A Bantam in the Appenines

A chat between father and son leads to Richard Wyatt taking his Bantam into the hills of Central Italy for a tour that replicates the glory days of the Italian motorcycle industry

It was August of 2018 when my son called me and asked where we might be going on the bikes in 2019.

I replied, giving him a few options, all of which he’d done before, but the following month I spotted an advert in the biking press, for the Moto Giro d’Italia.

But what is the Giro? It’s an event that was originally created by the Italian Motorcycle Federation to advertise the Italian motorcycle industry’s little machines, the likes of the MV 150cc, the Gilera 150 and 175, with the event being initially established just before the outbreak of war in 1914.

Apart from during the two world wars, the Giro took place each year, with its popularity peaking in the Fifties, at a time when Italian journalist, Silvio Ottolenghi, described the Giro as being “one of the most fascinating races that have been performed since when man got tired of pedalling!”.

However, the Giro was brought to a halt in 1957 when the event was stopped as legislation was brought in against road events such as this after the Mille Miglia car disaster of that year, which killed nine spectators, five of whom were children.

It was actually resurrected by the Federation as a time trial in 1967, running for three years before another hiatus through to 1989, when Terni Motoclub (based just outside Rome) rejuvenated the event, and who continue to run the organisation of the event to the present day.

Read more and view more images in the July 2019 issue of OBM – on sale now!

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