Devilishly Clever: 1955 Devil Lusso Extra

A tiny motorcycle propelled by a 160cc 2-stroke, the Devil Lusso Extra looks more toy than transportation.

| March/April 2017

1955 Devil Lusso Extra
158.4cc air-cooled 2-stroke single, 58mm x 60mm bore and stroke, 7.5:1 compression ratio, 7.5hp
Top speed:
68mph (est.)
Single 24mm Dell’Orto
4-speed, right foot shift, chain final drive
6v, magneto
Dual downtube steel cradle frame/50.4in (1,280mm)
Telescopic forks front, dual shocks rear
7.1in (180mm) SLS drums front and rear
2.75 x 19in front and rear
Weight (dry):
207lb (94kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
0.48gal (1.5ltr)/105mpg (est.)

A tiny motorcycle propelled by a 160cc 2-stroke, the Devil Lusso Extra looks more toy than transportation, and its name lends itself to groaner puns: “I had a Devil of a time finding parts for this bike!” claims owner Stewart Ingram. Once upon a time, however, this lovely little bit of Italian eye candy was serious transportation.

The end of World War II saw Italy caught between advancing Allied forces and slowly retreating German armies. Everything that could be bombed, was. The factories of northern Italy had been turned into rubble, and even though it was one of the richest agricultural regions of the world, many of its people were starving. But Italians spat on their hands and got to work rebuilding their country. And being Italians, they infused beauty and style, as well as utility, in everything they built.

Building small bikes

The inspired Italian solution to these challenges was to use some of the few factories that remained operational to build small motorcycles. There was a great need for transportation to get to whatever jobs existed, but the raw materials and tooling needed to build motorized vehicles were scarce. Gasoline was in limited supply, with only low octane fuel available. In fact, gas quality was so poor that, until 1955, 6:5:1 was the top compression ratio for production motorcycles.

Many of these bikes, typically less than 175cc, were not only gorgeously styled, but had excellent handling for their time. Italian engineers wrung as much horsepower as possible from tiny cylinders, as the need for speed had not been extinguished by the war or postwar privation. In late 1950, 220 Italian manufacturers presented new models at the Milano Motorcycle Exhibition. Some of these, like Bianchi, Benelli, Gilera and Moto Guzzi, had been respected motorcycle factories before the war. Others, like MV Agusta and Laverda, had been in other industries before the war and had transitioned to motorcycles.

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