Golden Eagle Returns: Moto Morini Plans Re-launch in the U.S.

New Moto Morini 650cc
In 1937 Alfonso Marini ventured off from his partner, Mario Mazzetti and the MM brand, to start his own motorcycle company. Morini had been building and repairing bikes in Northern Italy since he was a teen and spent time in the 8th Motorcycles Unit stationed in Padova, Italy during World War I. Over the course of decades the Italian company’s motorcycles found their way around the world off and on. Now under new ownership (again), the brand is looking to distribute a refreshed line of affordable twin-cylinder 650cc motorcycles.

Morini started by making three-wheeled motorcycles in Italy in the late 1930s. After World War II the company would switch to making two-stroke 125cc motorcycles, which quickly led to 125cc four-stroke bikes, and later 175cc screamers. Eventually the company would find its footing making competition bikes that won grand prix races and became popular in Europe’s cafe racer scene.

Vintage Moto Morini 125cc
Moto Morini, though, was an innovator. The brand became famous for its V-twin 3 ½ bikes and its 500cc enduro bikes from the 1970s, as well as for being the first to incorporate a six-speed transmission. But, by the late 1980s the brand was stagnant and snapped up by the trademark-happy Cagiva brand, which also acquired Husqvarna, Ducati, and MV Agusta around the same time. Though Moto Morini tried again in the early 2000s with some large-displacement performance bikes like the Corsaro and 9 ½, the new company wasn’t able to survive.

In 2018 the company became part of the Zhongneng Vehicle Group. Znen, as it’s often called, has made 50cc and 150cc near copies of Vespa scooters, quads, and inexpensive electric scooters. But Znen has ambitions to make Moto Morini relevant again, and especially in the U.S., where the company recently announced it would launch a dealer network. Headquartered in Irvine, California, the new Moto Morini promises “premium quality, impeccable design and unparalleled performance” per a corporate news release.

Today, the reborn Moto Morini makes two bikes, a classic naked-styled bike called appropriately the Seiemmezzo, or the “six and a half,” and the  X-Cape, an adventure bike. The Seiemmezzo, stylized with an extra M, comes in STR, or street style, and the SCR, or scrambler, style. It has the same parallel twin that CF Moto uses in its new 650cc bikes.

A pair of Moto Morini 3 1/2 motorcycles.
The X-Cape has the same 650cc engine with the same bore and stroke. It can, however, come outfitted with Marzocchi forks, Brembo brakes and heated grips. It also has available aluminum cases and trunk and off-road accessories like engine and hand guards.

Eventually the brand will reportedly import a 97-horsepower 750cc V twin engine, but there’s no word if the monstrous 1187cc and 998cc V-twins from 20 years ago will return. With a presumably a long ways to go, time will tell if the new Moto Morini can bring the same excitement of the historic Italian brand of the past.

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