Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

‘80 Moto Morini 500 – Revival Cycles

Posted on November 11, 2014 by Andrew in Classic. 28 comments

Let’s face it; the whole car-to-bike custom crossover thing isn’t exactly hot news. We’ve all seen the evidence. The Gulf Oil paint jobs. The Ayrton Senna tribute builds. The hotrod-inspired Harleys. But for the more inquisitive builders out there, there’s still many untapped sources of four-wheel inspiration left if you look hard enough. And for Alan Stulberg from the renown Revival Cycles in Texas, the style for his latest build was obvious. “Sure, it’s not a 80’s Ferrari and Moto Morini never built a GTS model, but it’s what we wanted; a bike with a little 80’s Ferrari passion.” Here’s the bike Magnum P.I. would have ridden if he had better taste – Revival’s Moto Morini “GTS”.


Alan started by telling us that the client who brought in the donor bike said he was inspired by 80’s Italian sports cars. As far as design briefs go, we can think of a lot worse. “He wanted us to take that thought and build him a cool, stripped down custom that displayed some of that same Ferrari charm. No it’s not a Ferrari, but we’d like to think one could see the direction we took made sense.”

The Austin team took this build on simply because Revival’s favourite type of build is one that is different from the crowd and, let’s face it, Morinis definitely set you apart from the masses. “Perhaps we’re a little different from other shops, but we specialize in not specializing. It keeps things more interesting to have the chance to master more than one particular model.”


Having the time to get well acquainted with the Italian hardware at hand, Alan sang the praises of the Moto Morini engine design team. “Long before the new, flathead-inspired Indian Twin, Moto Morini tried and succeeded in making an overhead valve engine look like something much simpler and with a more vintage appeal. I think the Italian manufacturers almost always did this better than the rest, but in my opinion there are few engines that post date this one that still focused on engine’s appearance so tightly.”


The owner’s request for a budget-conscious build mean that the decision to keep the original tank was an easy one. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t modified. “We tweaked the factory tank to allow space for the new Anti-Gravity Lithium Ion battery, new wiring and a new ignition system. As per our previous builds, the brains of the machine is a Motogadget M-unit electronic control unit and ignition system. The switches and speedo are also Motogadget units and they really help clean up the cockpit. They are so good, we’ve been installing them on all our builds. They seem to be up to it  – we’ve seen few returns and many happy customers.”


“We cut the side cover over the dry clutch. It gives that visceral feel to the bike when it’s running.”

One of the weak points on the Morini twins was their electric starters, so Revival chose to remove it altogether and rely solely on the bike’s kick starter. This also allowed for some stylistic modifications to the side cover once it was removed. “We also cut and modified the other side cover over the dry clutch. With it now exposed, it improves the visuals of the engine and gives that visceral feel to the bike when it’s running.”

“From there we modified a metal headlight bucket we carry and installed the Speedo in the new housing. We also installed a headlight that incorporates LED turn signals into the periphery of the lens. Out back, the lighting is rounded off with a simple LED tail light/turn signal combination.” The entire setup has been integrated into the Revival custom seat, which was then professionally upholstered by Ginger at New Church Moto in a rich tan leather that is (you guessed it) inspired by Ferrari interiors from the 80s. That, or the over-baked skin of a rich, 80s Italian housewife holidaying on the Amalfi coast.


Then came the custom rearset footpegs and controls which were then hooked up to a relocated rear master cylinder. And although they were able to utilise the factory’s rear brake caliper and rotor, they chose to go a different route on the front. Alan got machining and in no time a custom rotor carrier and bracket were nabbed up and married to a modern Brembo rotor and dual-piston caliper assembly. “Coupled with a modern Brembo front master cylinder and new micro stainless brake lines front to back, it all came together to make a real difference to the bike’s stopping power. This little guy stops on a dime and the brakes are very responsive.”

There was also time set aside to rebuild and upgrade the front fork internals and to add a simple set of progressive shocks in the rear. We’d think that this would be one of the better handling Morinis out there.

“We then designed and built a very simple, matched set of stainless header exhaust pipes with integrated mufflers by Cone Exhaust. And to round out the entire build, we chose a Ferrari metallic grey paint for the bodywork and decided that the factory gold finish of the 7-spoke mag wheels perfectly complimented the Ferrari-inspired look we were going for.”


At the end of the day it’s not too big a stretch of the imagination to see that the theme of a 1980’s Ferrari was implemented with much aplomb and this little Morini seems to carry it pretty well. So well, in fact, that we can almost feel the Italian summer breeze blowing through our chest hairs. Tom Selleck would be proud; and were pretty sure the boys from Revival Cycles are, too.“We believe it stands up well stylistically to many of our more complex builds,” says Alan. “Also, did I mention this Italian twin has an awesome exhaust note?” We hope it’s new owner enjoys hearing it as much as we enjoyed looking at it.

  • Junior Burrell

    Love what they’ve done with it. Its timeless imo.

  • Gedigedi

    I don’t see a Ferrari, but I do see a really nice clean build.

  • Gedigedi

    I don’t see a Ferrari, but I do see a really nice clean build. Good job to Revival Cycles!

