Hi, I’m Billy. I’ve always loved motorcycles, all kinds of motorcycles. I started when I was 14 years old riding a 50cc Moto Morini Corsarino, a few years later I was racing with a 125cc Zündapp dirt bike on something called Gelaende Sport, nowadays it’s called Enduro. The most famous race was the “Valli Bergamasche”. On the road I’ve always driven sports bikes, starting with the infamous Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III (3 cylinders, 2 stokes) in 1969 (infamous because we called it “flying coffin”) and ending just a few years ago with a Suzuki GSXR 1000 prepared for the Monza race track. In between I drove different model of BMW’s with which I’ve done all kinds of expeditions on North Africa’s desert trails and South American pampas and mountains when I was a photographer, shooting for National Geographic, Geo and other magazines.
When I first watched the movie Easy Rider, I’ve fallen in love with choppers and I made a promise to myself that one day I was going to build me one, but it wasn’t possible at the time to even buy an Harley Davidson in Italy, so I had to wait.
Meanwhile my life took other directions, I lived 32 years in the USA, based in New York City but travelling all over the Country and abroad doing photography, and it wasn’t until 2011 when I decided to build the Italian Choppers brand and let everyone know that we are able to build bikes, by telling a story, the story of the 60’s and early 70’s in California, and building a “trilogy” starting with a Dragster, followed by a Frisco-Drag and ending with a pure Frisco.
Being lovers of 60’s dragsters, we started by building “Primadonna”, trying to reproduce their simple but elegant lines, coupled with a technically complicated mechanics. The reasons for which it was built are many but the main one was we wanted to measure ourselves with the craftsmanship that once was and thus discover that it is still possible and functional to build by hands what one really loves.
The second bike was “Esmeralda”, a Frisco-Drag style bike, very popular and in vogue between the years ‘64 and ’66, when young guys, tired of using their bikes only for drag races, started chopping them in half, keeping the rear Drag and putting a Frisco front.
Last but not least, Francisca, the “Frisco Lady”. We first designed the oil in frame, didn’t know how to hide the electrical wires, so we came up with a gas thank welded on the frame, which looks like a heart with veins and coronary arteries where the wires run inside.
Our philosophy is based on simple concepts and comes from not throwing anything away, from taking old parts that probably will remain forgotten forever somewhere in the workshop and giving them a soul, making them alive again, giving them a second life.
Italian Choppers is a window into the past, open to the present, with an eye at the future. Our creatures are born looking at what was happening in the golden years of kustom kulture, the drag bikes, the frisco style.
The idea for every project always starts with something that has a smell of the past … but not too much, combining technical and mechanical solutions even archaic, with a retro flavor, but mechanically safe. Because our “girls”, must not only make a good impression at various bike shows, but they must work and, above all, be ridden safely.
The attention to details, which are unique, comes from the passion, love and fun we’re having trying to invent new things, transforming what is already there, discovering new forms, arising new emotions in the viewer.
It’s easy to make a chopper, the challenge is to make it exciting, giving it a heart, and make the heart beat faster to the viewer.” Each creation is unique and unrepeatable; there will never be two “Primadonna” as every human being is unique, with its own DNA, not replicable … at least for now.
What do I hope to do with the company? Keep having fun building bad-ass bikes, make Italian Choppers known to the international chopper/custom scene and, if in the process I’ll make a few bucks, I swear I wouldn’t mind it. So far it’s just like “the well of St. Patrick”, meaning that I keep putting money into it, and nothing comes out.