Monday, June 29, 2009

Musings From Abroad - Greece

I'm in Greece for the next couple weeks and don't know how regularly I'll be able to post new entries, but if you do check back I promise to note down some interesting bits when I find myself with an available internet connection. As it is, I've already discovered some incredible motorcycle accessory stores, learned a bit about the history of Harley-Davidson in Greece and zeroed in on local happenings. As I get more precise info and photos I'll make sure to pass it all on. In the meantime, I'll leave you with the one photo I've been able to shot of the elusive hardcore Greek biker.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Xenon Headlight Use Frowned Upon in Paris

General warning to all expats in France and travelers. For several weeks, the préfecture de police of Paris, without having given formal notice of their intention or reasoning, have been verbally controlling two-wheeled vehicles equipped with xenon headlamps. Even though the vehicle code is relatively clear on the subject (modifying the original lighting, without the agreement of the DRIRE, puts in question the legal compliance of the vehicle and subjects the driver liable to a fine), the sale of 'homologated' Xenon kits and their installation by official dealers creates confusion for motorcycle consumers who are being persuaded to improve their security in installing this equipment.

Tests realized by Moto Magazine do not necessarily reflect the same opinion on the matter of security. The reviewers recognized that "xenon offers a stronger, wider and denser lighting, giving a superior visual beam in comparison to a halogen bulb" but to the "detriment of the user". In their view, "using xenon as low beams can be annoying to other drivers as the light source can be to strong." Xenon doesn't necessarily allow you see any better, but to be better seen at the same time possibly blinding others…

In any case, before resorting to handing out tickets, it would seem better to inform the drivers that are installing these units more through a lack of understanding than by a deliberate will to infringe upon the law. Riders be forewarned.

Source: FFMC

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New French Moto-Taxi Regulation

The unregulated affair of motorcycle-taxi businesses in France will soon be changing. Last week, the National Assembly adopted an amendment establishing rules for this means of transportation.

Moto-taxis began appearing in Paris in 2001 and eventually their presence spread to other large cities in France. They now number between 270 and 300 bikes in Paris alone. For a speedy trip into a major city from the airport or getting swiftly through traffic to make a meeting on time, moto-taxis have become 'the' way to get around for executives and financially privileged. Fares tend to be in the neighborhood of 20% more costly than traditional taxis.

The legislation enacted was proposed within the framework of a tourism law project, wherein the text subjects these businesses to a system of authorization. Once implemented the code stipulates that motorcycles will have to be less than 3 years old and chauffeurs must be licensed for more than five years. Additionally, they cannot have been found at fault in an accident during the last five years. Unlike traditional taxis, the moto-taxis will not be given access to taxi-station areas and will continue to work on reservation. Any violation to these rules may subject the operator to one year in prison and a fine of 150,000 Euros.

If you happen to find yourself in need of specialized transport the next time you are in France, there are a number of companys that offer moto-taxi services in Paris alone, including: All By Bike, Citibird, Motocab, Moto Taxi Parisien & Skoot. Most also mantain partnerships with moto-taxi services in other French cities.

Monday, June 22, 2009

1st Festival de la Moto et du Scooter - Fall 2009

The Mondial du Deux Roues, the premier French motorcycle show held every two years and scheduled to be held this fall has been has been delayed until to 2010 due to the worldwide economic crisis leaving a lot of enthusiasts dismayed. Nevertheless a new major Parisian event is in the works for the Fall 2009. The 1st Festival de la Moto et du Scooter will be held from the 18th to 20th of September at the Parc Floral.

The Festival de la Moto et du Scooter has been organized in partnership with the dealerships in Paris. This will be the occasion to take advantage of special offers on leftover 2009 models and to discover new models for 2010. The event will be divided into several thematic spaces:

: Marque by Marque, a full range of 2009 and 2010 models will be available for sale or pre-order.

: Dealer garanteed motorcycles and scooters will be located in the heart of the salon with with information concerning the offering dealership. In parallel, a full range of insurance and financing providers will be available to compare pricing and find the benefits most adapted your need.

Accessories & Equipment
: Here you'll find the a large selection of products including best deals on end of season pricing gear.

Prestige and Tuner Bikes
: Amateurs transformations and professionals alike will be present including the likes of Bimota, NCR and Mécatwin.

The Joe Bar Café
: 100% Joe Bar atmosphere including Free Concerts and Special Preparations

Entry: 5 Euros, free for children under 10 years old

For up to date information check out the Festival de la Moto et du Scooter website

Friday, June 19, 2009

SIMA presents Husqvarna 2010 Specs

SIMA, the distributor for Husqvarna motorcycles has just unveiled the technical specifications of its Enduro and Motorcross models for 2010. An all new 250 TE is being introduced. This four stroke fuel-injected bike with cutting edge engine design, made its highly successful debut in the World Enduro series with Antoine Meo. Additionally, new graphics and bodywork will be presented throughout the line and a long list of technical evolutions have been included on the 125 WR, 125 CR, 250 TC and 450 TC. Less weight, increased reliability, improved performance and handling have been the key elements behind the development work carried out by Husqvarna engineers on the new models for 2010. Full details can be found at

Source: Moto-Station

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Journées Nationales de la Moto et du Scooter
The Transport Secretary's Changing Mentality

The 2nd Annual 'Journées Nationales de la Moto et du Scooter' (JNMS) inaugurated by the Interdepartmental Delegate to Road Security Mme Michèle Merli, were held this past weekend on the Linas-Montlhéry Racetrack. These two National Motorcycle and Scooter Days centered on environment, security and camaraderie.

