Sartorie Meccaniche Tuono
By James McCombe - 22 Dec 14
When Hollywood cognoscenti and the social elite want some dapper new threads, they may well head to one of the many Milanese tailors; generations old in the ways of sartorial nip and tuck. After all, Italian tailoring is all about making you look good and feel good. Supplying the finest styles, in the finest materials and not mentioning those extra couple of pounds you put on since the last measuring. Cousins Paolo Casiraghi and Francesco Torricella are also tailors from Milan, but unlike the Caracenis and Bardellis of this world they work not with needle and thread, but with grinder and Tig. We've previously featured their CX500 and CB400N builds and the pair are still going strong, now building into double digits. This, their 8th bike, is based on a long-forgotten Yamaha TX500, less loved than than the comparable CB450 and T500 in standard form, a fine choice for a makeover. While previous builds have been for themselves and close friends this is the first for a new customer. No pressure then... With the 1974 TX500 in a pretty sorry state, it was torn apart so Francesco and Paulo could start to visualise the client's brief: "a strong racing breed fused with understated elegance, all without breaking the bank". Various heavyweight plastic and metal items were tossed to one side until just the frame, engine, wheels and suspension was left. The frame received the usual tweaks, removing unsightly tabs, brackets and a couple of inches from the rear, before a coating of satin black paint was reapplied. Very simple and clean, the frame is barely there, visually, letting the engine and bodywork do the talking (and hand waving). With the motor in rude health, there was no point in straining the budget with a rebuild; just a comprehensive service and tune up . The cases were given a gentle scrub, deliberately maintaining the patina and providing some of that classic racer feel the client desired. With silver pod filters in place of the airbox, carbs were rejetted to suit. Providing the concerto soundtrack, a sinuous 2-1 system was fabricated, capped with a baffleless reverse cone. The old TX500 engine needs to be revved to get the best from it so the be-wrapped pipes let the short-stroke twin sing. Having removed the starter motor in the name of weight saving and good old fashioned fun, the Tuono is now kick start only. Should be fun in a pair of Tod's finest brogues. In fact, the whole electrical system was completely revised, a new loom now incorporates a lithium battery in a carbon fibre tray under the seat. Suspension was stiffened and lowered at either end, the bike now hunkers down over the block tread tyres. Without mudguards, gaitors keep road muck from the seals; it's up to the rider's puddle avoiding skills to keep it off themselves. The Brembo master cylinder and braided lines will also help with any 'brake and swerve' situations that arise. With a clean, mechanical look to the rolling chassis, the tank and tail are the parts making eyes across the room at you. Vonzeti was consulted to help create the classically curvy items. Stretching out from either side of the rider, it's the flat bottomed, horizontal bone line that defines the look of the bike A marine grade leather covers the high density foam seat, contrasted with white stitching. The gorgeous Alfa Romeo "Rosso Competizione" paint brings the bike to life though. It's satin sheen shows every flaw, and with three separate layers to apply it's no mean feat to get a quality finish. More costly and time consuming, but the results speak for themselves, providing a deeper hue that shifts in the light. The gremolata on this savory feast is made from a classic Italian recipe: Brembo, Rizoma, Tomaselli. Sprinkled liberally across the bike it's a comfortable place to be. A new headlight is located lower and tighter in to the forks, ensuring everything lies between the wheel spindles. Miniature turn signals are tucked away, and a simple round tail light has been recessed into the seat unit. The mini speedo and bar end mirrors give some street usability while keeping the bike seriously sharp suited. With the ignition switch hidden under the tank, the top yoke is completely free of clutter; there are no lose stitches on this bike to distract. Further builds are under way and with a side line in beautiful bicycles Francesco and Paulo are bringing some heavyweight style in to play. We can't wait to see next seasons collection.