Tuesday, 8 April 2014

R.I.P. Massimo Tamburini



It's sad news that Massimo Tamburini has died at just 70 years old. The word legendary is over used nowadays, but Tamburini was a true legend in the Italian and international motorcycle world.

He started off bending and welding his own frames while working as an air conditioning engineer during the day, and ended up designing the Ducati 916 which is arguably one of the most beautiful motorcycles ever built, the MV Agusta F4, and many others.

I have ridden quite a few Bimotas in my time, and so for me personally, that very special feeling that a Bimota gives you, whether powered by an Italian, Japanese or any other motor, best represents Tamburini's abilities, skill and vision.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Will this be the new Ducati Scrambler?




You might recall that last July we wrote about the forthcoming much rumoured Ducati Scrambler after MCN published a 'how it might look' pic, and on asking Ducati about the bike's existence or planned existence, we were told 'Are you joking, it's just a Photoshop job?' Well, the pic in MCN might have been, but seems the actual model's development is well under way, according to Moto.It, who have published more blurry, pixelated shots on their website.

Understandably, it doesn't look like much presently, does it? Like one of those sort of 50/125cc moto motard type things they make for teenagers to look cool on. Moto.it reckon the motor is a 696 or 796cc unit from the entry level Monster. Impossible to comment on any styling at present, though hope it's not going to have that awful headlamp, and will favour spoked wheels over cast.

The biggest shame for us is that it's not going to be a single cylinder motor. Maybe you just won't get enough power from an air cooled 600/750cc single cylinder engine or get around Euro pollution restrictions, and to consider water-cooling would be a travesty. It's understandable that Ducati don't want to invest millions in setting up tooling etc. to do this, but with a V twin motor in reality it'll be a Ducati Scrambler inspired by name only. It'll have to look like something special to really distinguish it from the myriad of Ducati Monster models you can buy nowadays.

We've a got Alan Cathcart's full feature and road test on Umberto Borile's Scrambler coming up in Issue 6, so read that, then consider where Ducati should go with the Scrambler.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Issue 6 - still on its way....



Apologies - seems like the printers that are supposed to be printing Issue 6 are either printing it by hand using intricately-cut King Edward potato typefaces and oven chip-pixel photos stamped onto virtually carbon zero paper woven over decades by small trained Chilean cave-dwelling spiders - or they've just f*cked up and it's going to be another week before it arrives here - hopefully, looking as it should.

In the meantime, here's an outtake photo from the above-mentioned Issue 6 of Dave Hamilton's Ducati Cucciolo motor - his article about how his and many other Cucciolos ended up on the other side of the world from Bologna makes fascinating reading. Watch this space for news on Issue 6...

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Issue 6 on its way - and Happy Birthday Dave!



At last, finally, amazingly, Issue 6 of ITALIAN MOTOR is off to the printers and we hope to have the magazines back in a week - watch this space.

Cover shot is courtesy of Oldtimer Dave and his wonderful old Ducati Cucciolo complete with vintage Mosca pin-up girl water slide decal. Dave's been a true friend and supporter of ours since the beginning and really gets what we try and do, so - Happy Birthday Dave!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Non-starter for 10







I carried out my usual post-winter routine the other day when the sun came out and I wanted to ride my 750 for the first time since November. I've really got it down to a tee nowadays after 22 years.

1) Drag bike out.
2) Get dressed in full leathers in anticipation of nice ride.
3) Ignition on, fuel on, press starter switch.
4) Bike doesn't start.
5) Try and jump start bike off 2 litre VW van with massive battery.
6) Still doesn't start. Get angry and sweat more.
7) Give up and put bike away.
8) Get changed again and go home.
9) Take battery with me and leave on trickle charge.
10) Try again this weekend.



Apparently some other people charge their batteries up over winter and also put stuff in the fuel tank too. Maybe I should try this one year but old bad habits die hard...


