William Martin Joel, known to the whole planet as Billy Joel, born in Hicksville (Bronx, New York) in 1949, raised in Long Island, is one hundred per cent American. A famous pianist, composer and singer, winner of the Grammy Legend Award, he is the prolific author of unforgettable tracks that have gone down in music history.
Billy has a passionate relationship with Italy, fed by items and memorabilia purchased in the Belpaese that bring smiles to the faces of his friends (many of whom are Italian) when they visit him at his home in Long Island. In his garden, he has a life-size replica of the fountain and stairway at Villa D’Este in Como; his kitchen features a coffee machine for a perfect Italian espresso, as well as a 17th-century painting depicting the Last Supper, which he bought in Italy during one of his frequent trips here.
The musician is also a passionate biker: his huge collection of more than seventy two-wheelers from a variety of constructors (including several rare pieces) includes a number of Moto Guzzi bikes (a V7 and a California Vintage), incomparable symbols of Made in Italy. He enjoys spending time with motorcycles and riders; the trade magazines value his expertise, because he is a genuine biker, and travels extensively on two wheels. He has a predilection for Moto Guzzi, and often wears a baseball cap with the eagle logo of Mandello del Lario, the homeland of all Moto Guzzi bikes.
And every so often he turns up in Mandello, in incognito, where a visit to the Agostini dealer is obligatory for a check-up on one of his Moto Guzzi bikes; the story goes that a couple of years ago, he was at the mega “Moto Guzzi Open House” rally in September, again in incognito. Billy Joel shares his passion for motorcycles, and for Moto Guzzi in particular, with other celebrities, from Ewan McGregor to Antonio Banderas.
For a number of years, Billy Joel has been creating his very own two-wheeler “heaven”: this is “20th Century Cycles”, at 101 Audrey Ave, Oyster Bay (Long Island, New York), a meeting point for bikers, with a display of his huge collection of bikes, a workshop for the restoration and creative personalisation of his classic motorcycles, many of which are Moto Guzzi models.
The vintage beauties in the collection can also be admired in the photo gallery on the website, catalogued as: Bobbers; Cafe Racers; Cruiser; Side Cars; Stock.
The website reads: “20th Century Cycles is the culmination of Billy Joel’s love of motorcycles and his passion for motorcycle design. Since, in his opinion, he believes that vintage motorcycles look better and since he is also aware that modern motorcycles tend to work better, all of the bikes in the collection have been transformed in one way or another into ridable, practical machines with a nod toward the past. The shop, as it stands today, was born out of necessity: the need for space. As the collection grew, it became apparent that in order to properly build, store and service the 75+ bikes in the collection, a large, more accommodating facility was needed. The perfect shop was found where we could do all of the things mentioned plus share the collection with the public. 20th Century Cycles does not sell or maintain bikes outside of the collection. Nor do we sell parts or accessories. We are here to simply maintain and augment the collection and share with the motorcycling community”.