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Article — Bold Inc.

Vol. 47 No 23, May 15-28,

Crazy Albert’s MV Racer

By Alan Cathcart

Albert is one of those do-it-yourself engineers who on the edge of eccentricity.

I wouldn’t Albert Bold eccentric, just plain crazy. How can you explain that messianic shining in those deep, eyes — proof of his love for all things red, and Made in Italy.

A John-Boy lookalike, some years on and on top, Albert’s craziness itself in all sorts of ways, and is to do with two wheels.

Not many in the USA use the bike they go vintage with to commute to work on a basis, still less it’s a tricked-out four-cylinder MV special with open and a first gear high to break the speed limit on the Turnpike without shifting up. Albert does.

Equally few are such committed street they’d rather ride at full tilt, even in a like radar infested Crazy Albert does.

fewer people are skilled machinists to scorn the idea of hardware like brake or exhaust pipes off the shelf, to manufacture them themselves like Crazy Albert Which is how come the city of came to find itself a few cast-iron manhole covers, Albert gradually ground into brake rotors for his MV.

As for the exhaust headers, they courtesy of some tubular from the local swimming


I first wrote about Bold after testing his MV vintage racer more a decade ago, I know people who’d never met him convinced I was exaggerating: This not for real, surely?!

Those who him on the other hand thought the rather understated — is one of those genuinely larger life characters America to produce.

Well, some on, Albert’s moved onwards and He and his long-suffering partner no longer on the wrong side of the tracks in one of the questionable neighborhoods of Philly, with TIG-welder, tube-bender and engineering equipment crammed the basement.

Albert has now relocated to a small in the rural Pennsylvania countryside, but he produces metalwork that can be described as an art form.

He has earned a top among that most of engineering fraternities, the drag establishment — as well as many North American teams, and historic racing Team Obsolete.

He still has the of half-a-dozen late ’60’s MV fours littering his storeroom, that unloved and unlovely model, which may well been the first four-cylinder motorcycle to be offered in series form for the street.


Underneath that duckling exterior, though, lay GP-class engineering. The mid-60’s MV 600 was hand-built by the same team brought Count Agusta so race wins and world over a quarter-century of competition, and Honda’s best efforts to win the world title.

Such explains Bold’s fanatical to go racing with a more MV — the same desire drove Clausio Castiglioni and his to found the Cagiva operation 20 ago and build their own red and silver racer after failing to the defunct MV Agusta race

The MV has so much mystique attached to it, Albert, whose passion for the first saw the construction of the 600-based MV special that took him to two Vintage racing titles in the

You can pull a stock MV out of the truck in any paddock and people will to it, just because it’s an MV.

I built the first one and did some with it, I always had the idea to go a further and build my own chassis, a little more modern and a lot It’s kind of like my own calling card, to show the in various metals that I can do.

Originally I was going to buy all the good from Italy, but then kept coming by and saying why I make my own brake calipers and stuff like that. So I


It far longer than I intended but I’ve had a real good creating my own personal motorcycle the engine I respect most in the — an MV Agusta.

His old title-winning scaled a massive 215kg while the stock 600 MV frame it kept cracking the front under the braking forces by the combination of modern sticky and those manhole-sourced brakes.

time I used 4130 steel tubing with as triangulation as possible, and tried to run the tubes close to the engine to it more rigidity, says The frame doesn’t flex before and at 6.8kg it’s a lot

At the same time, he increased the from the stubby 1370mm of the bike to a longer-legged 1450mm, without really improving the cramped riding position something I found for myself I came to sample the Bold MV Superbike on only its second to a racetrack, at Loudon, New Hampshire.

Albert’s even lankier I am, I can’t quite figure out how he all his limbs in the right places. you do it you can’t help but end up with chin over the triple and your knees up around ears.


The is very small and low compared to four-cylinder MV roadster-derived bikes, but succeeded in putting his new creation on a compared to the old one — it weighs with a 50/50 weight a massive 40 percent lighter the old bike.

Slashing the weight has achieved (in spite of the heavy crankcases and other tooroom in the MV engine) thanks to Albert’s use of pretty exotic metallurgy for is after all a home-built special.

The rods and torque arms for the mechanical anti-dive system first used in the mid-’70s on the BMW Superbike (and later by Kawasaki on its 500cc GP bike) are made in titanium, as are the jackshafts the oil pump and Scintilla Vertex and the front and rear brake including the self-made titanium

It doesn’t end there. Bold painstakingly milled the clutch and levers, the brake master-cylinders and the Marzocchi forks’ triple-clamps all solid billets of aircraft as well as the front hubs, to he laced a pair of 18-inch rims, again to comply Vintage racing rules.

also made and toothed his own of rear wheel sprockets, and in of never having done any before, also made the tank and seat. All that’s he even took a look at out the engine to somewhat more the 600cc of the old bike.


