Monday, 21 December 2009

Nothing like the real thing

Now this hound appeared on eBay, and despite a lot of scepticism made $16,300 - just over ten grand in sterling - probably to someone who's going to ship it abroad with all the taxes and costs that involves. For a tatty 175cc Ducati. Are they mad?

Oh no - this is an F3, basically a hand built 175cc Gran Sport with goodies like sand cast crankcases, Amadoro brakes and straight cut bevel gears. Made for racing F3s shared little with the road bikes - different frames, tinware, the lot. Probably less than 100 were made between 1959 and '62, making them ultra rare and Giro eligible.

This one will probably be restored to some numpties shiny vision of what it might have looked like new, but we kind of like the race-dog look, with the scars of races won and practice get-offs. After all, if you just want something that looks like new, we know where you can get one, complete with a 250's 5 speed gearbox...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sammy Miller's is possibly the best bike museum in the world (and certainly the best in the UK) and we're confirming the dates for the 2010 Italian Extravaganze. This'll be the third time Benzina's helped the irrepressible Gary J organise this - we had 1,300 guests last year, proof we mean to make this the Number 1 event for UK Italian bike nuts.

Saturday 24th July; invite only afternoon/early evening do - we're working on a Giro (circular ride out) from the Museum, and on return a light Italian meal followed by a guided tour of the museum's Italian bikes by Sammy himself. Probably twenty quid a head - email if you want an invite, because numbers'll have to be limited.

Sunday 25th - the old Italians in action; hear the Gilera 500/4, the Guzzi Dondolino, bevel Ducatis and much more, with exhausts from a time before decibels were invented. You'll be saying "Pardon?" to people for days afterward, but it'll be worth it. Pizza, barbeque, prizes and more. Just a fiver gets you in. Full schedule when we've thought about it some more

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


MOTO GUZZI V7 SPORT - 1971 2, originally uploaded by BigBlockAgency.
Now this is a thing of rare beauty - the Telaio Rosso (red frame) 750 Sport was the finest sports bike of the very early 70's, and only some 200 were made. What a fab pic, courtesy of  Francis Dreer - an ace lensman and journalist. See his blog at


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Winter daily drivers

Come the dark evenings, come the morning frosts. Friday I saw the first game of car skittles this winter, with a bright yellow Punto parked on its roof. All the stickers, dustbin exhaust, hairgelled owner standing in the road on his phone. He'll learn, we all do.

So what to do, to preserve your pride and joy for another spring? TB friend and Ferrari nut Neil W used to borrow his other half's Golf, but realised that's no way to carry on. Now Neil's not your typically Fezzer nerd -his 355 Spiders a tasteful deep blue, and I've never seen him in Ferrari branded clobber. So I expected him to buy something like TB's Fiat 500 or maybe a Mito as a daily driver, especially on a budget of under £10k.

Hooo no - he's bought an Alfa 156 GTA, with flappy paddle gearbox. 250 bhp through the front wheels in a car that weighs less than some diesel hatchbacks. Good man - but Neil, please keep an eye on the outside temperature

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Original and best?

Every biker in the UK must know about the Motogiro d'Italia, and the magazines seem to give its modern reinvention fair coverage - quite right too, and many TB members have enjoyed pretending to be Giuliano Maoggi, Emilio Mendogni or Leopoldo Tartarini. Next year's event'll be the 10th anniversary of the recreation. You should go.

Go Motogiro!

But no one in the UK seems to know about the original of these Gran Fondo races, the Milano Taranto. Unlike the Motogiro bikes weren't limited to 175cc - you needed something like a Guzzi 500 Dondolino to win. And they raced at night, in the days when there were no streetlights - or indeed what modern riders would call headlights. Heroic, and the modern Milano Taranto today still starts at midnight. There never seem to be any English entrants, presumably because we're sensible enough to know that starting a bike race just as the Vino Rosso and pasta's finished would be madness. Hmmm, wonder if Sammy Miller would lend us his Dondolino?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Retiring to France

There are Team Benzina conscripts who don't get the old motorbike thing, let alone Ducatis - they just refer to our healthy interest in motorised Italiana as The Disease. Well, there's bad news for them because The Disease seems to have spread to France.

Good friend and Giro Le Mans rider Pierre D lives  just outside Paris and loves Ducatis. He's got a blue and silver 1977 900SS, which he bought for restoration but still doesn't seem to have started. I'm sure there's an MV tiddler waiting to do a Giro. Bet there's other stuff too. So what's Pierre done to kick start work? Bought a 350 Desmo to restore. Fabulously original, probably just needs a can of WD40 and some Solvo to get back on the road. Or, as he says, he's going to have to retire if these bikes are ever going to get finished. Ah. C'est la bonne vie pour moi..