I love Guzzi. It’s the first connection with motorcycles I can remember. When I was 5 years old my father had a white Califonia II, he used to put me on the tank and I was holding myself to the handlebar. We made long trips to the sea and I loved it. Later he found also a child helmet for me but I’m still asking myself how I survived my childhood in this family.
Back to Moto Guzzi. As a rider, I grew up on sports bikes and when I was a teenager Guzzi were just “old man” bikes. I couldn’t really understand the admiration of my father for Guzzi, I thought that Ducati was way better. But if you read the history you’ll find out that comparing Moto Guzzi to Ducati it’s like comparing Alfa Romeo to Ferrari. When Alfa Romeo started racing in 1911 Enzo Ferrari was 13 years old. And it’s the same story for the motorcycles. In 1950, when Ducati just started to design their first small engine, Guzzi built the world first real size wind tunnel. Between 1924 and 1956 they won 8 MotoGp World Championships, 12 Isle of Man TT and 8 European Championships.
The 3×3, the V8, and other inventions
Moto Guzzi was brave, pushing the boundaries of innovation, experimenting, and challenging. They were the first to reach the North Cape with their Norge GT 500 in 1928 ridden by “Naco” Guzzi himself. They made shaft drive really work. But the most astonishing remains the Otto Cilindri, the V8. It set a Grand Prix top speed record of almost 280 km/h which remained there for 20 years. They made a 3 wheel drive (yes, you got it right, 3×3) trike called the “Mulo Meccanico”, the Mechanical Mule, built for the Italian elite mountain army in 1966.
Where are they now?
I’ve seen them trying every possible engine shape and solution while now they’re just producing the famous V2. There was a point when they stopped trying new things and just stuck to what they knew. I won’t blame anyone for playing safe during a crisis but Moto Guzzi was one of the first in innovation and pushing the limits further and further and this is what made them so special. Today they’re not involved in racing anymore. They build retro bikes, old fashioned cafe racers, and cruisers.
At the end of the day, I still love Guzzi, but I miss some of that madness they used to have in the old days.
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