The Big Car Database

Moto Guzzi Motorcycles

Moto Guzzi
  • Motorcycle manufacturing
  • Motorcycle distribution
  • Engine manufacturing
Fate Acquired by Piaggio & C. S.p.A (2004)
Founded Genoa, Italy (March 15, 1921 (1921-03-15)) as Società Anonima Moto Guzzi
  • Carlo Guzzi
  • Giorgio Parodi
  • Angelo Parodi
Headquarters Via Parodi 57, Mandello del Lario, Italy
Area served
Key people
  • Roberto Colaninno, CEO
  • California 1400 Custom ABS
  • V7 Special
  • Norge GT 8V
Parent Piaggio & C. SpA

Moto Guzzi is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer and the oldest European manufacturer in continuous motorcycle production.

Established in 1921 in Mandello del Lario, Italy, the company is noted for its historic role in Italy's motorcycling manufacture, its prominence worldwide in motorcycle racing, and industry innovations—including the first motorcycle centre stand, wind tunnel and eight-cylinder engine.

Since 2004, Moto Guzzi has been a unico azionista, a wholly owned subsidiary, and one of seven brands owned by Piaggio & C. SpA, Europe's largest motorcycle manufacturer and the world's fourth largest motorcycle manufacturer by unit sales.

The company's motorcycles are noted for their air-cooled 90° V-twin engines with a longitudinal crankshaft orientation where the engines' transverse cylinder heads project prominently on either side of the motorcycle.


Similar to other storied motorcycle manufacturers that have survived for decades, Moto Guzzi has experienced a series of business cycles and a series of ownership arrangements—some complex, some brief, some that have endured.

1921–1966 - Origins

Moto Guzzi was conceived by two aircraft pilots and their mechanic serving in the Corpo Aeronautico Militare (the Italian Air Corp, CAM) during World War I: Carlo Guzzi, Giovanni Ravelli and Giorgio Parodi. Assigned to the same Miraglia Squadron based outside Venice, the three became close, despite coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. The trio envisioned creating a motorcycle company after the war. Guzzi would engineer the motor bikes, Parodi (the son of wealthy Genovese ship-owners) would finance the venture, and Ravelli (already a famous pilot and motorcycle racer) would promote the bikes with his racing prowess. Guzzi and Parodi (along with Parodi's brother) formed Moto Guzzi in 1921. Ravelli, ironically, had died just days after the war's end in an aircraft crash and is commemorated by the eagle's wings that form the Moto Guzzi logo.

Moto Guzzi, Museum of Brescello.
The GT Norge, Moto Guzzi Museum, Mandello del Lario, driven 4,000 miles (6,400 km) to the Arctic Circle in 1928.

Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi, along with Giorgio's brother Angelo, created a privately held silent partnership "Società Anonima Moto Guzzi" on 15 March 1921, for the purpose of (according to the original articles of incorporation) "the manufacture and the sale of motor cycles and any other activity in relation to or connected to metallurgical and mechanical industry".

The formation of the company hinged on an initial loan of two thousand Lira from the Parodis' father, Emanuele Vittorio, which he gave on 3 January 1919, offering the balance of the loan upon his review of the project's progress:

Dear Giorgio, you can let both your partners know that I will offer you for your first 1,500 or 2,000 Lire. Although with the condition that the sum, under no circumstances, shall be increased. Likewise, I reserve the right to supervise your progress before giving my agreement to this project.

[citation needed]

The company was legally based in Genoa, Italy, with its headquarters in Mandello. The very earliest motorcycles bore the name G.P. (Guzzi-Parodi), though the marque quickly changed to Moto Guzzi. As the only actual shareholders, the Parodi's wanted to shield their shipping fortunes by avoiding confusion of name G.P. with Giorgio Parodi's initials. Carlo Guzzi initially received royalties for each motorcycle produced, holding no ownership in the company that bore his name. In 1946 Moto Guzzi formally incorporated as Moto Guzzi S.p.A. with Giorgio Parodi as chairman.

Carlo Guzzi's first engine design was a horizontal single that dominated the first 45 years of the company's history in various configurations. Through 1934, each engine bore the signature of the mechanic who built it. As originally envisioned, the company used racing to promote the brand. In the 1935 Isle of Man TT, Moto Guzzi factory rider Stanley Woods performed an impressive double victory with wins in the Lightweight TT as well as the Senior TT.

Until the mid-1940s, the traditional horizontal four-stroke single-cylinder 500 cc engines were fitted with one overhead and one side valve but contrary to the usual practice of having inlet over exhaust (IOE), this employed the side valve for induction and the overhead valve for exhaust. Also unusual was the adoption of only one hairspring (type of valve spring) to close the exhaust valve. These were the highest performance engines Moto Guzzi sold to the general public. By contrast, the company supplied the official racing team and private racers with higher performance racing machines with varying overhead cam, multi-valve configurations and cylinder designs.

Moto Guzzi Airone Sport 1949.

In the 1950s, Moto Guzzi, along with the Italian factories of Gilera and Mondial, led the world of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. With durable and lightweight 250 cc and 350 cc bikes designed by Giulio Carcano, the firm dominated the middleweight classes. The factory won five consecutive 350 cc world championships between 1953 and 1957. In realizing that low weight alone might not continue to win races for the company, Carcano designed the V8 500 cc GP race bike—whose engine was to become one of the most complex engines of its time. Despite the bike's having led many races and frequently posted the fastest lap time, it often failed to complete races because of mechanical problems. Ultimately, the V8 was not developed further as Moto Guzzi withdrew (together with the main competitors Gilera and Mondial) from racing after the 1957 season citing escalating costs and diminishing motorcycle sales. By the time of its pull out from Grand Prix racing, Moto Guzzi had won 3,329 official races, 8 World Championships, 6 Constructor's Championships and 11 Isle of Man TT victories.

