note: Stelvio, you may remember, was fortunate enough
to ride the BMW K1200S around the Nurburgring last year. He
went to the Bologna show and submitted this report in his
own style. We liked it but the format doesn't really fit in
with our corporate image. So we left it as it is...
Lamborghini, Ducati, Bimota, Imola, Misano, Fiorano.
What do these names and places have in common? They are all
from a region of northern Italy called Emilia-Romagna.
to give you an idea of what types of motorheads live in the
region, I've personally seen a road (a public road) crossing
the hills in the direction of Florence, where somebody had
built concrete kerbs in a series of corners, and they were
painted white and red.
If you move just a few kilometers out of
Emilia-Romagna, in a region called Marche, you'll find the
town of Pesaro, where Benelli is based, hometown of unforgettable
Renzo Pasolini. And very close to Pesaro, the village of Tavullia,
hometown of a young guy who calls himself "The Doctor", ever
heard of him?
Emilia-Romagna is the land of motorsports,
and Bologna, site of the oldest University in the world (est.
1088), city of the Two Towers (both of them leaning, but not
as much as the tower of Pisa) and hometown of a guy called
Pierfrancesco Chili, is the capital of Emilia-Romagna.
Every year, in early december, the expo district
of Bologna hosts the Motor Show, the second largest car and
bikes exhibition in Italy.
As the name says, it is more of a show than
a real expo, and usually the space dedicated to cars is way
much larger than the one dedicated to bikes. However, this
year I had reasons to believe that more bike makes were going
to be present, and that a few new models were to be introduced,
so I took advantage of a day off at the office and headed
Well, the original plan was to go to Bologna
by bike, as real men should, but the thought of 350 km in
a cold and damp winter morning, plus another 350 back, in
a dark, colder and damper winter evening made this old man
chicken out and buy a round-trip ticket for a nice and warm
(and cheap) italian train (the downside of it was to wake
up a a quarter to four, to be at the station on time to catch
the 4.55 train).
So, at half past nine, I was entering the
gates of the expo district in Bologna, to visit the XX edition
of the Motor Show.
stop was of course going to be the bike area. First stop and
first disappointment: no Yamaha, no Suzuki and, shock-horror,
It is not uncommon that the Japanese are
absent from the Motor Show, specially in years (like last
year) in which the Milan expo is also held, but Ducati!! They
are based about 5 km away, one of their sponsors is the City
of Bologna!! What can I say? Too busy? Trouble with the budget?
I'll have to go back to Bologna, one of these
days, and ask them. And while I'm there, I will take the chance
to visit the Ducati Museum.
But ... wait a minute! I was wrong: Ducati
is here, after all. It took a while to find them, and they
only have one item on display, but it's good news they are
finally coming out with something a bit cheaper than their
And it comes with Loris Capirossi number,
in Loris Capirossi size ...(sorry Loris, I just couldn't help
unknown reasons, this Ducati was shown in the Polini minibikes
area. First thing I noticed, even minibikes are sharing the
true Motor Show spirit.
So, with Ducati sorted out, let's take a
look at who else is present.
As usual, the largest area is occupied by
Honda, with all their products on display (sports, off-road,
touring, naked, supermotard, scooters, whatever), and the
largest part of the Honda area is occupied by their best-seller:
the Hornet 600.
Once again, despite being under serious attack
by the new Yamaha FZ6 and by the Kawasaki Z750 the naked from
Honda is the most sold motorcycle in Italy.
I'm not specially a fan of the Hornet 600,
but this time they had a few specials on display, and I must
admit that some of them were quite interesting and good looking.
one featuring twin peripheral brake discs on the front wheel,
the new upside-down fork and a lot of chrome.
Or this one, featuring ... well, never mind
(I told you it's more of a show than an expo).
Honda was presenting several upgrades of
existing models, but no major new model was introduced (oh,
well, maybe a new scooter, but I don't think I can tell one
could not help noticeing that the top supersports model, the
CBR1000RR Fireblade, which is just one year old, and is starting
to do very well both in World and in AMA Superbikes, was going
The Repsol color scheme did not help. Nor
did ... the rest.
What is it? Are we bikers getting a bit too
hungry for new models?
