles are the heart, soul and passion of Harley-Davidson, Buell and MV Agusta,” said Harley-Davidson, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jim Ziemer. “Both have great products and close connections with incredibly devoted customers. The MV Agusta and Cagiva brands are well-known and highly regarded in Europe. They are synonymous with beautiful, premium, Italian performance motorcycles,” Ziemer said.

Harley-Davidson, Inc. plans to continue to operate MV Agusta Group from its headquarters based in Varese, Italy. Following closing, the first priority will be to appoint a leadership team to include a new Managing Director and to resume the manufacture of current models.

Current MV Agusta Group Chairman Claudio Castiglioni will continue in a leadership role as Chairman and will play a major role in future product development. Design Chief Massimo Tamburini will continue his leadership of MV Agusta Group’s world leading sport-bike design studio.

“We take enormous pride in MV Agusta and Cagiva motorcycles,” said Castiglioni. “Our riders seek an uncompromising experience in premium performance motorcycles. And with Harley-Davidson’s deep understanding of the emotional as well as the business side of motorcycling, I have great confidence that our motorcycles will excite customers for generations to come.”

According to Ziemer, the acquisition is intended primarily to expand Harley-Davidson, Inc’s presence and footprint in Europe, complementing the Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycle families. Retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles have grown at a double-digit rate in Europe in each of the last three years, as the Company has increased its strategic focus on global markets.

“The acquisition of MV Agusta Group will enhance Harley-Davidson, Inc’s position as a global leader in fulfilling customer dreams and providing extraordinary customer experiences. We look forward to a long relationship with the MV Agusta and Cagiva families of customers and employees,” said Ziemer.

American auto makers have been taking over European concerns for years, I guess it was inevitable that one day Harley would purchase a European motorcycle manufacturer....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tractor Cycle - Timless Design

You've probably heard the saying that "what's old is new again". Well lest you think the information posted on Friday was just a frivolous dream of a crazy Frenchman, check out the modern day designs of two German designers, Tilmann Schlootz and Oliver Keller.
You may have seen the Ball (front) and the Hyanide, in the news before as they were designed for the Michelin Challenge Design 2006. While the Hyanide is more akin to the design of J. Lehaitre in that it is mean to be a workhorse, the exciting Ball is a light weight racing design. Both designs uitlize a flexible rubber track for traction and are steered by both hands and feet. Conceptualized around a 500cc ATV engine, the frame design is adaptable to other application. Unfortunately, there are no plans to put them into production.

However at least one track drive cycle has previously reached production. Manufactured by Finncat Vehicule Oy of Posantie, Finland, the 1980 Finncat featured an unusual technological innovation: with no directional skis, it was guided and driven by the track, which consisted of two segments of pleated plastic. The segments stretched like an accordion and were joined longitudinally like a spinal column. Four guide wheels mounted on a directional pivot traveled along the centre of the track to provide steering. Two sprockets and the back gave the vehicle its forward power. The track would stretch to the right or left to turn the vehicle in the desired direction.

Source: Musee Bombardier

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bastille Day - National Holiday

Parades, Concerts, Fireworks...too much happening in Paris today...enjoy the Poster!

Roll Free

Friday, July 11, 2008

Invented: Tractor-Cycle

Source: Modern Mechanix

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Brittown Movie Screening Review

Well, if you didn't have the chance to make it out last night, you missed a great evening. Beautiful, well-used, vintage bikes were parked the entire length of narrow rue Princesse in the St. Germain-des-Prés district, pints of silky microbrews were pouring non-stop and worldly conversation of motorculture could be heard in every corner of the bar. Reps from Wild and Moto2 magazines made it out to support the screening and the stars of the evening, Scott and Zack from One World Studios, could not have been more gracious hosts, making themselves available for photos and discussion well beyond the focused nature of the event.

But you're here to know about the film, right? Is it worth picking up, have they captured the spirit that surrounds the vintage British bike culture? In one word...Absolutely! The imagery and sounds they've captured of Meatball and his gang, the classic Triumphs, mostly fully assembled, sometimes in pieces, and the music and bands that connect this whole subculture together have been masterfully assembled by these two emerging producer/directors. They may have only a few films under their belts, but they will definitely be worth keeping an eye on in the future, especially if you are into getting a good close look at mythical characters within the motorcycle world.

