125cc Motorcycle: The Rumi Sport 125

In an era of post-war scarcity, a 125cc motorcycle with a 2-stroke engine could be a desirable machine. Especially one with attractive design features like the Rumi Sport 125.

| November/December 2009

  • 125cc Motorcycle - rider cruising on Rumi Sport
    With its distinctive "WAP-wap-thrap-WAP-wap-thrap" sound, the 1952 Rumi Sport was a 125cc motorcycle that made an impression.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Fillipo d'Annibale with his Rumi Sport
    “Baffo” d’Annibale with his 1952 Rumi Sport 125, which shares space in his shed with a Parilla, a Mondial, an MV Agusta and a half dozen other Italian collectibles.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton
  • 125cc Motorcycle - gas tank and cockpit of Rumi Sport
    The cockpit was well designed, but the handlebars were short and non-adjustable.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Rumi Sport parked on grass near bushes
    Bizarrely, the seat of the Rumi Sport 125 floats behind the gas tank with no visible means of support.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Rumi Sport frame tubes
    Angled frame tubes were another visually striking feature of the The Rumi Sport 125.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Rumi Sport plunger shocks
    The Rumi Sport 125 might be small, but the Rumi has a strong visual presence, with artfully crafted plunger shocks.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton
  • 125cc Motorcycle - headlamp nacelle and horn
    The Rumi Sport 125 also has a flowing headlamp nacelle.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton
  • 125cc Motorcycle - rider crouched low on Rumi Sport
    1952 Rumi Sport 125.
    Photo by James Adam Bolton

  • 125cc Motorcycle - rider cruising on Rumi Sport
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Fillipo d'Annibale with his Rumi Sport
  • 125cc Motorcycle - gas tank and cockpit of Rumi Sport
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Rumi Sport parked on grass near bushes
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Rumi Sport frame tubes
  • 125cc Motorcycle - Rumi Sport plunger shocks
  • 125cc Motorcycle - headlamp nacelle and horn
  • 125cc Motorcycle - rider crouched low on Rumi Sport

1952 Rumi Sport 125
Years produced:
1950-1952
Claimed power: 10hp @ 7,400rpm
Top speed: 65mph (est.)
Engine type: 124.68cc air-cooled 2-stroke parallel twin
Top speed: 65mph (est.)
Weight (dry): 202lb (92kg)
Price then: $375 (est.)
Price now: $8,500-$14,000
MPG: 45-65 (est.)

If someone told you they were introducing a 10hp, 125cc motorcycle with a 2-stroke twin-cylinder machine like the 1952 Rumi Sport 125, would you be even remotely impressed? Probably not. These days, we’re spoiled by speed, power and efficiency. But 50 years ago, it was a different world.

Today, we can choose from an unbelievable assortment of motorcycles made to do anything we want. Up the road or around the world, it’s all so easily available to us. So try to imagine how it must have been back in the late Forties and early Fifties in an Italy still devastated by war. There were few decent roads, little infrastructure, not a lot to eat and not much to be had in the way of pleasure. Shoots of optimism were appearing though, and Italians were getting around again on two wheels. Following the lead of Piaggio with the Vespa and Moto Guzzi with its “Guzzino” 65, most of the major manufacturers like Ducati, MV and Mondial had a small-bore bike on offer; but frankly, these basic commuter machines were staid, slow and no fun.

And then there was Rumi. Like a bright torch in the gloom of post-war Italian motorcycle manufacture, the Bergamo-based factory led the way for others with daring and innovative designs, giving Italian teenagers something to aspire to by offering what was, for the period, an extraordinary looking motorcycle — the Rumi Sport 125.



High Art

When Donnino Rumi joined his father in the family bronze foundry business, Fonderie Officine Rumi, he decided Rumi had to diversify. Donnino was a shy but extravagant artist, with a visual bent not unlike that of Salvador Dali. He painted, sculpted, drew and designed, and joined his father in business after an education at the prestigious Carrara art academy in his hometown of Bergamo. Combine high art and metal making with a strong cultural desire for something bright and new, and it’s no wonder the products coming from the Rumi factory were so aesthetically original, technically well-designed and — most importantly — so appealing to the senses and emotions.

The Rumi Sport 125 was introduced in 1950, following the 125 Turismo, Rumi’s first production model. Unique in design and good looking, they went well, too, and both were instant sales successes. The 125 Sport engine boasted higher compression than the Turismo, and had slightly wider fins on the cylinder head to aid cooling. The 125 engine split horizontally (for quick and easy access), with a tiny one-piece crankshaft supporting double connecting rods and pistons with unusually shaped deflector heads. These were technical ideas that, while different, worked successfully in the Rumi engine. The Turismo engine was designed by Pietro Vassena, and then revised in 1951 by Giuseppe Salmaggi, who also designed the iconic Gilera Saturno. Salmaggi introduced the 4-speed gearbox for the Sport and twin-carbureted Super Sport by 1953.



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