We know that there is a big world of H-D enthusiasts beyond our shores. As Americans we don’t come in contact with the European side of the H-D culture very often, unless we actively seek it out. It’s there, it’s hot – and strangely, it seems a bit off of our radar. Well, working with friends in the industry, who know people abroad, I’ve asked to get connected, to get clued in and to make friends.
Well, let me tell you- watch what you ask for, because before I knew it, my friend Elisa Seeger of Genuine Motorworks & Indian Larry Motorcycles had generously introduced me to one of her friends, Roberto Rossi, of Mantova Italy, a renaissance man of VTwin-dom in Italy. – Stephen Berner
Italy’s Roberto Rossi is a romantic, he’s pragmatic and he’s more than a little color-blind. He’s a dreamer who re-styles modern age Harley’s with the eye and malice of an old enthusiast, he’s a traditionalist, but make no mistake, he’s not nostalgic.
A beautiful looking and fine handling motorcycle satisfies his interests more than a go-fast machine. He prefers riding a customized bike rather than an anonymous looking, stock mount. Roberto avoids motorcycle rallies; and he roots for side-valve’s in competitions. In America we’d call him an “old soul”.
He rides lost and forgotten roads on old scooters and Harleys. Roberto’s passion for motorcycles dates back to childhood. When as a small boy, he spent his time in his father’s garage, who was a collector of engines, bikes and cars. Inheriting a strong passion for motorcycles, when he was just 13, he was arrested for riding a 1938 Moto Guzzi slow, loud and without a license.
When he was 16 years old, Roberto spent most of his waking hours consuming motorcycle magazines. When he discovered Harley-Davidson, he became obsessed with the machines. After a trip to the U.S., Roberto’s father gave him a 1000cc Ironhead Sporty, and since that moment, Roberto ‘s dream was to customize and sell H-D motorcycles. Then, in 1993 Roberto had a serious accident, which nearly lost his left leg.
After a long period in the hospital and thanks to the compensation he received from the accident Roberto opened his Harley Davidson dealership in 1995. He chose to remain attached to his homeland; he wanted to fulfill his dream in his little country town in the middle of fields of daisies, where quietness and age old Italian traditions make a difference.
This farmhouse from which he works in the countryside, keeps him connected to the traditions of his land from which he finds his inspiration and gets the peace, quiet and serenity to realize his projects. In 1997 Roberto opened his Atelier, creating his own brand with a special logo showcasing the Daisy, a symbol of his childhood and his land. The Daisy is a simple flower, minimalist and modest, like his life and his motorcycles. There is not a lot of flash here…
A timeless place has become home for a “motorcycle atelier”, a special environment where the customer is treated specially and feels comfortable. There is no rush; time is taken to discuss ideas to create a unique motorcycle from a shared passion, vision and understanding.
Visiting Roberto‘s shop, is taking a trip back in time: once you walk in you can see the workshop referencing the past, counter-balanced by the sensibility of a modern mind at work. Roberto creates unique pieces with a tailor’s sensibility and precision. His attention to every detail creates uncompromised bikes each and every time. Each customer feels the special attention required to create something unique and it is said that working with Roberto is a trip back into the deep tradition and history of mechanical culture.
This happens because Roberto’s work is based on research and documentation. The desire to search into the past for a detail that reminds the owner of that special historical motorcycle, a particular car or a driver that will give the their motorcycle distinctive quality, is a special aspect of what makes these bikes special to their owners.
There’s a Rossi family feeling projected from this style of motorcycle. This is a feeling where the details make the difference; hidden details, usually imperceptible to human view, but always present and in effect, fitting and never discounted.
Like a piece of haute couture, these bikes are elegant, clean, and never flashy and so, they will not go out of fashion. A private introduction to Roberto’s personal museum, workshop and dealership is amazing. In an old converted stable you can find old mechanical glories, which are the main source for Roberto’s inspiration. Old motorcycles, a real Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 1750 GS Zagato (once owned by Tazio Nuvolari), old bicycles, tractors, Vespas and a large collection of hard to find items are just a few of the treasures.
That’s how Roberto reinvents his motorcycles. In referencing the past, realizing his dreams, it’s a rare experience to commission a bike from Roberto, as they are machines born from emotions.
L’Atelier of Roberto Rossi is a dream factory in the Italian countryside, where Roberto, as a teacher of older times, not only tells tales of heroes, racecar drivers, and inventors but turn these glories into reality through interpreting the wishes of his customers.
That is Roberto’s way: All the way!
Via Rodoni, 67 46037 Villagaribaldi di Roncoferraro (Mantova)
Tel. 0376 663385 Fax. 0376 664463