BMW Motorrad Spezial

Roberto Rossi “Rivale”

Triumph Bonneville custom
Roberto Rossi is a custom motorcycle builder well-known in his native Italy, and little known outside. He’s based in the small Lombardy town of Roncoferraro Mantua, a two-hour ride east of Milan. This is his latest bike: called “Rivale”, it’s first in a planned series of motorcycles that combine authenticity and history with modern technology. It’s a 2003 Triumph Bonneville T100, but with the look and feel of a well-used scrambler. Rossi has modified the frame and fitted the gas tank from a vintage Triumph, adapted to its new location. The fenders and side panels were painted by Ettore Callegaro, and the seat and saddlebag (see below) were custom designed. The beautifully-crafted saddlebag is detachable, so it can be used as a smart satchel for work — a novel touch I haven’t seen on a motorcycle before. Rossi says his aim is for a rugged look with a touch of elegant, vintage style, and I think he’s succeeded. Head over to the Roberto Rossi website for details of more bikes.

Technical Data
Cut Custom Adjusted Frame: Triumph Bonneville T100 from 2003
Rims: Painted dust black
Front and back tires: Bridgestone Trail Wing Dual Sport
Front and back fenders: hand crafted wrought iron, custom made
Tail light: mini Lucas
Headlight: Lucas with integrated bulbs
Mini tachometer
Gas tank: vintage Triumph Bonneville preserved and adapted to fit the modern frame
Exhaust system: based on the design of a scrambler TT, hand-crafted wrought iron with a perforated protection grille
Rear view mirror: 70s adjustable large screw model
Front and back turn signals repositioned
Seat and saddlebag custom designed

Triumph Bonneville custom
Triumph Bonneville custom
Triumph Bonneville custom

  • Laurent

    why making ” vintage ” style on a modern bike ???? that s just a stupid fashion… I love shinya kimura old motorcycle who respect the true old looks of old machines, but this is stupid! well done, but stupid!

  • Thiago

    I agree. There’s not much “custom” work here. Even though it does look cool, taking a brand new bike and making it look used makes no sense to me.

  • molto cool retro build.
    as for the detachable saddle bag … an italian group (mandarin duck) used to market a set for the ducati monster a few years back. very practical and cool.

  • Derek Larsen

    Wrought iron fenders? And exhaust system? Is that somebody’s attempt at a clever brand name; they look like plain old steel to me.

  • jess e

    theres probably a reason Mr. Rossi is little known outside of italy.
    there seems to be little skill in making a new bike look crap

  • Ben

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!! From the sublime to the ridiculous. Well done exif.

  • When they do this with furniture they call it “antiquing”. I can’t say I see any reason for making new furniture look old, but if Triumph (and Harley) are going to make “modern classic” motorcycles, why not take them and make them look well worn?

    More fender detail would be nice… like Derek said, they look just like steel in the pics.

  • Ken

    I think “wrought iron” is a translation error – you use iron to make railings and things with a forge and a BMF hammer.

    I agree, the bike looks like crap, but then I’ve never liked the look of the ‘new’ Triumph motor either. The ‘old’ triumph engine is an elegant lump of sculpture that always gives me pleasure when I see a nice one. The new valve covers are just gross. Don’t like the new gauges either.

  • Kerry

    I think it’s a great looking bike. I’d ride the hell out of it. Leatherwork is a bit too distressed looking but overall it does have a cool, small mountainside Italian town look about it.

  • I like it. It celebrates the retro theme the motorcycle was based on, and Rossi succeeded.

  • donkey

    Does it bother anyone else when they look at a bike from rear on, and the seat is crooked ???

  • Deez

    There’s nothing wrong with that bike. I like it.

  • Bald Shaun

    I like it. It takes the whole point of the new Bonnevilles one step further. Classic looks, modern reliability, and performance, uh…… somewhere in between.

  • I can’t understand why some of you are hating on the concept here. I can certainly appreciate the idea of “aging” a modern bike. If you don’t like the idea of someone caring about the look of their ride, this probably isn’t the right website for you.

    I want the reliability of a modern bike, but that shouldn’t mean I have to sacrifice on appearance or styling. Buying and old and unreliable, but very pretty, bike and restoring or customizing it isn’t any less “fashion conscious” than buying a reliable bike and customizing it. Both parties are trying equally as hard to look cool. I don’t have a problem with either approach and I don’t have a problem admitting that the look of my bike, old or new, matters a lot to me.

