Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Rossi to Ducati??

According to biker pulp rag MCN, Valentino Rossi has already sorted a deal to join Ducati for two years. Would be great to watch him on an Italian race bike, and to see how he'd compare to Stoner who seems to be the only racer so far that has managed to tame the beasts that are the Ducati Moto GP machines. I'll reserve judgement until the deal is announced, officially.

Circuito di Ospedaletti

Nearly every Italian racer, whether on two or four wheels, as well as a host of stars from other nations, raced at some point at the historic Ospedaletti street circuit at San Remo, on the Italian Riviera. Luca Vieri's beautifully designed blog is full of fascinating photos, stories and facts about Ospedaletti and other aspects of Italian racing through the ages - not to be missed.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Fantic Chopper

What can be said about the Fantic Chopper? It has to be one of the finest, most bizarre but wonderfully crazy Italian motorcycles, or even just any motorcycle - ever to be produced. I for one would love to have one sitting in the garage. Hopefully coming up in a future issue.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Ruote Fiere Guzzi

This bike is going to be killer when it's finished. Suzuki Gixer forks sit just right and the home built exhaust system snakes around the motor in super style. Check it out here:

Motorcycle of MAS distraction

Another machine spotted on the Firenze to Siena run the other week. A MAS 175cc ohv with rigid frame, girder forks and hand gear change, I'd say late '30s. Another rarity from another obscure Italian manufacturer Motocicli Alberico Seiling, and I like it - purposeful, slanted lines, neat fishtail silencer, bulb horn and front mudguard pedestrian-slicer mascot.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Stuff you just don't see

I went to check out a rally in Firenze (Florence) last weekend, and saw these two bikes, a 1927 Moto Guzzi TT 250cc from 1927, and a Moto Guzzi 250 SS from 1928. They are rare in the extreme, both being customer built race bikes, and they look pretty much unrestored too. The TT was named after the Guzzi that raced at the  Isle of Man TT in 1926. I managed to get some numbers and hope to to return to see these old machines again for a future edition of the mag. I f*****g love this stuff.....

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Friends and motorcycles for life

Most of my best friends, wherever they are in the world, I've met through motorcycles. I met up with one of them today, Mauro, who I met 10 years ago when I lived in Italy. He's got a 1968 MV Agusta 250 B which he's owned from new, and we took it out to photograph today. Unfortunately it broke down and we couldn't sort it without tools on the spot, so we had to trailer it home again, yet on the way back Mauro was telling me how much he loved this MV, even if it wasn't reliable at times - huh, old bikes eh? 

Then back at his place, he showed me some old but fantastic period photos including the ones you see here of him as a teenager on his old man's MV 2 stroke 150 with 'motore lungo'. There were also several of his wife Graziella, shown here in the colour snap sitting on the very same MV 250 we photographed today, but in 1970. They met as teenagers, married, had kids and had a happy life - then she died at age just 48 from cancer. I didn't know this previously, and when he told me today, it made me understand more clearly why he's such the kind, gentle person he is, and why the MV is so important to him. When I saw my wife and 7 month-old daughter again when I returned to them this evening, I just felt so lucky.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Period race rep bevel Ducati

I've lusted after this bike for more than ten years. It belongs to my friend Loreno (he built the '51 Topolino barchetta corsa in issue 1 of the mag) and he has just got it down from the mezzanine above his workshop where it has sat for ages, waiting to be brought back to life. It came out of the Ducati factory as a 750S in late '74, and was then quickly transformed into an Imola race rep in '75, along with nicely done left-hand gear shift crossover and still featuring a musty old original Magneti Marelli plug in the panino cubby hole. Loreno bought it many years ago from the original owner, so knows its history. It's a genuine period go faster transformation using parts available in Italy in 1975, so far more interesting than a standard model, and shows that blokes on Rossi-inspired R1s are just some of the latest in a long line of owners wanting to pay homage by copying factory race bikes for their own kicks. We'll be shooting it and having a ride in a future issue.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Motorcycle art

Been thumbing through a friend's collection of old posters and race programmes, found when a local mechanic was shutting up shop and chucking stuff in the Italian version of a skip. The graphics are striking, reflecting Italian design and typography which has always evolved, excited and gone its own way, from more austere and stylised 40s and 50s drawings in black only, to these in yer face 1960s splashes of full happy colour...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Flying Saucer

Most Italian blokes I've met who are into bikes and grew up in the '50s or '60s have all said that the one motorcycle they lusted after as teenagers was the MV Agusta Disco Volante 175cc. Disco Volante is Italian for flying saucer, and one look at that outrageously shaped fuel tank explains all. CSS overhead camshaft motor was rorty and fast, Earles forks were produced only on the 1954 Disco Volante models. Not particularly rare but very desirable nonetheless. Nice job Nedo!!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

First stop

First stop when I arrive in 'my' part of Italy is always at my very good friend Nedo's house. We'll sit and drink an espresso, chew the fat and laugh and enjoy each other's company. He's a retired engineer for ENEL, the Italian state electric company, but he's busier than ever,  restoring and sorting out bikes. There's always something interesting to look at in his compact workshop and garages. I was up there today, and blimey, it's getting hot here in Tuscany. Nedo's just finished a '54 MV 'Disco Volante' - very nice! More tomorrow.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Off to Italy

Off to Italy tomorrow for at least a couple of weeks R&R; laying on a beach or two, riding my favourite Tuscan roads; eating ice cream and fresh seafood, and of course shooting, riding, driving and generally discussing animatedly over even more delicious food and drink, Italian motors of all types with my very good mates in Italy. I'll be updating the blog daily if possible with photos of what's going on, where we are, and what we're looking at. A presto!!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Valentino's out

It was a shock to see Valentino Rossi highside and painfully compound fracture his right leg in practice for the Mugello GP. He doesn't crash often, and it's the first time in the ten years I've been following his career that I can remember Rossi being out through injury - he'll be out for the rest of the season. Moto GP is still great to watch but it's not the same without Rossi's talent and charisma. Hope Dovizioso and Simoncelli do well this year.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Want your own 1:18 scale Guzzi dream garage??

Here it is - spotted on Italian Ebay - your own 1:18 scale Guzzi dream garage or mini dealership, depending on how you see it. Yours for just 270 euro!! He can also build you a bespoke 1:18 scale garage with your preferred auto, or any other type of workshop. My small unit feels like it's 1:18 scale most days. Good luck to the bloke - I respect entrepreneurism of all types and especially in miniature.

Check it out here: