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Italian Superbikes Shine in the Sun: The 23rd Amelia Island Concours

1974 Ducati 750SS
The Venable family’s 1974 “Green Frame” Ducati 750SS won an Amelia award.

Since its inception, the Amelia Island Concours has reserved a spot for motorcycles. This year the featured class was 70s Italian Superbikes. Motorcycling was exploding in popularity in the U.S. in the 70s, with motorcycle registrations reaching a new high in 1973. As Japan started releasing their big bikes, the Italians were close behind with their own big bikes that were both brawny and beautiful. Soon their mark was made on the racetrack with their secret weapon, handling!

1981 Magni MV Agusta
Robin Lawrence’s spectacular 1981 Magni MV Agusta.

Ducati became the high-water mark with their 750SS Imola Replica aka the Green Frame. Only made in small batches, they were marketed with the hopes that new owners would take them to the track. There were two at Amelia this year. One was a nice original from the Barber Museum, previously owned by Phil Schilling. The other, a nicely restored 1974 Green Frame owned by James Venable, garnered an Amelia award. An equally exciting 1979 900SS was an award winner too, from the Sisso collection. There were also several MV Agustas, including an exceptional 1972 750S from Robb Talbot looking very patriotic in its red, white and blue livery. The MV and the corporate winner in this class was Robin Lawrence’s 1981 MV Agusta Magni. MVs were typically sold as a 750. They also had a shaft drive as the OEM set up. Arturo Magni, formerly MV’s racing manager, realized that power was being lost through the shaft, so he set up a chain-drive option to deliver more horsepower to the ground. The bore was increased for a capacity of over 900cc on Robin’s bike.

1973 Laverda SFC
The Dillard family’s 1973 Laverda SFC was the class winner.

In some ways Moto Guzzi was one of the first big Italian bikes with the launch of their 700CC touring bike in 1967. Of course only a few months later someone had converted one to a racer. An early 750 V-7 Sport was on display in pristine original condition. Also, on display was a later version, the 850.

Laverdas made a big splash with four entries. The ultimate winner was the Dillard family’s 1973 SFC. SFCs were built and manufactured with a focus on endurance racing, and they all came in a brilliant orange paint scheme with a quarter fairing.

All entries were a great testimony of the big impact that small Italian manufacturers had on the market in the 1970s.

1972 MV Agusta 750 Sport
Robb Talbot’s 1972 MV Agusta 750 Sport.

1979 Ducati 900SS
1979 Ducati 900SS from the Sisso collection won an Amelia award.

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering: Ness Customs, Café Racers and Electric Bikes

The Ness family

Legendary motorcycle designer Arlen Ness (left), his son Cory Ness (center) and grandson Zach Ness (right).

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering presented by GEICO Motorcycle, a Peninsula Hotels’ Signature Event, will display 300 pre- and post-war bikes along with three new classes representing revolutionary innovation and creativity in the sport of motorcycling. Event guests will discover custom builds from three generations of the iconic Ness family, an electric class that showcases the evolution of the alt-power motorcycle, and a Café Racer class highlighting hand-built bikes with the stripped-down street fighter aesthetic first made popular on the backroads of England — all while enjoying a family-friendly atmosphere, gourmet food and live music on the lawns of Quail Lodge & Golf Club.

A worldwide leader in product design and distribution, Arlen Ness Enterprises — led by Arlen Ness, his son Cory Ness and grandson Zach Ness — is the only family-run business in the motorcycle industry featuring three generations of passionate designers. After 45 years in business, the Ness family legacy will be recognized as Arlen Ness will be named the 2018 Legend of the Sport and bikes from his family’s Dublin, California, museum will be displayed on the event field.

Showcasing his cutting-edge style, Arlen Ness will present some of his most iconic builds such as the Art Deco-inspired “SmoothNess” and the 1947 Harley-Davidson El Knucklehead known as “Untouchable.” Son Cory Ness will showcase his own custom flair with one of his personal favorite builds, the “Curvaceous-Ness,” which has been featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Design Museum. He will also debut his latest build, the “Single-Sided Indian Digger.” The youngest member of the Ness family enterprise, Zach Ness, will demonstrate his design perspective through a selection of bikes including a 145 Cubic Inch Chopper, an Indian Custom Scout and a Shovelhead Custom Build.