The stock five-speed gearbox is but with a Magni chain-drive replacing the incongruous shaft drive of the street MVs. The of the engine is mainly untouched with standard conrods and crank.

The engine therefore the 600 MV’s 56mm …, but with a set of MV 750 America cylinders out to 10 thou’ first oversize and with 67mm America the capability is now 788cc. Albert reshaped the combustion chambers and the pistons to suit the larger

Honda racing valves and are used, with a Magni inlet camshaft and stock MV used on the exhausts, thus more lift. The central train driving the camshafts has substantially lightened, but compression is very low — just — as Bold can’t the head with the gear cam

The Scintilla magneto replaces the heavy and bulky coil though it too is rather weighty and surely be replaced with more modern and electronic.

Every gear in the street has been painstakingly lightened, the multiplate oil-mist clutch now of a 600 basket with 750 spline

The America has one more plate the 600, which Albert has (necessitating an alloy spacer on the cover) to accept the tuned extra power, estimated to be at the rear wheel, at 11,500rpm.


The sheer amount of entailed in creating this — more than hours, according to a rough — is a tribute to Bold’s of no bolt-on parts if he could do it

MV Agusta 1100 Grand Prix

About the only corner I cut was the discs, he said. Those covers worked great on the bike, and the material was free but I just couldn’t face the 40 of machining work to make one, so this time I and used Mercedes-Benz’ discs on the which I machined down to and a Subaru one from the local shop on the back.

However, I had on using Magni exhausts, that upswept line on the old GP bikes. But they were much unobtainable, so I thought the hell, I’ll make myself. So I used the swimming ladder tubing to make the then rolled some up, packed them with and started working on bending myself.

They came out good, considering it was my first

I learned a lot making this but most of all I learned there’s you can’t do if you set yourself a goal and yourself you can achieve it.


At the time I rode the bike it was very new and needed a lot more That riding position is so it detracts from whatever the chassis might offer, because it makes the bike so to steer. You can’t ride it any degree of confidence.

Even admits it’s uncomfortable, so he at least to rework the relationship of footrests and hand controls then serious development can

At that point, the problems by having rock-hard suspension and rear might be resolved, to be fair there’s not a lot he can do at the back vintage racing rules twin-shock rear ends. I never cared much for the Marzocchis when I used on my V-twin Ducati racers two ago.

The 35mm forks the same company, though by modern standards, ought to better than they do on the MV. Some work needs to be to dial them in, while at the a set of Hagon shocks would not look more authentically but would also work too.

Still, on smoother sections the Bold bike well, with the Magni conversion removing the weave and understeer you get with MV shafties hard on the racetrack.

Really the imperfect suspension setup fair comment on the handling of the chassis, especially as the brakes felt rather unresponsive.


Part of this is due to the mechanical anti-dive system, makes the MV brake very and eliminates much sensation of even though the Spanish pads fitted to the Bold in fact pull the bike up sharply.

I’ve ridden fittted with this before, which suffered the same problem, and refining the by adjusting its linkages would improve this.

But all this is to the main feature of this — that wonderful with its haunting, evocative note.

Listening to Albert the unsilenced engine, with the profundo beat tromboning the four open megaphones with the occasional high-pitched as he surfed the revs by blipping the sent shivers down my in the bright New Hampshire sunshine.

your eyes, and it’s ’65 all over again, Mike the Bike about to on another solo run to the chequered in another GP, pursued by a phalanx of singles.

Thanks to those open and the more extreme valve the Bold MV won’t run cleanly 5800rpm, popping and banging a Fiat with a burnt valve rather than like a two-wheel Latin


But then at under 6000rpm — if you help it get there with a of the clutch lever — the MV its throat, spits one last through the pipes, then off strongly in a glorious fanfare of from the exhausts and engine, with all the straight-cut gears is far silent, in best MV tradition.

the carburation of the four 28mm still not yet sorted, it wouldn’t pull the 11,500rpm redline, but 7000rpm to just under 11 there’s truly impressive — even by the musclebike of the mid-’70s. Coaxing it even proved the power didn’t off at peak revs.

Just the MV Agusta F4, finished only a of days before being at last year’s Milan Albert Bold had only half the job by the time I rode his MV. Still to be undertaken was the equally and laborious process of development.

But as I’m sure Cagiva’s RD will get the F4 in fine fettle by the it enters hand-made production, so too Albert will have ironed out his MV’s youthful


MV Agusta 1100 Grand Prix

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