Or maybe it is just disappointment with Honda,
because none of the three bikes in the picture here below,
despite all the money and all the power and the good riders,
is wearing the crown of World Champion.
wonder the girl sitting on Gibernau's bike does not look too
By the way, beside the one on display at
Honda, I counted at least another four specimens of Sete's
bike (at Team Gresini and at various sponsors). That's millions
of Euros. And yet, no title.
They had better luck (and probably much less
espenses) with Andrea Dovizioso's 125 ...
... or with Karl Muggeridge CBR600RR
But this is enough space dedicated to Honda.
It's time to move on and take a look at the only other Japanese
manufacturer present at this year's Motor Show.
And that's Kawasaki.
Their area was delimited by two huge trucks,
belonging to the two Superbikes and/or Supersports teams preparing
for next year, Team Bertocchi and Team PSG-1.
of all I had to check whether my 9-months old ZX-10R was getting
obsolete by some new "2005 model".
No visible differences that I could detect.
Good. It's always disappointing when you suddenly find out
that your bike is the "old model". Not only my ZX-10R is still
"new", but it still looks great when it's seriously set for
"Ehm ..., Miss? Aren't your legs a bit too
long for Superstock racing? You must spend a fortune on knee
"Oh, they're alright. You should see the
legs of my blonde colleague, and she's racing Supersports.."
Kawasaki was showing the quite good looking
new ZX-6 Ninja, in the usual versions R (636 cc.) and RR (600
cc.), the 636 claiming 136 bhp @ 14000 rpm.
They are also introducing a Z750 with a cockpit,
Z750 has been a huge success in Italy: good
looking, relatively cheap and quite powerful. I find that
the naked Z750 still looks better than the Z750S (not as good
as the Z1000, though), but we all know how nice it is to have
some shelter from the wind.
We'll see how this Z750S will do next season.
We'll also see how Mauro Sanchini will do
in World Superbikes, racing again on a ZX-10R, but this time
with the team that used to race Ducati with Pierfrancesco
Chili (PSG-1, and they are trying to keep their yellow color
That's all for Japanese manufacturers, folks.
Oh, no wait a minute! There's another little japanese bike
on display, almost hidden in the (rather dark) area of a tool
maker who also serves Ferrari (you can see a glimpse of a
F1 wheel in the top right corner of the picture).
Pity the owner was not in sight.
So, let's take a look at the Europeans. Let's
go to Spain, first.
This girl was trying to dance me into buying
an off-road Derbi 125.
And her colleague, was trying same in favor
of a Derbi Muhlacen
According to italian magazines, this bike
has been a huge success at Intermot in Munich. Several desingers,
including Massimo Tamburini (designer of Ducati 916 and of
all recent MV Agustas) were very impressed.
So much that it is now turning from a concept
bike into a production model.
I don't know. I appreciate when someone is
trying to create something new, but my favorite Derbi is still
And speaking of successful, small GP bikes,
let's now pay a visit to Aprilia.
is undergoing some major financial turmoil, with bad effect
on their marketshare both in motorbikes and in scooters. Accordingly,
their area at the Motor Show was rather empty of visitors.
It's a shame, because their products are very good. Look at
As you can see, the expression of the girl
reflects all the trouble of Aprilia. Now the property has
changed hands, and large investments are announced: let's
hope for the better.
How many of you remember Moto Morini?
Moto Morini was a glorious italian manufacturer,
based in Bologna (less than one kilometer away from the Ducati
plants of Borgo Panigale) and active until the late '80s.
They were making a good 4-strokes motorbikes, up to 250 cc.
I remember a good range of off-road competition bikes ("Corsaro"
100, 125 and 160 cc.) in times in which races were not yet
dominated by 2-strokes, and a very nice "Corsarino" 50 cc.,
whose 4-stroke tiny engine was a little masterpiece. It came
in sports and off-road versions, it had a beautiful sound
and probably it could go from Bologna to Beijing and back
The greatest success of Moto Morini, in the
mid '70s, was a 350 cc. V twin called "3 1/2" ("Tre e mezzo"),
a modern and quite sporty bike that dominated the italian
market in times in which mid-range Japanese bikes were still
subject to import restrictions.
