These are 8 of the most important motorcycles in the rich history of Moto Guzzi
Moto Guzzi was founded on March 15, 1921 by Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi under the name “Società Anonima Moto Guzzi”. The main activity of the company was to build and sell motorcycles and to engage in other activities related to the metal industry. The company was later renamed Moto Guzzi and helped shape the motorcycle industry by building some of the most iconic motorcycles known to man.
That said, all of this to agree that the brand set the standards for many modern motorcycles on the roads and tracks today – the company built the first center stand for motorcycles. From police fleets to racing beasts, Moto Guzzi’s rich history spans an array of iconic builds, and here are eight of the most significant.
Moto Guzzi Normal 500 – 1921
Although Moto Guzzi is renowned for its longitudinal V-twin motorcycles, the first motorcycles the company built featured a horizontal single-engine configuration. And it wasn’t just a short-lived affair; the horizontal single dominated Moto Guzzi motorcycles for 45 years. And the 1921 Normal 500 was his first model.
At the heart of the Normal 500 was an air-cooled 498cc four-stroke engine that produced a modest 8.5 horsepower. The bike came with a three-speed transmission that included a hand-held shifter. It might not have had much to offer, but the Normal 500 remains one of the most iconic motorcycles of its time.
Moto Guzzi Airone 250 – 1939
Moto Guzzi’s single-engine flatbed setup lasted 45 years, meaning it was the same powertrain powering the Normal 500 as the Airone 250, but with major upgrades. On the Airone 250, Moto Guzzi introduced a telescopic fork and large diameter brakes. These advancements were aimed at improving performance and safety.
The quarter-liter engine under the heart of this bike made it quite accessible, but the company went ahead and presented a sporty version of it, which had 13.5 horsepower. Its top speed also increased to 75 mph, making it one of the fastest motorcycles of its time.
Moto Guzzi V8 500 GP – 1955
As the journey went on, Moto Guzzi’s racing department released the V8 500 GP racing nicknamed “the Otto”. The V8 500 GP was powered by a V8 engine that produced 78 horsepower which propelled the motorcycle to a top speed of 171 mph. The air-cooled four-stroke V8 with a displacement of 499 cc could also mate to a four, five or six-speed transmission depending on the application of the stroke. While the V8 500 GP frequently led track races and recorded the best lap times, its complex engine never allowed it to finish number one.
The air-cooled four-stroke V8 with a displacement of 499 cc could also mate to a four, five or six-speed transmission depending on the application of the stroke. While the V8 500 GP frequently led track races and recorded the best lap times, its complex engine never allowed it to finish number one.
Moto Guzzi V7 700 – 1967
By 1961 the motorcycle industry was slowly wearing out, and it reached a point where Moto Guzzi began to explore car manufacturing. The company’s first car engine was a 90-degree 500cc V-twin engineered for Fiat by engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano. Unfortunately, Moto Guzzi could not manufacture the number of engines requested by the famous automaker. At the same time, the Italian road patrol had issued a call for tenders for companies to submit proposals for its fleet of motorcycles. They wanted the bike with the lowest maintenance cost over the 6,200 miles.
Moto Guzzi won the contract with its pierced 703cc longitudinal V-twin engine with shaft drive. The V7 700 had 40 horsepower, but it was widely known for its comfort and reliability. It was the first time that Moto Guzzi had used a longitudinal V-twin on a production motorcycle.
Moto Guzzi V7 Sport – 1971
When engineer Lino Tonti joined Moto Guzzi in 1967, he devoted his energy to perfecting the work of engineer Carcano. It quickly expanded the V7 platform to include models such as the V7 Special, Ambassador, and California. These were incredible milestones, but Tonti’s crowning achievement was the development of the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport.
Having worked in the racing divisions of Mondial and Gilera, Lino Tonti was convinced that he could get more performance from Moto Guzzi’s best-selling motorcycle. He refined the V-twin 90 degrees to 748cc, for an output of 53 horsepower. With a smooth five-speed gearbox and a dry weight of 454 pounds, the V7 Sport easily became the company’s fastest motorcycle until its successor hit the streets.
Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850 – 1975
This bike was named after the popular 24 hour endurance race, and it featured a seamless incorporation of café racer aesthetics and improved performance over the V7 Sport. At the heart of the Le Mans 850 was an 844cc longitudinal V-twin engine that developed a respectable 71 horsepower and a top speed of 130 mph.
The Le Mans 850 had a glorious long lifespan between 1976 and 1993, and over the years the bike has received many improvements. The Mark II phase gave the Mans 850 a larger fairing and square headlights. During the Mark III phase the bike received updates on the engine and suspension, while the Mark IV phase brought minimal progress. The bike came off the market in 1993.
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100 – 2005
While Moto Guzzi was famous for building cafe racer style motorcycles, the company jumped into the bare bike segment in 2005 with the Griso 1100. The bike featured a higher version of the classic old school roadster compared to the Monster from Ducati.
Powered by a powerful 1,064cc V-twin engine, the Griso 1100 produced a respectable 87 horsepower and 66 lb-ft of torque. And with its aggressive lines and refined styling, the bike was a mature alternative that firmly established Moto Guzzi in the 2000s.
Moto Guzzi V85TT – 2019
The V85TT is Moto Guzzi’s latest motorcycle, capitalizing on the current Adventure & Dual-Sport trend, but cleverly redefining itself as the first classic Enduro motorcycle. The bike is fitted with an 853cc transverse V-twin engine, making the retro-style motorcycle a favorite of beginners and seasoned riders alike.
When building this bike, Moto Guzzi perfectly blended adventure riding and classic aesthetics – two hot segments in today’s bike market.
Italian motorcycle makers have produced some of the most breathtaking motorcycles of all time, but they are perhaps the most iconic of all.
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