Ognuno

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Moto Guzzi 254

There was a first oil shock at this time, and De Tomaso worked well, especially against the big Ford and Lee Iacocca. He’ve already had a premium car brand of his own name, but I can’t image how he became to be interested in motorcycle market.

He bought Moto Guzzi, but he could not be a only one king. There should be some strong stock holder beside him, and the remnants of SEIMM maybe, too. A few performers seemed to do battled for the benefit of company, or of its own. The company name of frame number plate of Moto Guzzi bikes changes as below :

SEIMM MOTO GUZZI. from SEIMM to De Tomaso era.

GBM (Guzzi Benelli Motor) S.p.A. strong De Tomaso era, from 1988.

MOTO GUZZI S.p.A. after the shrinkage of the effect of De Tomaso.

De Tomaso was a biggest holder, but some management details seemed to be decided by Moto Guzzi itself. So it’s difficult to say clearly which was the De Tomaso’s work, but it can be listed easily as below.

Quitted V7 models and shifted to the models of Tonti frame.

Pushed cost down to make parts common over some models.

Imitated Japanese bikes by In line 4 cylinders or small 2 stroke models. (254, etc.)

Introduced small V twin models. (Imora, Monza, Lario, etc.)

New design concept following the 4 wheel cars trend. (T5, etc.)

Introduced mode design like 16 inch front wheel. (LeMans 1000, etc.)

Released spine frame models. (Daytona, etc.)

Left. 400GTV (It’s not HONDA, perhaps. )

Right. 256 (Its engine rounds up to 10,000rpm, at this era !)

(both from ref. No. 1)

Japanese were already majority at this time, so it must be difficult to keep motorbike makers. But his attitude doesn’t show positiveness so much. It seems that his interest was focused to the efficiency of his facility and business benefit, not bike itself.

Someone says De Tomaso hated imitation, but the examples above prove opposite. He introduced Daytona, but he had no interest to provide new Moto Guzzi bike to the market. His intention was just to change the Dr.

John’s result in AMA to the company’s benefit. His blood seems to be always cool.

And now you can see the Benelli and Innocenti fab. was closed till the end of 1990’s, and the remained are only the Moto Guzzi V twins. That was the result of his work for motorcycle business.

Remaining models of Moto Guzzi, California or LeMans etc. are the result of proper management of Moto Guzzi itself, not the direction of De Tomaso. On the contrary, some cosmetic features, like front 16 inch of LeMans1000, look too rough and crude against the matured essence of Moto Guzzi motorcycles.

Maybe he kept and defended Moto Guzzi, but as a result, Moto Guzzi seemed to be taken into the dark image of De Tomaso. Someone, including Dr. John, says that he loved Moto Guzzi, but I can’t image how he loved it.

He’s already dead in May 2003, so none can ask this question to him. But if I could ask it, his answer would be very cold and flat compared to the everything he did to Moto Guzzi. It’s just my image, because my dark image for him, and that is, my prejudice, perhaps.

How did you love Moto Guzzi, and why. (photo from ref. No. 1)

4.2 Moto Guzzi middle Vs

Middle range Moto Guzzi can be divided into 2 groups.

First group is the 4 cylinders and 2 cycles bikes which is common to Benelli brand. They are also similar to the Japanese bikes, so they could not appeal to the customers much, even though there were some unique examples like 254 (231 cc), that’s power is 27.8ps/10,500rpm in 1977.

Second group is the transverse V twin models similar to their elder brothers. It began with the V50 in 1977, and that was followed by many younger brothers, including various type, american, cruiser, off road, and sport model, and that’s continuing its production even now.

In Japan there was a strong regulation for motorcycle driving license to limit the displacement under 400 cc, so V35 or V40 were few choice of foreign bike. Some younger Japanese riders did enjoy these tiny and cozy Italian bikes, and seemed to being awakened to the Italian joy that’s a bit different from ones of Japanese.

Small Vs were also developed by Tonti’s team. Its architecture is similar to the big Vs, but Tonti made both of various new technical challenge and omission under the limitation of De Tomaso in it. Its technical story would very interesting, but it would be too long so I’d finish with a brief impression of it.

Small Vs are modest for its displacement, but it runs enough fast. It cruses almost same speed as bigger Vs, so you wouldn’t be so late if you ride it in Moto Guzzi group touring. It’s light so you can ride it easily, and its fine handling makes you fun, it doesn’t have powerful force though. Most of my friends who loves small Vs are very silent, but confident, and something established.

It would fit for practical riders like them, I think.

V40 Capri (from the ad of tire maker in 1986)

4.3 Spine frame models and after

Dr. John Witner (left) and rider Greg Smrz (1985, ref. No. 3)

At the end of 1980’s, there was a man who’s getting good results with tuned Moto Guzzi LeMans in AMA. He is Dr. John Witner, who was a dentist, but then he’s a deepest enthusiast of racing motorcycle.

He began to make a new frame for LeMans with some collaborator, racing or mechanical specialists.

Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254

That frame was made up with the plates holding swing arm pivot and spine which passes between the V cylinders. Cross section of that spine was rectangle to get sufficient stiffness. Engine was hung below that spine.

He made this frame for a purposed to ease chassis alignment design.

An racer of Dr. John, in 1987. (ref. No. 6)

De Tomaso approached him and his backbone frame. He proposed new OHC 4 valve V twin and some financial support. After that, this bike began to runs on Moto Guzzi test course rather than U.S. circuit, and you might see secured Dr.

John working hard beside that bike.

Well, you know, this is the beginning of the Daytona project.

There were some reasons that made this development hard, which is, reliability of high performance new engine, optimization of chassis alignment, adapting to the high load of radial tires, and tried to solve all these problems at one time.

It was difficult to get a reliable air cooled engine over 100ps. Some references say that the engine head durability problem was so tough.

Chassis alignment design was also difficult. They could not change transmission, i.e. drive shaft output point. It should be kept high to maintain good rear suspension attitude.

So, they could not change engine mount position, even though Dr. John wanted to lower it. Beside, fat radial tire put the drive shaft outer, then all the engine unit was mounted a bit shifted to the right.

Its heart is a bit shifted, same to human body. (ref. No. 3)

Also the high load of tires made problem. Transverse V twin architecture has high front load, so Moto Guzzi bikes have ability to manage fat radial tires. But now, there’s only one backbone rod to bear with the load.

Rectangle cross section was good for bend of standing brake, but too nervous for torsion of cornering.

All these tortured development team, and their work have continued after its engine was changed to the conventional OHV V twin, which was the answer to market request for more modest model.

These Daytona and Sports are very sporty, but it’s not easy to ride it at all. You can’t expect any easiness like Japanese bikes. You must be tough to ride against, and if you could it, it’s a brilliant proof of ability, maybe.

Beside, you can enjoy it as a sports tourer, like the other model of Moto Guzzi. It shows good tradition of Moto Guzzi too.

Dr. John after a big job (with a bit tired smile. ) (ref. No. 6)

After that, spine GUZZI was refreshed with new transmission, then derived new LeMans. And recently, it’s updated architecture, which is the new Breva 1100 with brand-new frames.

All these models will be familiar to the both of old GUZZI fans and younger keen bikers. I see Moto Guzzi continues to advance, and I hope it will serve to the riders joy of all over the world forever.

It’s very slim as a 850 cc bike. And newest model may fit to you with a sense like that.

Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254


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