The success of the 3 1/2 was so big that
Morini had to give up production of all other models and convert
all of their plants to build more and more 3 1/2. A few years
later, they tried to evolve the 3 1/2 in a 500 cc. and to
build a single-cylinder 250 cc. but the success of the original
was not repeated, and they no longer had a baseline of models
to fall back on, so, in a way, they were killed by their own
years of silence, members of the Morini family, and a few
engineers who had links with the old management, bought back
the brand (which had been in various hands, including those
of the Castiglioni brothers, former owners of Cagiva and Ducati),
and started working on a new project.
These are serious guys, not like nowadays
take-the-money-and-run ruthless businessmen. Their project
is proceeding ahead of schedule, and the results were on display
at the Motor Show.
Ladies and gentlemen, the "Corsaro 1200".
Twin 87-degrees V engine, 1187 cc., 140 bhp
@ 9500 rpm, with a torque of 123 Nm @ 6500 rpm; 6 gears; 198
The color scheme, and the name, are a replica
from the original Moto Morini range. And what about this?
is Moto Morini "9 1/2" ("Nove e mezzo"). Same architecture
as the "Corsaro", 998 cc., 105 bhp @ 9000 rpm, 98 Nm @ 6200
rpm, weight undeclared.
Look at the guys at the back of the picture:
I'm not sure, but it seems to me that they speak with a strong
Bolognese accent, and they have tears in their eyes.
Ok, enough for Bolognese nostalgia. But,
in order to see a few more bikes I will have to move ... to
the car area.
Next to this impressive, Hydrogen-powered
monster, the guys of Bayerische Motoren Werke were introducing
their new tourer R1200RT.
About 20 kg lighter and about 20 bhp more
powerful than its predecessor, with the new rear suspension
leverages introduced by R1200GS and K1200S, it also looks
It looks smaller than in pictures when you
see it live. "Specially when you sit on it!". "Mhm, thanks
for the information, miss".
The new K1200R, introduced at Intermot, was
not present, but there was a naked K1200S frame and engine,
which is more or less the same, isn't it?
This is one of the nice saddlebags that were
designed for the K1200S. It's extensible, and it can carry
a decent amount of luggage in style. The Germans are very
good at these things.
That's it, for motorbikes. Let's see if there's
anything else of interest in the BMW area. Well, maybe this:
(Don't kid yourself, you Brits: it's a BMW).
All I can do now, is to go for a stroll in
the outdoors area of the Motor Show. This year there was a
little trial acrobatics going on, courtesy of Honda ...
... and, like every year, they had transformed
a big parking space into a multi-purpose racetrack.
The day I was there, some F3000 racing was
held (as a 1-to-1 chrono). The program of the week includes
some rallying, go-kart, all-stars Supermoto races, Honda,
Subaru and BMW demos and passenger rides (some of them with
another guy from Bologna, a certain Alex Zanardi,). Usually,
the last weekend of the Motor Show hosts a
Ferrari F1 exhibition, with fast laps and
timed pit-stops (last year they were timed to replace all
4 wheels in about 3 1/2 seconds).
On my way to the exit, I have to cross some
more car show area, and I must admit, this Motorshow atmosphere
almost convinced me into buying a car.
Maybe a sporty Alfa Romeo ...
... or even a small Lancia ...
... or one of many others, all engaged in
a fierce competition about whose models were more ...
Out of the Motor Show, I still had some time
before my return train, so I had a chance to go walking around
If you come to Italy, I recommend you pay
a visit to the town. Take a chance to visit Ducati, but also
go see the Towers.
Walk the porches of Bologna streets
And go see Piazza Santo Stefano, with its
Or the Nettuno (Neptune) fountain. (What
is Neptune doing here? The sea is 70 km away).
Or even the City Hall.
But I'm sure, while you walk around the street
of the city center, going from one monument to another, you
will notice another characteristic that makes Bologna famous
all over the word: food.
One could gain a couple of kilos just standing
in front of a window like this. "Some Parmigiano cheese, Sir?".
"Tortellini?" (it's the yellow things in
the trays; stuffed pasta, Bologna speciality, served in a
bouillon: "Tortellini in brodo")
"What about some ham? With a good glass of
Sangiovese (red wine from Romagna)"
"Some arrosto, with a souffle'?"
"And a dessert, to top it up."
So, if you decide to visit Bologna, for the
Motor Show, or to visit the Ducati museum, or to complain
at the factory for the typical "red bag of nails" noise of
Ducati's disengaged clutches, or just because it's Bologna,
drop me a line. I can give you directions to a couple of restaurants