Brad Pitt was seen cruising around New Orleans on his new motorcycle wearing a Dolce&Gabbana jacket. The city is his and Angelina’s home away from home and where the headquarters of his charity the ‘Make It Right’ foundation which he founded to help rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Brad is a devotee of the bad ass engines of the two-wheeled variety and that’s something he has in common with Italians as there is nowhere else on earth (apart from California) that has taken to the ideal of the motorcycle as Italy.
The Italian motorcycle is the has come to represent to motorcycle enthusiasts something unique in it’s design and character. Nothing speaks to the heart of the Italian male like opening of the throttle of an Italian ‘moto’ on the open road. The Italian male’s relationship with the two-wheeled petrol guzzler is indicative of his dreams and desires, a need for freedom and mobility but an obsession with speed and a passion for design.
Brad Pitt takes the streets in Dolce&Gabbana on his new cycle, which was designed by Jesse Rooke and made by Swift Motorcycles. It is called the Scrambler
Italian motorcycles were for a long time characterised by their individuality. In a country where engineers garner the same respect as medical doctors and artistry and design are given full reign it not surprising that some of the greatest feats of motorcycle design have come from here. Often coming from small family-owned factories, these motorcycles were created from a well of passion and flair with often little or no attention paid to business success. It is only relatively recently that Italian motorcycle design became a lucrative business, largely due to foreign investment.
What history has left for us are some spectacular creations, that transcend the mechanical engineering-led ‘solutions’ of other nations and become more than a beautiful object, but an object that influences how you feel when you use it. More than any other motorcycle, the Italian classics combined beauty, power, speed and handling in a way that led to a unique experience while riding. What was important to the designers was the experience of riding the bike and that explain their phenomenal worldwide popularity and how anyone lucky enough to own one of these masterpieces can feel what it’s like to be Italian.
Here are Swide’s top 5 classic Italian motorcycles:
Moto Guzzi 750-S3
The engine of this machine was originally conceived for a 3-wheel mountain vehicle made by the Italian government over a three-year period 1960-64. It was adapted as a military motorcycle before the factory realised it would be suitable for a civilian bike. It was in 1975 that this concept reached perfection with the 750-S3, a comfortable low-sitting ride that wasn’t the fastest at 185 kph and a far cry from the Championship winning Guzzi racers of the 50’s, but with an incredibly smooth ride and a 390 km range made for long distance touring and perfect or Italy.
Ducati 900 SS
The Ducati 900SS is a solid muscular bike that utilises a v-twin engine in classic 90° configuration. A difficult feat for although it makes for a smooth engine, this arrangement can result in a hulking chassis. The Ducati 900 SS does it brilliantly with absolutely no extras or frills. It is a Spartan workhorse that gives a max speed of 200 kph and became the basis of the successful Ducati factory racing team that competed in endurance races all over the world.
Benelli 750 sei
The ‘sei’ comes from the Italian for ‘6’ and refers to the 6-cylinder engine and the bikes most distinguishing feature of six exhaust pipes. The engine was based on a Honda four cylinder but by adding the extra two Benelli crated something unique. With great handling and surprisingly lightweight the Benelli 750 sei had something idiosyncratically Italian about it. There’s just something altogether beautiful about this machine and it captures a romantic notion of motorcycle adventuring.
Another classic to come out of a family owned firm in Bologna, the Morini 3 ½ proves that with Italian motorcycles beauty isn’t always a beast . In fact the Italian appreciation for all things small in the motoring is one of the nations primary design accomplishments. We could talk all day about the Vespa and other Italian scooters but the Morini is a ‘moto’ or motorcycle. What it lacks in size and power it compensates with attention to detail and nifty handling. Another example of the love and care that goes into the manufacture of all things Italian.
An icon of Italian endurance racing Massimo Laverda’s philosophy borrowed from the horse-breeding axiom that ‘endurance racing always improves the breed’. The SFC series became legendary in the 70’s endurance racing circuit and all Laverda’s road bikes were built with the same racing tolerances as their competitive models. The result is a beast of a bike that was built with endless attention to detail and the highest quality through all components. SFC750 was the last in a line of great racing bikes that stands up even to modern motorcycle. A creation born from true passion for the sport of motorcycle racing.