Thursday, 27 February 2014

BOOK: 'Italian Custom Motorcycles' by Uli Cloesen








We were sent his book last year by the publishers Veloce, but only got round to looking at it properly in the last few weeks, and what a book it is. That's mainly because it's so refreshing to the first book regarding Italian motorcycles for many years that's not just a restorer's rivet-counting dream guide to putting your bike put back 'better' than when it came out of the factory (admittedly useful at times), or otherwise a tawdry marque history that can't already be read elsewhere.

We also like it because we've always tried to feature Italian motorcycles, and cars, in the magazine that have been modified, shed-built or from out of slightly left field, so the eclectic compilation that the author Uli Cloesen has put together is pleasing, different and well thought out. 

Like what every good coffee table book should be like, Cloesen's book is text light and picture heavy, but what text there is, descriptions of the bikes, who built them and so on, is accurate, succinct, well-researched and well-edited. The layout is clean, and the squareish format means that the photos, sourced from a mixture of professional and amateur/owner shots, is really to the fore.

Cloesen has taken the seven principal or best-known manufacturers, Aprilia, Ducati, Fantic Moto, Gilera, Laverda, Moto Guzzi and Moto Morini, and crammed each chapter with all types of bikes, choppers, customs, trikes and even quads that are powered by engines from these Italian factories. Though many of the bikes featured in the book come from established bike shops or builders that you might see on a regular basis on websites like Bike Exif and other blogs, most are from less-publicised sources, and there are some real treats.

Some of the bikes like Pablo Tecce's black Gilera 200 custom (picture above) are really subtle and skilful, making something classy out of not much. Peter Burton's Laverda Triple trike might make you spit your tea out (especially if you're passionate for the Breganze tractors), but it's an amazing conversion, and can apparently be put back to completely original. Paul Stabler's very clever Moto-Beam, mongrel cross between Moto Guzzi V50 motor and Sunbeam S7/S8 frame is another bike that we'd probably have never seen

Other bikes in the book are, depending on your taste, truly horrendous and or outrageous, and the cover Guzzi California 'Red Devil' special would probably have to come under both descriptions, with its lime-green and red sparkly paint and bright red fork gaiters. But you have to respect the fact that someone out there wanted to build it and do what the hell they wanted - and this book serves well to bring the good, the bad and the ugly of Italian motorcycles together.

A £25.00 cover price might seem a bit steep, but you get 128 pages and 260 colour photos, and a reasonable amount of glossy feel. If like us, you're fascinated by Italian motorcycles in all shapes, form and function, this is definitely a book to own, not least because you'll yourself surprise at its entertainment value by flicking through it, and seeing how many times you shout out 'awful', or 'incredible', or 'what the hell did he do that for?'

On sale from Veloce Publishing: www.veloce.co.uk

Friday, 21 February 2014

More rumour milling about Moto Guzzi from DueRuote


I love keeping an eye out on those cheeky lads in the Italian motorcycle press to see what 'their' spies' and 'trusted contacts' come up with next. Anyway, they're physically and geographically a 1,000 miles closer than I am to what is going on Italy, so there's no reason to always be cynical and disbelieving about what their Italian ears hear while pressed resolutely to the motherland's terra firma.

What's great about DueRuote in particular is that they know a picture always speaks a thousand words, so they get busy by Photoshopping together a visual representation of the hearsay they come across.

Their latest is their idea of what they reckon Moto Guzzi will be presenting at EICMA this year - a1380cc Le Mans. DueRuote say it will be a sort of 'street fighter', and will use the famous Le Mans model name, and will utilise a water-cooled version of the big motor used in last year's California.

Apparently, this bike will have 140CV at its disposition, and will also employ the Terblanche-designed horizontally laid monoshock as seen at EICMA 2009. All very much in line with what we reported on last year here: http://italianmotor.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/1300cc-water-cooled-moto-guzzi-le-mans.html)

Anyway, it's all good clean fun, and no doubt, some kind of 1340cc powered sports/streetfighter Moto Guzzi will appear in one form or another in the next year. If it doesn't, we'll eat our fish and chip paper..