“I have lived in Northern California most of my life, so having our family, our business and our bikes featured at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is like being honored in front of a hometown crowd," said Arlen Ness. “Back when I started building and riding custom bikes, if you rode a Harley or had long hair you were considered an outlaw. People didn't want you in town. It's been a pleasure watching how the culture has changed over the decades and being a part of it all. I can't wait to see the bikes on the field and to meet fans and fellow riders at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering.”

In addition to the Ness family bikes, the show will also feature a collection of hand-picked Electric Motorcycles and artfully-crafted Café Racers. Renowned motorcycle seat engineer Mike Corbin will showcase a 1975 Prototype Corbin-Gentry Electric Motorcycle X2 and one of the first electric motorcycles to be registered in many states — the Corbin-Gentry X1 Electric-Powered “City Bike.” Meanwhile, the Café Racer class will be headlined by classics such as a 1967 Triton Café Racer, a 1966 Velocette MS and an aluminum 1971 T 100 R Daytona, which was Triumph’s most popular 500 twin.

“We select bikes that truly embody the spirit of motorcycling — from the eccentric and extravagant to the traditional and timeless,” said Gordon McCall, Director of Motorsports for The Peninsula Signature Events. “Each bike at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering will represent a historical aspect or future trend that has impacted the industry and left a legacy of inspiration regarding the way bikes will continue to be built and designed. We are proud to present these featured bikes for our 2018 show and are sure that our guests will appreciate the broad selection of bikes on display.”

Tickets to the show include a gourmet lunch, parking and gear valet service for those riding a motorcycle. Learn more on the event website and follow the action on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For more information about the event and where to purchase tickets, please visit

About The Peninsula Signature Events
The Peninsula Signature Events is organized by The Peninsula Hotels, dedicated to creating world-class bespoke events at its properties in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Bangkok, Manila and Paris — future openings, Yangon and London. Quail Lodge & Golf Club is home to the following Peninsula Signature Events: The Quail Ride, The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, The Quail Rally and The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering.

Bonhams Announces New Motorcycle Auction at Barber Vintage Festival

Barber Museum

Bonhams is delighted to announce a new addition to its global calendar: a classic motorcycle auction at the Barber Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. The sale will be hosted in conjunction with the famous Barber Vintage Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6.

“The Barber Motorsports Museum is world-renowned, especially for its supreme motorcycle collection and exhibition method,” says Andy Barrett, Bonhams U.S. Motorcycle Specialist. “Hosting an auction in partnership with ‘The Barber’ is a natural extension and we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Adds Mark Osborne, Bonhams Global Director of Motorsport, “The annual Barber Vintage Festival is an internationally recognized and attended motorsport event on par with the best in the world and it’s a pleasure to establish a Bonhams auction in concert with it.”

Bonhams is the leading global auctioneer of classic motorcycles and holds the world record for the most valuable motorcycle ever sold at auction. With annual auctions in Las Vegas, Nevada and Stafford, England — not to mention various single-owner collections, the specialists at Bonhams are the best in the business.

Consignments are now being sought for the Barber sale. With limited availability, owners of unique and rare motorcycles as well as complete collections are encouraged to contact a member of Bonhams’ team right away:

• US: 323-436-5470 |
• UK and EU: |

Alternatively, owners may visit to submit a complimentary auction appraisal.

"King" Kenny Roberts to Host Charity Dinner and Ride at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering

War memorial

Grand Prix motorcycling icon Kenny Roberts will host the annual Welcome Home Heroes Foundation Charity Dinner and Ride Supporting Veterans during The Quail Motorcycle Gathering Weekend, May 5-6, 2018, at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club. Roberts will be joined at the event by fellow GP racing legend Eddie Lawson.

