Friday, 25 January 2013

News Update: Bikes still good to go in the Vosges

In a development to the article we ran on Wednesday (“Does France want motorbikes off its roads?”), we are pleased to announce that Mr Alain Perret, Prefect of the Haut-Rhin Département, whose jurisdiction includes the Vosges region, has backed down from his intentions to pass a measure banning motorcycles from using the regions roads at weekends.

Alain Perret, Prefect of the Haut-Rhin

It would appear that Monsieur le Préfet didn’t expect that the announcement of his intentions would cause such immediate and large-scale furore amongst France’s active and vociferous motorcycling community. He was so taken aback by the reaction that earlier today he announced that the controversial measure “is not on the agenda”. However he went on to justify the original measure with the following words:

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Obituary: Kevin Ash

A tweet yesterday by Charley Boorman caused me great sorrow. He was announcing that Kevin Ash had died in a road traffic accident in South Africa during the press launch of a new BMW motorcycle. The news was confirmed by a release on the website of the Daily Telegraph, one of the various newspapers and magazines for which he wrote.

Kevin Ash

BMW Motorrad released the following press statement: “It is with deep regret that BMW Motorrad confirms the fatal injury of Kevin Ash in a motorcycle accident during a launch event in South Africa. The accident happened to the north of a town called George, 250 kilometres east of Cape Town. Out of respect for Kevin's family and friends, no further information is being made available at this time.”

BMW Motorrad UK’s General Manager, Adrian Roderick, made the following comment: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear the awful news about Kevin Ash; one of the most well-liked, experienced and respected journalists in the extremely close-knit motorcycle community. Losing Kevin is a tragedy that will be felt across the entire industry. He was a friend, as much as a journalist, and will be sorely missed. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this awful time.” [...]

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Does France want motorbikes off its roads?

While I was browsing the French motorcycle news website Le Repaire des Motards I came across a rather alarming snippet of news (read it in full – and in French – here) that could represent a great threat to motorcycling in France.

For those of you who used to sleep at the back of the classroom during French lessons and can’t read the linked article, it would appear that Alain Perret, the Prefect (govt. representative) of the Haut-Rhin département would like to make it illegal for motorcyclists to ride on the roads of the département’s Vosges region at weekends.

His argument for touting such a measure is that people in the Vosges are sick and tired of motorcyclists’ high-speed shenanigans on the local mountain roads, along with the high accident rate for motorbikes. In his view, both these reasons warrant a blanket ban on bikes at the weekend.

This photo could soon be a thing of the past

Now don’t get me wrong: I feel concerned by both issues mentioned. I am as annoyed as anybody else by the antics of an irresponsible minority of brainless morons on bikes who go tear-arsing around with scant regard for the safety and welfare of other, more sedate road users. And I also applaud any intelligent measure aimed at reducing motorcycle accident statistics. But gunning for an entire collective just because a handful of them misbehave is outrageous. It smacks of racism; imagine preventing people from ethnic minorities from moving around freely just because a handful of them screw around – people would be up in arms, and rightly so! Well I’m sorry, but this measure is just as discriminatory and unacceptable. [...]

Monday, 14 January 2013

Obituary: Jean-Claude Olivier

In France, when you mention Yamaha, chances are that people will reply “Jean-Claude Olivier”.

For 45 years, Jean-Claude-Olivier, or “JCO” as many people knew him, was the face of and the brains behind Yamaha’s presence in France. So much so, in fact, that it sometimes seemed as if Yamaha France was a one-man band. Of course, that’s not the case, but it is true that Olivier did a vast amount of hard work to durably implant Yamaha motorcycles in France.

A typical day at the office for "JCO"

JCO joined Sonauto in 1964. At the time Sonauto officially distributed Porsche cars in France and had recently acquired the rights to do likewise with Yamaha motorcycles, having recently taken over from early importers Levallois Motos. Auguste Veuillet, Sonauto’s boss was a close friend of JCO’s father, Gonzague, (the pair had notably won the 1955 24 Heures de Paris endurance race). Olivier Sr. asked Veuillet if he could take on his son as an intern. Veuillet accepted, and the young Jean-Claude quickly found himself at the wheel of a Peugeot J5 van with four Yamahas in the back (a 50cc, an 80cc, a 125cc and a 250cc), crisscrossing France in order to set up a stable dealership network. After one year, in 1965, the network had sold 117 bikes. Three years later, in 1968, that figure had risen to 1,000 units.

At the end of the Sixties, Yamaha brought out a range of dual-purpose trail bikes that instantly met success on the American market. JCO realised that these simple and easy-to-ride little bikes would be ideal for making motorcycling appealing to a wider client base. And so it was that, thanks to his circle of friends and business relations, he managed to get Brigitte Bardot on a small AT-1 for one day (presumably without any mishap to the French star’s person). Naturally, hordes of paparazzi and proper press photographers were on hand to immortalise the event. Predictably, Yamaha’s sales figures jumped sky-high. [...]

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stolen Bike Alert!

The bike shown in the following pictures has been stolen from its proud - and currently distraught - owner.


The bike in question is a Honda CB 500/Four in a rare brown colour. It was sourced in Germany for its owner by French Honda restoration specialists Génération Scrambler , and is fitted with a German-spec rear lights and indicators (turn signals for our transatlantic readers). It bears the chassis Nº CB50-2074302 and the engine Nº CB500E-2162885.


If you are proposed this bike by a seller, or if you see it in a classified ad, please get in contact with Génération Scrambler by email or via the following phone Nº: (+33) (0)1 77 19 85 94 (only dial the 0 in brackets if calling from France).

Photos © Le Repaire des Motards / Génération Scrambler