Egli Bikes Workshop To Shut

The motorbike enterprise has by no means been straightforward, and even a well-known title can not guarantee a future for a small manufacturing unit.  Alexander and Felicitas Frei bought Egli Motorradtechnik AG from Fritz Egli in 2015, with excessive hopes to hold on together with his legacy of constructing superb high-performance cafe racers.  This week, the Freis put out a press launch stating they’re shuttering the well-known home of Egli:

Alexander Frei and Fritz W. Egli, from the web site of Egli Bikes.

There’s a time for the whole lot…

Greater than 9 years in the past, Fritz W. Egli was searching for a successor for his Egli Motorradtechnik AG and at last discovered it in 2015. After we stepped in to proceed the corporate at its location in Bettwil, our intention was not simply to maintain the workshop because it was on the time and to proceed importing manufacturers. We needed to boost Egli to a better stage as a Swiss Motorbike model and in addition to construct up a traditional division which, along with the Egli vary, would fastidiously restore classic and traditional bikes by hand.Our re-entry into the racing scene with our involvement within the IOM Basic TT was meant to be an additional step in direction of revitalizing the model. On the identical time, we tried to carry the Egli-Vincent trademark again to its place of birth. Sadly in useless – the Vincent and Egli-Vincent manufacturers had been bought to a bunch in India [actually, the names were licensed by their owner many years ago – ed.].

After the presentation of the brand new Egli “Fritz W.” in 2017, the concept of an Egli Motorbike developed and manufactured totally in Switzerland – together with its personal engine with highway approval – turned an increasing number of concrete, till the beginning sign for the brand new venture was given in 2018 with a workforce of younger engineers and certified staff. The brand new Egli with a 1400 cc V2 engine is working, has already handed the primary noise and exhaust measurements and has lined a substantial distance on closed roads. We have now come a great distance, however we’re nonetheless too distant from highway homologation and it’ll take a whole lot of time and extra monetary dedication to beat the ultimate hurdles within the „forest“ of requirements and laws.

The world has modified quickly lately – economically, politically and environmentally – and the necessities on motorized site visitors are altering on the identical tempo. We too have now reached retirement age and have due to this fact determined to step again from day by day enterprise.

Over the previous 9 years, now we have had many nice moments with clients, staff, enterprise companions and mates. We had been in a position to have a good time successes and in addition needed to cope with setbacks – the whole lot that’s a part of an thrilling motorbike life. We want to thanks all very a lot for this. With out your assist, many issues wouldn’t have been potential. However the whole lot has its time and so we’ll stop enterprise operations on the Bettwil on November 30, 2023 and put the corporate into an orderly liquidation.
We’re happy and grateful that each one staff have already discovered a brand new job or have determined to develop into self-employed.
We want you all the very best for the longer term!
– Alexander & Felicitas Frei

On your extra curiosity: the next is an unique interview for The Vintagent with Alexander Frei, after his bought the Egli title outright from Fritz W. Egli.  Paul has lengthy identified Alexander’s cousin, John Frei of San Francisco, through an extended affiliation with the Velocette Homeowners Membership.  John Frei’s grandfather was brother to Alexander’s grandfather, and was watchmaker in Switzerland who emigrated to US.

The beginning of all of it: Fritz W. Egli in 1960, with the Horex cafe racer he modified himself, after shopping for the remaining Horex spares from the manufacturing unit. [Egli Archive]

Paul d’Orleans (PDO):  What’s your story with bikes?

Alexander Frei (AF): Bikes take over your life.

I began my skilled profession within the watchmaking trade; beginning the standard means with an apprenticeship as a micromechanic, then earned a microengineering diploma.  Once I met my spouse Felicitas, her father owned a medical implant firm, so I joined the enterprise.  When her father died his companies had been bought, with the final in 2000.  Then I began a profession in automobile racing, as roughly a interest.  Originally I raced Lamborghinis, then was a manufacturing unit driver for Braveness Competitors, a French endurance racing workforce within the Le Mans collection. I raced LeMans 4 instances with the LMP1, and thrice with and LMP2.  Kevin Schwantz was racing the identical LeMans workforce as mine, and Mario Andretti too, however a number of years earlier than me.  Mario Andretti was outdated however nonetheless an excellent endurance driver – the vehicles had been quick, however the supplies weren’t all the time first-class as they had been wanting cash.  You’d be going quick them growth, you waste time within the pits.  I’m not nearly as good a motorcyclist as automobile driver, however I’ve all the time had bikes, since I used to be 19 or 20.  In 1982 my household went to Laguna Seca with my cousins, and noticed Randy Mamola in Battle of the Twins racing, towards Norton, Triumph and so on.  Kenny Roberts was nonetheless racing.

