newslogo*German Firm Wins Bid For Vespa

*Excelsior-Henderson Keeps On Keepin’ On

*Welsh Cops Caught In Own Speed Trap

*It is Alive



by Victor Wanchena

German Firm Wins Bid For Vespa
The Italian company Piaggio, best known to motorcyclists as the makers of the famous Vespa scooter, has been bought out by a German investment firm. The Morgan Grenfell Private Equity offered 752 million dollars for an 80% stake in the company. They out bid the Texas Pacific Group, the private investment group that recently saved Ducati from bankruptcy.

Morgan Grenfell also owns a 7% stake in Ducati since they went public earlier this year. Texas Pacific will also retain its 10% holding of Piaggio. A senior member of Morgan Grenfell’s board says he hopes to follow Texas Pacific’s lead and return the scooter maker to profitability and then go public with the company in the next three to five years.

Excelsior-Henderson Keeps On Keepin’ On
Excelsior-Henderson is still fighting their recent financial woes with the announcement that they have missed one payment of their loan from the State of Minnesota. According to E-H President, Jack Thorton, the company is trying to stretch their remaining cash while they revise sales and production figures. They have reportedly signed a letter of intent with two of their initial institutional lenders. The deal will provide an additional 4.5 million dollars to the cash starved E-H. “This new financing package not only shows investor confidence in our overall plan,” said Thorton, “but reflects the significant improvement the company has experienced in the key areas of distribution, cost control, and product innovation. Best of all , our employees, dealers, suppliers, and customers have accomplished solid progress in just six weeks.”

Since the layoffs and realignment of September E-H reports they have lowered the component cost of the bikes by 5% and their dealer network has increased by 20%.

E-H has also introduced a new model to their lineup. Called the Deadwood Special, it’s basically a standard Super-X with drag bars, a lower smaller seat, gloss black powder coating on the engine, and flamed paint job on the tank. It’s only available in black. The name of the new bike comes from the town in South Dakota where the Hanlons had their first inspiration to build the Super-X.

Welsh Cops Caught In Own Speed Trap
Welsh officials don’t like speeders, especially speeders on motorcycles. So to combat the recent rise in rider fatalities the Welsh have started Operation Safe Rider ’99 which among other things encourages riders to obey the speed limit though the use of speed traps. But since its inception the program has managed to nail four off-duty constables for riding at what can only be called an “elevated and aggressive” pace. In fact all of the constables were clocked doing in excess of 100 mph. It is unclear whether they were unaware of their own speed traps or were just in an incredible hurry.

It is Alive
The Tul-Aris is alive. For those of you who don’t remember, the Tul-Aris is an entirely home brewed GP bike built around a 700cc Polaris snowmobile motor and the brain child of astrophysicist and engineer–read rocket scientist–Dr. Robin Tuluie. Last year we were able to bring you a series of articles about what Rob and his team go through in designing and building the Tul-Aris. Now after some time the Tul-Aris has emerged from its secret lab.

I was brought blindfolded to their top secret test location for the Tul-Aris’ maiden run. Sans bodywork and mufflers, it was a sight to behold performing beyond expectations. The thunderous roar of the Tul-Aris made me think, “Something wicked this way comes,” and was not unlike the sound of a Klingon battle cruiser at takeoff. Stay tuned for more about Dr. Tuluie and the Tul-Aris in up coming issues of Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly.


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