Matt Ellis, Motorcycle Shippers Brand Ambassador. Armed with a laptop and camera, he can be often be found at the race track with friends and family. Motorcycle Shippers
What Motorcycles are Popular in Italy?
Italian motorcycles are one of the most reputable bikes amongst riders worldwide. This is a result of their first-rate performance, flawless design, and history that goes back to the early 20th century. There were over 60 motorcycle manufacturers from Italy, but only a selected few remained active up to this date.
Most of these brands are easily recognizable, even to the non-riders. In many aspects, Italian motorcycles are in a league of their own, and it’s no wonder why many people opt for Italian motorcycles exclusively. In this article, we’ll reveal the best Italian motorcycle brands in 2023.
Initially named Meccanica Verghera Agusta, MV Agusta is a motorcycle manufacturer from Italy, founded in 1945 by Domenico Agusta as one of the subdivisions of the Agusta aircraft company. The main purpose of establishing the motorcycle subdivision is due to the owner’s affection for racing, and he was determined to produce the best Grand Prix racing team in the world. MV Agusta constructed their first motorcycle in ’45, and it was called “98”.
Three years later, the company participated in the Italian Grand Prix and won straight away, and that’s when the legend began. Later, MV Agusta won the 17 consecutive 500cc world champions, and they recruited the best riders of the time, continuing their dominance until the early seventies. After Domenico Agusta passed away in ’71, the company was on the downfall, so they were forced to find a financial partner in the form of EFIM, which meant that MV Agusta had to leave the motorcycle industry to straighten their finances. MV Agusta stopped with the motorcycle production altogether but proceeded to sell the bikes until the ’80s.
After changing a couple of owners who struggled to return the company to its former glory, MV Agusta was taken under the leadership of Timur Sardarov in 2019. Nowadays, MV Agusta is a financially stable company with a new management team, as well as ambitious objectives for the future like focusing on electric motorcycles. Italian motorcycle MV Agusta is once again in demand, and the leading crowd-pleaser of MV Agusta today is the Brutale Dragster RR model, a naked bike with 140 horsepower, weighing 175 kg, and including a wheelbase of 1400 mm. The total displacement of this model is 798 cm3, and its maximum speed goes up to 244 km/h.
Ducati started as a radio and electronic components company in 1926, and eventually found its way to producing one of the most prestigious and innovative motorcycles in the world. The company began as a family business, successfully producing the radio technology until WWII, after which the Ducati family began producing the motorcycles. The first bike, called Cucciolo, was ultramodern back then and earned the company a decent profit. In 1949, Ducati constructed their first fully complete motorcycle called Ducati 60, which jumpstarted Ducati as the motorcycle manufacturer. Ducati has joined motorsports in 1951 with the Cucciolo model, after which they started designing motorcycles specifically for racing. Their lead engineer Fabio Taglioni designed the Gran Sport 100 model, which ultimately became a highly successful racing bike. After a few decades of success in racing, Ducati founded the racing team in 1999 called Ducati Corse, which presently contends in MotoGP, The Superbike World Championship, and other national competitions.
During their long history, Ducati has experienced multiple achievements — from producing their first motorcycles to becoming a major league motorcycle company, as well as being successful in racing competitions. Today, Ducati is owned by the widely-known automotive company Lamborghini and it has three production sites, in Italy, Thailand, and Brazil, producing more than 50 000 units per year. The main crowd-puller for the year 2021 was the Multistrada V4 adventure-tourer motorcycle with 170 horsepower, weighing 240 kg, and including a wheelbase of 1567 mm. This model has a displacement of 1158 cm3, and the maximum speed goes up to 249 km/h.
Founded right after WWII by Alberto Beggio, Aprilia began as a bicycle manufacturer and later moved to produce scooters and other small-capacity motorcycles. After Alberto’s son Ivan took over the company in 1968, Aprilia started manufacturing motorcycles with 50 ccs. What lead the company to prominence was their 1970 Scarabeo motocross model. During the ’70s, Aprilia began exporting to the foreign market, with 20% of the units destined exclusively for export. In that decade, the company went from producing 150 units to 12000 units annually and won their first motorsports title in 1977. During the early eighties and the motorcycle crisis in whole Europe, Aprilia reoriented on sports lightweights and diverted from motocross to road racing motorcycles. Aprilia focused on technical features and chassis design as their primary objectives, and after achieving lots of success in both sales and motorsport, the company was acquired by the Piaggio Group, allowing them to expand their production even further. The founder’s son, Ivano Beggio, served as the honorary president until 2018 when he passed away.
