Bike Show: Italian Sporting Bikes of the 70s journal image

Bike Show: Italian Sporting Bikes of the 70s

Posted in: Events

On Saturday, June 10, we hosted a one-day motorcycle show to celebrate the best of 1970's Italian motorcycle design and engineering. If you missed the one-day extravaganza, don't despair. Full interactive coverage of the event and a full video wrap-up is coming soon.

Why “Italian Sporting Bikes,” and why specifically from “The 1970′s”? We hope that once this presentation is made these questions will answer themselves. But in short, this was a very special time for motorcycling. A confluence of factors—social, economical, technological—gave the motorcycle world a decade of some of the most unforgettable and soulful designs of all time.


Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari (#9) took first and second place at the Imola 200 in 1972 riding brand new 750SS Desmo—catapult-launching the Italian motorcycle industry into the decade.

Following a post-war gold rush of small-displacement bike manufacturing in the 1950′s, the Italian motorcycle industry suffered a serious slump in the 1960′s. During that time there was a paradigm shift as people turned towards more affordable cars for transportation.


In the run-up to the 1970′s the Italians were innovating their asses off—here is Moto Guzzi’s V8 racer from 1955, which produced 80HP and clocked a mind-boggling 170MPH in a live grand prix race (it would be 30 years before that speed record was matched in competition)

Manufacturers realized that if motorcycles were no longer going to be a means of economical household transportation, then they damn well better be fun. Hastened by Japan’s onslaught of mass-produced, well-made, fast, and affordable machines, the Italian firms of the 1970′s—namely Ducati, Laverda, Moto Guzzi and MV Agusta—kicked their design and production efforts into high gear, and came into the decade swinging.

They literally doubled down on their average engine displacement, entering the decade in the 350cc range end exiting it putting out 1,000 cc’s.

Thanks to generous sponsorship from Alpinestars—which incidentally also got its start in Italy around this time—we were able to bring together 20-plus pristine, original-condition motorcycles that collectively define this incredible era.

Special thanks to the owners of these incredible bikes for loaning them to the cause: John Bloy, Robert Machinist, Stuart Parr, Robert Pettinicchi, Eric Lindemann, and Ken Salamone.

Here are a few photos by our friend Peter Domorak taken the day of the show by Peter Domorak.


As per our #25yearsofBMW show, we photographed all these Italian Stallions in the studio in 360-degree pan-o-vision, and will get them all posted online as soon as we can.


As a bonus, the mega-talented UK-based Illustrator Mr. Martin Squires sketched up a storm for us for a special show-supplement catalog. Details on that coming forthwith.