The period after World War II was as difficult in Mandello del Lario as it was elsewhere in post-war Europe. The solution was production of inexpensive, lighter cycles. The 1946 "Motoleggera", a 65 cc lightweight motorcycle became very popular in post-war Italy. A four-stroke 175 cc scooter known as the "Galletto" also sold well. Though modest cycles for the company, the lighter cycles continue to feature Guzzi's innovation and commitment to quality. The step-through Galletto initially featured a manual, foot-shifted three-speed (160 cc) configuration then later a four-speed (175 cc) set-up by the end of 1952. The displacement was increased to 192 cc in 1954 and electric start was added in 1961.

Moto Guzzi was limited in its endeavors to penetrate the important scooter market as motorcycle popularity waned after WWII. Italian scooter competitors would not tolerate an incursion from Moto Guzzi. By innovating the first large-wheeled scooter, Guzzi competed less directly with manufacturers of small-wheeled scooters such as Piaggio (Vespa) and Lambretta. To illustrate the delicate balance within the Italian post-war motorcycle and scooter markets, when Guzzi developed their own prototype for a small-wheeled scooter, Lambretta retaliated with a prototype for a small V-twin motorcycle threatening to directly compete on Moto Guzzi's turf. The two companies compromised: Guzzi never produced their small-wheeled scooter and Lambretta never manufactured the motorcycle. The drive train that Lambretta made in their 1953 motorcycle prototype remarkably resembles the V-twin + drive shaft arrangement that Guzzi developed more than ten years later, ultimately to become iconic of the company.

By 1964, the company was in full financial crisis. Emanuele Parodi and his son Giorgio had died, Carlo Guzzi had retired to private life, and direction passed to Enrico Parodi, Giorgio's brother. Carlo Guzzi died on 3 November 1964, in Mandello, after a brief hospital stay in Davos.

1967–1973 - SEIMM years

V7 750 Speciale (1969)
V7 Sport
Customised Nuovo Falcone Militare (1970)

In February 1967, SEIMM (Società Esercizio Industrie Moto Meccaniche), a state controlled receiver, took ownership of Moto Guzzi. The SEIMM oversight saw Moto Guzzi adapting to a cultural shift away from motorcycles to automobiles. The company focused on popular lightweight mopeds including the Dingo and Trotter – and the 125 cc Stornello motorcycle. Also during the SEIMM years Guzzi developed the 90° V twin engine, designed by Giulio Cesare Carcano, which would become iconic of Moto Guzzi.

Though Moto Guzzi has employed engines of myriad configurations, none has come to symbolize the company more than the air-cooled 90° V-twin with a longitudinal crankshaft orientation and the engine's transverse cylinder heads projecting prominently on either side of the bike. The original V-twin was designed in the early 1960s by engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano, designer of the DOHC V8 Grand Prix racer. The air-cooled, longitudinal crankshaft, transverse cylinder, pushrod V-twin began life with 700 cc displacement and 45 hp (34 kW) – designed to win a competition sponsored by the Italian government for a new police bike. The sturdy shaft-drive, air-cooled V-twin won, giving Moto Guzzi renewed competitiveness. This 1967 Moto Guzzi V7 with the original Carcano engine has been continuously developed into the 1,200 cc, 80 hp (60 kW) versions offered today (2006). Lino Tonti redesigned the motor for the 1971 Moto Guzzi V7 Sport. This engine is the basis of the currently used 750 cc, 1,100 cc and 1,200 cc Guzzi engines. The longitudinal crankshaft and orientation of the engine creates a slight gyroscope effect, with a slightly asymmetrical behavior in turns.

1973–2000 – De Tomaso years

After experiencing financial difficulties in the late 1960s, De Tomaso Industries Inc. (D.T.I. Group or DTI), manufacturer of the De Tomaso sports and luxury cars, owned by Argentinian industrialist Alejandro de Tomaso, purchased SEIMM (and thereby Moto Guzzi) along with Benelli and Maserati in 1973. Under Tomaso's stewardship, Moto Guzzi returned to profitability, though other reports suggest a period of limited investment in Moto Guzzi followed attributed to DTI using Moto Guzzi financially prioritizing their automotive ventures.

Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850

In 1976, Guzzi released the 850 Le Mans, a cafe racer that was a stylistic masterpiece and still today considered one of the most iconic and sought-after of all Guzzis.[according to whom?] A marketing success that would compete with other Italian superbikes, it spawned four later models from Mark II to its culmination in the 1990s, the Mark V. The initial model is known widely but incorrectly as the Mark I. Technically, it is simply the 850 Le Mans. It was named in homage to the 24-hour endurance race and circuit in France. The Mark I had two production runs with slight modifications. The first run, known as Series 1, used the roundish CEV stop/taillight used on many Italian bikes of the decade. Fewer than 2,000 of the round taillight bikes were made and they are the most desirable Guzzi of the era.[citation needed] The second production run, known as the Series 2 and totaling around 4,000 bikes, used a De Tomaso-designed rectangular taillight/reflector and modified rear guard. This was also used on the Mark II and SP models. The taillight and guard was the biggest change between Series 1 and 2 but other modifications included later inclusion of a tripmeter, black fork lowers, a more generous dual seat that replaced the split-prone original seat, exhaust pipe heel guards and inferior fuel taps. The extra cost compared to the "cooking" T3 model paid for performance items such as high-compression domed pistons, larger inlet and exhaust valves and Dell'Orto 36 mm pumper carbs with filterless grey plastic velocity stacks. Most Mk I bikes were brilliant red although a very small number were painted in metallic ice blue. An exceedingly small number[clarification needed] of Series 2 bikes were white.

In 1979, a small-block version of the air-cooled V-twin designed by engineer Lino Tonti was introduced as the V35. Radical when introduced, the design featured horizontally split crankcases and Heron heads. The former was a common feature of contemporary Japanese motorcycle design, whilst the latter was widely used in car engines. Both features allow more efficient mass production and also the design of the engine and associated components cut the weight from 548 lb (249 kg) of the contemporary 850 T3 to the 385 lb (175 kg) of the V35. The power of the original V35 at 35 bhp (26 kW) was competitive with engines of comparable displacement of the period – later, larger versions (V50, V65, V75) were rapidly outclassed by competing water-cooled engines. The Breva and Nevada today feature a descendent of Tonti's V35 engine: the 750 cc V-twin, rated at 48 bhp (36 kW). With its ease of maintenance, durability and even, flat torque curve, the engine design remains suitable to everyday, real-world situations.