Nowadays, Aprilia mostly focuses on sport bikes and scooters, serving consumers across the world. Their latest major hit is the RS 660 model, a midweight sports bike with 100 horsepower, dry weight of 169 kg, and wheelbase of 1370 mm. In addition, this bike has 659 cm3 displacement, with a top speed of up to 230 km/h.
Established in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio, the company began as a manufacturer of locomotives and railway carriages. Towards the end of WWI, Piaggio converted to the military sector and began producing motorboats, airplanes, seaplanes, etc. Later, the company expanded its catalog to trucks, trams, buses, and more, but after their production facility got destroyed in the WWII bombing, Piaggio diverted to motorcycle production. Their legendary model Vespa was introduced in 1946, selling over a million units in ten years. Vespa was distributed across Europe and the rest of the world, becoming their most distinguished product in the company’s history. The new production facilities opened in Brazil and India, and soon, Vespa was produced in 13 countries across the world. Over the course of 50 years since releasing their first model, Piaggio launched more than a hundred models of scooters to tailor to consumers’ needs. This allowed the company to gain legendary status as the leading scooter manufacturer in the world. During the ’50s and ’60s, some of the Vespa and Lambretta models raced competitively against other motorcycles, often succeeding in those races. Since the ’80s, there were many Vespa and Lambretta races that became a major sport, especially in the USA.
In 2021, the company celebrated 75 years from releasing the first Vespa model and released the revised Vespa GTS Super 125 model with 13.8 horsepower, dry weight of 160 kg, and wheelbase of 1380 mm. This Vespa model has 124 cm3 displacement and can go up to 101 km/h.
Moto Guzzi is the oldest European manufacturer when it comes to continuous motorcycle production. It was established in 1921 by the pilot and mechanic named Giorgio Parodi and Carlo Guzzi. The original name was GP, which stands for Guzzi-Parodi, but the Parodi family distanced themselves from the name because of their huge financial stake in the shipping industry. Their first motorcycle was an 8 HP Normale model, followed by Guzzi G. T. in 1928 and Airone 250 in 1939. For the next 15 years, Airone 250 was the best-selling medium-capacity bike in Italy. Moto Guzzi had plenty of racing success with 14 world GP championship trophies and 11 tourist trophies, until withdrawing from motorsports in 1957.
Years after WWII, Moto Guzzi released various models like the legendary Galleto and Lodola. During the ’50s, the company has built the advanced wind tunnel and became the first motorcycle manufacturer ever to do so. One decade later, they made a 90° V-twin engine which became one of the company’s symbols. Moto Guzzi has gained tremendous popularity worldwide, and many motorcycle clubs and internet websites dedicated to this company were made. In 2004, the company was acquired by Piaggio Group which allowed Moto Guzzi to modernize while preserving the quality and tradition it was famous for. Moto Guzzi has celebrated their 100th birthday in 2021, which is a huge milestone and not many motorcycle manufacturers have been around for that long. Currently, their hot seller is a V7 Special model from 2021, which has 65 horsepower, a dry weight of 203 kg, and a wheelbase of 1450 mm. Along with that, the engine displacement is 853 cm3 and it has a top speed of 178 km/h.
Cagiva started as a small metal component factory in 1950 and converted into motorcycle manufacturing in 1978. It was founded by Giovanni Castiglioni in Varese, and this is used as a portmanteau for the name of the brand – Castiglioni Giovanni Varese. During the company’s history, Cagiva won various contests including the Dakar Rally and Grand Prix races. The company began producing motorcycles in 1978, and one year later, they reached the number of 40 000 units annually. Their first models were racing motorcycles, and in the eighties, Cagiva reoriented to producing off-road motorcycles, which were highly promoted in North America. Cagiva began using Ducati engines in 1983 and ultimately bought the Ducati in 1985. During its history, Cagiva also owned brands like Aermacchi, Husquvarna, Moto Morini, and has its good and bad times, various restructurings, and ownership transitions. The last Cagiva motorcycle was produced in 2012, and nowadays, the company’s main focus is resuming production, with the main emphasis on electric motorcycles. Their last model from 2012 called Mito SP525 features 12 horsepower, dry weight of 129 kg, with a wheelbase of 1375 mm. This model has a displacement of 124 cm3 and a top speed of 170 km/h.
