It’s not often we go to Italy. And it’s not often we feature mopeds, either. Hell, it’s not often that a bike goes largely unnoticed by our crack team of moto-loving freaks. But that’s exactly the perfect storm type scenario that unfolded on our recent trip to the continent. Last month, Marco and Mario from Italy’s talented OMT Garage flashed us a phone photo of his Deus Bike Build-Off winning ‘Silhouette’ Piaggio Ciao. With our focus on the show’s larger capacity offerings, we clearly let this little green gem slip under our radar. But now, many months later, we’re smitten. And not a moment too soon.
When life is good, the money is flowing and you call Monte Carlo home, it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of it all. So when the sun goes down in this special part of Monaco and the casino doors are open, it would be hard not to strut towards the lights. Instead, one lucky man chooses not to get his thrills at the roulette wheel and instead plays for the dark side. Ladies and gentlemen, climb aboard a crazy carbon creation, Anima Nera, from the Moto Guzzi Gods at Italy’s Officine Rossopuro.
While the ’60s and ’70s produced many of the motorcycles that would go on to be part of the custom motorcycle revival we live through now, it was also the golden age of sports car racing. The period is remembered by most for the early dominance of Ferrari and the famous fight back of Ford’s GT40. But for many proud Italians, the short-lived Ferrari 512M holds a special place in their hearts and Christian Moretti of Plan B Motorcycles wanted to pay it a fitting tribute. So when the right customer came along with another special Italian of the era the planets had perfectly aligned. It’s no replica, they prefer resto-racer, a Benelli 354 sport built as a tribute to the 512M with raw Italian pride.
Ah, the 70’s – the golden age of motorsport, manliness and lung cancer. That trio sat at the forefront of F1 during an incredible decade that made legends and took lives. Years later a loose collection of individuals in Italy dubbed the Milano Cafe Racers have drawn inspiration from that period to craft Ciaparat – a gorgeous 1995 Ducati Monster built to kick ass at the strangest racing series we’ve ever heard of.
The Northern Italians are nothing if not industrious. With a veritable army of famous brands to their name, there’s nary a person on the planet that wouldn’t have heard of them. But while names life Ferrari and Ducati steal the limelight, there’s also plenty of smaller companies that you may not have heard of. One such operation is Milan’s Vertemati. Started in 1993 by brothers Alvaro and Guido, they quickly gained mythical status in Motocross circles. OMT’s Marco Troiano, who raced the bikes in the ‘99 Italian Supermoto Championships, decided to pay tribute to the brand with a Vertemati custom bike he calls ‘Super Light’.
There’s something undeniably cool about a bike that can go anywhere. Whether it’s secretly stroking your zombie apocalypse fantasies or it’s just a reminder that life shouldn’t just be about your job and mortgage, every rider should have at least one mountain eater in their garage. But until recently, there was pretty much zero chance of ever finding a cool one – unless 80s fluoro graphics and wall-to-wall plastics spins your wheels. But thanks to shops like Italy’s Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche, we now have options like this Transalp they call ‘Cobra’. Who needs to move mountains when you can just ride over them?
Steampunk bikes. Usually, they’re much more steam than they are punk. And more’s the pity. If the thought of a 19th Century Sid Vicious on a bike tearing around the streets of London pushes your buttons as much as it does ours, then we’ve got just the bike for you. Fresh off the bench of Milan’s Rustom workshop, it’s ironically named ‘Just Another Punk’ as a tongue-in-cheek tilt at steampunk builds. And that’s because this Honda CB900 packs a punch that is anything but hot air.
In recent times it has become all too common a cliché to call a custom motorcycle of a certain quality, a rolling piece of art. It’s not that many of these machines don’t deserve the title and I’d personally take a Max Hazan over an Auguste Rodin any day. But where most art is enjoyed as the finished product, custom bikes are often built by or with considerable input from the prospective owner. From Picasso to Pink Floyd they didn’t sit around with their would be consumers of their work and take input, they simply created. But there was a time, many centuries ago, when the well to do would commission works from their favourite artists and wait for the surprise of the great unveiling. This is the story of such a creation, VITALIS 850 by Filippo Barbacane of Officine Rossopuro, using a Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans as the canvas.
We think it may be time for an intervention. For Officine Rossopuro’s Filippo Barbacane, barely a week goes by in which he doesn’t send us a ‘bugger-me-sideways-that’s-an-amazing-build’ bike. There can only be a few valid reasons as to the cause of his ceaseless productivity. He’s either possessed, a robot, or he has cloned himself half a dozen times. Unable to decide which scenario is more likely, we’re going for a combo answer; clearly the guy who makes these bikes is some sort of Sextuplet Satanic Cyborg that’s hell-bent on world domination through a never ending stream of totally sweet-ass bikes. Here’s his latest evil effort – a Moto Guzzi Bellagio he calls ‘Terra Moto’.
Imagine, if you will, a nightmarish, post apocalyptic world in the future. Mad Max. Kurt Russell in Escape from New York. Planet of the Apes, but with bikes instead of horses. Now somehow in this dusty, rusty future they are still running the TT. It’s nothing more than a motley gaggle of bike freaks who clear the road of debris and dead cows once a year to try and relive the glory days the race once knew The bikes they ride? Well, we think they’d look an awful lot like this amazing Triumph Speed Triple from Italy’s Iron Pirate Garage. All it needs is a shotgun, a mohawked rider and a few more spikes.