As Guzzi continued to develop the V-twin, power was increased in the mid-1980s when Guzzi created four-valve versions of the "small block" series. Of these, the 650 and the 750 were rated at 60 bhp (45 kW) and 65 bhp (48 kW) respectively. The production of the four-valve "small block" engines ended in the later 1980s.

Moto Guzzis have used an hydraulic integrated brake system, where the right front disc works off the handlebar lever, while the left front and the rear disc work off the foot brake.

The cartridge front fork used in Guzzi's motorcycles of the later 1970s and 1980s is a Guzzi invention. Instead of containing the damping oil in the fork, it is in a cartridge. Oil in the fork is purely for lubrication.

Still under the De Tomaso umbrella, in 1988, Benelli and SEIMM merged to create Guzzi Benelli Moto (G.B.M. S.p.A. ). During this period, Moto Guzzi existed as an entity within the De Tomaso owned G.B.M., but in 1996 celebrated its 75th birthday and the return of its name to Moto Guzzi S.p.A. In 1996, De Tomaso became Trident Rowan Group, also known as TRG.

2000–2004 - Aprilia years

Under the helm of Ivano Beggio, Aprilia S.p.A acquired Moto Guzzi S.p. A on 14 April 2000 for $65 million. According to the original press release, the intention had been that Moto Guzzi would remain headquartered in Mandello del Lario and would share Aprilia's technological, R&D capabilities and financial resources as well. The arrangement would remain short-lived, as Aprilia itself stumbled financially. At the same time Aprilia attempted to diversify in other areas of manufacturing, new Italian laws required helmets for motorcyclists and raising insurance rates for teenage motorcyclists, severely affected the company's profitability. Nonetheless, Aprilia had committed large sums to renovating the Mandello Moto Guzzi factory – renovations that were ultimately completed.Ducati Motor Holding again made an offer for Moto Guzzi during Aprilia's financial difficulties, as it had before, when Aprilia had purchased Moto Guzzi in 2000. Other potential buyers included Kymco and the BRP subsidiary Rotax, Kymco reportedly making the highest offer. The Moto Guzzi assembly line closed for a short period in March 2004, due to the financial difficulties.

2004 onwards - Piaggio years

On 30 December 2004, Piaggio & C. S.p.A acquired Aprilia. Moto Guzzi S.p. A officially becomes a Unico Azionista of Piaggio, part of Immsi S.p.A. Investments have allowed introduction of a series of competitive new models in rapid succession.

In November 2007, Moto Guzzi unveiled the retro-themed 2008 V7 Classic at the Motorcycle and Bicycle Manufacturers show in Milan, Italy. It was available in Europe in mid-2008, and Moto Guzzi announced plans in late-2008 to make it available to US buyers. The company has begun making limited collectors' editions of Guzzi originals.

Key people

The following is a list of key people associated with Moto Guzzi since its launch.


  • Carlo Guzzi (1889–1964): conceived the marque with Giovani Ravelli and Giorgio Parodi – each members of the mechanics Italian Air Corp. He died in November 1964 aged 75.
  • Giorgio Parodi (1897–1955): aircraft pilot, whose father financed the original company.
  • Giovanni Ravelli (d. 1918): one of the original three friends who envisioned a company that would engineer and sell motorcycles—what was later to become Moto Guzzi—was not present at the formal birth of Moto Guzzi in 1921, having perished in a 1918 air crash. At the time he met Guzzi and Parodi, he had already established himself as an accomplished motorcycle racer, having raced in the 1913 Tourist Trophy on a Premier 500.


  • Giulio Cesare Carcano: engineer with Guzzi from 1936 to 1966, inventor of the DOHC V8 engine and the air-cooled V-twin that became synonymous with Moto Guzzi. He died in September 2005 after a second career as a Naval Architect, but remained in service to Moto Guzzi into his retirement.
  • Umberto Todero: Joining Moto Guzzi in 1939, his career spanned from the days of the original founders, through the SEIMM, de Tomaso, and Aprilia years, into the ownership of Piaggio. He died while still in service to the company in February 2005.
  • Lino Tonti: engineer, joined the company in 1967 to replace Carcano, developed the V7 Sport, the small block V50, and the Tonti Frame.


  • Giuseppe Guzzi (14 August 1882 – 6 June 1962): Carlo's brother, rode the famed GT Norge on the 1928 Arctic Circle raid to test the first motorcycle rear swingarm suspension.
  • Stanley Woods: esteemed motorcycle racer who captained Moto Guzzi's to numerable Isle of Man TT wins.
  • Omobono Tenni: celebrated 47 victories racing for Moto Guzzi in the period between 1933 and 1948.
  • Bill Lomas: won the 1955 and 1956 350 cc world championship for Moto Guzzi, defeating multi-cylinder machines on his and aerodynamic single-cylinder bike. The Mandello Guzzi Museum has a section devoted to Lomas' two world title wins and also his outings on the legendary Moto Guzzi Grand Prix 500 cc V8.
  • John Wittner: American dentist, highly skilled pilot and mechanic, craftsman of the 1000 Daytona, with engineer Umberto Todero.

Production figures

  • 1929: 2,500 units
  • 1971: 46,487 units (historic high)
  • 1993: 3,274 units (historical low)
  • 1994: 4,300 units (approx)
  • 1997: 5,600 units (approx)
  • 1998: 5,647 units
  • 1999: 6,275 units
  • 2004: fewer than 4,000 units
  • 2005: fewer than 5,000 units
  • 2006: greater than 10,000 units
  • 2011: 5,763
  • 2012: 6,664
  • 2013: 6,800

Technical innovations

The DOHC V8 Grand Prix Motorcycle: 170 mph (270 km/h) in 1957


Griso 1100 CARC: Compact Reactive Drive Shaft.

