Friday, 30 December 2011

S3 on tour '93

My S3 packed up like a carthorse in July 1993, crossing the Alps leaving Italy and into France. I had done the same journey the previous January. Open face piss pot lid, Scott skiing goggles and Swagman panniers. Who said these bikes aren't tourers?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Minarelli motor - but which bike?

Marcelo from Brazil sent me a photo of one of his bikes. He says: 

"Hello, I´m from Brazil and would like to kindly ask you help to identify the brand and model of one motorcycle I have here. The engine has a "Motori Minarelli" plate  .
I really appreciate if you can take a look on the pictures and let me know any information.

Thank you and best regards,

Anyone got any ideas? I haven't - Minarelli motors were used in so many bikes..

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year from ITALIAN MOTOR magazine

I'd just like to say to everyone who has bought a magazine this year, all the great people we've met this year while shooting bikes and cars for the magazine, everyone we've chatted to at events and shows, anyone who has taken the time to comment on the blog posts, all our great advertisers without whom the mag simply wouldn't be printed, all our friends and supporters, and to anyone who has taken interest and generally given a shit:

Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to you all from ITALIAN MOTOR magazine!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The only way to learn

In my late teens and early 20s I had no money - nothing's changed there - so I had to work on my bikes and old cars myself as I couldn't afford to pay anyone. With judicious use of my dad's garage when he was away, I'd get my bike stripped down, using a motley selection of tools. In this photo, taken I'd say in 1990, I've pulled the top end of my old black V50 down and it's spread around the garage floor. I can't even remember why or what the issue was. I rode that V50 to Holland, France and back and it gave me no problems. My mates called it the Tiger Moth because it sounded like one at full chat on the motorway.
I sold it on for a 500 quid profit once I found my S3 not long after. Anyway, I learned so much by doing it myself, and ended up working in motorcycle workshops with the knowledge gained. Do it yourself!!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Demm were the Dick-Dick days

Up near my way, once a year in summer, a local village is given over to motorcycles, and this year, this lovely Demm Dick-Dick turned up. 50cc of class Italian cafe' racer moped. Great unrestored condition too, let's hope he keeps it that way. I used to see loads of Demms in Italy, but this is the first I've seen over here. 

Did Demm change Dik-Dik to Dick-Dick to skirt around possible antelope copyright and patent issues?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Snorkel Parka Pleasures

Maybe you will have to have been a kid growing up in Britain in the 1970s to understand what I'm going on about here. The snorkel parka or anorak was de rigeur for kids my age, whether in blue or green (and some even black.) Snorkel, beacause the hood zipped right up, leaving just a tunnel of polyester and nylon fur and orange quilting. Lovely and snug in those cold UK winters of discontent, though wearing it 'full snorkel' cut off the peripheral vision completely, making it hard to perceive cars speeding outside the playground gates. A large, meanly-compacted snowball deftly inserted with force into the 'full snorkel' was also an always present hazard for the wearer. I have vivid memories of trudging to school in thick snow with submarine periscope vision, then greeting my friends in the playground, all similarly attired and wandering around clumsily in full snorkel mode, until we were eventually called inside.

Everyone, and I mean everyone had one in those days. They were just cool, and were literally big, warm, survival suits for kids, and easy for parents to get their kids to wear then. My brother had one which I considered to be better than mine, and I was so happy the day it was handed down to me. I had always wondered what happened to our parkas. They were like old friends that had disappeared over the time.

Imagine my surprise and joy then this week when I walked into our local charity shop (thrift store) and found this. A new, old stock, never worn Campari Snorkel Parka. Orange quilted lining, buckle on the hood, internal drawstrings, leather reinforced pocket seams, elasticated cuffs...I had forgotten what details these parkas had. Faux fur hood and polyester lining. All 100% nylon. As kids we were walking fire hazards, and by the time we had discovered cigarettes, we had - luckily - moved on to Harringtons, leathers or army jackets.

