Look around today at some of the new bikes on the market, and you’re looking right into the past, understandably. For many of us, the motorcycles of the 60s and 70s are just far superior. With less (no) plastic and calmer lines, they're way nicer too look at, and, with functional weight-to-power rations, they're nice to ride as well. They’re also just way easier to work on, which is why a 70s BMW or Honda CB is selling on eBay today for what it essentially sold for 40 years ago, brand new in a shop.
Some of these 70s bikes have literally lost no value because they were so perfectly designed, hence the huge demand. And this demand is also why you see Triumph throwing back for the Bonneville, a new old Sportster, the Ducati Scrambler, and now, the Moto Guzzi Scrambler. All are super sharp bikes that look back for inspiration.
And while I applaud this shift, I'd still take a vintage bike over one of the new ones any day of the week.
With that in mind though, a show running now in New York draws attention specifically to the Italian bikes of the 60s and 70s, and makes the case that we really should be paying way more attention to these designs than we have when it comes to reinventing the bikes of the future. Why? These were the original sport bikes. Engineering marvels that were built for speed while not sacrificing design or character. They are absolutely gorgeous.
The show, Art of the Italian Two Wheel, is running now through July and is free at 285 Madison Avenue. When I went, I happened to meet Stuart Parr who owns all the bikes. I asked him how the show came about and, basically, he said a friend had space in the building and he’d long wanted to share these bikes. Thank you to him for that because they deserve to be seen, and ridden, which is something Parr seems to agree with, as he rode one bike right out the doors.
Art of the Italian Two Wheel makes an impossibly strong case for the design work of 60s and 70s Italian motorcycle brands and, whether you ride or not, it's certainly worth a visit.