In my motorcycle writing, I have been accused of boosterism. This, according to the dictionary, ‘is the act of “boosting” a town, city, or organization, with the goal of improving public perception of it. Boosting can be as simple as “talking up” the entity at a party or as elaborate as establishing a visitors’ bureau.’ I have done the former, and if I could think of a way of making it happen, I’d do the latter as well. My attitude to motorcycles is summed up by the popular saying, “any day on a motorcycle is better than the greatest day at work”, although of course in my case they are the same thing.

But there is a limit.

Brutus looks just as chunky from the other side.

Meet one example right here. It was originally called Brutus, presumably after the historical Roman who stuck it to Caesar. Despite being immortalised in Shakespeare’s line “Et tu, Brute?”, Marcus Junius Brutus ended badly when he topped himself after the second battle of Philippi. Perhaps he should just have changed his name. That’s what our example of a Brutus did.

To introduce it, I could not do better than quote the original 2012 press release that accompanied the first showing of the bike that year at EICMA in Milan.

“BRUTUS the power of freedom! Faithful to the family tradition, Alessandro Tartarini, son of Leopoldo the founder of Italjet, has designed a new concept of motorcycle. Designing outside the box and beyond fashion and sterile market analyses, {it] opens up a whole new road in the motorcycles market… BRUTUS can be called a veritable two-wheeled SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle).

“Its main feature may not be speed, but the excitement that comes with driving this motorcycle is truly incredible and unique… the barriers are broken down and the boundaries of fun driving are exceeded… it also works as a valid work tool for going where other vehicles cannot.” That last, especially, is an interesting but more than debatable statement.

It looks a little like a cross between a Rocket III and a Lamborghini tractor.

Perhaps even more significantly, in its technical details the “Dry weight: [was] Not declared”. Further research suggests a figure of 220kg (485 pounds) dry. I wonder about that, but even if it is correct that puts Brutus with its 750cc, 45 horsepower engine into a similar weight category to a BMW R 1250 GS, which weighs 249kg (549 pounds) wet but makes 136 horsepower.

Neither of those bikes are known for “going where other vehicles cannot,” simply because they are too heavy. Consider a bike that really can go where (most) others cannot, KTM’s 500 XCF-W. It gives Brutus 250cc of engine capacity but puts out about 40 horsepower and weighs less than 106kg (234 pounds). It also has 6 gears as opposed to two ratios in Brutus’ CVT and has 300mm/310mm of suspension travel instead of 80mm/100mm.

The Caterham livery lightens the bike’s appearance considerably.

So no boldly going where no man or other vehicle has gone before. The limited wheel travel and weight suggest that Brutus would not be capable of anything much above a crawl off road, while the huge Maxxis Bighorn tractor-style tires would keep its speed down on road, even if it could be made roadworthy. It’s not likely then that “the boundaries of fun driving are” likely to be “exceeded”, as the 2012 press release claims.

That press release ends with the optimistic comment that “The vehicle will be manufactured in Taiwan starting next spring.” It wasn’t, but in 2013 it did show up in the Caterham range, still called Brutus but now wearing the British firm’s livery. Everything else looked to be the same, and Caterham also adopted Tartarini’s original and highly successful slogan, “With its standout technical features, BRUTUS can be called a veritable two-wheeled SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle)”.

Et tu, Brute? No, not really. The slogan ensured that Brutus got coverage all over the world, but then “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” got Karl Marx a lot of coverage too, and look how that worked out. Sport? No. Utility? No. Vehicle? Well, yeah. One out of three.

Son of Brutus? Moto Parilla’s Carbon e-bike was also designed by Alessandro Tartarini.

Caterham dumped the project, but let’s go on to Act 3 of this comedy/drama, in which London-based Moto Parilla pops up with the latest version of Brutus in yet another livery but with another name.  Even though it was now the Moto Parilla SUV750, it seems to have met its Philippi and has not gone into production. Moto Parilla is selling an e-bike, also designed by Tartarini, that looks a lot like Brutus but that’s as far as it goes for now, to the best of my knowledge. I can’t say I am hanging out for another resurrection.

Even my most determined boosterism fails at this point.

(Photos: Manufacturers)

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