We are three avid motorcycle enthusiasts. Our journey has taken us back to our beginnings, riding through the country side enjoying the scenery and the feeling of relaxed freedom, and back to the origins of the motorcycle, returning to the beginning of the story of motorcycling to add new modern touches without compromising the original experience.
We love all kinds of bikes. But we were all searching for a bike that does not exist. Together we conceived a unique motorcycle designed to give us the experience we were all craving: The Sterling – a modern classic.
I have been riding motorcycles for over 30 years. I had my first ride when I was eleven and I was hooked. When I was 14, my parents bought me my first bike, a funny looking moped. As much as I loved riding it, the teasing I got from my friends because of the way it looked was hard to bear, so I resolved to work and save and buy my first motocross bike when I was 15. I loved the feeling of freedom and the scenery racing by as I explored the country side on my bike, but I decided I needed more speed, so I tuned it up, taking it from a paltry 45 km/h top speed to 75 km/h. By 21 I had moved on to a super bike.
Building the Sterling was the answer to my question: how can I have the classic motorcycle experience, flowing through the countryside at just the right speed, enjoying the scenery, present in the moment, completely connected to my surroundings, riding a motorcycle that I am controlling, not a computer, without the hassle of breakdowns of a classic bike.
With the stress of running several businesses, I often feel almost as old as I am. I rarely yearn for speed – I want a meditative relaxing experience, and I want to have it in style. When I ride my Sterling, I feel the freedom of my youth return, the sense of newness and endless possibilities, connected to the open road, present in the moment, free from care or worry.
When I was 14 I found a “Motociclismo” magazine in my parent’s living room, and I fell in love with motorbikes as I read. I took off on a moped and soon progressed to a Honda Cafe Racer, cruising through the beautiful countryside near my home in Italy, and then on to motocross, bouncing across the dirt, and finally to a street racer for flying down the highway.
My fascination with bikes was not limited to riding them; I had to know how they worked, and to make them work better. I began to take them apart completely and reassemble them, seeking to modify and improve them. My love for mechanic work led me to get a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering. The degree lead me into other fields of engineering, then back to motorcycles, working as a super bike engineer for Ducati, Yamaha and Benelli race teams.
Then, in 2002, I got married and I now have a beautiful daughter, who, as much as I love my bikes, is more precious to me than any of them could ever be. Knowing that I can and must come home to her every night, my interest in death- defying speeds has waned.
I turned away from helping to build and test bikes that can reach 300 kph speeds and back to my original love of bikes – the experience of gliding along through the country side, enjoying the scenery and the relaxed feeling of freedom. Talking with my friends Fabio and Benny, I discovered we all wanted something a little more relaxed, a little simpler, a call back to days gone by.
We wanted a bike with the style and feel of the original motorcycles from 100 years ago, but the reliability of a modern bike. We wanted to combine a traditional look and feel and hand crafting with modern technology. The Sterling Mark V is the fifth attempt, and it has been a long road to success, but we did it!
This morning I walked into the garage, as l have every morning since we completed the Sterling Mark V, to find no oil spots on the pavement and no gasoline smell. I put the key in the ignition, switched on the effortless electronic start, and felt the good vibrations of a hand assembled mono-cylinder motor welcome me. The light floods in as I hit the remote and open the garage door, the road ahead beckons, and I start another quiet, flawless, amazing ride astride a bike that feels alive, a bike built just for me, and as I pull out onto the road, all the madness is left behind me. In front – my destination: here and now.
Motorcycle enthusiast, artist, and gentleman welder Benny Thomas is a man of few words, and he is always busy in the shop, so we gathered together his story from hazy rumors, rubber marks on the road and cloud of smoke. Benny stumbled on a chopper shop when he was 13 and started dreaming his own dream. He built his first bike himself when he was 15 by chopping a stock Honda, creating a stylish relaxed angle fork of his own design with a borrowed welder, and he has been making custom bikes ever since.
For Benny, aesthetics are essential, the lines, the silhouette, the bars, and especially the tank that gives each bike its distinct look. Benny’s work is celebrated for good reason; he has a gift for welding and design that is visibly present in everything he makes. Most of Benny’s bikes are Harley inspired choppers, loud, fast, and dangerous looking. Benny decided to take a detour from his normal focus and slow down to smell the autumn air and revel in the scenery of the English countryside.
The Sterling offers an entirely different experience from riding his choppers. Now he can hear people on horseback calling out “beautiful bike” as he glides by, taking in the views of fields and trees.
Riding the Sterling that he designed, Benny feels at ease, as though he has stepped back in time to a simpler era when adventurous gentleman first put rubber to the road in the early days of the first British motorcycles. With its silky smooth gear selection, responsive throttle, and perfectly raked fork for a relaxing ride, the Sterling takes Benny time travelling to the 1920’s.
But now he has brakes that work and an electronic ignition, along with all the modern safety features required for a road legal bike in a reliable maintenance- free package. For the man who built the first Sterling, the craftsman’s passion of the past is future, but riding the bike, there is only the present, and Benny’s present is the Sterling.