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:

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:

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..

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Virtually tour that museum! (If you like Ducatis..)

Ducati tell us that you can now take a virtual tour of the fantastic museum at Borgo Panigale, after somehow squeezing the Google camera car up the stairs and round the tight corners and rooms. Ideal if you live nowhere near Italy and haven't managed to get there in person:

Sadly, and in grand Guzzi style, the Moto Guzzi museum has no such technologically advanced possibilities, and even the Guzzi website has only a simple page with one photo. Go there on Google maps street view and you'll arrive outside the faded and firmly-shut red gates on a glorious day, with only the ominous shadow of the ubiquitous Google camera car for company:

The Morbidelli Museum, in Pesaro, can only be arrived at via Google maps outside its entrance, ignoring its bland industrial estate surroundings:
On the museum web page, there is what they call a virtual tour, but it's really a set of photos. The museum is very much worth visiting if you can.

The MV Agusta museum too has no virtual tour on the museum website at: It's worth going to, but in truth, there are more helicopter than motorcycle displays. Check out the entrance on Google maps here:

Then, also in Pesaro, the MotoClub Benelli have put together their own collection of Benellis, though latest news is that it is shut due to lack of money. The entrance is hard to find, pointed out by a tiny white sign, off a busy road - Via Mameli 22, Pesaro:
But there's no virtual tour, so there are some great photos of what's inside here:

If you're a Benelli fan, you can contribute to getting the museum back up and open, and the collection secured:

Thursday, 6 February 2014

ITALIAN MOTOR on Instagram

Despite having being a bit cynical about it in the past, we now have a presence on Instagram, and I have to admit, it is slightly addicitive. Not so much doing all the posting and comment and writing, but more the fact that you can quickly and easily see photos from all over the world on topics you like. It's just cool to be able to see some bike that someone is working on that you've never come across on the usual blogs, websites and Facebook pages, and you see it by stumbling over it. It's very clever, the effects make (most) photos look great, and, well, I like photography.

Find us at: or just search for italianmotor. See you there.