Karl Baumer (President of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este & Director of the BMW Group Classic) says: “The Concorso d’Eleganza for cars can look back over a long tradition, and for BMW, with its extensive history as a motorcycle manufacturer, it was only logical to expand the Concorso to include classic motorcycles. The wonderful response we saw last year confirms that view.”On Saturday, a large gathering of the historic motorcycles – led by the legendary BMW 500 Kompressor – will take part in a parade from Tremezzo to Cernobbio, accompanied by a police escort. The international jury will then cast their eye over the assembled models for the first time in the grounds of Villa Erba.Several factors are taken into account by the jury as they shine the spotlight on the Concorso bikes. As well as the general standard of restoration achieved and the closeness of each model to its original condition, aesthetic aspects also come into play, as one would expect.Motorcycle design has centred on many different focal points over the decades. For a long time, manufacturers focused primarily on motor sport, for example, as a prestigious showcase for their motorcycles. However, models from across the motorcycle spectrum – majoring on everything from sports performance and everyday usability to comfort and leisure – are eligible for one of the coveted prizes at Lake Como.A total of 30 motorcycles from illustrious manufacturers will be represented in five classes at the motorcycle Concorso.Class A: Roaring TwentiesIn the years after the First World War it seemed that enthusiasm for “motorised two-wheelers” knew no bounds, and in Europe demand for motorcycles mushroomed. Established brands and a rash of new manufacturers conjured up a constant stream of fresh and exciting developments.Class B: Stylish ThirtiesIn the aftermath of the global economic depression and widespread political upheaval, manufacturers in highly industrialised countries, in particular, experienced a period of slow recovery. New developments in motorcycle construction now also bore the signature of industrial designers. Influences from modern architecture and art, and purposeful echoes from car body design, shaped the appearance of motorcycles in the 1930s. Class C: Swinging FiftiesManufacturers had to come up with their own designs to counter fresh competition from mopeds and scooters. And they also needed to adapt their motorcycles to the changing tastes of buyers. Technical innovations and even sophisticated new engine constructions appeared to take a back seat, while “body” designs for motorcycles were becoming increasingly prevalent. The inspiration here came once again from car design and, more specifically, from big American limousines.Class D: Start into the FutureThe role of the motorcycle changed fundamentally in the 1960s. Usurped by the motor car as a vehicle for everyday use, it underwent a reinvention as a second vehicle for leisure enjoyment. The Japanese motorcycle industry – which focused on exports to the USA – stood at the vanguard of new trends in both technical development and the composition of model ranges. Class E: Racing through the Decades Success in the racing arena was used in advertising and marketing activities as far back as the beginning of the 20th century to make a compelling case for new motorcycles. Extraordinary constructions with increasingly powerful engines were pressed into race action at venues around the world from the early 1900s.BMW represented by a world-record-breaking machine and a 1950s scooterThe BMW Group is also presenting its own models out of competition. The full-fairing BMW vertical shaft-drive supercharged machine was sent over to Italy specially from the BMW Museum – 75 years after Ernst Henne had piloted it to his legendary world speed record of 279.5 km/h (173.7 mph) in 1937. Another highlight is the BMW R10 scooter from the 1950s. Only two examples of the prototype, with its small wheels, conventional scooter body and specially developed single-cylinder engine, have survived – and visitors can look forward to admiring one of these at the motorcycle Concorso.This year’s jury for the Concorso di Motociclette will once again be made up of four high-calibre experts:
- Carlo Perelli from Milan is a doyen of the Italian motorcycle press. He started work as a reporter, photographer and test rider with Italy’s oldest motorbike magazine, Motociclismo, in the 1950s.
- Hugo Wilson concentrated solely on modern motorcycles in his early days as a journalist. Indeed, it was only when he started writing books that he came into closer contact with motorcycle history. The Englishman has for many years been the editor of the world’s oldest and most widely read classic motorcycle magazine, Classic Bike.
- Paul d’Orleans from San Francisco started out as an interior designer, before turning his hobby into a career and writing about classic motorcycles for a wide range of media.
- Raffaele Zaccagnini heads up Husqvarna Motorcycles’ Centrostile design centre and has been using his designer’s eye to lend sporty motorcycles their unmistakable appearance for over 10 years now.