From 1970: a number of completed Egli-Hondas exterior of the Egli workshop. [Egli Archive]

PDO: How did this lead you to purchase Egli?

AF: One among my sons is 32 years outdated, he began as a automobile mechanic, then turned a motorbike mechanic.  He labored for Harley-Davidson, and one mentioned he’d prefer to open his personal workshop.  We mentioned this, and he was searching for motorbike manufacturers to open his personal dealership.  One of many names was Norton, the opposite Royal Enfield, and the Swiss distributor was Fritz Egli, they usually had a gathering.  In fact I knew his title, I’d examine him, however didn’t go to this assembly.  My son advised me he’s promoting his firm, I mentioned okay let’s take a look!  I used to be fascinated about the entire thing. I noticed in fact for 25 or 30 years they hadn’t constructed any bikes: they constructed frames and components, and unusual issues like Yamaha Vmax tuning, however not actual Eglis anymore.  I began discussing with my son how he would possibly begin his dealership: I may purchase Egli to restart some type of motorbike manufacturing, and in addition a restoration enterprise.  This was the preliminary concept, in the summertime of  2014.  I purchased the Egli enterprise on Jan 1 2015.  I by no means thought I’d begin a enterprise once more, definitely not in bikes.  However after I noticed the Egli firm with such nice historical past and bikes, I assumed ‘let’s strive it, it may possibly solely break’.  In any other case the title is gone!  I’ve seen this within the Swiss watchmaking trade many instances, smaller outlets breaking down, then a revival with exterior buyers, however it’s actually troublesome to do that.

David Lancaster highway testing a Godet-Egli-Vincent. [David Lancaster]

There have been many individuals within the Egli title solely, to provide components or bikes elsewhere, however I assumed we may do it in Switzerland, proper there in his outdated workshop.  I used to be in a position to rent his greatest welder, from after they did all of the Kawasaki and Honda frames, and the racing frames.  He’d gone over to the aero trade and realized loads there, so we began the enterprise with him, and constructed up the whole lot.  We don’t have CNC, we don’t have laptop engineering, that’s why we sought an acceptable engine to construct a motorcycle round, similar to 30 years in the past.  We’re actually a workshop and never laptop simulators.  Egli is actually handmade.  For a recent highway motorbike, we needed to cross the homologation for highway use; they put our body in a hydro-pulser for frequency testing, between 120-220 cycles beneath load, simulating 100,000km on the highway – there have to be no cracks and so on.  We handed this check with no calculating, simply know-how.  No computer systems.

Some of the outstanding Egli tasks: the MRD1 land velocity racer, with bodywork designed by Luigi Colani. [Private Collection]

Our bikes are highway registered.  Due to Euro3 testing, this was quick timing, the hurdle between Euro4 was quick, so we needed to determine to make use of an current engine, or begin contemporary, however there was no time.  The authorities agreed we may construct 6 bikes beneath Euro3.  They didn’t take a look at the engine, simply the chassis, which we licensed.  We needed to hurry with the inline 4 engine, as we thought it was the final likelihood with an inline 4 for homologation – it’s getting too troublesome to cross testing with an air-cooled engine.  Solely the Honda CB1100 is left, Yamaha has already stopped. We checked out V-twins however it must be a contemporary Vtwin, which suggests watercooling and so on, so we’ll construct one other venture, and a few producers are interested by speaking with us.  These 6 permitted bikes are  being completed within the subsequent 2-3 weeks (2017), then we’ll give attention to a brand new venture.

The magnificent Egli-Honda EH10-C, constructed round a CBX motor. Word new Brough Superiors within the background. [Egli Archive]

PDO: Are you able to clarify to our readers the variations between Euro3 and Euro4?

