1951 Capriolo / Aeromere Motorbike
It’s coming sooner than you think. The Giro D’ California, and this is a perfect bike to ride. The Moto Giro d’ Italia has been a classic motorbike event for decades. the concept was / is Italian motorbikes born before 1957 and smaller than 175cc’s. For 5 days riders would traverse the Italian country side and mountains, through villages and vineyards. It was a competition to be sure but it is all in good spirit. It’s quite an event and draws riders from all around the globe. Bikes are shipped into Italy or can be rented…for a pretty penny…they go through a technical inspection (does it run? does it stop? OK, you can go) and then the riders gather for dinner and wine. A lot of wine. There are a number of good websites and magazine articles about the Moto Giro D’Italia. After reading them, you certainly will want to go. However…
Not all of us have the funds to get the proper motorbike, make sure it is reliable, ship it to Italy, pay the entry fee and all the associated costs and then ship it back home. Maybe, I’ll win the lottery? Until that time I’ll ride the Giro D’California. A great event right here in our own backyard, or backroad, as the case may be. The rules are the same, old small bore Italian motorcycles and the desire to have a great time with like minded crazies. The California event is being held this year Sept 30-Oct 2. For more info go here…http://www.girodcalifornia.com/
Being a big fan of small motorbikes (is that an oxymoron?) I always get interested when I find one on ebay or sitting in someone’s garage that they have given up on…I’m still working on my Benelli 250. I found this really neat Capriolo 100 that looks to be a great little motorbike for the price.
But first, a little history of the Capriolo. Aero Caproni was in the business of making airplanes for the Italian military, similar to BMW, and at the end of the war, the treaty said you can’t make anything to do with war anymore. So, like BMW, Aero Caproni went into the motorcycle business. Italians needed affordable transportation and a good number of companies were struggling to find outlets for their manufacturing facilities, motorbikes were the logical choice. In 1947 Capriolo (formerly Aero Caproni) motorcycles was born starting off with a little 48cc 2-stroke. A good little bike by standards of the time. In 1951 they built a beautiful little 75cc four speed, four stroke motorbike and started entering competitions like the ISDT ( International Six Days Trials)
In 1955 Capriolo also came out with a 149cc opposed twin (again similar to BMW) and also made motorbikes powered by NSU engines. What I have learned over the years of working with vintage motorcycles is that during certain times in history, some motorcycles were really just cobbled together bits from different companies because it was the most cost efficient way to produce the bike. Most all of them eventually died off or were absorbed by a bigger (better financed) company. In Capriolo’s case they were bought up by the Laverda Group, who has also gone through a number of owners…what Italian motorcycle company hasn’t? Ducati went from Italian ownership to a bunch of rich Texans (TPG) and is now owned by Volkswagon??? Anyway, in 1958 The company changed the name to Aero Mere and got back into the airplane business building advanced and experimental aircraft ands stopped making motorbikes in the early 1960’s.
Today, cruising thru ebay, my almost favorite thing to do early in the morning, I found this ready to ride 1951 Capriolo 100. The owner bought it in Italy, had it restored in Italy and then brought it home. It is really nicely done and a true rider. And compared to other motorcycles I find, it actually has a reasonable price tag on it for what you are getting. If you have a desire to have fun on a small size classic Italian motorbike, give this Capriolo a good look. Click on the pics below for a lot more info and more pictures.