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Original published on Thrillist by Aaron Miller on 3/18/2014, in his Article "18 Things You Didn't Know About Moto Guzzi". Link to read full, original article:

Some good Trivia for Western PA MGNOC Members!

1. Moto Guzzi was started by two WWI pilots and their mechanic who spent their time on the ground daydreaming about motorcycles. Soldiers stereotypically talk about what they’ll do "after the war,” and in this case it was two pilots and a mechanic daydreaming of starting their own motorcycle company, wherein one would design the bikes, one would race them, and one would pay for everything.

2. The eagle on the logo represents one of the founding trio. Giovanni Ravelli was the racer of the trio, and he died in a plane crash just after the war before they could form their company. Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi then paid tribute to their fallen friend, making the logo from the Italian Air Corp’s eagle in his memory.

3. It wasn’t originally called Moto Guzzi. The original name was GP, for Guzzi-Parodi, but the Parodi family had a very big (and very public) financial stake in the shipping industry, and wanted to distance themselves just in case.

4. They used the first engine they ever developed for 45 years. It was a single cylinder unit, and they used it, albeit with various modifications, for nearly five decades.

5. Carlo Guzzi’s brother rode a bike to the Arctic Circle, proving that their new chassis was worthy. In 1928, he rode from the factory in Italy to the top of Norway in four weeks, solidifying the success of their new “elastic” frame setup.

6. The Isle of Man Time Trial is one of the most grueling, legendary, and prestigious races in the world. They won both classes they entered in 1935. Moto Guzzi won both the Senior Class and the Lightweight Class with Stanley Woods riding.

7. That senior class race almost led to the original “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment. Woods was 26 seconds away from the lead heading into the final lap, and breezed past the pit area even though his team was waiting for him. He somehow not only finished, but set a new lap record and won by four seconds. By the time he crossed the line, photos of the other guy (prewar legend Jimmie Guthrie) were already en route to London to hit the newspapers.

8. Moto Guzzi was basically the Ferrari of motorcycle racing. Making bikes that were so much lighter and more agile than the competition, no one else could keep up in the twisty bits and they wound up with eight World Championship riders, six constructor’s championships, and eleven wins at the Isle of Man.

9. They built the world’s first motorcycle-specific wind tunnel in 1950. Since it was a full-scale tunnel, riders could go inside and optimize their high-speed riding positions. It was a revolutionary step in motorcycle racing.

10. Oh, and that wind tunnel? It was a modified version of a design by Gustave Eiffel. That Eiffel. It also had an instrument called an alcohol-filled micromanometer, which apparently was not for detecting when Wee Man from Jackass was nearby.

11. They made a blindingly fast V8 racing bike in the mid 1950s that was decades ahead of its time. The Otto Cilindri was fast enough to top 171 mph on road courses in testing. That number wasn’t seen again until the 1970s. Unfortunately, it didn’t have too much success in racing; it was too fast for its own good, and even the best riders in the world were afraid of it, lest they crash.

12. And that V8 was the most beautiful V8 ever made for a bike. Like most Italian performance engines, there’s no denying it’s raw sex appeal. It’s gorgeous, but the sound is even better.

13. They built the Batmobile before Batman was even a thing. This is the Nibbio 2. It was built for the sole purpose of setting speed records around Italy’s legendary Monza race track. It succeeded, and led to something even wilder.

14. Guzzi also powered this car to land speed records. It’s called a Stanguellini Colibri. It had 29 hp but only weighed just over 600 pounds, and was so aerodynamically slick it topped 200 kph and set all sorts of European land speed records.

15. They built a MotoTruck. You’ve probably seen the Ercole before. It’s basically a bike with a truck bed, for agricultural purposes.

16. The Italian motorcycle and scooter industries were extremely sensitive to turf wars, as Moto Guzzi found out. The Italian motorcycle and scooter industry was somewhat political, and Guzzi was all set to produce their own traditional small-wheeled scooter, until one of the scooter companies threatened to make a motorcycle to rival Guzzi. Both companies agreed to back down, and neither went through with their plans.

17. Moto Guzzi did, however, make a large wheeled scooter as a workaround. Basically, the traditional scooter makers didn’t think it was a threat, and the larger wheels meant it was easier to ride over potholes and cobblestones.

18. It was once owned by the same company that made the iconic DeTomaso Pantera. In 1973, DeTomaso purchased the parent company of Moto Guzzi and continued to own the group for the next 27 years.

