Monday, 28 February 2011

Ago rode Guzzis too

This is Giacomo Agostini testing a Mk 1 Le Mans for an Italian mag, no doubt Motociclismo. Don't know whether he liked it or not but we bet he did. Nice style!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Nice motor

This motor beat off the competition last year to win a nice shiny trophy - any ideas? Or if you want to know more, read all about it in Issue Three coming out soon.

Monday, 21 February 2011


Continuing on a vaguely bathroom theme, in Issue Three (which is out very soon) David McMillan writes in the third and final of his series of articles about the industrial design element of Italian motorcycles - in other words, he reckons Starck's Aprilia 6.5 Moto of the 1990s looks like a bidet on wheels, and he's got a point. I used to work in Soho in the mid-90s, and used to see Moto 6.5-mounted advertising execs wearing their Armani suits and Roof helmets all over the gaff (I was jealous of their money, but not what they looked like..)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Cannes The Can

Just got back from a two day press launch in Cannes for the Piaggio MP3 'Yourban', latest type of one of those odd three-wheeled scooter things. Cannes (South of France in case you hadn't heard of it) might seem glamorous, and probably is when the Mediterranean sun that I was fully anticipating shines down brightly, but when the rain is torrential for two days solid and the temperature on the dash of the bike you're trying to assess indicates 5 degrees above freezing, it can seem more like Blackpool (NW of England) in November.

The poshness of the hotel that our hosts Piaggio put us up in made up for it all of course, and I enjoyed full use especially of the wonderful mosaic bath tub for defrosting my limbs, the soft bathrobes, gigantic bed, huge TV, complimentary this that and the other, great food, catching up with colleagues and friends and a night of blissful sleep (you'll understand that I don't get to go on many press jaunts or even stay in hotels so really enjoy them when I do). There would have been a fabulous sea view too if there wasn't a curtain of rain and mist. I was particularly taken by the wardrobes that lit up when I hung my jacket up. I was less trustful of the 'Japanese' toilet however - the heated seat was an enjoyable new experience for me, but I didn't try out the wash, dry 'n' go automatic ablutions facilities that were cleverly hidden in the toilet bowl (no, I didn't photograph the bog..).

The MP3 is an amazing machine - I'd never tried one before, and was curious to see what a three-wheeled 300c scooter would be like, and it was fun and very different to anyting else I've ever ridden. These press trips can often be very chaotic, and in this case we didn't ride very far (too much photo taking of journos from loads of different countries..) so I'm going to try and get one on loan for a few days over here to get a better impression - it'll be in the mag in a future issue.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

So that's what 47-year-old motorcycle engine oil looks like

I know for a fact that my MV 175 was last used in 1964, so that makes the black treacle that came out of its sump on Friday 47 years old. The amount of mud and sand-type substance in the oil filter suggests that this bike was possibly used for ploughing Tuscan fields rather than gracing genteel roads that the MV Agusta name might suggest. I think I'm going to have to check out the main bearings now - at least there was oil in it rather than none at all which can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

MotoBi motorino exotica for sale

Pete's selling a MotoBi moped from 1966 with one owner history, just 6,000 miles on the clock, logbook and and old reg number on Ebay. Ok, yeah, it needs a little bit of work, but can't be many of those around in the UK, if not the universe?

Place your bids here

And definitely check out Pete's always entertaining blog Eat The Rich UK here

Monday, 7 February 2011

Tornado S2

The Benelli 650S, known as the Tornado, is a fine, strong Italian twin, and much fun to ride. There was also a sporty S2 version, with hump seat and plexiglass handlebar fairing. Motociclismo published a photo in May 1973 of an S2 with this striking paintjob, though I've never seen one like it in the flesh - maybe it was a promotional one-off. We'll be including a test of a 650S in a future issue of the mag.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Fu*k Art, Let's Dance!

It's been fascinating to watch the rise of Ducati from cash-strapped company whose bikes no one bought in the late '80s to major motorcycle manufacturer of fantastic sports bikes and world cool brand, but some of the stuff they do to make some lire and expand the brand is just so crap. Now tucked away on a corner of the labyrinth-like Ducati company website there's a 'Desmo' photography collection in their 'Bike Art Print' section (which also contains some equally tacky stuff that looks like it's come out of Athena circa 1982) that features various artistically-photographed girls on various Ducatis. Design with Desmo? Taglioni must be cringing in his grave.

Plonk birds on bikes, snap away, and then sell, sell, sell as art. Perhaps they're replying to customer demand, but is there really a demand for this kind of stuff? It's been done in a 'tasteful' way that is just so old-fashioned and naff at the same time. Or is the old naff now the new cool? F*cked if I know, but they could also have done something so much better I reckon.

Here's a description of the 'collection' in artspeakbabble where something's got lost in the translation I think:

The Desmo photography collection features sixteen unique photographs in which Elizabeth Raab has approached and juxtaposed the abstract qualities of the organic and mechanical forms, highlighting the perfection and emotion in design of iconic Ducati motorcycles.
The shots explore the relationship between the designed and the natural. The lines of the mechanical body reflecting the lines of the organic form it was designed after. The unique color palette of the motorcycle extends from the frame  of the bike to the features of the model. The model is in an extension of the bike herself.
Design your interiors with passion. Design with Desmo.

See what you can buy for your wall here:

Friday, 4 February 2011

'31 Gilera Gran Sport

I got to thrash this round a track - amazing that they could build motorcycles so good in 1931. Customer version of the ISDT winning factory bike. Class.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Che cos'e'?

I took this photo two years ago, and hopefully this summer we'll be testing this special bike for an Issue of the mag. Any ideas??

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

T(h)ANK(s) JOHN!!

After looking around for about two and a half years, I finally have a fuel tank for my Mk2 Le Mans project bike, thanks to a good deal from John W, whose lovely Guzzi cafe' racer was in Issue Two.

It's alloy, and was made by John Williams at The Tank Shop (but without the wait) so it's top quality. I just need to get to it with some paint stripper to get those awful '80s Guzzi logos off it, as well as the paint. I would have ideally preferred to have a Monza type cap rather than a flush filler, but at this point I'm not bothered, I've been looking for something good at a fair price for so long so this tank'll look great on the bike, especially with the finish I have planned for it...