The Historic Italian Brand Stages A Comeback In The States

I remember the Moto Morini motorcycles back in my youth. I never knew anybody who actually owned one, but I frequently beheld them in motorcycle magazines of the time. In my mind, Morinis ranked right up there in beauty, quality, desirability, and price of course, with the likes of Italian counterparts Ducati, MV Agusta, Moto Guzzi and Cagiva, to name a few. Heck, the Italians had around 25 motorcycle/scooter companies back in the day, all of which had this exotic aura about them to us American riders.

Then: 1960 Moto Morini Corsaro 125.

Over the years, many of those Italian brands went the way of the dodo, or were bought out by competitors foreign and domestic. Moto Morini vanished as well, at least from my sight, but never from my memory. Then I read a post on LinkedIn about the new COO of Moto Morini USA, Chris McGee, and with a startled “WHAT?? They’re back??”, I had to find out more. I reached out to Mr. McGee himself and he graciously responded, sending me links to the reorganized and relaunched company and their soon-to-be-Stateside bikes, the X-Cape and Seiemmezzo, both 650cc machines. More on those momentarily. McGee emailed me, “We are very excited about the future of the brand in North America… I’m definitely honored to be leading Moto Morini into the next exciting chapter of our historic journey in motorcycling.”

Now: 2022 Moto Morini Seiemmezzo SCR. Photo by Moto Morini.

Moto Morini, with European headquarters in Milan, was first founded in 1937 by the famed motorcycle designer Alfonso Morini in Bologna, Italy. Born in 1898, Morini showed an early affinity for and proficiency with motorcycles, opening his first workshop at 16 years old. During the First World War, Morini appropriately joined the Italian 8th Motorcycles Unit. Following the war, Morini teamed up with Mario Mazzetti in 1925, building and piloting a single thumper 120cc race bike under the “MM” name. Within two years, MM set six world records at Monza during the Grand Prix of Nations, records that stood for 20 years. In 1933 Morini set a world speed record for 175cc motorbikes of 100.6 mph.

A proud history of successful street and track machines. Photo by Moto Morini.

By 1937 Morini and Mazzetti parted ways, and Morini established the Moto Morini company, producing a line of 350cc and 500cc trikes. During the Second World War, Moto Morini converted to producing aeronautical parts, until the plant was bombed in 1943. After the war, Morini resumed operations and churned out a string of successful motorcycles in the Via Berti, Gran Turismo, Settebello, Rebello, Briscola, and Tresette, to name a few. Success returned in racing as well, with multiple 125cc and 250cc class wins across the late 1940s-1950s. Giacomo Agostini even began his race career on a Moto Morini. The 250 GP of the early 1960s championships is still the world’s fastest single cylinder 250cc racer to this day.

Moto Morini 250 GP. Photo by Wikimedia.

Alfonso Morini passed away in 1969 at age 71, and his daughter Gabriella took over, leading the company into the 1970s and 80s. Moto Morini launched a series of 72 degree V-Twin bikes in the 70s, most notably the Sport and Strada models, both in 350 (otherwise known as the 3 1/2) and 500 displacement. The 1980s weren’t kind to the brand, with labor disputes and diminishing sales. In 1987 Gabriella sold the company to Cagiva, who sadly allowed MM to continue to decline. By 1996 the Moto Morini name was sold to TPG, and subsequently died. For a time.

1981 Moto Morini Camel 500, with the V-Twin mill. Photo by Wikimedia.

After an attempted and unsuccessful bump-start in 2004 by the Morini Franco Motori company who had bought the MM name from Ducati, the brand hand-built a number of bikes from spare parts for interested buyers between 2010 and 2013. In the subsequent years of 2014-17, MM found themselves back designing and building original motorcycles, not just spare parts builds. In 2018, Moto Morini was purchased by the Zhongneng Vehicle Group, with the backing and goal of again going full design and production for the future of the brand. And the modern Moto Morini was (re)born.

A new day dawning: The Moto Morini X-Cape 650. Photo by Moto Morini.

In the company’s own words-

“The new Moto Morini American headquarters in Irvine, California is in the heart of the motorcycle industry and will service dealers nationwide. With premium quality, impeccably designed, high performance motorcycles as well as leading edge apparel with famous Italian style, exceptional accessories and world class service and support, Moto Morini is poised to make an immediate and lasting impact in the American motorcycle market.”

2022 Moto Morini Seiemmezzo SCR. Photo by Moto Morini.

Currently Moto Morini is offering a pair of mid-size machines, the X-Cape adventure bike and the Seiemmezzo (STR and SCR), a sort of naked sport/standard motorcycle. All sport a proprietary inline 650cc twin with a bore/stroke of 83mmx60mm and compression ratio of 11.3:1. Both models run a 2-piston dual disc brake fore and single 2-piston disc brake aft, with BOSCH switchable ABS. Seat height, dry weight and fuel capacity for the X-Cape is 32 in, about 472 lbs, and 4.7 gallons respectively, and for the Seiemmezzo they are 31.8 in, 440 lbs, and about 4.2 gals, respectively.

2022 Moto Morini X-Cape 650. Photo by Moto Morini.

We hope/plan to get our hands on one of each sometime this year, for written and video reviews. We’re excited the brand is back and running, and now setting up here in the USA. They both look like fantastic motorcycles, and we wish them the best of success.

Learn more and see the complete Moto Morini line at


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  1. Kevin Thompson

    Dont buy Chinese vehicles—just feeding the war machine.

    • Rob Brooks

      We’re highlighting a legendary Italian motorcycle brand making a return to the US. Wherever they source their parts, like every other motorcycle company in the world, we’re just happy to see them making a comeback.

  2. Ron Widman

    I like things Italian if done right ! Italian names on Chinese products do not make them Italian or fast or handle well or hold up to our abuse. Not to mention it doesn’t make the importers have proper inventory of parts and all the things we expect.

  3. Scott Kaplan

    I used to own a Moto Morini 3 1/2 in the late 70’s and it was AWESOME! Faster than any 350 cc bikes anywhere! It’s were I got my motorcycle chops and I miss that bike dearly! Would love to have another someday?

    • Rob Brooks

      That’s very cool, Scott! We’ll keep everyone posted when these come available. Hoping to get a test bike for review too.

  4. T

    if they could retro back to the 70’s look , I think it would work well for them here .

    • Rob Brooks

      They built some cool bikes back in the day,


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