(Cardano Reattivo Compatto): Above a certain power level the competing forces of drive-shaft arrangements can severely disrupt the suspension of a motorcycle (especially at application of throttle), a phenomenon called "shaft jacking". Moto Guzzi introduced its first anti-jacking system with the Daytona in 1993 and evolved that design though the 2005 V11 Sport. Guzzi later introduced their CARC system, emulating the BMW Paralever design and serving the same function. Kawasaki introduced its Tetra-lever system for similar reasons on the Kawasaki Concours 14 (also known as the 1400 GTR). Arturo Magni (1925–2005) had sold "parallelogrammo" rear suspension kit in the early 1980s to resolve similar anti-torque issues.

Moto Guzzi's current Breva 750, Nevada 750, and California Vintage fall below the threshold that requires an anti-jacking drive-shaft system.

The Breva 1100, Norge, Bellagio, Stelvio and 1200 Sport feature Guzzi's recently patented swingarm system, marketed as Compact Reactive Shaft Drive – also known as Ca. R.C. or CARC – introduced with the Breva 1100 in 2005. The system separates the shaft final drive’s torque reaction from the suspension via floating torque arms and thereby eliminates the abruptness typical of shaft drive systems on acceleration or throttle-release – still providing a quiet, reliable and low maintenance drive system. Reviewers have observed excellent braking performance and drive train smoothness attributable to the CARC system.

Rear swingarm suspension

By 1928, long-distance motorcycle travel was limited by the lack of an effective rear suspension design. Until then, alternative designs sacrificed torsional rigidity – gaining comfort but severely compromising handling. Carlo Guzzi and his brother Giuseppe designed an elastic frame using a sheet-steel box enclosing four springs, together with a swingarm in tubes and sheet metal. The first Moto Guzzi bike to employ the suspension was named the G.T. (for Gran Turismo, Grand Touring), and to prove the suspension – and gain publicity for Moto Guzzi – the brothers conceived a challenging 4,000-mile (6,400 km) journey from Mandello del Lario to Capo Nord in northern Norway. Despite the very poor condition of European roads at that time, Giuseppe Guzzi reached the Arctic Circle in four weeks. The elastic frame rear suspension was immediately introduced to production machines, transforming the usability of the motorcycle as an everyday form of transportation. In 2006, Moto Guzzi retraced the 'raid' of 1928 to introduce the Norge 1200. The word "Norge" is Norwegian for "Norway".

First DOHC V8 motorcycle engine

The DOHC V8 at the Moto Guzzi Museum, Mandello del Lario
Main article: Moto Guzzi Grand Prix 500 cc V8

The Moto Guzzi Grand Prix V8, introduced in 1955, was a 500 cc racing motorcycle fitted with a V8 engine using dual overhead camshafts (DOHC). The engine was conceived by Giulio Carcano, Enrico Cantoni, Umberto Todero, Ken Kavanagh and Fergus Anderson just after the 1954 Monza Grand Prix and designed by Dr. Carcano. The bore and stroke of the engine were 44.0 mm × 40.5 mm (1.73 in × 1.59 in): there were two valves per cylinder. Power was in the region of 80 bhp (60 kW) at 12,000 rpm, approximately 10 to 15 bhp (7.5–11.2 kW) more than the rival 4-cylinder MV Agustas and Gileras.

The engine and the bike were unprecedented. The motorcycle proved capable of achieving 172 mph (280 km/h)—thirty years before the speed was reached again in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. However, the Otto Cilindri proved difficult to ride, as well as complex and expensive to build and maintain—bikes suffered broken crankshafts, overheating and seizing—all in addition to the danger the bike posed to the racers themselves. By 1957 there were two bikes available and no one willing to race the bike without further development and the bike was withdrawn.

Motorcycle wind tunnel

Exterior View, The Moto Guzzi Wind Tunnel, Moto Guzzi Headquarters, Mandello del Lario, Italy

In 1950 Moto Guzzi created the first motorcycle wind tunnel,La Galleria del Vento, capable of testing 1:1 prototypes at the Mandello del Lario works, thereby allowing the company to market an integral fairing. The wind tunnel enabled racers to mimic real-life riding conditions and optimize their seating and body position at varying racing speeds – an unprecedented advantage for racing and production motorcycles. In motorcycle prototyping, Moto Guzzi could refine the air stream around the motorcycle itself, develop an envelope of still air around the rider, reduce frontal area, optimize air penetration, and maximize fuel economy.

The wind tunnel design is a modification of the open-circuit Eiffel type (after Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel tower in Paris), consisting of three sections. Air is drawn into the "Air Duct" with an aperture of 8.2 m (26.9 ft), air speed increases as it is passed through smaller and smaller diameters reaching max wind speed in the "Test Chamber" with a diameter of 2.6 m (8.5 ft), and finally is exhausted through the "Outlet/Discharge" duct containing the fan mechanism – a three-bladed variable speed propeller driven by a 310 hp (231 kW) electric motor.

Located outside of the testing chamber adjacent to the central section, a control room houses fan mechanism controls and the measuring instruments. Outside of the chamber is a large dial "Scala Convenzionale" or "Conventional Scale" to indicate the varying degree of resistance offered by the motorcycle (and rider) to the passing air. Around the circumference of the dial, red lights at each degree provide a visual indicator to the rider and test personnel. This large scale remains visible to the rider in the tunnel during testing and by repositioning himself on the bike he can determine the changing and optimal resistance. A second measurement tool was an alcohol-filled micro-manometer connected to a Pitot tube placed at a 90–degree angle to the airflow in the tunnel.

It is unknown to what extent the wind tunnel is used currently. The December 2005 press release for the Norge 1200 states that the bike was "thoroughly tested" in the Mandello wind tunnel. Aprilia, a company in the same group as Moto Guzzi, maintains a relationship with the aerodynamics program at the University of Perugia, where computer simulations combined with practical tests (done in smaller tunnels using scale models) can more effectively and economically provide accurate testing and feedback.