  • revdub


  • foiled again

    Snappy little fucking bike, a nice counterpart to the Guzzi V50 they did last year. Must be an utter ball to ride.

  • Bultaco Metralla

    I can’t get excited about this. I owned a three and a half and loved it even though it didn’t have much power. It just made me smile whenever I rode it. While this is a clean and tidy renovation, it doesn’t do the Morini justice. i believe you need to improve on the original.

    • Brembo brakes and a full M-unit set-up aren’t an improvement upon the original?

      • Bultaco Metralla

        They’re a small improvement Andrew. I’m not a builder nowadays, but I’m likely to be a customer and I really like Morinis. I hated the Dart and the other things Cagiva did to the marque so i would look for something fresh and innovative. I have always thought the Morini would be a fine basis for a custom but the difficulty is that the originals were so good in their day.

  • tremond barrey

    sorry, i’m not a builder nowadays, but what is the goal and “custom”, except removing the fenders, the color and the seat?

    • Alan Stulberg

      No offense taken, but this sounds like the words of someone who has never actually machined parts from solid alloy or wired a computer into a 1980 machine. It takes a LOT of work to make it look so simple and easy.

  • Brandon Rader

    The high/low exhaust is cool,Morini’s are super rare here in the US. If I had one laying around this is exactly how I would build it,bet that 500 twin is a blast around town! The spartan look is really appealing to me,it looks like a bike you just jump on,have fun, and give zero fucks.Well done Revival

  • cagivarider

    “… Moto Morini tried and succeeded in making an overhead cam engine
    look like something much simpler and with a more vintage appeal…”

    … by removing the overhead cams and installing pushrods.
    Sorry, this is an ohv engine.

    Kind regards

    • Bultaco Metralla

      Full Marks Sven! i didn’t spot that one.

    • Alan Stulberg

      Of course. This was an oversight. We’re fully aware of what the top-end of this engine looks like. I asked pipeburn to change the quote. We forgot to mention that it also has the smallest timing belt I’ve ever seen! (plenty more of it in process over on our main site too if you’re interested)

    • Fixed. Cheers.

  • Tanshanomi

    There are exactly two bikes that I cringe whenever i see them modified: Moto Morinis and ’79-’80 CBXs. And the ’80 5-speed 500 is very favorite Moto Morini. No disrespect to this bike’s builder, because it is clean and seems to display nice workmanship, but it also means there is one less stock 5-speed Morini 500 in the world. Therefore, I haz an entirely personal sad.

    • Alan Stulberg

      You might want to go look at the what we started with before you lament its existence. 🙂 This one was neglected and nowhere near a running bike. It’s in MUCH better shape these days.

  • I understand the there-is-now-one-less case against this build. But the cleanliness of that motor does fit fantastically into the less-is-more symmetry that is the beauty of this build. So if the choice here is to preserve an example in a collection, or fuel someone’s passion for today; then at least this is an awesome way for it to go.

  • David Marlow

    And just how can it handle better if you take away the fork brace?

    • Alan Stulberg

      It never had one. Period.

      • David Marlow

        Then what do you call the big steel part that the front mudguard or fender is attached to, that bolts rigidly to both fork sliders?

        • Alan Stulberg

          That’s what is called a “fender mount”. Trust me, a thin piece of pot metal tin holding a fender has almost ZERO rigidity or strength as a structural member to the front forks. The forces at play here totally dwarf what pot metal can do. If you don’t believe me, ask another mechanical engineer to explain it to you. Thanks for your positive comments and concern.

          • Herr Flick

            Well are you a mechanical engineer? Can you explain it to me, please? I can’t see any other method used to keep the forks braced under braking, and I think they need it too.

          • OK – I actually am a mechanical engineer, or at least that’s what my masters degree from U of MN says. And I also happen to be one of the primary builders of the bike in question.

            Like all engineering there are compromises and trade offs, budget, packaging, style, performance, bla bla bla etc. The lack of front fender AND a real fork brace is a budget constraint. These things are not difficult and we are happy to include them when a customer requests them and is willing to pay for them.

            In this case the original front fender is absolutely not a fork brace. Sure it does theoretically “add” something, but in application it is not much. Having actually handled the fender and felt the torsional flex, and checked the front assembly with and with out it, I can say it really doesn’t matter its missing. That doesn’t mean the addition of a REAL fork brace wouldn’t help the steering. Some bikes really need a fork brace (KLR650) but the Morini really is just fine without. Maybe that’s why the factory didn’t add one either.

            We should also clarify some thing, fork braces help the most with steering input flex. Brake loads and imbalanced brake loads are not significantly affected by a fork brace. I don’t have time to dive into all this on a forum. But if y’all really want to split more hairs email me

          • True

            It is hard for me to remember when someone has turned such a pretty bike into such a POS. As an engineer you should be ashamed of yourself.
            If you have an American attitude can you please stick to destroying American machinery.
            Boring, predictable, and impractical are just some of the adverbs that come to mind.

  • Pete Morgan

    It’s nice, but to me a bike without a front mudguard (fender) always looks like something a 17 year old has customised, unfinished, also the mount and the mudguard MUST add to the rigidity, it can’t not.

    • You are correct it must add some rigidity, but it is not enough to make a difference. see above