Written by Andrew Jones
When you think about it, Italy having one of the world’s biggest and best bike shows makes total sense. Like Japan with their bullet trains and the Swiss being so good at watches, motorcycles seem to be at the very heart of the Italian psyche. And one visit to a show like Motor Bike Expo 2019 only drives the point home. It’s not wall-to-wall factory bikes or a bunch of business types ‘shifting units’ and exchanging email addresses. It’s honest-to-goodness, grass-roots passion and real builders proudly displaying their blood, sweat and tears rendered in metal. Here’s some photo highlights.
As much as we’d like to toot our own horn, we’re going to refrain from revisiting the 2019 Pipeburn stand – we did enough of that while we were there. Needless to say that we went bigger and better than last year with a premium selection of bikes and guests, including killer builds from London’s Auto Fabrica, Swiss luminaries VTR Customs, Germany’s Kingston Customs, Belgique boffin Bernard Mont, Viba Motor’s Yann, the very fun Jack Watkins and our good mate Dave from Bottpower. Thanks to all of them for supporting us.
Our brief from the show’s organisers was simple – find Europe’s best bikes outside of italy for that particular year and get them at the show. As exciting as this may seem, it’s never easy having to exclude local Italian builders from our selezione della competizione. Luckily, the cream of the Italiano crop made an appearance, including the always amazing Filippo from Officine Rossopuro, Phonz and Marco for Anvil Motociclette and Dopz from Rome’s Emporio Elaborazioni.
Some other show highlights included the amazing Royal Enfield 650 Twin from Rough Crafts, DNA’s ‘Billet Sting’ CNC’d BMW R nineT, Abnormal Cycle’s NSU grass tracker and XTR Pepo’s silly cool Ducati Monster 821. Oh, and let’s not forget Messner Moto’s super sweet CB750. But the one factory bike we really wanted to see was sadly absent. That’d be the Harley-Davidson LiveWire; its likeness was plastered all over their stand, but two very exasperated-looking Harley Italy employees grimaced when they told us that no, it wasn’t making an appearance.
The other factory bike that grabbed our attention – an that’s been on our radar for a while – was Honda’s new-ish CB1000R. You have to hand it to the brand – they don’t run with the bulls, but when they put their mind to something, they can really hit them out of the park. And while we’ve not seen any customised examples as of yet, watch this space to see that oversight rectified in the near future.
The legendary Shinya Kimura also dropped by the Pipeburn stand to say hello. As quiet and sensei-ish as ever, he walked straight towards Bernard Mont’s ‘Nowhere Faster’ Ducati Sprint racer and proceeded to talk tech with the man himself. Some guys have all the luck. Yes, the celebs can get you all hot and bothered but some of the most enjoyable exchanges were with Signore e Signori Joe Pubblico, who invariably ended their half English, half Italian chats with the word, ‘Complimenti!’
And my personal highlight? It may not seem like much, but meeting the inimitable Jose ‘XTR Pepo’ Rosell, seeing his incredibly beautiful Ducati in the flesh and then having the very talented German photographer Marc Holstein shoot it on the spot was the stuff of custom bike dreams. Ticking things off your bucket list that quickly can be quite disorentating. Note to self: when you get a bunch of the world’s best talents together in the one room, amazing things tend to happen.
So, if you’re reading this and you live anywhere within a day’s ride of Verona, you owe it to yourself to take a long weekend off and pay it a visit next year. Snowy alpine passes willing, the show is big enough to keep even the most picky of visitors entertained. And if you run out of brain space to process all the cool bikes you’ll see, there’s always the option to see the city itself. If it was good enough for Romeo and Juliet, it’s good enough for us. See you there.