The proceeds of the dinner and ride will directly benefit the Northern California-based Welcome Home Heroes Foundation. The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, presented by GEICO Motorcycles, has partnered with the Welcome Home Heroes Foundation to bring the two charitable events to the weekend of the annual show. Featuring special guest and 2017 “Legend of the Sport” Kenny Roberts, the reception and dinner will take place on Saturday, May 5th at Quail Lodge & Golf Club and be followed by the ride on Sunday, May 6th. Both events directly support the non-profit, which provides resources for U.S. veterans and their families.

Grand Prix motorcycle racing world champion and industry icon Kenny Roberts has been a longtime proponent of Welcome Home Heroes Foundation. The grassroots 501 (3) (C) organization works directly with staff at Veterans Affairs facilities in Palo Alto and Livermore — as well as the U.S. Military — to assist Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans.

Saturday’s 7th Annual True American Heroes reception and dinner will honor and provide funding for this cause and feature special appearances by Roberts and fellow Grand Prix racer Eddie Lawson. The evening will include a gourmet meal prepared by Quail Lodge & Golf Club’s Executive Chef Brian Kearns and his team. Dinner will be followed by a live auction featuring a motorcycle donated by Yamaha Motor Corporation.

The fundraising efforts will continue Sunday morning with the 14th Annual CPL Michael D. Anderson Jr. Ride. Led by the three-time world champion Roberts and four-time world champion Eddie Lawson, the ride will take participants through the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley roads with a few stops along the way, highlighted by lunch at the Moto Talbott Collection in Carmel.

“We are looking forward to working with this amazing foundation through the dinner and ride fundraiser,” said Kai Lermen, General Manager of Quail Lodge & Golf Club. “Giving back to veterans is an important cause in our community. We truly love to host events that not only raise awareness for this cause, but also inspire our guests to provide their support.”

To participate, guests can buy a single event package for $400 or a double event package for $600. One hundred percent of proceeds will benefit U.S. veterans and their families. To learn more or to purchase a package, please call the True American Heroes Dinner & Ride office at 1.209.765.9317.

About The Peninsula Signature Events

The Peninsula Signature Events is organized by The Peninsula Hotels, dedicated to creating world-class bespoke events at its properties in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Bangkok, Manila, and Paris — future openings, Yangon and London. Quail Lodge & Golf Club is home to the following Peninsula Signature Events: The Quail Ride, The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, The Quail Rally and The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering.

Upcoming Vintage Motorcycle Events: March/April 2018


Head to Martin Motorsports in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, for the Modern Classics Motorcycle Show on March 3.

3/3 Back for its eighth year, check out the Modern Classics Motorcycle Show. This year, in addition to a great collection of bikes from the 1960s through the 1990s, the show will also feature a sampling of machines from the first half of the 20th century. Check out the Friday Night Modern Classics Kickstart Party from 7-10 p.m. at the show's home, Martin Motorsports in Boyertown, Pennsylvania.

3/9 This year marks the 77th Anniversary of Daytona Bike Week, which runs March 9-18, in Daytona Beach, Florida. The racing kicks off on Saturday night, March 10, with the Daytona Supercross. The American Flat Track series Daytona TT runs on Thursday, March 15. The 2018 Daytona 200 takes place on Saturday, March 17, featuring American Sportbike Racing Association's (ASRA) 600cc sport bikes racing on Daytona's famed road course. For more info, schedules and specific locations of activities visit the Bike Week site.

3/17 Visit Rapid City, South Dakota, for the 30th Annual Black Hills Motorcycle Show, March 17-18, at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. There are more than 20 judged classes, including People's Choice.

4/27 Head to Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California, for the Corsa Motoclassica, April 27-29. Rounds 7 and 8 of the AHRMA Historic Cup Roadrace Series will be Saturday and Sunday. There's a vintage bike show on Saturday and a swap meet both days.

Mar. 4 — Walneck's Swap Meet and Show. Princeton, IL.

Mar. 4-5 — 28th Annual Super Show and Swap Meet. Colorado Springs, CO.

