From the C 2V to the legendary Eight Cylinder, the history of Moto Guzzi is full of bikes and victories. The first came in 1921, in the prestigious Targa Florio and from then until 1957, when it retired from competitive racing, the Eagle was to see many prestigious wins. These included 14 world speed records and 11 Tourist Trophies.
But which motorcycles brought success to this bike brand from Mandello? Let’s find out by reading their story on the pages of “Moto Guzzi. Novant’anni di arte e tecnologia” (Moto Guzzi. Ninety years of art and technology), a book by Mario Colombo. Tell us which one is your favourite in the comments box!
- C 2V
Designed in 1923 by Carlo Guzzi, the C 2V (Corsa 2 Valvole, or 2-valve race bike) was the first Moto Guzzi built specifically for racing. Its first great victory was in the Giro Motociclistico d’Italia, a 2,300 km race race with special trials.
- 2. C 4V
Although the frame was very similar, one of the differences from the C 2V was its speed. Thanks to technical improvements, the C 4V could reach a speed of 150 km an hour (while the previous model only did a maximum of 120-125). It won its last race in 1932 with Carlo Fumagalli and then raced no longer.
- 3. 250.
This bike was created in 1926 and can be considered a reduced version of the Four Valve (C 4V). It achieved so many victories that its sporting “career” lasted more than 25 years.
- 4. 500 Bicilindrica
Designed to replace the C 4V, this bike was designed in 1933 and debuted in the October of that year with Omobono Tenni, winning its first race with Primo Moretti, on10 December in Naples. It was used at length for racing and, over time, underwent substantial changes. It stopped racing in 1951, after victory by Enrico Lorenzetti in Senigallia.
- 250 Compressore
Launched in 1938, the 250 Compressore won many races. In its first year of racing alone, it notched up 11 victories on the track in Monza. By 1939, it had broken 16 records. It “retired” in 1959, after 21 years.
- 6. Condor
Presented in 1939 at the Motorcycle Show in Milan, this bike collected a many successes and victories. By 1946 however, after a pause due to the war, it was already time for something more powerful, leading to creation of the Dondolino. The latter matched and beat the success of its predecessor, in terms of both competitions and in riders’ favourite. Its great agility gave it an advantage when racing.
Designed by Carlo Guzzi and the engineer Carcano, Albatros was launched in 1939 and saw its first victory in the same year, on the track in Lausanne, thanks also to the skill of Enrico Lorenzetti. It continued to collect victories through to the outbreak of World War Two. Only the racing Albatros was then kept and, thanks to various modifications, it became virtually unbeatable.
- Gambalunga 500
This bike, designed by the engineer Carcano, made its debut on the Superba Track in Genoa, on 8 September, 1946. This race saw rider Luigi Ruggeri forced to drop out when the magneto broke, but just a week later, the Gambalunga raced to its first win on the Walls Track in Bergamo. During its years of production, the Gambalunga underwent some changes, but it was always known as a reliable, flexible, easy to handle bike. Those who rode it included, among others, Lorenzetti, Omobono Tenni and Guido Leoni.
- Gambalunghino 250
Transformation of the Albatros by Lorenzetti and Mastellari—with approval from the engineer Carcano— led to creation of the real Gambalunghino in 1949. Italian and international riders who raced on it included: Bruno Ruffo, Bruno Francisci, Gianni Leoni, and also Fergus Anderson, Mike Barrington and Tommy Wood.
- 4 Cilindri 500
This bike was designed to replace the Bicilindrica. Conception and production was by Carlo Giannini in Rome, helped by his son Giovanni Carlo and other technicians. From Rome, the bike came to Mandello in 1952 and was entrusted to Lorenzetti and Anderson for its initial tests. Following improvements, the 4-Cylinder debuted in 1953 and on 9 May 1954 it set a new lap speed record of 188.800 km/h.
- 250 Bialbero
In late 1950, the manufacturers in Mandello began to experiment on engines and this led to creation of this bike, which in time underwent several transformations. Those 1953 twin cams, mounted on Gambalunghino frames and covered with a “bird beak” fairing proved to be very successful in races.
- 350 and 500 Bialbero
In 1953 it was the 350 Bialbero that won the title of World Champion, a title it continued to bring home until 1957, when it was retired. In addition to the power of its engine, it was also extremely lightweight, easy to handle, stable and aerodynamic, having been tested in the Wind Tunnel. The 500 also achieved good results, even winning the Italian Championship in 1957. It had a top speed of 240 km/h.
- 8 cilindri
This is one of the most legendary, cutting-edge bikes of its time. It competed in the World Championship 500 class in 1956 and in 1957. What was especially amazing about it were its technical components: from its crankshaft with its eight disc cranks, to its Elektron cast crankcase incorporating its two banks of cylinders.