Friday, July 24, 2009

To Late for Scorpa

If you've read my previous post, you now know there is a little know French motorcycle industry that actually still manufactures motorcycles. If you step back far enough through the decades, you'll find there was a pretty significant number of company's here doing just that. Now barely a handful of small producers exist including Voxan, Wakan, GIMA, Sherco and Side-Bike. Up until last week there was also Scorpa.

Founded in 1995, the corporation based in Alès garnered a strong reputation within the dirt bike world and certain models, such as the T-RIDE 250F (single cylinder), were extremely capable machines. Looking towards the future, Scorpa had even delved into the two-wheeled electric market establishing Scorpa Electric Vehicles (S.E.V.) in 2008. The E-Tricks was a combination mountain bicycle and off-road motorcycle. At feather weight 88 lbs. and offering 30+ miles of autonomy, it had received a fair amount of interest.

Help the French Motorcycle Industry: Moto Gima

Yesterday was all about an unique design from the past. Today it's about a bike that resembles many of the French motorcycles produced from the 1920-60's, but its design is actually a direct descendant from a manufacturer little known outside the Hexagon. GIMA (Groupement Industriel Métallurgique Automobile) is an acronym that signifies nothing for the majority of bikers; only a few old timers and collectors will remember this marque. But once upon a time, in 1949 to be exact, GIMA was the talk of the town having just won the championship in the celebrated Bol d'Or motorcycle race in the 125 category.

Today GIMA is under threat. This superb project reviving the quality, craftsmanship and legend of a classic marque is threatened by the economic crisis on one hand, but more so by administration on the other. A project has been launched by the Voxan Club of France to defend this personal and industrial venture. The principle: to protect jobs and allow the company to pursue a long-term project. If you care about not losing another motorcycle company to history, sign the online petition which will be sent to the Tribunal of Commerce of Clermont-Ferrand, the Ministry of Industry and René Ricol, the mediator appointed by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vintage French Trikes

There's been a resurgent interest in 3 wheelers the last few years, much of it possibly building off the commercial success of products such as the Piaggio MP3 and a number of alternative design eco-friendly commuter vehicle projects.

Looking through the local for sale ads the other day, I happened upon an interesting range of vehicles from the p
ast that I'd never heard of before. In 1925, a company called Poirier specializing in the distribution of medical equipment, began producing trikes in 47 and 125cc variants utilizing Saxonette and Ydral engines. The hand operated three wheelers were primarily developed for persons with easily fatigued, paralyzed or amputated legs. It seems they continued production of these vehicles until the late 1950s. Based out of Fondettes in the department of Indre & Loire (37), the company is still in existence today but is now known as Invacare Poirier and focuses on a wide-range of equipment for handicapped individuals including a huge selection of wheelchairs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Motocicli Veloci Cafè

After the heaviness of yesterdays entry I thought I'd write about something a bit more relaxing today...although you'll have to head to Italy to sample this latest discovery!

Everybody says they want to do something different but it is rare when one succeeds in having the courage to do it. Often it is difficult to find just the right place that combines good local tastes, culture, scenery and interest.
Motocicli Veloci Cafè was created with this passion. Whether dropping in for a quick lunch, an afterwork aperitif, supper amongst friends and colleagues or a 'romantic' dining experience with someone special, this place is a must for motorcycle enthusiasts when in Milan.

This is a café that sanctifies the passion for two wheels and the roots of all its culture. The Motocicli Veloci Cafè is a place where one can arrive to hear talk of an Aermacchi competitione in the manner of which one speaks of a fine wine. It's sort of a cross between a club, a pub, a tavern of other times, a workshop and a cave of vintage wines. A wide range of hand selected local and foreign specialty beers and wines are available and every Sunday brunch is offered. If either MOTOGP and/or SUPERBIKE are running, you can bet they'll be on the flat screens.

Monday, July 20, 2009

French Radar Precision - Tolerance Reduced

There has been some mis-information in the press and across a number of blogs lately regarding speeding tolerance and radars in France. It has been stated that the tolerance allowed above the official speed limit and the point at which a ticket will be issued will be reduced from 5-3 kph for speeds below 100 kph and 5-3% above 100 kph.

In fact,
in an issued statement by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment, the new regulations apply not to motorists and the speed they are traveling, but to manufacturers of radar units (after 1 January 2010) according to Article 5 of the Decree of 4 June 2009 on radar units: the maximum permissible margin of error applicable to new or repaired instruments are as follows:
  • Fixed radars: +/- 3 kph for speeds below 100 kph, +/- 3% for speeds equal to or greater than 100kmh
  • Mobile radars: +/-7 kph for speeds below 100 kph, +/- 7 % for speeds equal to or greater than 100 kph
The lowering of the margin of error is therefore the factory output of radar measuring units and not the measure of speed the police will continue to apply motorists. The latter will remain with margin of 5 kph for speeds below 100 kph or 5% above 100 kph. However, the new order repealed the Decree of 7 January 1991 on the construction, testing and technical details for the use of radar units that originally defined this tolerance, thus there is no current legislation guarantying this margin. Gérard Gachet, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior did issue a statement that the allowance currently given to motorists should be maintained in the absence of a decree of the Ministry of Justice.

It remains to be seen now if this this tolerance will continue by the authorities...

Source: Nouvel Observateur,
Le blog 100% radars

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dunlop Puncture Insurance

Until the 30 of September Dunlop France is offering puncture insurance for new purchasers of Sportmax Roadsmart tires. Authorized dealers are offering this promo which covers you for a full year for only 1 Euro.

In case of a puncture, you call 24/7 assistance hotline and within one hour a serviceman will arrive. The insurance covers labor for repair, a new tire, plus, if needed, towing away to a service facility no futher that 60 km away.

The insurance contract is actually carried through the FMA (France Bike Assurances) and Europ Assistance.

First marketed in 2007, the Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart is intended for the pilots of sport touring and GT motorcycles. Its dual compound construction offers long mileage, comfort and security on wet roads.

Source: Le Repaire des Motards

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Hangin with the Classic Motorcycle Club of Greece

All kidding aside from my last post, the motorcycle culture in Greece is actually quite alive and very interesting. There are a number of clubs located throughout the country dedicated to vintage motorcycles from all over the world. A couple nights ago, I dropped in on the Classic Motorcycle Club of Greece which maintains a small but impressive clubhouse right in the heart of Athens.

The club numbers over 250 members including riders from both sexes and a few expats. They get together on a weekly basis and are very active hosting rallies and events throughout the year. Their VP, Elias and Secretary, Dimitrios showed great hospitality and spent a good part of their evening telling me about the history and future of their club. A couple nights a week, you’ll find at lease a dozen members at the clubhouse and any body's when it comes to what is parked outside. The night I was there I saw a beautiful vintage Triton, a couple vintage Guzzis and old Bmw with side-car and a more modern Ducati 999 converted into a sharp looking streetfighter. To find out more visit the Classic Motorcycle Club of Greece.