Truck-motorcycle hybrid

The Ercole (Hercules), produced in 1928, was capable of carrying an 800 lb (363 kg) load. Guzzi built a range of "goods vehicles", from 50 cc to 500 cc, between 1928 and 1980.

Large-wheel scooter

Moto Guzzi's Large Wheel Scooter

Though the design criteria of a scooter have grown increasingly fluid, historically a scooter featured small wheels – especially in post-war Italy. The configuration, along with a compact engine, allowed the scooter its trademark step-through design. With the 1950 introduction of the Galletto 160, Moto Guzzi developed large-wheel scooter. The larger wheels afford greater gyroscopic force and thereby greater balance.[dubious ] Large-wheeled scooters also reduce vulnerability to pot-holes. The Galletto not only offered larger wheels, it carried its own spare.

Motorcycle models

Moto Guzzi Stelvio
Main article: List of Moto Guzzi motorcycles

Moto Guzzi models currently in production include the V7, Nevada, Stelvio, California cruiser; Griso sport/standard hybrid; Norge 1200 sport tourer/GT; Stelvio dualsport; Eldorado and Audace. Recent models have included the 1200 Sport and MGS-01 Corsa sportbikes, Breva 750, Breva 1100 and Breva 1200, as well as the Nevada and Bellagio.

Guzzi has made a number of historic racing and military motorcycles. The historic racing heritage is best epitomized in the Le Mans model range, still held today to be a styling masterpiece and motorcycle design as an art form.

Through various periods of its history, Moto Guzzi has produced models specifically for military and police forces. The Italian police and military and various US police departments (e.g. LAPD) have used Moto Guzzi bikes in their fleets. Guzzi currently markets police versions of model range – the Breva (all three models) most commonly, as well as the Norge, adopted by Berlin police.

Factory, company headquarters and museum

Since 1921, Moto Guzzi headquarters have been located in Mandello del Lario on the Lecco branch of Lake Como. The facility began at a size of 300 m2 (3,200 sq ft), and by the early 1950s Moto Guzzi covered 24,000 m2 (260,000 sq ft) with a workforce of over 1,500. As of 1999, the complex included one, two and three story buildings of over 54,000 m2 (580,000 sq ft), operating at approximately 50% of production capacity.

During its ownership tenure, Aprilia considered moving the entire operation to Monza, under protest from the Guzzisti and Mandello factory workers. Instead, Aprilia renovated the factory in 2004 at a cost of $45 million.

The original Mandello site remains home to the company's headquarters, the production facility, the historic wind tunnel, the company library, and the museum. The Moto Guzzi Museum displays models from the company's history, engines that retrace Guzzi's engineering history, and a series of important prototypes. The museum is open to the public, and includes a gift shop featuring books, clothing and accessories. Moto Guzzi currently employs roughly 250 to 300 employees, making over 10,000 bikes per year.

For decades, the Moto Guzzi factory carried a set of internally lit block letters along the rooftop (and also over the entry gate) spelling "Moto Guzzi". In May 2007, the original roof sign, old and worn, was replaced with a new brighter sign carrying the current official logo and script. At the same time, the factory entrance gate received a new rectangular version of the sign.

Engineering, design and styling

Frame design

Before the Tonti Frame, several Guzzis used a frame known as the Loop Frame. It was at the time, considered sufficient.

Engineered by Lino Tonti, the Tonti Frame gave Moto Guzzi a new and up-to-date structural backbone for its cycles beginning with the V7 Sport of 1971. Tonti designed the frame with racing in mind, with the goals of mass centralization, lighter weight and compactness. The frame is especially light and strong, and remains in use to this day in modified form in the small block Breva 750 and Nevada Classic and in the big block California. The design contrasted sharply with competitors' frame designs at the time of its introduction; many motorcycles were noted for their "hinge in the middle" feel. The frame tilts the engine slightly rearward.

The Tonti frame was engineered for stiffness using short, straight tubes working well with the engine design and allowing the main backbone to pass through the cylinder splay and connect the steering head to the swingarm in the shortest possible distance.

The frame hugs the engine tightly, giving 'Tonti' big-blocks a low center of gravity and compact overall dimensions. Unladen, 'Tonti' Guzzis are very small, low and easy to handle. Detachable lower-frame tubes accommodate engine access and can be modified for specific applications such as floorboards and pegs.

Dr. John Whittner later adapted a frame design known as the spine frame, a version of which would be incorporated into the early Daytona, Centauro, and 1100 Sports models.


Moto Guzzi also has its own design and styling studio at the Mandello del Lario works, and in recent years (beginning during the Aprilia tenureship), Moto Guzzi has used independent Italian agency Marabese Design for the V11, V10 Centauro, Breva 750 850 and 1100, Griso and Norge. Marabese Design was founded in 1997 and is led by Luciano Marabese along with Rodolfo Frascoli and Riccardo Marabese. Moto Guzzi worked with Ghezzi & Brian on the MGS-01 Corsa.

It remains unclear what role Piaggio's Pontedera headquarters plays with the ongoing design of Moto Guzzi models.

The original logo
Logo from the SEIMM years
Logo from the 1990s
Current three-dimensional logo

Giovanni Ravelli, Giorgio Parodi and Carlo Guzzi had envisioned the creation of a motorcycle company after World War I. When Ravelli was killed in a plane crash just days after the end of the war, Parodi and Guzzi chose to commemorate Ravelli by choosing as the emblem of their company, the symbol that represented their camaraderie and their common passion for flight: the insignia of the Italian Air Corp, l’aquila ad ali spiegate, the winged eagle. Originally, the emblem consisted solely of the gold eagle (with wings spread) over the Moto Guzzi lettering, usually in a sans-serif typeface. From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, the eagle was heavily stylized, with the upper edge of the outspread wings forming a smooth, horizontal line. The late eighties saw a return to the less stylized gold eagle. The nineties saw the eagle and Moto Guzzi script on a flat red oval with a gold band along its perimeter. Circa 2004, the emblem reached its current, three-dimensional form.

