Did we mention that it runs?
After the horrors of the second World War, Italian manufacturer FB Mondial wanted to dream big. What is life without something to aspire to, after all? Sure, people needed practical transportation to go about their everyday lives, but life’s no fun if everyone always does the exact same thing. Thus, FB Mondial carved its own path in the Italian marketplace, striving for competitive perfection to lift everyone’s spirits out of the hard-scrabble fight through harsh day-to-day reality.
Soon, the company was racking up championships left and right, throughout the late 1940s and the 1950s. Having proved its point, in 1957, Mondial decided to shutter its factory team. In a move that cannot possibly be overstated in 2021, Mondial is the reason the Honda factory team rose up to become a racing legend in its own right. If Mondial hadn’t sold Soichiro Honda one of its 1956 Bialberos, which Honda then reverse-engineered, things might have turned out very differently for the young Japanese upstarts.
No matter what other languages are spoken in race paddocks around the world, true racing passion is its own language. Arguably, both FB Mondial and Honda were fluent in it from the start—and that’s what drew these two marques together and inextricably bound them at a fixed point in history, for all time. However, even though FB Mondial had done so well for itself in the early years, it stopped making its own engines by the 1960s. That is, coincidentally or not, when its fortunes began to turn.
Tear the heart out of any creation, and it just won’t be the same afterward. Although FB Mondial made plenty of frames to house a continuous conveyor belt full of engines from other OEMs, the flame flickered and eventually blew out over the next decades. Motorcycle enthusiasts are a nostalgic bunch, by and large—and so, by the late 1990s, Lastra Group impresario Roberto Ziletti decided he wanted to revive the FB Mondial name on a sportbike designed to compete in the World Superbike championship.
Nothing but the best Italian craftsmanship would do, which the revived Mondial contracted from various firms. It also made a deal with Suzuki to supply 250 separate TL1000 engines, but the rest of the bikes would be built from the finest fabrication that Italy—OK, and also Sweden, as it had an Öhlins suspension—had to offer. Full details of the build are in this auction listing, in exhaustive detail.
It’s now the stuff of legend, but just before FB Mondial had planned to unveil the Piega at Intermot 2000, Suzuki changed its mind about supplying engines. So, Ziletti used his contacts to get in touch with Honda about maybe getting some RC51 engines instead—and as it turns out, Honda’s memory is long. It remembered how Mondial helped set it on the path to decades of racing success, so Honda was pleased to return the favor decades later.
Gallery: 2002 Mondial Piega
Thus, the extremely limited-production Piega was born. Sadly, despite how astoundingly beautiful this bike is, the revived FB Mondial declared bankruptcy by 2004. Only 35 Piegas were ever built in the entire production run, and the one you see here for sale on Iconic Motorbike Auctions has only 56 miles on the clock.
At the time of writing, the bid is up to $17,100, and the unknown reserve price has not yet been met. The auction ends on May 4, 2021. The bike—which is a runner, as the video illustrates—is located in Santa Monica, California. If you’re interested in seeing it in person for yourself prior to bidding, you can even make an appointment for inspection.