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Original article published on "First Versions" Website:

Go to the link above to view news clippings and more photos of the first prototype

Prototype name: "G.P. 500"

First model name: "Normale"

Category: Motorcycles

Subcategory: Standard

Prototype designers: Carlo Guzzi and his brother Giuseppe

First model developers: Carlo Guzzi with his brother Giuseppe, and Giorgio Parodi with his cousin Angelo

Producer: Moto Guzzi (founded on March 15, 1921 as "Società Anonima Moto Guzzi" in Genoa, Italy, by Emanuele Vittorio Parodi, his son Giorgio Parodi, and Carlo Guzzi)

Prototype made in: 1919/20

Production start: 1921 - Mandello Tonzanico (now Mandello del Lario), Lecco, Italy

Discontinued: 1924

First price: 8,500 ITL

Prototype features: Horizontal four-strokes 500 cc. single-cyclinder engine characterized the first Moto Guzzi motorcycles, since the 1919/20 "G.P." ("Guzzi-Parodi") prototype. Seeking to eliminate hand-pumped lubrication systems and exposed primary drive chains, Guzzi cast the engine in aluminium as a unit with the three-speed gearbox. Its helical-gear primary drive and considerably oversquare engine dimensions (88 x 82 mm. bore and stroke) deviated from what was normal for the period. Laying the engine horizontal in the frame aided engine cooling, which also allowed for a low-slung chassis, while the geared primary drive saw the engine rotate in the reverse direction, another unused feature at the time. To smooth out vibration and enable a more compact crankcase unit, a large (280 mm.) flywheel was mounted externally. The lubrication system was exceptionally advanced, with an oil pump driven from the camshaft; this supplied oil to an external tank that was mounted in the air stream. The cyclinder head design employed aeronautical engineering techniques, with four parallel overhead valves operated by an overhead camshaft and driven by a shaft and bevel gears. Compression was a modest 3.5 : 1 and, with 12 horsepower, the prototype was capable of 62 miles per hour. The chassis had a tubular frame with twin front downtubes, an unsprung rear bolted triangle, and a girder fork and dual springs at the front.

First model features: Name: Moto Guzzi "Normale". Engine Type: four-stroke horizontal single. Bore/stroke: 88 x 82 mm. Displacement: 498.4 cc. Power: 8 HP at 3,200 RPM to 8.5 HP at 3,400 RPM. Compression ratio 4.0 : 1. Valves: Side inlet, overhead exhaust. Carburetion system: Amac 15 PSY 1 in. Gears: Hand-change 3-speed. Ignition: Bosch ZE 1 shielded magneto. Frame: Tubular duplex cradle. Front suspension: Girder fork. Rear suspension: Rigid. Wheels: 26 x 2¼. Tires: 26 x 3.00. Brakes: Expansion rear wheel. Wheelbase: 1,380 mm. Dry weight: 130 Kg. Top speed: 85 Km/h. Production: 2,065.

Interesting facts: The "Moto Guzzi Società Anonima" was established in Genoa, Italy, on March 15, 1921, with its headquarters in Mandello Tonzanico (now Mandello del Lario), Lecco. The three founders were: shipowner Emanuele Vittorio Parodi, his son Giorgio, and Carlo Guzzi, a former comrade in the Italian airforce. The emblem, a spread-winged eagle, was chosen in memory of their friend Giovanni Ravelli, a pilot who died on August 11, 1919 during a test flight. Carlo Guzzi's first horizontal four-strokes 500 cc. single-cyclinder engine estabilished a unique formula that immediately characterized Moto Guzzi motorcycles. The prototype, developed by Carlo and his older brother Giuseppe in 1919/20, was called the "G.P.", for "Guzzi-Parodi". The G.P. soon evolved into the production "Normale", which was announced in the December 1920 issue of "Motociclismo" magazine. The Normale appeared early the following year. While the G.P. had been a pure expression of Carlo Guzzi's engineering, economic necessity saw the Normale incorporating several updates, including the replacement of the exotic four-valve cylinder head and bevel-gear-driven overhead camshaft. With the appearance of the Normale, the company was estabilished, with the senior Parodi served as president. In addition to Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi, two other engineers were also involved: Carlo's Brother Giuseppe and Giorgio's cousin Angelo. While the total production of 1921 was a modest seventeen motorcycles, it was the beginning for one of the greatest italian motorcycles marque, and also one of the longest lived.

Property: Moto Guzzi S.p.A. - Piaggio & C. S.p.A.

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Oregon MGNOC "Guzzette" from January 2005

Oregon MGNOC Guzzette January 2005
Download PDF • 7.39MB

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