Customer engagement

Since 2001, Moto Guzzi has annually hosted Giornate Mondiali Guzzi, also known as GMG or World Guzzi Days, inviting fans to Mandello. In 2006 over 15,000 Guzzi fans from over 20 countries traveled to Mandello for the event. GMG 2007 took place on 14–16 September 2007, with 17,000 Guzzisti attending, the introduction of the Griso 8V, a Museum exhibit "Moto Guzzi e i Motori" (Moto Guzzi's Engines), display of the first Griso 8V off the assembly line (awarded by raffle), and 500 gift sets of commemorative intake valves. Another exhibit, "Guzzi Art", featured the work of students at the European Design Institute.

Moto Guzzi clubs include Moto Guzzi World Club, the official worldwide club of Moto Guzzi, formed 2002 at GMG, which publishes the quarterly Aquile; Moto Guzzi National Owners Club. Moto Guzzi Club GB, formed in 1976 which publishes a bi-monthly magazine "Gambalunga".

Racing history

European championships

Year Class Rider
1924 500cc Kingdom of Italy Guido Mentasti
1932 250cc Kingdom of Italy Riccardo Brusi
1937 250cc Kingdom of Italy Omobono Tenni
1947 Sidecars Italy Luigi Cavanna, Paolo Cavanna
1947 250cc Italy Bruno Francisci
1947 500cc Italy Omobono Tenni
1948 250cc United Kingdom Maurice Cann
1948 500cc Italy Enrico Lorenzetti

MotoGP World Championship

Moto Guzzi won the following World Titles:

  • 350 cc class; :
Year Champion Motorcycle
1953 United Kingdom Fergus Anderson  
1954 United Kingdom Fergus Anderson  
1955 United Kingdom Bill Lomas  
1956 United Kingdom Bill Lomas  
1957 Australia Keith Campbell  
  • 250 cc class; :
Year Champion Motorcycle
1949 Italy Bruno Ruffo  
1951 Italy Bruno Ruffo  
1952 Italy Enrico Lorenzetti  

MotoGP World Constructors champions

  • 350 cc class
    • 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956
  • 250 cc class
    • 1949, 1951, 1952

Tourist Trophy

  • 500 cc class
Year Champion Class Motorcycle
1935 Isle of Man TT Republic of Ireland Stanley Woods Class 500 cc  
  • 350 cc class
Year Champion Class Motorcycle
1955 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Bill Lomas Class 350 cc  
1956 Isle of Man TT Australia Ken Kavanagh Class 350 cc  
  • 250 cc class
Year Champion Class Motorcycle
1935 Isle of Man TT Republic of Ireland Stanley Woods Class 250 cc  
1937 Isle of Man TT Kingdom of Italy Omobono Tenni Class 250 cc  
1947 Isle of Man TT Republic of Ireland Manliff Barrington Class 250 cc  
1948 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Maurice Cann Class 250 cc  
1949 Isle of Man TT Republic of Ireland Manliff Barrington Class 250 cc  
1951 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Tommy Wood Class 250 cc  
1952 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Fergus Anderson Class 250 cc  
1953 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Fergus Anderson Class 250 cc  
1955 Isle of Man TT United Kingdom Bill Lomas Class 250 cc  

Raceco Moto Guzzi

In 1993 Amedeo Castellani built the Raceco Daytona that competed with sponsorship by 3xmotorcycles who were the importers of Moto Guzzi for the United Kingdom. At the end of its development in 1997 the Raceco Guzzi weighed only 175 kg and developed a staggering 140 bhp. It was taken to race and championship success by riders such as Ian Cobby, and Australian Grand Prix star Paul 'Angry Ant' Lewis. It is written by author Mick Walker this motorcycle won every race it entered and finished. The development to the motorcycle was such that Moto Guzzi used it on their stand at the Milan Motor Show and probably helped them develop the Moto Guzzi MGS-01.

List of Moto Guzzi motorcycles

Current and recent models

2003 saw the start of a substantial revitalization in Moto Guzzi's lineup and engineering work, beginning with the launch of a new V-twin in three displacements, the first Euro 3 compliant engine in the world. A succession of new models has followed.