Founded in 1929 in Milan, FB Mondial is most notable for its success in Motorcycle World Championships during 1949 and 1957. This company manufactured some of the most revolutionary and superior Grand Prix Road racers of that time, allowing them to win five riders and manufacturer World Championships. Mondial was established by the Boselli brothers; Carlo, Luigi, Ettore, and Ada, as well as their father Giuseppe who was an esteemed pilot and co-owner of GD motorcycle company. At first, they started a small workshop meant for servicing and selling the GD motorcycles, but it wasn’t long before they realized that there was a huge demand for affordable and durable motorcycles. Giuseppe Boselli made a deal with the famous engine builder Oreste Drusiani and built a production facility on Oreste’s farm in Bologna. After continuous success during the early years, they expanded their production and purchased state-of-the-art machinery. However, that was during WWII in 1943, when allied bombing destroyed Bologna railway station which placed the company on hold until the end of the war.
FB Mondial was most active Between 1948 and 1979, and they started producing the first 125cc engine in 1949. Even though their main focus was racing motorcycles, they made some roadsters as well. The company discontinued motorcycle production from 1979 and returned in 2016 with the Hipster model, a vintage motorcycle with modern specifications, which allowed the company to return to its origins. The latest Hipster model named HPS 300 has 249 cm3 displacement, 24.8 horsepower, and a dry weight of 135 kg. Additionally, this bike has a wheelbase of 1370 mm and a top speed of 141 km/h.
Bimota was founded in 1973 by Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri, and Massimo Tamburini. Their surnames were used as portmanteau to name the company – Bianchi Morri Tamburini. Bimota started as a niche company, producing high-quality body parts and assembling them with pre-produced engines from other manufacturers. They have cooperated with other reputable motorcycle brands such as Suzuki, Honda, and Kawasaki as well. Their first international racing success was achieved during the eighties when Jon Ekerold won the 350cc world championship riding the Bimota with a Yamaha engine. During the 2000 World Superbike season, one of the leading sponsors of Bimota has disappeared with a huge debt to the company, forcing Bimota to file for bankruptcy. Fortunately, a new group of investors came and kick-started the company, but in 2017 they closed the factory in Rimini. In 2019, Kawasaki Heavy Industries has purchased 49% of the stake in the company and announced their goal to produce Bimota motorcycles with Kawasaki parts.
Their latest model called KB4 (KB stands for Kawasaki Bimota) has 140 horsepower, a dry weight of 186 kg, and a wheelbase of 1389 mm. This retro-inspired model has a displacement of 1043 cm3 and a top speed of 250 km/h.
Energica Motor Company
Although this company doesn’t have such a long history like other manufacturers from this article, it’s certainly worth mentioning it. Founded in 2014, Energica Motor Company is focused solely on creating high-performance electric motorcycles. The CRP Group which started the company is involved in laser 3D printing and numerical control machining, which allowed Energica to develop their first motorcycle in just six months, using the background with 3D printing. On top of this, Energica has assembled individuals with F1 experience to work for their company.
This knowledge in multiple fields allowed them to create the most sophisticated fully electric motorcycles with outstanding performance, and so far, Energica Motor Company has produced three motorcycle models. Their most distinguished model is Energica Ego, which has 169 horsepower, a weight of 260 kg, and a wheelbase of 1465 mm. The standard model has 107 kW with a range of 200 km, and a top speed of 240 km/h.
Unlike other companies from this article, Vyrus is an artesian and upscale company, making limited production motorcycles with the latest technological and aesthetic innovations. It was founded in 2001 in Coriano, Italy, and its employees are former experienced engineers who worked for Yamaha, Ducati, and other prominent motorcycle manufacturers.
Their latest model called Alyen 988 is powered by the Ducati engine, it has a futuristic design and sky-high price tag. This motorcycle also features 202 horsepower, 1285 cm3 displacement, and a 1575 mm wheelbase.
So, there you have it, these were the top 10 best Italian motorcycle brands for 2023, from our point of view. Whether you like Italian motorcycles or not, one thing is irrefutable — they deserve all the respect and recognition they got. If you’re looking to buy a new motorcycle, perhaps this article can give you some ideas. We’d like to know what is your favorite Italian motorcycle brand, and do you agree with our list or not. Let us know in the comment section below, and grazie for reading.