For a while it was the free thinkers who ruled. Niche brands roamed the blistered, wrinkled and ripped skin of the earth’s surface on brawny yet sophisticated creations, always unique and very much the ones to hang out with. Things changed, corporations, even mini cities were built, stuff became smothered in smooth, accountants came in replacing the tinkered billy–pot for something cleaner, softer and yet still possessing the same visual edginess. Unique became both mass produced and extinct at about the same time – around the turn of the century. The radicals either became part–time corporate or buggered off somewhere hot. We think of bikes like westerns – American made and perfect. It’s a long time since we’ve seen a bike like the original Schwinn or Intense M1 and even longer since a gritty western hit the screen. We’d been fooled before. Those great complex westerns of our time, nearly all involving Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach, were not actually American creations like many people imagine, but were written and produced by Italians and merely starring some of the great US actors of our time. The three stars, Clint, Lee and Eli are from San Fran, New Jersey and New York respectively, and the classic film ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ described by Quentin Tarantino as “the best–directed film of all time”, was filmed on the scorching slopes of Abbruzzo in Italy. This is where we went to ride three handmade American bikes.