WHEN AN ITALIAN DESIGNER starts redesigning motorcycles you better pay attention.
We traveled South to the mid sized (50K inhabitants) town of Pordenone (North East Italy) to interview the protagonist of this post. There we met him at the workshop of his own company ‘La Motocicletta’.
While admiring his bike we had the opportunity to hear him out about his latest project. Massimo Zancai has a master’s degree in design at has been working on bikes for quite some years.
He mostly builds bikes in commission and often has to adhere to the tastes and budgets of his clients. With this 1983 BMW R80 he did not have to conform to the wishes of others and followed his creative instinct. As he describes it: “I had the pleasure of creating something that would give me satisfaction and show our potential to the fullest.
“I therefore decided, for reasons of image, that our online presence will only represent these superior specials made on our own initiative, showing people that exploring the full potential for beauty is more important than showing the dozens of low-end or not very inspirational bikes that populate our workshop year round.” The Italian adds.
The reason he gives for choosing this particular brand and model is that “BMW has a great potential to be a mix of a harmony shapes as a start, for this reason I have chosen an R80 ST model and I bought it in Germany (Monaco) just because it has only one owner and very low mileage, it sounds good to be a good donor bike.”
Tell us Massimo, what was your idea or vision with this build?
The builder explains: “My greatest passion is to give new life to commercial motorcycles, upsetting their essence to make them unique, playing between proportions and harmony of shapes, so I often find myself exploring new ideas that are able to merge the boundaries between art and mechanics mainly following the “GOLDEN RATIO” rules.”
OK we get that, but which well did you tap into for your inspiration?
“I worked for several years as designer (self-employed) at Aprilia and Moto Guzzi, working especially for carbon fiber pieces on the newest concepts bike to display at shows, my last works included Aprilia RS-660 and Moto Guzzi MGX-21. It gives to me the right inspiration to create something that was only in my mind as a “special harmony shapes thing.”
Working for great brands there are often larger budgets to work with. Were there any financial constraints when setting out on your own project?
“I do admit that in this project I have not actually cared too much about any expense” he smiles secretively, “But I prefer to avoid to tell how much it was, because I have special suppliers worldwide so the expenses would be different compared to the standard Italian production.” Massimo diplomatically continues.
Putting the money issue aside then, what were the creative challenges en route to the grande finale of this build?
“The tank was tailored on the frame in order to obtain a harmonious effect, without external brackets that would have eliminated the bikes elegance. I was looking for a shape that fully integrated the rest of the mould. This way I managed to position the speedometer in a unique position. Above it all, the whole electrical system is neatly tucked away. Now this was a real challenge, but it created an very clean look.” He proudly smiles while tenderly stroking his brainchild.
The Bikebrewers team particularly like the vibrant blue colour of the tank. This was created by spraying over a dozen transparent layers, polished between each paint job to obtain an extremely smooth surface without steps between the colours.
Going back to finances again, what modifications are made, what parts were used and did it require outside help?
“All the entire non-original components have been designed and built inside my workshop, from footrests to steering plates, from pins to brackets etc. everything is done using CNC technology.
Every single element (from the front headlight to the rear suspension and from the foot rests to the tank’s cap) was calculated in its position with the mathematical rule of the “golden ratio” to have a perfect harmony on the whole.
If you compare it to a stock bike you will notice that maybe a few millimetres but the positions do not coincide at any component.
On the front end I mounted an “ultra-lowered” upside down fork to maintain a very low overall set-up (otherwise with a standard fork the bike would have been a scrambler) and the brakes have a double disc ø320 on a spoke rim with radial calipers.
The original engine (R80) was completely overhauled and reassembled using R100 components.”
So what makes you really happy looking at your ‘chef-d’oeuvre’?
“The tailored tiny tank. And the liveliness of the details on it. It immediately draws your attention to it.
It was an enjoyable trip to Italy and we like what La Motocicletta have done with the BMW. One minor detail we are not big fans of is the licence plate holder. Although it looks nice and clean, using a simple straight line, we find it a bit dull. It is an inevitable requirement, but we’ve seen more appealing solutions.
But who really cares? When you are riding you are looking at the road ahead!
List of modifications
• Showa font fork upside-down ultra-lowered
• CNC footrest and pedals
• CNC steering plates
• YSS rear suspension
• Biltwell seat