Moto Guzzi V50 buying used – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice – bikepoint.c…

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Moto Guzzi V50 Monza II

Moto Guzzi V50 buying used (May 2000)


Guzzi’s 500cc twins developed a small but exceptionally dedicated following in this country, with good reason. Cared for, the machines provide super-reliable performance with good handling in a package that suits lighter-weight riders. Wome

Moto Guzzi began serious development of its mid-range air-cooled twin series in 1972. It would be a mistake to regard the V35/50/65 series bikes as shrunken versions of the marque’s big-bore bikes. Lino Tonti was the designer, under the auspices of De Tomaso.

The 350 versions never made it to Australia as official imports and we’ll restrict this story to the V50 series – the 650s are a whole different nest of chooks.

Among the many technical advances with the 500cc bikes (over the V7 series they were ‘fathered’ by) was the move to horizontally-split crankcases, and the fact you could change the oil filter without dropping the sump.

V50s were produced in many guises – for this exercise, the term V50 describes the ‘naked’ bikes and V50 Monza the machines with bikini fairing.

There is some confusion over what was imported locally and when. The best info we can find suggests the V50 was imported 1977-79, V50II 1980, V50III 1981-85. V50 Monza was imported 1980-83 and Monza II 1984-85.

The V50 series was eventually overtaken by the 65 (650cc) group, with the first of the latter being shown at Milan in 1980. Australia saw its first V65s in the 1981 model year.

On the road

It can be argued that the mid-range Guzzis were always sweeter than the big ‘uns – the torque reaction to the throttle generated by the longitudinal crank is considerably less, and the overall package is a much easier one to deal with. You still have the peculiar and enjoyable lilt of the V-twin working away, in a package that is as satisfying as the Morinis and Dukes of the time, but in a more workwoman-like way.

Overall packaging is compact, with neutral steering characteristics and better than average suspension for the time. Linked brakes were something of a Guzzi trend, and are still of doubtful value. Particularly when allied to the remote cable-operated front master cylinder of the early models. Yes, they stopped, but feel was very ordinary until Guzzi switched to a handlebar-mounted brake master cylinder.

In any case, they are generations behind today’s tackle.

Performance is adequate. For the early versions, the powerplant claimed 45 horses, bumped up to 48 for the Monzas and V50IIIs. The slight numerical difference is amplified on the road, however, with the latter machines feeling a lot more willing.

Expect a top speed of around 150kmh for the early versions, and about 160 for the Monzas and MkIIIs.

Seating position on the V series is ‘normal’ and upright, while the Monzas run a more leaned-forward stance – still nothing radical by today’s standards. They are comfortable all-rounders for one person, but loading them up with a passenger and all the travelling kit is really pushing your luck.

In the workshop

Like most Guzzis, these things are ridiculously simple to maintain. Change the assorted oils, and set the four tappets (easily reached) every 10,000 for a gently-ridden example (half that for hard-ridden bikes). Forget points, as Bosch electronic ignition was on the job.

A full tune and service takes the experienced home mechanic a morning, requiring the minimum number of tools. For the uninitiated, this is a good bike to learn some basic workshop skills on. It’s important with this bike that gear (shaft) oil is changed periodically (every 20,000km) – something that is often let lapse by owners.

Quality control with the entire series was ordinary, and the exact spec of bikes often varied according to the week or month they were built. Having said that, the remaining fleet is old enough to have the worst of bugs sorted by now.

Electrics were pretty good by Italian standards of the time and are generally reliable. The things an owner needs to watch are the fork seals on early models, and the health of the chrome on all series. Plastics and paint are also a concern, particularly if the bike is not kept under cover.

Moto Guzzi V50 Monza II
Moto Guzzi V50 Monza II

It is likely that the fork legs will require rechroming at some stage and that the exhaust system will be on the way out. If you buy a used one, it’s more likely you’ll spend money fixing the cosmetics than the mechanicals. The latter are robust.

Which model?

Monza (both versions) and V50III are definitely the pick of the lottery. Regardless of which model you look at, the overall condition of the bike should be the determining factor.

The powerplant is mechanically quiet, for an air-cooled twin, so treat rattly ones with deep suspicion. If you’re uncertain about what you’re listening to, seek advice.

Finding one for sale at all will be the real challenge. They sold in small numbers and owners tend to hang on to them, even if they’re not being used. Relatively low miles for the age (under 100,000km), with just two or three owners, are the norm.


Owners of this series tend to leave the bikes alone. You might find replacement rear shocks, or pipes. In this case, original equipment will always be worth more than exotic hot-up bits. Period aftermarket pipes are acceptable, but not much else.

We’d always go for a bike with a carefully restored paint job in preference to something with pointless engine mods.


By far the most useful resource is Ian Falloon’s recently published The Moto Guzzi Story (published by Haynes). It’s the definitive marque history and has a surprising amount of technical info on this model. (Guy Allen)

Published. Thursday, 11 May 2000

Moto Guzzi V50 Monza II

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