Mar. 9-10 — AMCA 2018 Sunshine Chapter National Meet. New Smyrna Beach, FL.

Mar. 9-10 — Vintage Motorcycle Alliance 7th Annual International Vintage Motorcycle Swap Meet and Bike Show. Eustis, FL.

Mar. 9-11 — 15th Annual Inland Northwest Motorcycle Show and Sale. Spokane, WA.

Mar. 11 — Walneck's Swap Meet and Show. Springfield, OH.

Mar. 17-18 — 42nd Annual Vintage Motorcycle and Bicycle Rally & Show. Caldwell, ID.

Mar. 18 — 46th Annual Kalamazoo Motorcycle Swap Meet. Kalamazoo, MI.

Mar. 25 — So-Cal Cycle Show and Swap Meet. Long Beach, CA.

Mar. 30-Apr. 1 — AHRMA Road Racing at Carolina Motorsports Park. Kershaw, SC.

Mar. 31 — Giddy Up Vintage Chopper Show. New Braunfels, TX.

Apr. 14-15 — Eurobike 2018. Raleigh, NC.

Apr. 20-22 — The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show 2018. Austin, TX.

Apr. 20-22 — AHRMA Road Racing at Hallet Motor Racing Circuit. Jennings, OK.

Apr. 22 — Walneck's Swap Meet and Show. Woodstock, IL.

Apr. 22 — So-Cal Cycle Swap Meet. Long Beach, CA.

Apr. 22 — Jeff Williams Motorcycle Swap Meet. Kansas City, MO.

Apr. 25-28 — 36th Annual Laughlin River Run. Laughlin, NV.

Apr. 27-28 — AMCA National Meet Perkiomen Chapter. Oley, PA.

Apr. 31 — 15th Annual Cadillac Swap Meet. Cadillac, MI.

Motorcycle Classics wants to know about shows, swap meets, road runs and more for classic motorcycles. Send details of upcoming events at least three months in advance to

3rd Annual Ride ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em Getaway

mc event

The 3rd Annual Motorcycle Classics Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, is set for Aug. 10-12, 2018. Following up on the great time we had with the first two events, we're returning to Southwestern Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands for another perfect weekend of riding and relaxing. The routes have been mapped and checked, and we’re looking forward to another great weekend of riding and enjoying old bikes. This year’s ride will take us north to Johnstown, where we’ll ride the famous Johnstown Incline, and we’ll follow up with another, slightly shorter ride on Sunday. Check out the Saturday route here and the Sunday route here. We’ll be joined this year by famed motorcycle journalist and racer Allen Cathcart, who will ride with us and share stories from his amazing career during our Saturday night banquet. Learn more about Allen and get a further description of this year’s ride route by clicking here.

The goal for the weekend is pretty simple: hang out with cool people, ride great roads, eat well and share our mutual love of old bikes. Last year's event drew 53 readers to Seven Springs Mountain Resort, including riders who joined Joel Samick at RetroTours for a back-road romp from the RetroTours headquarters in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, to Seven Springs. Last year's ride took us south to the tiny burgh of Grantsville, Maryland, where we stopped for lunch after threading our way through the area's beautiful and mostly unknown Amish farm country on roads regularly populated by horse-drawn buggies and their Amish occupants.

Our post-lunch ride took us back north and over the 3,213-foot summit of Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania. The day ended back at Seven Springs, where we had a great banquet dinner with special guest Mark Mederski, special projects director at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, and former executive director of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Sunday morning found us back on our bikes, with a great run on seemingly abandoned back roads carving through the Laurel Highlands. This is truly stunning territory, a mixture of woods and open farm land punctuated by broad ridges and sudden valleys of idyllic farm land, with ribbons of two-lane black top slicing through it all.

RetroTours will once again offer rental bikes from its stable of classic '70s twins, and if you're looking for more adventure link up with them for a round-trip run from Kennett Square for the event. We're still working on this year's route and special guest, but you can count on another special weekend filled with great people, great food and great riding. It doesn't get much better than that.

