Road testing for TWO does have its perks from time to time and, for me, the launch of the new Mondial Piega has to rate as one of the top ones to date. Not only would I have a chance to ride the brand new and very limited edition Piega, the test would take place at one of the most famous circuits in the world, and to top it all I would be shown the way by Aaron Slight - can life get any sweeter?
We arrived at Autodromo Nazionale Monza just a week or so after the World Superbike circus had been in town. I watched the races on the television in awe as Hodgson fought hard to continue his winning streak despite Lavilla's awesome rear wheel smoking antics around the Parabolica - the black tyre marks were still as fresh as the day they were laid as I headed down the start / finish straight behind Slighty for the start of my second lap of the historic circuit. It was hard to take it all in, a new track to learn, following probably the greatest superbike rider never to have won a world championship, and all the time I'm trying to absorb as much as I could about the brand new Mondial Piega.
After a few laps Slighty pulls in and gestures for me to continue, giving me the chance to play some more without the pressure of trying to keep up with him - even though the last few laps must have felt like a slowing down lap in the pouring rain by his standards. The underseat titanium pipes growl as the motor screams down the main straight. Thankfully Mondial managed to get the exhaust system through European decibel regulations just before the limit was reduced. Brembo Series Oro calipers provide the stopping power with four-pot calipers up front with individual pads, and a twin pot Brembo caliper at the rear. Combine that with a set of trick looking blue plaited Kevlar brake lines and you've got a system more than capable of hauling the relatively lightweight Piega up in plenty of time for the first gear Prima Variante at the end of the straight.
We knew the Mondial Piega was going to be powered by a fairly stock Honda SP-1 motor, so nobody was expecting it to compete with the current batch of superbike missiles, but the Italian firm have developed their own exhaust system as well as improving the power further by changing the injection system, injection mapping, and airbox. The result is a credible140bhp at the crankshaft or in real world terms 122.5bhp at the rear wheel. Ok, so it's not right up there with the GSX-R, Blade and R1 but is on a par with the standard Ducati 999, and felt plenty quick enough around the fast Monza circuit. Just as I was getting into some sort of rhythm on board the Piega a careless fellow journo slipped off at the Prima Variante and the session was called to a halt.
Continue the Mondial Piega-Monza track test
The Milan-based Mondial factory originally built three-wheeler delivery vans, but founder Count Giuseppe Boselli's passion always lay in motorcycles. In 1945 he bought plans for a 4-stroke 125cc dohc engine and in 1948 the first Fratelli Boselli Mondial was born. Its performance was staggering for the time and immediately set a world speed record of 130kph for the flying kilometre, which was soon increased to 161kph.
Along with designer Oreste Drusinai, Mondial was the first motorcycle factory to produce a race bike with a full fairing fitted, the result for the opposition was devastating. With greater aerodynamics and outstanding engine performance the factory comfortably took the first Motorcycle World Championship in 1949 wining both the riders and constructors titles. Alongside the 125cc, Mondial also produced 160, 175 and 250cc versions, and between 1949 and 1967 won no fewer than 10 World Championship titles, 5 riders titles, 8 Italian Constructors' Championships, 8 national championships in France, Austria, Germany, Holland and the U K, not to mention 4 Shell Trophies and a TT victory.
During the fifties Mondial sold the twin-cam engine to privateers. In 1957 one Soichiro Honda was among those who used the Mondial engine as the base for a new race bike, which proved to be reasonably successful. Honda vowed to help the Italian factory should they ever need it, and over 40 years later the mighty corporation have returned the favour by supplying the SP-1 engines.
In 2000 Count Boselli's son, Pierluigi Bonini Boselli, and Roberto Ziletti re-launched Mondial.