By Thomas Day
MZ No More
East Germany’s long-suffering MZ Motorcycles (Motorcycle Works Zschopau) will close its doors December 31st. While MZ has been missing from the US for a while, the parent company, Hong Leong Industries, has decided the brand’s fate is terminal. 40 factory workers will lose their jobs. Hong Leong Industries purchased the bike brand in 1996 and has been losing money ever since.
Guzzi Plant Gone?
Piaggio, the owner of the Moto Guzzi brand, has decided to consolodate the company’s manufacturing capacity by closing the historic Mandello Del Lario Moto Guzzi factory. Moto Guzzi products have been built in the same factory since the beginning of the brand in 1921. Piaggio hopes that the capabilities of the new, larger facility will increase the resources for the brand.
Supposedly, the brand’s “distinguishing characteristics” will be unchanged; the company hopes to achieve “significant economies of scale by rationalising the technical, industrial, design and style operations of the two companies.” Production activities should be transferred to the new facility by mid November. Piaggio has moved production of the 50cc scooter to China, and truck manufacturing to India, freeing up capacity at both the Noale Aprilia plant and the Pontedera Piaggio facility.
Low Noise Racing
The 2008 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Congress passed 47 rule proposals at the 2008 annual meeting, including “a 94 dB(a) standard for all amateur and Pro-Am motocross and off-road competition.” The new rules become effective in 2011. This new standard mirrors the 2009 FIM noise standards for similar events.
“Few issues contribute more to misunderstanding and prejudice against the motorcycling community than excessively loud motorcycles, and this measure addresses the issue head-on,” said AMA President and CEO, Rob Dingman.
Mongols Back in the News
The Mongols Motorcycle Gang are back in the news, again. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rounded up 61 members and served 110 warrants in an indictment that “puts a stake in the heart of the Mongols,” according to Michael Sullivan, the ATF acting director. The undercover investigation crossed six states (Southern California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Ohio) and male and female federal agents infiltrated the gang, passing lie detector tests and working their way into the group. The ATF and federal prosecutors hope this might put an end to the “criminal group” activities. The Mongols claim to be a “social club,” but federal prosecutors have called them “a criminal gang involved in murder, torture, drug trafficking and other offenses.”
U.S. Attorney, Thomas O’Brien asked the courts to seize the Mongols’ trademarked name. “It would allow law enforcement to seize the leather jackets right off their back.”
MMM recently reviewed a book about the activities of the Mongol Nation: William Queen’s Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America’s Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. (MMM #101)
Let the Class Wars Begin
The AMA has announced the structure for the 2009 road racing season. “American Superbike,” the traditional 1,000cc series, will be the new premier AMA Pro Racing class. Two 50 mile feature races will be the format for most American Superbike events. Daytona SportBike, the new middleweight class, will debut at the 2009 Daytona 200. This class features “a broad range of competition equipment that formerly competed in AMA Supersport and AMA Formula Xtreme, as well as two- and three-cylinder machines not normally featured in AMA Professional events.” A new entry-level SuperSport class will before “ professionally licensed riders aged 16-21, competing on 600cc production motorcycles with minimal modifications.” Two other race classes will be the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup and the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series.
“The class structure we are announcing today bears little resemblance to that which we proposed several months ago, however I believe it will accomplish our goals of increased safety, parity and cost containment,” said Roger Edmondson, President of AMA Pro Racing. “ The AMA class rules are posted on the internet at www.amasuperbike.com.
Vincent Goes the Distance
Retired chemistry instructor, 80 year-old Stuart Jenkinson is giving up the touring business. Since he’s no longer putting on the leathers on a regular basis, his 1955 Vincent Vincent Black Prince will be going into semi-retirement with only 715,000 miles logged on the odometer.
When Jenkinson retired from teaching at 56, he started a new career as a motorcycle tour guide, founding Bike and Sun Tours International and providing motorcycle tours all over Europe. In August, he decided to hang it up. He hasn’t quit motorcycling, but from here out he’ll just be riding around his home in Guisboroughfull, England. He’s retired from riding for hire.
Jenkinson started riding at age 18, on a 1927 Ariel; followed by a Triumph, a New Imperial, a Velocette, and three Vincents. His last and favorite ride was the bike he calls “ Vinnylonglegs.” “The bike is as good as ever and is very reliable. But it’s getting a bit heavy for me to maul about at a standstill. At my age I’m not quite as strong as I was. Also, competition has increased and now seems a sensible time to stop.”
Uniformed Danger on Two Wheels
The military is worried about soldiers and sailors on two wheels. The Navy and the Marines have made special training mandatory for sport bike riders in the service. In September alone, four sailors died on motorcycles. In the past year, 58 sailors and marines were killed on motorcycles. 50 of those deaths were on sport bikes. The Army also has a training program and lost 36 men in the same period.
Dale Wisnieski, a retired Virginia motorcycle police officer who manages the Navy program, said, “We’ve got machines right now that are governed at 187 miles per hour that you can buy on a showroom floor in our country and not even have a motorcycle license to buy it.”
A year ago, Navy officials joined with the MSF to create the Military Sportbike Rider Course, which was implemented a few months later. To ride a motorcycle on base, a rider must have completed the MSF’s Basic Rider Course. They must be helmeted, regardless of state law. Of the 17,000 sport bike riders in the Navy and Marines, approximately 1,600 have taken the course.
As yet, training does not seem to provide protection from motorcycle crashes. One of the four September deaths was a recent sport bike class graduate. Wisnieski said, “The military sport bike course is not the silver bullet to our problem.”
New Aerostich Products
Minnesota’s Aerostich brand introduced two new products this fall; the Airvantage® Liner and the Aerostich Transit Suit. The Airvantage® Liner incorporates “electrics that run all the way through non-detachable sleeves” and the increased efficiency of an air insulator and maximum heat transfer due improved contact with the heated liner. The Transit Suit is made with “an entirely new material – GORE-TEX® Pro Shell Leather. “ This new material is “completely waterproof . . . up to 30° cooler than traditional leather gear,” and the suit “contains a complete set of carefully fitted, yet easily removable TF armor systems – elbow, shoulder, knee and back pads.”
BMW 2005-2006 HP2 Enduro: Loose fastener for the Paralever link allows the final drive to come loose causing a loss of control.
Buell 2008-2008 XB12XT; 2009 XB12XP: Windshields can come off at high speed.
Buell 2009 1125CR: Rear cylinder cam chain tension guide comes apart allowing plastic to enter the oil system leading to a sudden engine seizure. Ducati 2008 Desmosedici RR: Loose clamps for the fuel tank drain and breather hoses can cause fuel leaks.
Polaris 2008 Victory Vision: Loose terminal nuts securing the power supply wires to the circuit breaker causes power loss and an unexpected stall.
Triumph: 2008 Sprint ST: Failure of the 3 bolts used in the rear suspension drag-link can cause the rear suspension to detach causing a loss of control.
Yamaha: 2007 XF50, XC50: Engine connecting rod failure causes a sudden engine seizure and the loss of vehicle control.