  • Bellagio (936 cc) (since 2007): named after a town across Lake Como from the Moto Guzzi headquarters — features custom styling, and a matt-black paint scheme. With a standard riding position, the Bellagio was introduced at EICMA 2006 (tentatively named the "940 Custom"), along with a new 1,200 cc, 8-valve engine, a 940 cc 4-valve engine, the new Griso 1200 and Norge 850. Though not currently available in North America, a recent Piaggio press release indicates the Bellagio is key to Guzzi's North American presence
  • Breva is named after the breeze called the Breva that blows across Lake Como, where the Moto Guzzi factory is situated. The motorcycles were manufactured in four configurations: 750, 850, 1100 and 1200. The three larger models differ from the 750, featuring CARC suspension and enhanced performance.
    • Breva 750 i.e. or Breva V 750 i.e. (744 cc) (2002-2009): The Breva was the first motorcycle developed and marketed by Moto Guzzi after the company became a subsidiary of Aprilia. As a standard motorcycle, the Breva 750 was formally introduced to the press at Intermot 2002, Munich. Like the Nevada, the Breva 750 features the 'small block' engine derived directly from the engine Carcano designed for Guzzi in the mid-sixties and Tonti refined: the 750 cc V-twin, rated at 48 bhp (36 kW). With its ease of maintenance, durability and even, flat torque curve, the engine design remains suitable to everyday, real-world situations. To mark the rejuvenation of Moto Guzzi, the first Breva 750 was delivered to its owner on April 7, 2003 in a special ceremony at the Mandello works. Likewise, the first 100 Breva 750's were delivered to their Italian dealers in a special ceremony on March 26, 2003 at Mandello del Lario headquarters on the occasion of the company's anniversary.
    • Breva 850 (877 cc) (since 2006): a variation featuring the 850 engine, not available in the US.
    • Breva 1100/1100 ABS (1,064 cc) (since 2005): introduced in Europe in 2005 and in the US in 2006. Breva 1100 ABS not available in the US.
  • California
    • California 1400 Touring (1,380 cc) – The hard bagger version of the new California 1400 - With classic transversal V2 architecture and introducing technologies new to the Moto Guzzi brand including ride-by-wire throttle, cruise control, and traction control.
    • California 1400 Custom (1,380 cc) - Pared-down version of the 1400 California, sans hard bags and windshield and with drag-style handlebars, also utilizing the new v2 1400 engine.
  • Griso
    • Griso 1100 (1,064 cc) (since 2005): literally "gray one", named after a gray-bearded character in the famous Italian literature saga The Betrothed—a riding posture between sport and standard; first saw light as a prototype at EICMA 2003 in Milan, when Moto Guzzi was still owned by Aprilia. After Piaggio absorbed Moto Guzzi, they proceeded (in house) to quickly develop the Griso for production, adapting Guzzi's historic V-twin engine to the new bike. In keeping with the bike's hard-edged, techno-custom styling, an over-sized oil radiator graces the right side of the engine, in plain view.
    • Griso 8V – In September 2007 at GMG, Moto Guzzi introduced the Griso 8V, featuring a heavily revised engine with four valves per cylinder. Motorcycle News wrote: "in doing so, the striking-looking Griso has been transformed from a lumbering yet evocative old-school roadster into a charging rhino of a motorcycle with true 140 mph (230 km/h) potential." At 1,151 cc, the engine has been heavily revised, and the bike now features an unusual exhaust with a "8" cross-section at the rear, revised brakes, handlebars and seat.
    • Griso 850 (877 cc) (since 2006): variation of the Griso with the 850 engine, not available in the US.
  • Nevada Classic 750 i.e. (744 cc) (since 2004): named after the previous Guzzi Nevada (1991–2001) — first available May 2004; meets Euro 3 emissions standard; low seat height (760 mm); standardriding posture, light weight (184 kg dry); suitable for around town, short and medium distance touring; compared to previous carburetted model: 383 components out of a total of 441 components redesigned or renewed; the only "entry-level" custom with shaft drive, electronic injection; very similar in spec to the Breva 750 (since 2010 Nevada Anniversario).
  • Norge
    • Norge 850 (877 cc) (since 2007) a variation of the Norge model, equipped with the 850 engine, not available in the US.
    • Norge 1200 (1,134 cc) (since 2005): a GT (Gran Turismo) bike that derives its name from the original GT Norge famous for making a 4,000-mile (6,400 km) test ride in 1928—from the company headquarters in Italy to just inside the Arctic Circle of Norway's Capo Nord — to prove its suspension prototype: the world's first rear swingarm suspension. Moto Guzzi celebrated the 2005 Norge introduction by re-tracing the 1928 ride. Reinforcing Moto Guzzi's history, the design of the Norge and its fairing was refined in the company's historic wind tunnel at the Mandello del Lario headquarters.
  • Stelvio 1200 (1,134 cc) (since 2008): named after the famous Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps, this adventure touring type of dual sport motorbike is directly aimed at the market defined by the highly successful BMW GS. It is currently (2011) available in two versions: the Stelvio ABS and the Stelvio NTX. Whilst both models of Stelvio can be said to be toward the road-biased end of the adventure touring spectrum, the NTX version has been fitted with parts that make it more suitable to rough terrain (spoked wheels, sump guard, crash rails).
  • 1200 Sport/1200 Sport ABS (1,151 cc) (since 2006): originally to have been named the Breva S—introduced at Intermot 2006 in Cologne, heavily revised version of the 90°, 1,151 cc V-Twin, all-new chassis, 90° V-Twin with 94 hp (70 kW) and 74 lb·ft (100 N·m) of torque, revised intake tract, redesigned intake and exhaust ports, an all-new exhaust system, twin spark plugs, lighter pistons and lightweight rods, revised oil system, alternator mounted between the two cylinders, white-faced instruments, optional ABS, two available performance kits to increase power above 100 hp (70 kW). Neither is available in the US.
  • MGS-01 Corsa (1,222 cc) (since 2004) (track only): a very limited production racing bike — introduced at Intermot 2002 (Cologne Motorcycle Show) as a prototype. The bike had been designed starting in 2002 with the Moto Guzzi Style Laboratory and a team at Ghezzi & Brian—with co-founder Giuseppe Ghezzi. The MGS-01 features an air-cooled 1,256 cc four-stroke engine with high compression three-segment Cosworth pistons, ceramic-coated cylinders, bushings instead of bearings, upside-down front fork, extra long swinging fork swingarm in box section aluminium, rear single shock absorber vertically located, disc hydraulic drive clutch, one-piece quick-release carbon fiber body design, Brembo brakes with radial mounted calipers, six-speed gearbox (as a structural component of the bike) and shaft drive — weighing in at 423 pounds (192 kg). As a pure racing bike, the MGS-01 Corsa was originally intended for a domestic Italian homologation model, though has since been raced (successfully) also in the US. Production will be highly limited, with bikes shipped in special wooden crates carrying a special MGS-01 logo on the outside and a personalized spiral-bound and owners, parts and maintenance manual. Moto Guzzi continues to supply engines to Ghezzi & Brian for their own line of production custom bikes.

Recent awards and victories

  • Norge, August 31, 2007: Winner, Granturismo category, "Motorcycle of the Year Awards" by Motociclismo
  • California Vintage and Bellagio, August 31, 2007: Cruiser category, second and third after the HD Night Rod, "Motorcycle of the Year Awards" by Motociclismo.
  • The 1200 Sport, 2007: 2nd Place, Naked category, German fortnightly “Motorrad.”
  • Norge, March 2007, "Granturismo of the Year" by the readers of the weekly "Motosprint" and the monthly "In Moto".
  • The 1200 Sport, second place in the Naked Category German fortnightly "Motorrad"
  • At Daytona, Gianfranco Guareschi riding a Moto Guzzi MGS-01 Corsa twice won The Formula 1 class of the BOT (Battle of Twins) race on 6 and 7 March 2006.
  • MGS-01 Corsa: October 2006: Gianfranco Guareschi, riding a Moto Guzzi MGS01, became Italian Supertwins Champion.

