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  • Nigel Sainsbury

Bikes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

The second Sunday of every month is my regular jaunt to Bikes & Breakfast in Clifton, Virginia. On a good day, the event can draw upward of 300+ motorcyclists. Even on a cold wet miserable day in winter, a few die-hards will be there enjoying the social aspects of motorcycling and admiring the diverse selection of bikes that invariably turn up. One person will be there irrespective of the weather: John Esposito. John and his friend Dale are the founding fathers of Bikes and Breakfast. Dale started the first event in New York in the Spring of 2013, and John followed the following year with the Clifton venue. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, John came to Virginia 33 years ago and has successfully increased his motorcycle inventory by one (and a bit) each year since arriving in Clifton. He now owns 35 motorcycles from 10 different manufacturers. John is quick to point out that his is not a collection. Every bike is ridable, and each has a special place in his motorcycle heart. All the bikes represent a time, an event, a person, or a desire, so the bikes are more a motorcycle memory of his entire life. When asked the inevitable question of favorite, his reply is always 'there is no favorite'. Each bike is different and carries its own story and of course the tale of how he acquired it. His attention to detail to refurbish the bikes reflects his trademark as a jeweler and his critical eye for quality is obvious. Every bike is meticulously maintained, and each has their own parking space where they are hooked up to the electrical umbilical cord of a battery tenderer. His 1969 BMW R69S sits aloft a pneumatic stand in his auxiliary garage and is the bike that has been with John since he arrived in Virginia. The Ariel Square Four that he acquired in 2012 sits in his attached garage and can boast to be the bike John has invested most heavily in terms of blood, sweat, and tears. He has gotten to know every nut, bolt, and washer of this incredibly impressive machine (listen to the sound of the square four on the video). At 18 years old John bought his first new bike, a Laverda 750SFC which John recalls was parked next to a brand new John Player Norton Commando in the showroom that carried the same price tag. However, the pull towards the Italian classic was much greater than the drift towards the Norton. John no longer has the 750SFC and craved it's bigger brother the three-cylinder 1000cc Laverda 3C. John has made that dream come true and a beautiful example of the 3C in classic Laverda Orange sits alongside five of its Ducati cousins in his attached carpeted garage. Although John has no favorite, you cannot help but think that his Italian name has somehow made a connection to these Italian bikes. Most of the 35 bikes are Italian and of those, most are Ducati's. With two garages full of bikes (and a couple of vintage cars - a Porsche and a 1964 Corvette) the only place left for the overspill is the house. In fact, 20% of the bikes have made it indoors, but these are quite special machines. A 1985 Mike Halewood Ducati Mille sits astride a special edition Ducati MH900 Evoluzione. The MH900 was made to celebrate Mike Halewood's 1978 racing bike at the turn of the millennium. Just 2000 were made, John's bike is number 0106. Next up is the 1990 Ducati 851 Superbike which has won John prizes for the best sounding (loudest) bike. A 1959 Ducati 200 elite racing bike completes the house collection of Ducati's. In 1984 BMW made a Last Edition of the R100RS which was the first fully-faired bike available to the public when it went on sale back in 1976. John's immaculate example sits alongside the Ducati 200 elite and the 851 in the lounge. An incredibly special 1997 Honda Dream 50 racing bike sits in the conservatory. None of the house bikes look out of place. Some people place their pieces of art work on the wall, and sculptures on elevated shelves to admire. John views motorcycles exactly the same way except that they are far too heavy to hang on the wall. The final house bike sits in the basement and is a 1966 Honda Super 90 (cover picture). It was one of these bikes that John learn to shift gear on. This was quite a fitting end to a remarkable brisk Sunday Fall morning. Ending with the bike that started a lifetime of adventure on two wheels. Owning a bike simply because it reminded him of the time he learned to change gear epitomizes why he has gathered such a diverse selection of bikes under three roofs! When he is not caring for the bikes, John loves slot car racing and enjoys riding his 1953 Raleigh Bicycle every day to get the mail. Thanks, John, for having an incredible selection of motorcycle art and telling your life story through some remarkable pieces of engineering.

The bike that started it all for John




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