Shifting 6 with Salvo Pennisi at Metzeler

Shifting 6 with Salvo Pennisi at Metzeler

Hergs Moto short format interview feature series with six questions asked of key people in and out of the BMW Motorrad motorcycling community.

We hope you enjoy the insights into Salvo Pennisi, Head of Global Testing & Technical Relations at Metzeler.

1.Firstly we would like to say welcome Salvo, and thank you for your participation in our “Shifting 6 with…” series. Salvo you’ve had a long and interesting career with Metzeler, how did you get started?

As a journalist working with Moto Tecnica in Italy in 1984, I was offered a job testing tires, and I took it! It was this simple.

2.Metzeler has manufactured tyres since 1892 and since 1979 has focused only on motorcycle tyres. As it is with BMW Motorrad, does that history bring a strong sense of pride to the Company and its employees?

It certainly does. In particular, the collaboration between Metzeler and BMW Motorrad goes back in time for over a century and, along the years, the two brands wrote very important chapters of the history of motorcycling. Just to give you an example, we can recall the German driver Ernst Jakob Henne who in 1928 was the winner of the Targa Florio – one of the oldest and most famous Italian road races in the world – driving a BMW on Metzeler tyres. The history of the two brands is intertwined with several successes, and it is definitely a source of great pride for every employee.

3.The official tyre partner of the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy since 2008, how does such a strong partnership translate into success for Metzeler?

The collaboration between Metzeler and BMW Motorrad in terms of supplying tyres for such an important international event is an extremely successful example of the partnership between the two brands. Metzeler has been behind the International GS Trophy since the first 2008 edition held in Tunisia and since then it has valued not only the marketing and communication opportunities derived from the event, but also the research and development work carried out in preparation for it. Furthermore, the feedback on the performance of the tyres by both BMW Motorrad and the all participants is extremely valuable, as being the GS Trophy being an itinerant event, it is a confirmation of the extreme versatility of our products on different types of terrain and conditions. GS Trophy truly is the consolidation of a partnership that was already established over 40 years ago when the first GS motorcycle was born.

4.With multiple years in your current role as Head of Testing Department for the group, you’ve been involved with bikes for a long time. Do you have a BMW Motorrad or other passionate moto story of your own to tell?

My career as Head of the company’s Testing Department for Motorcycle and Bicycle tyres has run alongside the evolution of the motorcycle industry and the introduction of some of the most iconic BMW Motorrad models over the past 30 years. To give you a few examples, I remember well one of the first joint tests carried out in 1985 on ABS technologies, which were new at the time, riding a BMW K 100 motorcycle or other tests for the BMW K 1 in the Namibian desert. These activities could be considered simply part of my job, but at the same time I see them as opportunities to strengthen my knowledge of the motorcycle industry, as well as a source of wonderful memories that I link to the associated bike manufacturers, such as BMW Motorrad.

5.BMW GS riders are well versed with Metzeler products such as the KAROO™ 3 but Metzeler’s range and experience in tyres covers the full range of use and models. What is the most critical element that goes into your teams developing category or OEM specific tyres?

Several bike manufacturers are very demanding on the dynamic characteristics and the overall performance level of tyres that will be fitted as original equipment to their models. Tyres are a very important aspect of the handling and riding pleasure that a specific motorcycle is able to deliver to riders. As a group that supply the most prestigious motorcycle manufacturers in the world, we have the opportunity to work side by side with such technical partners and grow with them. Many of these manufacturers have clearly shown in recent years the ability to continuously innovate in terms of, to give you an example, rider assistance technology or engine characteristics. At the same time, this has motivated our research and development team to continuously innovate our own product technologies and performances.

6.Metzeler has always set technology, performance and quality as a priority. How does that translate to benefits for BMW Motorrad and indeed all motorcycle riders?

Being at the forefront of technological innovation implies talking about aspects that are immediately recognisable by riders, such as the level of handling and outright grip provided by a new tyre, but also about less tangible aspects, or more specifically benefits for the consumer that are discovered only in the long haul. To give you an example: the level of performance and safety feeling provided by a tyre towards the end of its life. The ability of Metzeler to continuously evolve and take on new challenges translates in the capability to introduce into the market tyres that have top level of performance on multiple types of surfaces, while never compromising safety.

Images copyright and courtesy of
Metzeler, BMW Group and Hergs Moto Media & Events Pty Ltd.

Thanks Salvo, Flavia and Marcel for your efforts in putting this interview together.
We look forward to doing more together. #makelifearide