In a large size 40 and for just £10, I snapped it up without a second thought - and I'm now reliving my childhood winters in my new parka. My daughter gets scared when I peer at her through the snorkel. It's so warm, and comfy, and practical. And brings back very happy memories. Apparently they go on Ebay now for good money, especially the Lord Anthony ones. But I always remembered the Campari, England label (though it then says 'Made in Korea' on the label below..). Good parka info here

To appreciate how virtually all kids wore parkas in those days, watch this classic and famous clip from a football match when Hereford knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup, from 1972. The pitch invasion is carried out by young parka kids in parkas, strangely enough mostly green in this case, and with some kids with hoods down and some in full snorkel. Classic.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Projects stalled

One is in a pile of bits on the floor, and the other has stopped dead in its tracks due to a seized sprocket. And how do you rebuild bikes with no money or time? And a fine layer of dust every time you go back to the cow shed we call a workshop. Answers on a postcard please.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Stubby black Guzzi silencers from Italy

For as long as I've owned a 750 Guzzi from the V7 Sport/S/S3 range, and in my opinion the best looking 'modern' Guzzis ever built, I've also been fixated by short, black, stubby silencers for them after seeing photos. Factory and production race machines from the early '70s featured all types of silencers and exhaust systems, from long cigar shape, to yawing open wide cut down black things that always look like they were knocked up that day on the test bench. Bruno Scola's race bikes (above) usually featured matt black silencers and they always, to me, looked the bollocks - purposeful and to the point. 
I found a (now) very rare full Stucchi system from the 1970s in Italy about 20 years ago, you can hear how it sounds on my S3 here:

I've just bought another two sets of nice period stubbies, for a very good price, from a bloke who was advertising one set on Italian Ebay. It is handy to be able to write in Italian to communicate with sellers over there, because it's stuff you just don't really come across here. One set, with the rounded ends, are period piece silencers for the Guzzi 750s of the time. Yeah a bit battered but who cares? I've seen them on various bikes over the years, and they also sound great, deep and different to the Lafranconis. The second set are also short and stubby, and kick up, not quite as pretty as the others, but interesting nonetheless. I now have great choices for my Le Mans 2 special, and will probably end up selling one of the sets if silencers to pay for other bits. The seller Franco also included a sticker in the package, which would originally have gone on the tank of my S3, advertising the fact the bike had (and still does) have linked brakes. Grazie mille Franco!!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Florio - original Motogiro and Milano-Taranto works rider

I've met a lot of people around bikes in my time, but Florio Monti is still the best person I have interviewed, and I return to the set of shots I took of him at his workshop in Tuscany often. I was so proud to have him at my wedding, as we all rode in to the church together. He's living history and absolutely fascinating. At 90, he still goes out jogging every day, and continues rides his bikes. He rode in all the big road races in Italy in the 1940s and 1950s, and has some stories to tell.

Full story of Florio Monti in Issue Three

Friday, 2 December 2011

More ITALIAN MOTOR on Bike Exif

It's great getting our feature bikes up on Bike Exif, which if you don't know, is the motorcycle site which features a different classy motorcycle every other day, and reaches tens of thousands of people. More importantly, it means more publicity for the mag, which in turn means more sales, and therefore more chance of the mag being able to continue in the face of perma-economic global depression.

It's also flattering on a creative/personal level because Chris (who runs Bike Exif) doesn't really accept any old bike, or photos, as his stipulation is that the photography must also be of a high standard. One of the main aims of starting the magazine was photograph Italian motors and present them as well as possible with the gear available at our disposal within our budget (i.e. no, we don't own a top of the range Canon EOS-1D X though it'd be nice..), and the fact that we've had a fair few feature bikes on Bike Exif means we must be doing something right.

Nick's beautiful Baines Imola was up there last week, and got a very positive reaction.
Check it out here:

Here's a couple more shots that didn't make it into the mag. Still one of the most enjoyable Italian bikes I've ridden.