Little Bikes Shine at Quail

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by Margie Siegal
A beautiful small-displacement Mondial.

To many, a show bike means a motorcycle that was top of the line when it was new, but the display of small machines at this year’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering, taking place in Carmel, California on May 14, proved that a machine does not need to have been expensive to buy or difficult to locate to get a lot of attention from showgoers.

The small displacement bikes made in Italy in the 1950s and 1960s have always been appreciated as works of industrial art. The Montesa Cota won the Best Industrial Design award in 1968. A 1971 version of this bike was on display at Quail and won the Mini Bike award. Mini bikes, the first powered two wheeler of many youngsters in the late Fifties through the early Seventies, are starting to show up at classic bike auctions.

Gilera is best known for its multi-cylinder Grand Prix winners, but like other Italian firms, its bread and butter was economical single cylinder machines intended for the home country commuter market. A racing version of the Gilera single was on display at this year’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering next to a small capacity Moto Guzzi, both gathering appreciative eyes. Moto Guzzi had a somewhat different business plan than the majority of Italian factories. The company made bikes for the Italian highway patrol, and, starting in the late Sixties, for American police forces. However, Moto Guzzi always produced small displacement motorcycles for Italian riders, and more than a few of these stylish machines have wound up in the USA, like the silver bike with the forward facing cylinder and “bacon slicer” external flywheel on the Quail putting green.

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine
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