Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Perfect (Investment) Vehicle

No, not Melissa Holbrook Pierson's love letter to her various Guzzis, but the MGS-01 Moto Guzzi that's on eBay at the moment - when people finally wake up to the fact that Ducatis aren't the only Italian motorcycles and start to appreciate Guzzi's contribution to the history books the ultimate Guzzi V-twin will surely soar in value. Or you could just ride it. Or lend it to Benzina. Please...

Anyway given the eBay link won't be up for long, the text is reproduced below

Very very reluctant sale of this amazing hand built machine. This is build number 131, I picked it up from the Moto Guzzi factory myself on 30th December 2009. Moto Guzzi originally planned to make 100 of these bikes but due to demand they have been building extra bikes to order until they run out of parts. When I picked this one up the manager told me that they wouldn't be building many more! So this is a very special limited production racer, a classic for the future no doubt. I'm going to regret selling this, that's for sure, but needs must....

I bought the bike specifically for racing in the Thunderbike UK championship, for which it proved very competitive - I won 2 races first time out - unfortunately, as the engine freed up with a few miles under it's belt it became too powerful for the class rules. I tried racing it with extra ballast and a full tank of fuel but to be blunt, it started to handle like a barge because the weight went up from around 200kg to over 230kg!! I only raced in 2 rounds of the the Thunderbike UK championship before accepting defeat, choosing instead to enter some SoS races with New Era, but it's not really competitive against 160+bhp Ducati's so that didn't last long either!

In stock trim the bike comes equiped with Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension front and rear. Few people seem aware that the Ohlins suspension on road going Aprilia's, Ducati's etc is not that much different to lower budget kit, it just has the right name on it, a bit of bling. For track use it is a real benefit to have the forks and shock re-valved, even the Ohlins kit needs this modification to perform well on track. This bike has had that done, a 25mm Ohlins valve kit in the forks and a re-valve and spring upgrade on the shock. The result is a bike that responds well to fast track riding, with lovely plush feeling forks allowing trail braking into corners in complete control. The rear shock allows all of that power and torque (90 ft lbs) to be applied safely coming out of corners. This set up is far far better than stock. I know because I first rode the bike in standard trim at Jerez and Almeria and it was bouncing about all over the place! The suspension was set up by Perry Leask at HM Racing, Edenbridge, Kent. He provides expert set up and advice and provides a data sheet showing all of the settings, which I still have.

The fueling has been set up using a Powercommander, also by HM Racing. They improved the response of the engine and increased the power considerably, which went up from around 121bhp to 130bhp at the back wheel!! I have the dyno sheets that show power and torque figures.

The brakes have been improved with the use of a race spec Brembo master cylinder, this firms up the lever pressure and gives fade free braking.

I have a spare set of OZ Racing wheels, the same as on the bike. These will be included with the sale as well as the original paddock stands and indoor Moto Guzzi bike cover.

The bike is in very good condition but it has been used, not stored in an office reception, therefore collectors may want to look elsewhere! The odometre show's 1717kms so, as any Guzzi man will tell you, it's not even run in yet! This bike would suit somebody that does track days and wants something different and special to ride. The mods I've listed make this a very capable track bike and believe me, start this bike up and a crowd will surely gather. I've never heard a better sounding bike in my life, that includes MotoGP, WSB, Ducati's - you name it and judging by other people's reactions I'm not the only one who thinks so!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cafe Racer TV

If you're lucky enough to be able to watch DiscoveryHD channel’s CafĂ© Racer TV this is a clip from tonight's show featuring Desmopro's Rich Lambrechts. Not only do you get to watch Rich build the half 860GT-half Desmosedici monster below, there are also peeks inside Rino Caracchi's workshop and a track test by the Bostrom brothers. I'll be in a dark room crying into my chianti because I can't watch it - but a at least I've got the full story for Benzina #009, out in June - with a preview in Benzina #008 out next week

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Audi buy Ducati - official

Acquisition of Ducati Motor Holding by Audi Group

I am pleased to deliver the press releases issued today ( and copied below) by Audi Group and by the Investindustrial Group regarding the planned change in ownership of Ducati Motor Holding.