Historic models

The company has produced over fifty models since its inception. One of its most famous machines has been the Le Mans. This model was a further development of the 1971 750 V7 Sport designed by Guzzi engineer Lino Tonti. The V7 Sport was planned as the first five speed, 200 kg (440 lb), 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph), production motorcycle. It signified a major step forward in the design of a more sporting Guzzi, with a more compact frame being made possible by replacement of the dynamo, sitting high between the cylinders, with an alternator sited on the end of the crank at the front of the engine. The 750S and 750 S3 followed, but it was the 850 Le Mans, with its disc brakes and additional displacement, that lived up to the promise of the V7 Sport and really caught the public's imagination. When the Le Mans debuted in 1976 it was among the 5 best performing road bikes available.

Six versions of the Le Mans have been produced, designated: Le Mans, Le Mans Mk II, Le Mans Mk III, LeMans Mk IV, Le Mans Mk V and V11 Le Mans. The Le Mans, II and III are 850 cc, the IV and V are 1,000 cc and the V11 Le Mans is 1,064 cc. The first two models had rounded air-cooling fins on the barrels while the latter have squared fins (known as "round-fin" and "square-fin"). All models have shaft drive. Early models use 36 mm or 40 mm Dell'Orto carburettors but the late model V11 Le Mans are fuel injected. All the machines in this series are highly regarded for their styling and performance.

Moto Guzzi introduced the California models in 1972, based on the model sold to the Los Angeles Police Department – combining European performance and maneuverability coupled with American styling. The California remained popular throughout the 1980s and 1990s and remains in the US Moto Guzzi range as theCalifornia Vintage.

Model Capacity Production
Normale 498.4 cc 1921 1924
Sport 15 498.4 cc 1923 1928
GT "Norge" 498.4 cc 1928 1930
Sport 14 498.4 cc 1929 1930
Sport 15 498.4 cc 1931 1939
GT 17 500 cc 499 cc 1932 1939
GTS 498.4 cc 1934 1940
Alce 498.4 cc 1939 1945
Egretta 247 cc 1939 1940
Airone 246 cc 1939 1957
Dondolino 500 cc 499 cc 1946 1951
Motoleggera 65 cc 64 cc 1946 1954
Astore 498.4 cc 1949 1953
Falcone 498.4 cc 1950 1967
Galletto 160/175/192 159/175/192 cc 1950 1966
Cardellino 65 65 cc 1954 1956
Cardellino 73 73 cc 1956 1962
Cardellino 83 83 cc 1962 1965
Zigolo 98 cc 1953 1966
Lodola Sport 175 cc 1956 1966
Stornello 125/160 123.1/160 cc 1960 1975
Dingo 3 marce 48.89 cc 1963 1976
Dingo 4 marce 48.89 cc 1963 1976
Trotter Special M 48.89 cc 1966 1973
V7 700cc 703 cc 1967 1977
V750 Ambassador/V750 Special 757 cc 1968 1972
V7 750 Sport 748 cc 1971 1974
850 T (Interceptor) 844.05 cc 1974 1975
850 T3 844.05 cc 1975 1979(?)
850 Eldorado/850GT/California 844 cc 1972 1975
Nuovo Falcone 500 499 cc 1971 1976
Le Mans 850 844.05 cc 1975 1978
850 Le Mans II 844.05 cc 1979 1981
1000 SP 948.8 cc 1977 1985
V50 490.29 cc 1977 1979
V35 346.2 cc 1977 1980
V1000 Convert 948.8 cc 1975 1984
V1000 G5   1979 1985
V50 Monza 490.29 cc 1980 1985
Le Mans III 844 cc 1981 1984
California II 948.8 cc 1981 1987
V65 643.4 cc 1982 1987
V35 Custom 346.2 cc 1982 1987
850 T5 844.05 cc 1983 1987
V65 Lario 643.4 cc 1984 1989
Le Mans 1000 948.8 cc 1985 1991
California III 948.8 cc 1987 1993
Mille GT & Strada 949 cc 1987 1991
Nevada 350 346.2 cc 1991 2001
Daytona 1000 IE 992 cc 1992 1999
1100 Sport 1,064 cc 1995 1997*
V10 Centauro 992 cc 1996 2001
Quota 1000 948.8 cc 1992 1997
Quota 1100 ES 1,064 cc 1998 2001
V11 Sport/V11 Le Mans 1,064 cc 1998 2006
  • The last year of the 1100 Sport was fuel injected.

Racing models

  • C 4V (500 cc) 1924–1927
  • 250 cc SS 1928–1933
  • 500 cc GT2VT 1931-1934
  • 250 cc Compressore 1938
  • Albatros (250 cc) 1928–1933
  • Bicilindrica (500 cc) 1933–1951
  • Dondolino (500 cc) 1946–1951
  • Gambalunga (500 cc) 1946–1951
  • Gambalunghino (250 cc) 1949–1952
  • Quattro Cilindri (500 cc) 1952–1954
  • Bialbero (250 cc) 1953–1955
  • Bialbero (350 cc) 1954–1957
  • Otto Cilindri (500 cc V8) 1955–1957 (in 1957 Moto Guzzi ceased racing)
  • MGS-01 Corsa (1225 cc) 2004–

Military models

  • G.T. 17 (500 cc) 1932 - 1939
  • G.T. 20 (500 cc) 1938
  • Alce (500 cc) 1939 - 1945
  • Trialce (500 cc) (motocarro) 1940 - 1943
  • Superalce (500 cc) 1946 - 1957
  • Falcone militare (500 cc) 1950 - 1967
  • Airone militare (250 cc) 1940 - 1957
  • Autoveicolo da montagna 3 X 3 (754 cc) 1960 - 1963
  • V7 militare (700, 750, 850, 1,100 cc) 1967 - 20..
  • Nuovo Falcone militare (500 cc) 1970 - 1976
  • V 50 PA (500, 350, 650 cc) 1983 - 20..
  • 750 NTX (750 cc) 1990 - 20..
  • Breva 750 2006 Municipal Police Model