  • kevin

    I love seeing real rad bikes that are used by real people i thought this was one at first glance … but after reading this is something you pay someone to do to a new bike makes me barf a little in my mouth .. A+ for tricking me I guess its not so weird people buy designer ripped jeans that are made to look 40 years old …

  • PeteP

    Whaaaa? Why?

  • Peter B

    What a scruffy looking heap. Horrible, pointless and lacking in any original thinking….The Japanese do this kind of thing so much better.

  • Mule

    On a scale of one to ten, I’ll give him one point. He did shorten the overall length of the seat! He seems to be the first guy earth that that realized the new Triumph seat is about a foot too long!!! OK, I’ll give him a two points!

    What is with the group of excited responses every time a bike shows up here that someone goes out of their way to make look like crap? Is this some kind of anti craftsmanship movement? ” I have no knowlege or mechanical skill sand I can’t build something nice, so I get real excited about crappy, shoddy workmanship because a couple guys in S.F. think they’re cool?” WTF?

  • el vencejo

    Someone is willing to buy it?
    Did he crash it and rebuild as cheaply as possible?

  • Paulo

    man, I’m so so sick of the haters, so someone did something that you don’t like or think can be done better or you don’t fully understand. so well where are your links to your builds what have you made lately show us let us judge too ??
    I wonder if half the critics on this list have EVER built something or if they even ride. So easy to be negative. Yawn.

    Great Site but yeah maybe i should just not read the comments. The stupidity made me angry

  • Andrew

    The average viewer on the street would think, “There’s a guy still using a classic” just from the patina and forms. The guy riding it would think, “I have reliable transportation with an old worn patina and classic lines.” They both sense high style when they see it.

    My Ol’ Lady has antique furniture and I don’t like how it functions and she also has “antiqued” furniture and I don’t like the manufactured distressed look, but like how it functions. She likes both and calls me an idiot for getting worked up over it. After reading the comments here, I now see what she is talking about.

    Thanks Chris for exposing us to the world of motorcycles. For me it’s a highly anticipated and facinating view every day. I escape the daily stress of all the furniture around me!

  • Jefferson

    I ride a modern Bonnie and I really like the exhaust and the shape of the adapted tank on the modern frame. Well done.

  • I gotta say “make mine a Manhattan:-)”
    I like the patina look better on old bikes,ones with a real history.
    That said, the vintage tank does a kinda neat thing to the bikes silhouette.

  • KIK

    looks ok, but what happens when the new bike you made to look “old” does get old? why not let it earn that patina and scratches ?

  • Mule

    To quote Bobke (Bob Roll), “Tatoos are purchased, scars are earned and usually come with a story.”

    Same with this style of bike. It’s like purchasing pretend scars. If that impresses someone, it says a lot about the impressee.

  • mingh

    +1 for KIK and davidabl

    There’s a difference in trying to look cool and being cool.
    nothing wrong with retro classic bikes, but trying to make them look older than they are is trying to fake a life they simply didn’t have. Just as silly as those jeans that you can buy shredded.

    Why doesn’t anyone fit a modern thruxton engine in a wideline frame if they care so much for real looks and modern reliability? It’s not necessarily so that older bikes are unreliable by definition. I had a 36year old trident that never let me down. Now i’m on a 32 year old laverda that caused less grief than a modern BMW i once had. Many laverdas of 30-40 years old do 100.000 km and even 200.000 km. But many people seem to use there classic bike like a modern one, and seem to care even less about how these machines work and should be treated. No wonder some fail.

  • Tomfoolery

    Beautiful, love the overly-pretentious saddle bag. I’d kill for that bike.

  • Sportster Cafe

    Putting a new Bonnie engine in a Featherbed frame has been done a lot! Unity even has a Wideline where they lowered the bottom rails so you can get the valve covers off. Lets see your custom.

  • Just about every industry has their “relic’ers. Look at the guitar building industry. Even Fender sells relics of their classic guitars. You can purchase a SRV number1 and feel like you are playing his guitar. You can buy a Captan America chopper and feel like you are in Easy Rider.

    A relic’d bike is not an issue… if the guy who owns it tells people it’s relic’d and does not try to pass it off as something old.