The transaction, as reported in the releases, is subject to approval by the competent antitrust authorities and should take place in the coming months.

I am confident that the Audi Group will allow Ducati to continue strengthening its position in markets around the world. The announcement confirms the positive reinforcement of Ducati made ​​in 2006 under the control of the Investindustrial Group.

Yours sincerely

Gabriele Del Torchio

 Chairman Rupert Stadler: “As a sporty, global premium brand, Ducati is

an excellent fit for Audi.”

 Third pillar for AUDI AG in Italy

 Ducati a leading player in engine technology and lightweight construction

Ingolstadt/Bologna, April 18, 2012 – AUDI AG is acquiring from Investindustrial

Group the tradition-steeped Italian sports motorcycle manufacturer Ducati Motor

Holding S.p.A., which has its registered office in Bologna. The transaction will be

completed as quickly as possible once authorized by the competition authorities. The

Supervisory Boards of AUDI AG and Volkswagen AG approved the acquisition today in

Hamburg. Ducati is known worldwide as a leading brand in motorcycle manufacture,

with outstanding expertise in engine development and lightweight construction.

Alongside the traditional Italian brands Lamborghini and Italdesign, Ducati is now a

third pillar for AUDI AG in Northern Italy. Another building block in the Company’s

growth strategy thus falls into place. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of

Management of AUDI AG, declared: “Ducati is known worldwide as a premium brand

among motorcycle manufacturers and has a long tradition of building sporty

motorcycles. It has great expertise in high-performance engines and lightweight

construction, and is one of the world’s most profitable motorcycle manufacturers. That

makes Ducati an excellent fit for Audi.” The progressive control systems and special

combustion chamber process of Ducati engines, their resulting sporty character, and

Ducati’s extensive know-how in lightweight construction thus offer great potential for

AUDI AG and the Volkswagen Group.

Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of AUDI AG, explains that the

employee representatives of AUDI AG support the Company’s sustainable, codetermined

growth strategy. “We must use the opportunities offered by globalization

for Audi – and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Everyone at Audi is looking forward to

working with our new colleagues from Ducati,” commented Mosch.
Ducati is a globally active company and has manufacturing operations at its

headquarters in Bologna and at its own factory in Thailand. It maintains a series of

importer companies in strategic markets. Experts predict that the motorcycle market

will enjoy strong growth over the next few years, especially in Asia. In 2011, Ducati sold

around 42,000 motorcycles and generated revenue of some €480 million, employing

around 1,100 people.

The company was founded by Adriano and Marcello Ducati in Bologna in 1926. Known

originally as SocietĂ  Scientifica Radiobrevetti Ducati, it initially built parts for radios. It

ventured into the manufacture of motorcycles in 1949.

Ducati has been actively involved in motorcycle racing for many decades through its

racing division Ducati Corse. Its racing activities are currently focused on the Ducati

official factory team in the MotoGP class of the Motorcycle World Championship and in

the Superbike World Championship, supporting competitive private teams. Ducati won

the manufacturers’ championship in this latter class 17 times in 21 championships and

the pilots’ 14 times.

Inspiration - then Norton nick the idea

Watching the Chinese F1 race on Sunday (don't cancel the subscription - I was killing the monotony of ironing) I was struck by Mercedes post-race rationale on why their victory was important.
The Mercedes F1 car is really nothing of the sort - it's a typical Garagista effort (as Enzo Ferrari called F1 teams not entered by a bone-fide manufacturer) with Mercedes picking up the tab in return for the team being called Mercedes Silver Arrows. Sunday's win was the first for a car thus described since Fangio won the 1955 Italian GP with a Silver Arrow that really had been built in Germany. Anyway, Mercedes delight was especially great because they won in China with a car that spoke of a heritage few other car makers can dream of. Their message is clear - new money is crass, but because that's the norm in the emerging economies (China especially), you can look like old money by buying into a brand that speaks of longevity and class. And if Mr Newly-Minted of Beijing buys a Mercedes (in silver, of course) not only has he bought from a company that wins in F1, he's buying from a company that can trace its F1 victories back to Pre-don't-mention-the-war days.

