Moto Guzzi light

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Moto Guzzi. Mandello. Thick, extremely reliable, tough V twins of usually between 700 and almost 1000 cc. That's how we know our classic Guzzis. Yes!

But Moto Guzzi needed more to be able to continue to pay for the pasta

And after all, it has always been the case worldwide that the smaller cylinder capacities led to the higher sales figures. That is about the fact that lighter engines are less expensive. And that there were also all kinds of tax rules in Italy that meant that you as a motorcyclist were taxed extra depending on whether your motorcycle was heavier, had a larger cylinder capacity or more power. And that's why Moto Guzzi also made lighter bikes. Fortunately, those little Guzzis did have the characteristic transversely mounted air-cooled 90-degree V-twin blocks.

And the small Guzzis were there from 350 cc

The idea for small V-twins had been around for some time: in 1972, 350 and 500 cc V-twins were already tested in a V7 Sport frame. The V35's engine was not a scaled-down version of the heavy twins, but a whole new design from Lino Tonti. The then current clean lines can be found in the shapes of the block: the cylinders were given a 'square' appearance. The frame was also completely new. The engine had to be redesigned, because it had to be smaller but also cheaper to produce. Still, such a small Guzzi was not cheap or cheap. In addition, he was one of the few in his segment to have a shaft drive instead of a chain. And Guzzi was the only one with the integral braking system. When the V35 was presented it was not the first in its segment. In most European countries, buyers' interest was already turning to heavier models, but in Italy the 350 cc motorcycles remained popular for a long time. Most of the 'light' Guzzis came to our country through fairs such as Imola. That popularity for the small Guzzis was very limited here to the 650 'Nevada' models. The little brothers of the California's. The small blocks grew to 750 cc.

Maybe also interesting: Moto Guzzi DIY, Jan's Guzzi

A matter of character

Italians are genius. And often geniuses are incomprehensible to normal people. Of course it is ingenious to make the lower frame tubes removable. For example, dismantling the block is a breeze. Because those pipes are attached to the block, the heat transfer between block and frame is quite serious. If you mount the bearing of the brake pedal on those hot tubes and do that with a somewhat tight fit? Then the brake locks when the block is hot. Those kind of things. In the case of the surviving specimens, the wear and tear due to use will meanwhile have solved the problem. But still ... The leg of the centerstand made sure that the clearance on that side was very limited. Fortunately the thing breaks off after a few long, fast turns. That made jacking less easy ....

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Just be careful with…

I once bought a - neatly disassembled - 650 cc block for the famous 'little'. Complete with a new gasket set and spark plugs. I thought I would do a favor with a V50 Nato. The block turned out to have crankshaft bearing damage. And Guzzi did not deliver undersized bearing shells. That crankshaft bearing damage is apparently a thing: there are no almost good used crankshafts to be found. That was a case of 'a waste of that 100 euros' and a learning moment.

Greedy or not?

As yet, there are no indications that the lighter Guzzi models will be worth gold in the future. You will find very neat copies for prices that make you happy. At least if your wishes are for a fun, lighter classic without a tough, brutal look, but with a pleasant deployability. With a V35 you are just too fast for cycle paths. The Nato 500s now have their own circle of friends. But there are still little Guzzis that have been for sale for years. And the fact that an Imola or such an early all road is just heart-conquering does not detract from that. Think of amounts between 1.500-2.500 euros for a copy that you can be proud of.

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350 cc And definitely bigger than a Kreidler ... But still very small for someone of 188 centimeters and 200 pounds



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  1. I drove a v83III between the beginning of '88 and the end of '50. I didn't have a car at the time, so on the bike day in, day out, even in that cold winter of '84. Was just fulfilling my army duty at the time. On the weekends we drove to the Ardennes, gathered at 10 am, all the lights on the dashboard were on, have a nice day in the Ardennes, everyone drove home in the bends ”in my eyes” back home in the evening, none light, dashboard or street lighting that still went! Had many minor and major breakdowns, but still in mind almost 40 years later. Already had better engines, but still. . . I would like such a v65 now 🙂

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