It is often the outside perspective, that of the curious observer that creates unique solutions or, in this case, a fine twist on a time-honored American classic build. As utilitarian in name as it is in function, the Tracker by Moto di Ferro is exactly that – an immaculate homage to the dirt tracker bikes that were whipped around raceways in the early 20th century, and hit fever pitch in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.
That take on the quintessentially American bike build comes from the mind and dedicated craft of Marco Lugato, who founded Moto di Ferro in 2010 and based it in Mongliano Veneto, just outside of Venice. Certainly, Lugato has injected understated Italian elegance into the rough and tumble world of dirt tracking.
Lugato, without a doubt is a lifer. “My first bike was a Kawasaki GPz600R that I bought at age 20. The passion for motorcycles has always been part of my life. I have always liked the speed, to lean my bike, and to make them unique. My racing career has allowed me to enjoy the speed and to get to know the bikes.”The basis for The Tracker is the unassuming Kawasaki W800 retro bike (regrettably not sold in the United States, and soon to be discontinued in Europe). “I like the W800 because it is aesthetically very versatile and easy to work with,” Lugato says. “The bike is well suited to the transformations!”The Tracker is a race-inspired motorcycle stripped down to only the bare necessities. Utilizing the air-cooled, fuel injected vertical twin found in the W800, The Tracker puts out modest numbers—47 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 44 ft/lbs at just 2500 rpm. But, tipping the scales at around 400 pounds wet, it has a favorable power-to-weight ratio for plenty of fun on the street or, if you are brave enough, around dirt tracks. I believe there is a class for it on the speedway track at Ventura Raceway here in Southern California.
Often, simplicity is taken at face value, but the true art of minimalism is the deception of its execution. The Tracker, from a visual standpoint, relies on a limited palette of colors— black and silver—letting the polished metal finishes do the heavy lifting.These choices were no mistake. “Clean and neat,” says Lugato, “I like to take care of the details. With my bikes, there has to be so much iron, so much passion.”Above all else, American dirt track racing has been about making something fit and in fighting order, ready to be thrown down wherever the course may be. Whether that is under the grandstand lights, or off on the prairie where the only signs of life come in the form of distant hearty exhaust notes from a wrist full of throttle, trackers need to be ready for action.Its seat and tank, whittled down to owing contour lines, drawing our eyes from front to back, speak to competitive intentions. Our gaze is drawn into 39mm forks that have been upgraded with Öhlins pre-load adjusters. In the rear, dual Öhlins STX 36 Scooter shocks take care of suspension duties, soaking up potholes on the road and track.Most true dirt track machines lack a front brake, but remember, this will also be hitting the streets, so that’s a more than welcome addition, even if it might upset purists. A single 300mm floating petal rotor and Tokico four-piston caliper takes care of those duties up front, while Moto di Ferro keeps it old-school with a traditional 160mm mechanical drum brake in the rear.The Tracker proudly rolls on oversized 18-inch wire-spoke wheels, made for the rough and tumble or, if need be, a trip down to the local watering hole. Paunchy Pirelli Scorpion A/T tires are slipped onto the black rims.The finishing touches to the bike, such as the controls and clocks, have all been toiled over by Lugato, making sure that they blend in perfectly with the overall feel of the machine—not too much, not too little. It is the perfect combination of taste with utility. The Tracker is an Italian interpretation on something American, something born in farm houses and made famous in places like Daytona Beach.The Tracker appeals to those who stared wide eyed at Bart Markel, flipped the pages of Cycle News after a weekend of racing, or sat in awe of the AMA Grand National Champions going head-to-head in On Any Sunday. Yet, at the same time, the European accents appeal to our sense of aesthetics working in concert with purpose.“Surely by year-end from my head and my heart will come out a new creation,” Lugato assures us in 2016. That sums it up for me—the mind, the heart, the project, all in harmony. For those of us who view motorcycles as an extension of our passions, The Tracker from Moto di Ferro is the reason why builders such as Marco Lugato keep turning wrenches every morning.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.