Representing Dominique Bussereau, the State Secretary of Transport, Mme Merli reviewed the special attention she holds towards two wheel motorized vehicles and campaigned for the pursuit of continued and open dialog. In her eyes, motorcycles and scooters cannot be cast aside within the global concern for road security. In her speech, she spoke of her desire to see road users "live a pacified path, in respect of a common code: the road code."; a text that includes the evolution of "the code of road security for the 21st century". She called for beginning discussions with certain national representatives of the motorcycle and scooter sectors in hope that the end result is that "the liberty of two wheeled transport is no longer a liberty that kills!" An inspiring speech that changes the current political climate in France, but offers no concrete results for the moment.

Source: Moto-Station

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adoption of European Motorcyclist Safe Guardrail
Standard Delayed

The European Committee for Standardization's (CEN) Technical Committee on road equipment (TC226) held its annual meeting in Berlin this month. A proposed draft standard, by the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations (FEMA), which would make guardrails safer for motorcyclists was not on the agenda for adoption. The draft, based on an existing standard in Spain, was not submitted for voting due to receiving concerned feedback from over a hundred parties. The standard currently employed in Spain has demonstrated proven efficiency in reducing motorcyclist accident injury and is used by several other countries in their national efforts to minimizing road hazards.

FEMA’s General Secretary, who has actively participated in the preparation of the draft, says: “I believe some CEN participants tend to forget the reality behind the objective. Some participants are trying to minimize the problem while some others only focus on detailed technical criteria in order to have the best standard at first shot. But the truth is that motorcyclists are being killed sliding on roads in the meantime. And to those who complain that this issue is a minor problem considering the number of motorcycles in comparison to other vehicles, I would like to strongly remind them of one very essential principle in road safety: whatever minority or majority of road users it is about, in no way should the safety of some endanger the life of others! FEMA wouldn’t have spent 20 years of energy and motorcyclists’ money if this was not a real issue!”

FEMA supports the draft standard proposal as it is. Any other impact configurations and/or technical improvements of the proposed standard should be considered at a later stage. The next TC266 sub committee meeting is expected to take place sometime in September.

Read more: FEMA Crash Barrier study and report

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Koolgraph - Art of Kustom

Koolgraph is a French website that is a little bit of everything for those of you who are into the Kustom Kulture. Check out their boutique for bitchin' tee's and gear with a serious vintage rod and moto feel. No doubt this is how they're making there money, but while you are on site, take some time to browse around...Warning! might be there for a while. There are some incredible gallerys of cars and bikes, projects and cartoons, an e-zine, music and movies. I'm not sure who's behind all this, as I haven't been able to decipher this yet from the site, but it's certainly very creative and will easily burn a few hours of time away while exploring everything.

Monday, June 15, 2009

S&S Cycle extends TÜV approved Euro III line

The famed American manufacturer of Harley-Davidson performance parts and engines, S&S Cycle has announced approval of its carbureted V-Series engine to EURO III noise and exhaust emission standards as a part of its on-going program "to offer more Proven Performance products that meet today's increasing emissions standards". The addition to its current list of emissions certified engines is the S&S V113, a carbureted 113 cubic inch V-Series engine "that has been approved by the TÜV to meet the current EURO III noise and exhaust emission standards. Approval of the V113 offers European custom bike builders the opportunity to build custom motorcycles containing a sought after V-Twin power plant while still being able to register their creations."

Director of Business Development Michael Scaletta commented that "we are very pleased about achieving EURO III certification for our engines. Not only does it demonstrate the sophistication of our technology, but also highlights our commitment to protecting the environment by producing emissions-compliant, high performance products - something we have been doing since the first S&S 50-state legal engines appeared in our catalog in 1998." S&S say the V113 will be offered in natural, wrinkle black powder coat and polished finishes, and that each engine will include an S&S IST ignition system, Super G carburetor, Teardrop air cleaner and the necessary TÜV documentation for the engine.

Installation of these engines will require an exhaust system containing catalysts and secondary air injection. A notice is included with the engine with the details of where these components can be sourced.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ducati Design by Fashion Icon Christian Audigier

A little news from the states that concerns one of Italy's finest. French fashion designer, Christian Audigier, announced plans back in November to create a line of customized vehicles inspired by first-class fashion (Ed Hardy) and jet-set lifestyle under the banner of CA Motoring based in New York. While the flagship of his offerings is a bloated SUV, his latest offering merits space in these pages.

