Idiots, Chinese and BMW

Stephen Edwards 5.8.2012

fotka

It’s been a while since I was able to write but you all know how it is with work, family and generally just trying to keep everything together. So sorry for the delay to those who actually read this!

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It was only a few weeks ago that I had a certain experience for the first time in thirty years of being involved with motorcycles. It is also one I would never have dreamed possible. I was in the centre of Prague, with my family joining the many thousands of tourists and locals who find themselves on Wenceslas Square on any typical warm Saturday. All of a sudden there started to appear a string of people on scooters, riding up one side of the square and down the other. The group of riders grew in number and it soon became evident that this was some kind of organised event. The riders were driving slowly, waving to the crowds, smiling and generally having a good time and all the while with the traffic and pedestrians stopped by the local police. It was a great sight to see and the atmosphere between the riders and the public was fantastic as people were smiling, waving back and generally enjoying the parade. It was an excellent event and I was happy not just because of the event itself but also to witness such a positive public display of motorcycling.

It was getting towards the end of the line of riders when things went a bit wrong. Two riders, one on a Kawasaki and the other on a KTM decided that they wanted to join in the party. They looked out of place and were obviously not supposed to be there. I am not sure if they are just a couple of show offs or just plain idiots but they decided that they had to make as much noise as possible, do short fast accelerating sprints, slam on the brakes and generally draw attention to themselves. The reaction of the people in the crowd was immediate and quite sad to witness as I could see the previous happy look on many faces instantly disappear. Another display of typical bikers, I could almost hear them say. It was at this point that I had my experience. I saw a Police motorcyclist watch the idiot on the KTM pull a wheelie and he was about to go after him but so many scooters were in the way that it was not possible before the intellectually challenged rider was off to exit the square. I actually wanted that guy to get stopped by the police and charged, which is something I have never wanted to see be done to a fellow biker before.

It saddens me that when there are so many in authority looking for any excuse to regulate something that the biggest threat to the enjoyment of motorcycling is actually from within. We have far too many of these idiots in our ranks, even if they are a minority. The trouble is they are the minority that people remember. So if any of you know who these two people were, please give them a good smack in the mouth on behalf of the rest of us!

Moving on to other things. First of all, the Chinese are coming! No big news there of course but in the motorcycle world their export efforts have so far been limited to small capacity machines aimed squarely at the bottom end of the market. I think it fair to say that these have been of ‘mixed’ quality and styling levels, at best. The news however is that they are launching some larger capacity machines and I fully expect these to raise the level in their product quality stakes quite significantly. I have been lucky enough, over the years, to have visited and worked in China on a number of occasions and have seen, first-hand, the reasons why they are as capable as any other country of producing top quality machines. My personal opinion is that the reason they have been sending us lower quality machines is because that is what the world wants. In other words cheap goods, no more, no less. I also believe that a lot of the export has actually been driven by importers who saw an opportunity to make a good profit quickly on a local scale. The export market, I am sure, is tiny compared to their domestic one. Details of some of the machines can be found elsewhere on Moto Denik but I think that they look, in the pictures, pretty promising and I expect to see a steady increase in the number of them in the coming years. It should be interesting.

Next is BMW on my list. The impact of the S1000RR has been quite incredible on the superbike world and now that has been transferred to the track with Marco Melandri taking wins in the World Superbike class. This in itself is amazing given the traditional position of the brand in the market. The bike was updated for this model year but was a bit lost in the fanfare that surrounded the launch of the Ducati Pannigale. The thing is that, in spite of the excellence of the new Italian machine, the BMW is still the best of the super bike bunch, in the eyes of many and on the track it is leading the way. So it was quite a story to hear that the company is upgrading the one bike that perhaps actually did not need it by launching a HP version called the H4. The changes are based around normal things like weight saving, modifications to engine mapping and new brakes but in addition it will have the world’s first motorcycle dynamic damping control, which alters the rates with no input, directly, from the rider. Launch control is also added but will be active only when the bike is in a certain engine map that is really meant for the track. This promises to be the ultimate bragging tool for making your friends envious while sharing stories in the pub. If any of us are actually good enough to ride it, is another question and who knows will be next. A Harley Davidson trials bike perhaps!

Last for this session is my public cheer to Czech racer Ondra Jezek riding in the World Super Stock championship. I have been lucky enough to meet Ondra on a couple of occasions in the last year and he has coached me as I tried to make a decent time around the Brno track. The fact I did not is no fault of his and I did improve with his help. Ondra has suffered some problems, earlier in the season, with a previous team and machine faults but now finds himself happy riding a 1098 for the Ducati Sloakia based oreganisation. He is a very nice guy with an incredible talent that I hope shall soon be seen by someone with a factory machine that will give him the chance to show his abilities to the full.

OK so that is it for now. I shall write again soon but until then be safe and enjoy yourselves.

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