With Brittown, Scott and Zack have found a bit of a 60's renaissance man in Meatball, whose world revolves around his vintage Triumphs. While he might not be the type of guy you hang on every world to absorb his essence, he has an undeniable presence that becomes all the more impressionable by his passions. The strength of this film is seeing these vintage bikes under power, bounding over sandy dunes and hearing their parallel twins ripping down beautifully paved roads of Southern California. It's seeing them be torn down and put back together with meticulous care to get just the right look, power and reliability. It's catching the vibe of local Rockabilly bands whose notes reverberate so perfectly with their uncorked exhaust. The sounds and sights of this film may make you nostalgic for your youth or for a lost time you weren't blessed enough to experience first hand. Watch this film and you'll begin to scent sweet hints of grease, oil and exhaust fumes in the air, you'll feel the thump of a British twin in your chest and next thing you know you'll be heading for your own bike to get some personal wind in the face action. And if you've ever thought about tearing down your own Triumph twin, you'll get some great close up visuals that should make you a little less intimidated. Make sure to visit to get your copy today.

PS, if you appreciate a good pint now and then or some good pub food, make your way down to the Frog and Princess Pub and tell manager Nicolas that Richard from Rollin' Free sent ya!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Brittown Movie Screening in Paris

The guys from One World Studios in California are hosting a screening of their newest production - Brittown - tomorrow night at Frog & Princess Pub. It's a documentary following a vintage British bike mechanic, racer and rock band headman living in Southern California. The event starts at 6pm. Some of the crew from Wild Magazine will be there. You'll also have the chance to give me some personal feedback for the future content of this blog, just look for the guy with the Successful Apes MC t-shirt. If you can't make it tonight, make sure to check back tomorrow when I'll have a full review on the movie.

In the meantime, Roll Free...

Welcome to Rollin’ Free! part 2

Welcome back to Rollin’ Free. We left off yesterday starting to look at what this blog is going to be all about. And that is mostly motorcycles and motorcycling in France. What exists today in France is an extensive aftermarket industry, a few vehicle manufacturers and a broad range of enthusiasm for competition, touring, commuting and tuning. This leads me to my second objective for the site, which is to cast a spotlight on the individuals, organization and businesses that support the motorbike industry here in France. I hope that, in the long run, the international community may be able to profit from these resources.

Almost a parallel draw, we come to my third objective. This is to keep the English-speaking community based in or coming to France up to date on laws, events, products, news, etc…As an expatriate myself, it has taken some time to source the information I needed to continue riding and integrate, as well as connect with this subculture. Hopefully by being a one stop English language resource, I can help others find their way in a bit less time and with a bit less hassle.

We will, of course, be covering equaling interesting news each week from elsewhere in Europe, so don’t despair if you want to get some general moto news from the old world as well. I’m hoping this blog will take a life of its own, that its content becomes tailored to the needs of its readership. With that, I invite you to send your comments and suggestions so that we might render it as beneficial and interesting as possible to its audience.

Roll Free

Monday, July 07, 2008

Welcome to Rollin’ Free!

Welcome to Rollin’ Free! If you’ve made it here, we’re off to a good start because obviously you’re curious. But you may be thinking…hell, another blog and worse still another about motorcycles. How much can there be to talk about and why would you want to pass your free time here as opposed to elsewhere. Well, there’s not going to be any high pressure selling here. I’ll let my prose and my subject matter speak for itself and you’ll decide for me if I’m still doing this in 6 months, 1 year, etc…

So what of the subject matter, what specific niche of the motorcycle industry are we going to explore here? The broad focus, as you may have seen on my title bar, is the European market. But we are going to pay particular attention to the French market. Now why on earth would I want to concentrate on a market that barely has any presence? In fact, it’s precisely for that reason. Once upon a time there existed a huge number of motorbike manufacturers in France (view the title bar!). Of course, they’ve all but disappeared now. But the history is rich, unexplored and largely unknown to the Anglo-speaking world. Vintage British, American, German and Japanese machines have become highly valued collection pieces. But as beautiful and technically advanced as some vintage French motorcycles may have been, information has been slow to leak out to the international community. Among other objectives I have for this blog is to increase your awareness of this exciting history…

Come back tomorrow to find out more about the future of Rollin’ Free!