Moto Guzzi The Clan

The history of Moto Guzzi military bikes

It was 1928 when Moto Guzzi first began supplying the Italian armed forces. The initial lot of standard G.T. 500 bikes had very few modifications. But over time it became essential to alter the bikes to suit the army’s needs. The most essential features proved to be agility and an ability to adapt to all kinds of terrain.

Let’s take a look at the history of the military bikes produced by the Eagle marque, as documented in “Moto Guzzi” by Mario Colombo (published by Giorgio Nada Editore).

The G.T. 17

Moto Guzzi’s first real military bike was launched in 1932. It was used in the 1935-36 African campaign, where it proved to be a true ally for the Italian army. It was derived from the G.T., which later became the civilian G.T. 16. While the engine was the same (a single cylinder horizontal version), the combustion chamber now had three “traps” to stop broken head valves falling into the cylinder. This feature led to Guzzi bikes being used during combat, as side-valve engines were thought to be safer.

The G.T. 17’s chassis was also very similar to the G.T. 16’s, although the rear suspension could also be adjusted to suit the load in the two-seater version. In most cases two overlapping silencers were fitted, and different equipment could be added to suit the deployment. This ranged from baggage holders, ammunitions drawers, an attachment for transporting machine guns and even a submachine gun connector for the handlebars.



Moto Guzzi’s military bike par excellence, the successor to the G.T. 20 which evolved from the G.T. 17. 6,390 Alce bikes were produced in total. It was allocated to every regiment as a reconnaissance vehicle and column leader, and supplied entire motorcycle rifle regiments.

The Alce’s engine had opposed valves and a four-speed gearbox with hand-controlled selector. Its chassis was redesigned to provide greater ground clearance (an impressive 210 mm) and a smaller wheelbase. Once again, a wide variety of equipment was available to reflect different military needs. A sidecar version was also produced with a spring-mounted third wheel – a real rarity for its time. After the War it remained in service with the Italian Army and Highway Police, before being replaced by the Moto Guzzi Falcone in 1955.


The Trialce was a small three-wheeler with two rear wheels and chain and differential drive. It was assigned to various units, including the parachute regiment, which ordered a special modular version. A total of 1,741 were produced between 1940 and 1943 for deployment in Corsica, Africa and Greece. Some of the bikes were specially fitted with machine guns on the rear. It proved essential for rifle regiments, especially those fighting in Russia.



Moto Guzzi’s last military bike – an updated version of the Alce – was produced after the Second World War up to 1957. The engine had exposed, inclined twin overhead valves with the same layout as the V series engines. The pedal-controlled gearbox was front meshing on prototypes known as the Alce V and later had a sliding mechanism. Few modifications were made to the chassis: the most important was the return of the load adjuster for the rear suspension.

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