Vardenchi goes from customs to imported motorcycles; Morini sales to start in India from Feb 2014

Shubhabrata Marmar Published: November 07, 2013, 06:04 PM IST

Vardenchi, the Mumbai-based motorcycle customisation house, has announced that it is entering a tie-up with Moto Morini of Italy to import and distribute the Italian company's motorcycles in India.

The Corsaro 1200 Veloce is powered by a V-twin engine which makes 140PS of power and 220Nm of torque. Putting this power to the road is a 6-speed transmission. The Corsaro 1200 Veloce is powered by a V-twin engine which makes 140PS of power and 220Nm of torque. Putting this power to the road is a 6-speed transmission.

Moto Morini was founded in Bologna in 1937 by Alfonso Morini. About a decade or so before that, his mechanical and motorcycle acumen attracted Mazio Mazzetti who asked the then 27-year old Morini to build a 120cc two-stroke single racebike, naming him the designer, constructor and racer. The bike, called MM, proceeded to dominate in racing. 1927 saw the MM 125 take six world records at Monza at the Grand Prix of Nations. In 1933, his 175cc motorcycle hit 162kmph, a world record. It was in 1937 that Morini parted ways with Mazzetti and created Moto Morini. They were three-wheelers. Business was good until the Second World War when they started making aircraft spares, an adventure which ended when the Allies bombed the factory. But Morini bounced back with a three-speed transmission, single cylinder, 2-stroke T125 motorcycle. Following his death in 1969, Morini's daughter, Gabriella, took over the business and roped in Franco Lambertini from Ferrari to design engines.

Scrambler_1200_M_515d53cf790a4The Scrambler is equipped with the Bialbero CorsaCorta 1187cc twin cylinder designed by Franco Lambertini that makes 120PS of power and and 102 Nm of torque.

In 1987, Moto Morini went to Cagiva and then in 1996 it was purchased by the Texas Pacific Group which also owned Ducati at that point. In 1999, Morini's nephew's company bought the rights to the name and a decade and a bit later, the company went into liquidation. Now, the company is back in business. It is owned by Sandro Capotosti and Ruggeromassimo Jannuzzelli since July 2011. It sells currently three motorcycles, the naked Corsaro Veloce, the Scrambler and the adventure tourer Gran Passo, all of which are powered by a 1200 140PS 1187cc V-twin that the company calls Bialbero Corscorta. This engine was designed by Franco Lambertini who was also responsible for the 70s 31/2, perhaps Morini's most famous model in history.

granpasso1The Granpasso 1200 gets a 1187cc V-twin oversquare engine which is good for 120PS of power and 103Nm of torque.

Vardenchi was started by Akshai Varde in 2005. Varde used to work at Jet Airways at this point and he was leading an exhausting, thrilling double life. He flew in the day and worked on motorcycles in the night. But slowly and surely he surrendered to the call of the motorcycles and gave up the airline job for full immersion. It was sometime after this that I ran into him - he had just taken up a small space just outside my house in Juhu to work on the bikes.

Over the years, I have seen Akshai's bikes get better, his hand and eye surer and his business prosper. Never one to dream reasonable dreams, he even went through the process of trying to see if he could get his bikes to be ARAI homologated and RTO certified for registration. Today, Vardenchi has representatives in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Saudi Arabia. But it was when he started talking to Royal Enfield about sourcing engines for his choppers that showed how serious he was about growing the small custom brand, Vardenchi, into something altogether more serious and large.

When Royal Enfield didn't come through, Akshai began his hunt for an imported V-Twin to power his passion and it was in this hunt that he met Sandro Capotosti, the president of Moto Morini. Sandro is more poet ? straggly curly hair, shaggy beard and the twinkle of a dream in his eye ? than a businessman in nature and behaviour. And watching Akshai and Sandro interact with each other shows quickly that they've discussed their Indian plan for a while and are comfortable with each other.

Corsaro 1200 Veloce - 1The Corsaro 1200 engine boasts a dual overhead camshaft, one-piece central sump and a mixed gear-chain drive

Granpasso 1200 - 1The Granpasso has an oversize windshield and comfortable seats. Suspension duties are taken care by Marzocchi upside down units in the front and an Ohlins side-mounted monoshock with a piggy bank reservoir.

They reveal that the plan is for Akshai to import and distribute Moto Morini's three motorcycles in India. Akshai has already lined up three "representatives" in India who will secure, deliver and service orders for Vardenchi customs as well as Moto Morinis. What branding will go on the showroom isn't quite clear yet, though.

Akshai will also work on a custom platform based on the Morini 1200cc V-Twin that Sandro will take and put on sale in Europe. Akshai says, "Even as we start work on that custom, we realise that we have become custodians of a very big brand with a very big history. It is important to us, and to Moto Morini, that the custom we build pays respect to that history."

Scrambler 1200 - 2Moto Morini Scrambler is built for all-terrain crossover use, ably aided by the 19" front wheel and the tread-blocked tyres, be it asphalt, the cobblestones, or else the off-roads.

Akshai expects to have the first Morinis in India early next year and expects the prices to be around the €17,000 mark (Rs14.5 lakh approximately) on average after the Indian duties and taxes are applied to the CBU imports. He plans to announce prices around February and then deliver the first Morinis to Indian customers by June-July 2014.

Vardenchi, however, clarified that it will continue to work on the Royal Enfields it started out with in the future. Akshai sees the Morini line as one unit of the business and the other part will be end-to-end, or accessory and custom bit work on other brands like Royal Enfield, Hyosung, Harley-Davidson and Ducati. The former will focus on product sales and customs for India and export, while the latter will handle everything from small detail parts to full-on ground-up customisation projects.


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