Hmmm, I thought. Moto Guzzi could do with some of that, especially since their new California 1400 (below) is the perfect competitor to the default Harley that the new markets love as much as the latest sportsbike. Except Guzzi don't have a sportsbike...Do they?

Well, Piaggio seem so keen to move Guzzi out of Mandello and closer to the modern Aprilia factory that they may have missed an idea I've shameless copied from Alejandro de Tomaso. His plan was to make Benelli mainstream, and Guzzi the upmarket, premium brand. So couldn't Piaggio built a modern Guzzi racer based around the Aprilia V4, maybe even for the CRT class in Moto GP? Perfect way to reposition Guzzi as a premium product and make the new Cali sell as well and as profitably as Ducati's Diavel? So obvious I wondered why no-one else had thought of it.

Ah, they have: Norton have just announced that they will race a Spondon framed Aprilia V4 (above) at the TT, with a "Norton" sticker on the tank. Damn, wish I'd called the Patent Office on Monday...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Monster SFC at teas and cakes

That should read Monsters, SFC, MZ and Enfield at teas and cakes. As the sun broke through Jack brought his "new" SFC (top) which is one of nine (yes, nine) Laverda triples he now owns. I guess the kid's bicycles now live outside.
Three Monsters turned up, including Richard's 696, brought as a change from his Lodola that features in Benzina #008 (below) although our greyhound wannabe,Ziggy, clearly thought it was a Parilla.

Benzina #008 ( available to order now ) out soon and certainly in time for the Stafford Classic Bike showwhere we'll be in the main hall, opposite Davida, on the 28/29 February. See you there

Friday, 13 April 2012

Sunday Lunch

Sorry for the short notice, but this Sunday there's charity lunch at Carluccio's in Covent Garden in support of Riders for Health. There are ride ins from around the M25, and after lunch there's a charity auction - we've donated one of the Tribute-to-Cook-and-Phil tees signed by Cook Neilson; he even used a blue pen to match the logo on the one that will be auctioned and we've thrown in copies of Benzina issue 1 that tells the story of Cook and Phil Schilling's Old Blue/California Hot Rod, plus issue 4 that tells why Phil designed the tee shirt this was back in the 1970s. Cook has only signed three of these tees so hopefully it will sell well and support Riders for Healthexcellent work

More info via or call 0844 318 6848 to book your place.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Tea and cakes - and Thruxton BSB

First Teas and Cakes of the year this Saturday, 2pm on - we're less than a 30 minute ride from Thruxton which is hosting this weekends BSB races - watch Saturday practice then come and meet some like minded souls. Please email if you'll join us: helps catering arrangements and we'll send back directions; we can be tricky to find - contacts are at

Ducati to launch M620 powered scooter!

No, not really - though this must be the running script in Ducati boardroom meetings theese days. The clip must be the most redubbed on YouTube, but still made us smile...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Dondo dreaming

One of the bossmen at Moto Corsa graciously allowed us access to his lovely Guzzi collection to photograph for Benzina #009 (I know, I know...#008's not out yet). The top pic was taken by Vespamore Photography on film with an old OM-10 and out-of-date film that can be processed to give these great effects; yes, that's my 900SS on his site looking very 1975. Groovy, baby...

My conventional digital effort is below; magnesium alloy drum brakes taste nearly as nice as the bacon sarnies that our host kindly provided. What do you mean, how do I know..?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Back in the room

I've been tied to the computer and not even stuck my head in the garage for weeks. Even this blog's been abandoned and the kid's have finally gone feral. Never mind, issue 8 of Benzina is just about done so will be printed and on sale at Stafford. Included are stories on running Bimota's life-saving DB1 in road and race trim, then a run back down the years and capacity ladder brings in a 1956 Gilera 175 Sferica. Plus riding a Guzzi Lodola to the Dolomites and painting the Alpine you do. And loads more

Bigger news is that I've been desperately trying to get the new look A4 Benzina #009 out for Stafford as well; bigger, better and with new contributors you'll really want to read. The timescale's looking very ambitious, but if you don't try...

BUT IN THE MEANTIME - we won't run teas and cakes this Saturady because we've got the family here for Easter - but we will welcome you all to ride over for, well Teas and Cakes, Saturday 14 April at 2pm. See you then