AF: Euro3 vs Euro4 means a lot much less noise, and air pollution is far stricter, these are the 2 principal elements, plus ABS and OBD now.  The petrol tank should breathe by way of an lively carbon filter, and so on, which makes development far more difficult.  I’m a afraid as an alternative of two wheels and an engine, there might be much more gimmicks to cover, which is not easy.  In Switzerland we’re nonetheless allowed to promote Euro3 bikes, however I feel the remainder of Europe can not.  For instance in Germany, a number of bikes had a fireplace sale as they couldn’t cross Euro4.  In Europe we will nonetheless promote Euro3 bikes now, all that had been imported or constructed earlier than 2016. So Egli is kind of within the final minutes… however we’re so restricted in manufacturing.  They inspected the bikes earlier than the top of the final 12 months, and we weren’t allowed to construct greater than 6, however for me it’s okay.  All the pieces we do sooner or later should cross Euro4, and in 2020 might be Euro5, and it’s not clear what is going to change – undoubtedly extra regulation; much less noise, much less air pollution, and so forth.

An Egli-Ducati 900SS from 1976. [Private Collection]

PDO: What are your plans when Euro5 is available in?

AF:  I don’t know, possibly now we have to have a look at electrical bikes.

It’s not potential to make use of older engines for manufacturing.  For instance, the Godet-Egli-Vincents should match Euro3 too, so he can’t use a newly manufactured Vincent engine, it’s solely potential for an outdated bike restoration: you can’t begin new manufacturing with an outdated engine.  You’d should design a brand new Vincent motor, and even Fritz tried – I noticed the plans, he regarded for financing, the approached bankers, however couldn’t increase the cash.  It will need to have been within the Nineteen Eighties, a Vtwin. We must sort out the Euro4 laws, from the structural aspect the bike is just not an issue, however the ABS is just not really easy to get.  I used to be in dialogue with motorbike corporations who had been keen to promote us an engine, however the issue is with Bosch who has the patents for ABS, however they don’t promote a full bundle with all of the electronics.  And that’s very expensive to develop; we must pay them to develop the software program for our bikes, and with solely 6 or 12 bikes its not workable.  Thierry Henriette had the identical expertise with the brand new Brough Superior; ABS makes the whole lot extra difficult and costly.  Fritz Egli was within the workshop many instances saying how troublesome it’s now, and the way straightforward it was then!

From the Egli Bikes internet web page: a tasty collection of frames and full builds. [Egli Archive]

There is just one chance for small manufacturing: in case you have a distinct segment market, you will be far more costly.  We’ve bought all 6 of our bikes already, however saved one for us as a demo.  It’s fairly good!  We even have in our workshop various restorations; individuals are beginning to restore Eglis, two years in the past it was solely Vincents, however now MV, Honda, Kawasaki are being restored. We both restore them, or supply them and restore them for patrons.  For the Egli firm and its historical past that is very good, I’d prefer to hold this exercise.  It helps with the mechanics as they’ll make a restoration, and in addition construct new bikes.  Within the winter you will have time for restoration.

The 2018 Egli-Honda EVH 750, as seen on the Concorso Villa d’Este. [Egli Archive]

PDO: Are you concerned with any racing?

AF:  If one among our clients desires to race our 6 new bikes, now we have tuning kits, exhausts and so on, however in fact that’s not road authorized. We’re a bit into traditional racing, we race a Godet 500 Vincent on the Basic TT, with Horst Zeigel driving for us, and we’ll return this 12 months.  I feel we’ll do one other bike like Egli did up to now, in Switzerland now we have one or two traditional races, and there are 500 Honda motors out there.  For now that’s sufficient to place in a foot, however not soar wholly into traditional racing.   Plus, we’ve determined to point out a 750 Honda Egli on the 2018 Concorso Villa d’Este, so see you there!

[All of us at The Vintagent lament the closure of Egli Motorcycles, and wish all parties the very best in future projects.  The Egli name will surely live as long as motorcycles are remembered.]

Paul d’Orléans is the founding father of He’s an creator, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, occasion organizer, and public speaker. Take a look at his Creator Web page, Instagram, and Fb.