  • The blue jeans comparo is very apt. “Stone-washed” is kinda cool-and kinda
    lame at the same time. New jeans that are pre-ripped and heavily distressed
    are just plain lame.

    Flat finishes,brass parts, chrome that’s given the WD40&Scochbrite treatment (to make it less shiny) are the bike equivalent of “stone-washed” jeans. Ripped seats, dented tanks..lame on new bikes,

    Go to Rossi’s site and take a look at his vintage Harley builds v.s.thatTriumph…That’s what I was trying to say by my crack
    about “make mine a Manhattan’

  • PeteP


    You don’t know Mule? You should read more. :D

    And hell, yeah, I’d stand anyone of my creations, awful as they are, up against this thing.

  • Kerry

    Look, it’s clearly a fake insofar as it’s new(ish) trying to be antique looking. I think most of us get that. I mean, when put a sticker (or paint) on the side cover of a bike the word “OLD” you invite the kind of inspection some fo the comments address.

    It’s also important to look at these things through the eyes of the culture from which it emerged. The VROD might make some sense to some people but most Harley/US flag waving patriots I thing go “WTF?”

    People here have cited some of the Japanese new made old bikes as being superior and that’s probably true. But I lived in Italy for five years and from the land of Fiats and Lambos this just screams local culture, local “ooh” and local “aah”.

    It is the product of its environment which, for me at least, is its charm, leatherwork aside.

  • RCZ

    The Master Piece!!

  • Oliver

    It also reminds me of new Jeans to be bought with the used look, the ones that have already holes in it. I prefer buying mine new and dark and wearnig them until the holes appear from wearing.

    On second thought, this bike however cannot be compared to the jeans. The main components for the vintage look are the gas tank (which is indeed vintage and somehow gives credit to the old Meriden Twins) and the custom seat (which seems to be made of high qualitiy leather, with only a rather slight used touch). If it is necessary to keep the gas tank in the salvage condition is a question of personal taste (see wrenchmonkees). It would be nice to have a better look at the fenders.

    However, I’d rather see this bike on the street than any new stock Triumph.

  • cb750

    I think the bike is rad, i dont know what everyone is complaining about, i mean dont the newer trumpets have fake carbs on them to mak them look old anyway? the bonne’s come from the factory to ‘look’ old stock. these guys just took it further. i love it.

  • I like it too, but I think it’s possible to have “too much of a good thing.”
    Usually that’s too much chrome…but sometimes it’s too much “patina!”

  • Tomfoolery

    I don’t see how this bike is fake. It clearly isn’t trying to look ancient since it has disc brakes, electric start and fuel injection, it’s looking worn, distressed, which is an excellent look. As many people above have said, it’s everywhere; wallets, jeans, t-shirts, guitars (pre-distressed models are bloody expensive). It’s a great look.

  • Darmah Bum

    Well, different strokes for different folks. It might not be something I’d necessarily build for myself, but I can appreciate his work and what he did.

  • After first glance at the comments, I wanted to jump in with the ‘haters’ crowd but usually try not to voice my opinion if it’s a negative one. Upon further consideration, and deleting the bikeexif write-up from my brain, and just simply looking at the bike, I quite like it. Forget the process the guy went through, what he did or didn’t do, when you look at bike for what it is, it looks good, and is cooler than stock, no doubt. Minimal customization, but maximum effect. Customizing a bike and getting a good result doesn’t necessarily require massive changes across the board. Look at the wrenchmonkees for example. A paint job, different tires, relocation of a few parts and a couple of custom pieces can make a bike totally different and totally your own. ‘Nuff said.

  • Adam jenkins

    i like it, old style new technology. best of both worlds. i especially like the tank and detachable bag, o and the gauge, and exhaust, and the mirror, and the rear/front turn signals are nicely hidden.

  • Travis

    People hate way way too much. Just because someone else has a different idea of what is cool doesn’t mean it isn’t. This bike has good and bad things but to say that it is not “custom” or “sucks” is stupid. This bike was made with the same care that any other bike has and you can still ride the thing. Any bike that is not just a show bike that you can actually ride and have the time of your life is cool in my book…….no matter if I like it or not. Remember why we all love to ride bikes and stop fucking hating you miserable people.

    Second note………seat and sadle bag rule man!