Sign up now to reserve your spot in the Ride 'Em, Don’t Hide 'Em Getaway. All reservations include lodging for two nights (Friday and Saturday), a welcome reception dinner on Friday, full breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning at the Slopeside Restaurant, and a special post-ride banquet dinner on Saturday. There’s also secure indoor parking for your bike, so you don’t have to worry about it being outside. Last year’s lineup of machines looked like something straight out of a museum, with vintage Ducatis, Triumphs, BSAs, Hondas and more filling the ranks. Don’t miss it! Click here to reserve your space.

The Ride ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em Getaway is sponsored by:

Bonhams logoRetroTours logo

Federal Motorcycle Transport logoPecard logoSpectro logo

Behind The Longest Hour: The Hagerty Insurance 2017 Barber Bike Build

John L. Stein works on the Rickman

With the Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires fitted, John L. Stein rolls on a new Regina chain in preparation for racing at Barber in 2017.

The challenge sounded easy enough: Find two race-eligible dirt bikes at the 2017 Barber swap meet, fix them, and go racing. What could go wrong? Lots, actually. Yet remarkably, it all went quite well, as we recounted in our feature article, The Longest Hour: Racing Rickman Dirt Bikes at Barber. So what did we learn about preparing for a mad challenge like this? Quite a bit, thank you.

Bike Build Essentials

In an ideal world, preparing for a challenge like this, you’d make up a list of replacement parts, accessories, tools and supplies needed in advance of building a bike. For the Hagerty adventure, we didn’t have that luxury. Instead, we had to make educated guesses ahead of time and ship ahead the items we were most likely to need. And by some miracle, we chose exactly right! Here’s who supported us in our build – and the rugged cross-country race that followed.

Dunlop shipped three sizes of its Geomax MX3S off-road tires and tubes – two 21-inchers, two 18-inchers and one 19-incher. This gave us a good chance of having new knobbies for whatever bikes we ultimately found. And they gripped perfectly in the Alabama woods – a real performance advantage. Go to

Regina Chain sent us four different Professional Cross Supermoto chain sizes, including 525, 520, 428, and even the small 420 just in case we found the odd little 90cc or 100cc bikes that needed them. The Rickmans both used 428 chains, which we trimmed to size with the easy-to-use Regina chain breaker. Go to

Pro Honda makes a wide variety of lubricants, chemicals and cleaners for bikes, and sent products to support whatever kind of bikes we found. We used HP2 two-stroke oil, HP Transmission Oil, Contact/Brake Cleaner, Carburetor Cleaner, HP Chain Lube with Moly, and Spray Cleaner and Polish (which also helped with tire mounting). Everything worked great! Go to

Thinking positively ahead of time, I ordered two sets of Fastlane MX Vintage Ovals printed up with our racing numbers and names, and carried them to Alabama in my computer bag. Super sticky and durable, they are just right for standard 9x11-inch vintage number plates. Go to

John L. Stein riding through the woods

After putting it all together, Stein rips the Rickman through the woods. He was running third until he ran out of gas!

Ride Essentials

It had been a while since I replaced my helmet, and with racing in the cards I picked the light and comfortable Bell Moto-9 Carbon Flex in Vice Black/White. Among the latest in helmet designs, it protects against the glancing blows that often accompany dirt bike falls. Fortunately, I didn’t get to fully test this feature! Go to

Given one other safety item besides a helmet to wear, I’d choose Alpinestars Tech 10 boots. Weighing about 5 pounds apiece in my size (11), they’re not light, but they’re spectacularly comfy, and do they ever protect your feet, ankles and shins from the ruts, rocks, stumps and other hazards found in woods riding. Go to

A hip gear company based in So-Cal, FastHouse makes a variety of moto apparel – some with a vintage feel – and can print the jerseys with your name and racing number. We picked Stripes L1 jerseys, Grindhouse pants in Navy and Speed Style gloves, also in Navy – a great look for the Rickmans we eventually found. Go to

Our thanks to all these great suppliers for making this incredible ride experience happen, to Hagerty Insurance for backing us in the first place, and to Motorcycle Classics for publishing the story. What a ride!