Thursday, May 24, 2012

Motorcycles at the Airport

Had to go to a Liver Transplantation meeting in San Francisco last week and remembered that the folks at Return Of The Cafe Racers blog recommended the Moto Bellissima exhibit at the San Francisco Airport. All I can Say is that it definitely was a great way to spend time before a flight.

The exhibit focused on small displacement, Italian motorcycles of the 50'sand 60's. These little works of art benefitted from a change in Italian motor vehicle laws after World War II that allowed for riders as young as 14 to operate a motor vehicle with a displacement of 50cc's and limited to a speed of 28 MPH. The result was phenomenal in that almost 200 manufacturers produced very stylish bikes with low performance at production but were extremely tunable to as much as 70 MPH!

125cc Ducati Mariana

48 cc Record

FB Mondial Racer

The style of these bikes like the 48cc Record above is undeniable especially when today low displacement motorcycles are perhaps regarded with disdain. I have to hand it to the designers of the period who were able to take into account the socio-economic realities of a post-war Europe and created these wonderful bikes. Unfortunately, their demise was at the hands of the Honda multicylinder CB line, an equally iconic line of the 70's. I love these little speedsters and can see why there is a cult following.  If you are flying through San Francisco in the next two weeks, you should definitely stop by the International Terminal and have a look at these gems.


  1. i was at the airport last week to get a ticket to Paris and enjoyed the amazing display ....took some pics too

    1. Patrick,

      Hope you have a nice trip to France. I should have looked you up in SF!