Christian has teamed up with Rever Corsa, a full spectrum motorcycle shop and noteworthy developer of 'advanced motorsport solutions' located in Austin, Texas. The Ducati Monster 1100 they've put together brings the signature Ed Hardy inspired graphics to motorcycle art with its vibrant and colorful tattoo-inspired design. The tattooed art is a mixture of airbrush and vinyl. The gas tank features a detailed gold leaf that has been carefully laid and then brushed to give it a distinctive “fish scale” look. “The Monster platform has been used extensively as a platform for personalization so naturally Ducati was excited to see what a fashion icon like Christian Audigier could do with the bike,” said Michael Lock, CEO of Ducati North America. The limited edition motorcycle retails for $55,000. For more images, check out Rever Corsa.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Born Bad Music Festival & Vintage Swap Meet

If you happen to be Rockabilly biker stuck in Paris and feel like there's nothing happening in this scene, are you in for a weekend. The famous '100% rock'n'roll' Parisian store "Born Bad" is celebrating in grand style this week its 10 years of Rock activism and militancy. Known more than just a store for clothing, hard-to-find 45" vinyls and other rare items, Born Bad defines the vintage era of R-n-R. For the grand celebration, they are hosting a 4 day festival with classic rockabilly and garage band the first three nights, with headliners The Mummies taking the stage Saturday night and Vintage Swap Meet on Sunday promising a surprise band. For more information, check out the Born Bad Festival website (English).

French Motorcycle/Scooter Market - May 2009

The motorcycle market back in the U.S. has been hit on all fronts by the economic crisis. Harley-Davidson seems to be among the hardest hit and have speculateing lay-offs and even a plant closure. In France, things are not quite the same. HD has actually been the strongest player of late in realizing over a 91% increase in sales in comparison to the same month last year. Most of the European manufacturers have also seen a significant increase in sales, while only Kawasaki among the Japanese marques has seen an tiny increase. For the full story, check out Moto-Station (in French).

Source: Moto-Station

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ZOOM Rih Sportsbike Concept

The vision behind the Rih sportbike concept from the ZOOM Design Agency becomes amply clear once you know that “Rih” is the Arabic word for wind. The German designer created this bike for a small production run targeted at racing enthusiasts. The challenge was to develop a competitive sportbike with no compromises in terms of performance, weight, aerodynamics and chassis design, but at the same time include unique and unusual design elements.

The windshield is fixed just above twin RAM inlets and a onboard camera for video recording is located were one would normally find a headlight. Membranes mounted on the fuel tank interrupt the endless flow of carbon fiber bodywork. Connected to the air box, these lung-shaped membranes “react” to the changing air pressure as it passes through the ram inlets and airbox and into the throttle bodies. This in essence gives the impression that the bike is breathing while in operation.

The frame and swingarm of the ZOOM Rih are of seemingly conventional tubular design, but their form is meant to invoke the impression of muscle strands and sinews. The logos on the tires are also decorated in a unique fashion as they are highlighted using thermochromatic pigments that change color depending on the temperature of the rubber, making it easier to recognize when the tires have reached optimum temperature. Power is derived from a 1000cc V4 sourced out of the Aprilia V4.

There is not much information on their website, but they have some other interesting products to browse through. No idea either if this design will actually move forward to production.

Source: The Design Blog, Diseno-art

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

France 2 host World Championship Affiliate Event

In the past few years, the French market has emerged as a major player on the European custom scene despite the difficulties that the market faces, including some of the most difficult regulations in Europe. Builders such as Nicholas Chauvin, Claude Babot and Bertrand Dubet have been respected for years, but success at the Official European Championship and elsewhere for the likes of Xavier Chante (Riverside Motocyclettes), Cyril Gautier (Art of Racer), Jean-Claude Passetemps (School Bar Atelier), Laurent Dutruel (Zen Motorcycles) and Fred Duban (Dub Performance) have firmly placed French customizing at the top rung in terms innovation and creativity in recent years.

In fact, 2007 saw two French builders in the top three places at the European Championships, with five in the top twenty and top ten placings at both the last World Championships.

American Motorcycle Dealer (AMD) magazine, the promoter of Official World & European Championship of Custom Bike Building is now recognizing the efforts of Wild Magazine, a popular custom motorcycle magazine in France, in forging a relationship with the picturesque town of La Clusaz and getting a new Rally underway this year. AMD will be crowning the '
VIVA LA CLUSAZ!' rally as a World Championship Affiliate event for the French market. Dates are set for June 19th to 21st. For those unfamiliar with La Clusaz, it is located in the popular motorcycle touring area of the French Alps, close to the Swiss border.

The event aims to promote domestic French customizing and attract leading competitors from elsewhere in Europe. Through the International Affiliate program, two full expense paid trips to the Sturgis Bike Rally will be awarded, one for the leading French builder, and one for the leading 'International' entrant.

Rollin' Free is back from Hiatus

Last fall I began an intensive education program that really ate up my free time and took me away from this little project that I had been really excited about launching. Well the program is finished and I've be putting together a hole bunch of exciting stories to bring Rollin' Free for anybody who still might be checking in now and again or for any future visitors to backtrack through in their spare time. I've also picked up a project bike; a '77 Yamaha Xs500 that I'm turning into a Cafe Racer. So in addition to the original plan for articles, I also plan on adding some insight into the practical world of bike restoration, modification and maintenance in France. New articles will be arriving immediately!