Old Bike Australasia: Moto Guzzi Falcone – Italian Stallion – Shannons Club

31 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Old Bike Australasia: Moto Guzzi Falcone – Italian Stallion – Shannons Club
Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport
Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport

Old Bike Australasia: Moto Guzzi Falcone – Italian Stallion

Story: Jim Scaysbrook Photos: Garry Pratt, Keith Bryen and Jim Scaysbrook

It can be a bit tricky, identifying a real Falcone, because although the model was produced from 1950 to 1963, those that survive today have had their provenance somewhat diluted by restorers who have converted, at least cosmetically, the more plentiful ex-police and ex-military Turismo models into the far more desirable Falcone.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because any appraisal of the Falcone needs to start at the very beginning of Moto Guzzi itself, 90 years ago. The basic 500 cc design that would endure as the Falcone until 1963 started out as the 500 cc Normale (‘Standard’), which itself was a toneddown production version of the delicious 4-valve bevel-driven single overhead camshaft prototype designed by Carlo Guzzi and financed by Giorgio Parodi.

Referred to as the GP (for Guzzi-Parodi), the prototype was ‘productionised’ to the extent that the cast iron cylinder head on the horizontal single became 2-valve, exhaust-over-inlet design with the side inlet valve controlled by a coil spring while the exhaust valve used a hairpin spring. Quoted power output of the 88 x 82 mm bore and stroke engine was 8 hp with a weight of 278 lb (103 kg). Instead of the pressure-fed oiling system on the GP, the Normale used total-loss.

The twin front downtube frame used a rigid rear end with un-damped girder front forks. The company name was also changed to Moto Guzzi as Parodi felt the GP appellation might be confused with his own initials.

For the initial production year, only 17 examples of the dark olive green Normale were produced. Quite separate from the bread-and-butter production machines, special racing versions beginning with the overhead valve C2V and later the 4-valve C4V were built and were highly successful in record breaking and road racing. The C2V was actually produced to special order and were popular with the privateers who could afford them.

The next two decades were a time of constant evolution for the Normale, which quickly became the Sport. The Sport was offered with lights as an extra, and a front brake as standard, while engine tweaks pushed the power up to 13 hp at 3,800 rpm. In 1928, the Sport was joined by the Grand Tourismo (GT) which boasted a frame with swinging arm rear suspension, the springing controlled by rods operating springs in a box beneath the engine unit.

The sprung frame concept was, however, slow to catch on with the buying public, although when the racing C4V began to achieve success with this design, sales of the GT picked up.

1928 also saw the up-rated Sport 14 introduced, still with the rigid frame but offered with magneto ignition and a Miller dynamo. A road-going production version of the C2V racer, the 2VT, came on stream in 1930, offering the extra performance of the OHV engine and restyling that included a modern saddle-style fuel tank. This became the GT 2VT in 1934, using the sprung frame.

Meanwhile, the mainstay model, still using the venerable exhaust-over-inlet valve arrangement, became the Sport 15 in 1931 and endured until 1939 as the biggest selling model in the range.

The mid 1930s saw Moto Guzzi branch out into the construction of a model specifically designed for military use; the GT 17. Various configurations were available, including those with armament mounts. The GT 17 also found favour with police departments in Europe.

Meanwhile, the production 500 was extensively redesigned for 1934 to become the 500V, using overhead valves with hairpin springs, a fourspeed gearbox and with power up to 18 hp at 4,300 rpm. The girder front forks gained friction dampers, while both rigid and sprung framed (GTV) versions were offered. Still reluctant to completely abandon the e-o-I design, the original style engine was available as the no-frills 500S and the sprung frame GTS.

Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport

It was sound business sense, as the workhorse model easily outsold the sportier versions.

From the rather bewildering array of 500 cc models available prior to Italy’s intervention in WW2 in 1940, just two, the GTV and the GTW were built when postwar production recommenced at Mandello del Lario. The former morphed into the Astore in 1950, while the sportier GTW became the Falcone soon after. By now, production of the 500s was slow compared to the lightweight models in the range, with only a few hundred Falcones produced each year.

Closely styled on the beautiful racing Dondalino (literally meaning ‘Sway’ but reputedly named because the machine had a tendency to weave at top speed in a straight line), the new Falcone featured Guzzi’s own ‘upside down’ telescopic front forks, while at the rear the unloved hydraulic dampers gave way to friction damping for the swinging arm. Alloy Borrani rims, as fitted to the pre-war racing Condor added to the sporting touch, but the biggest news was in the completely redesigned engine.

Finally, the valve gear was enclosed, with lightened flywheels and con rod. Breathing through a racing-type Dell’Orto SS 29A carburettor, the new engine made 23 hp at 4,500 rpm. Many of the Dondolino’s trick engine bits higher compression piston, higher-lift cams and a larger carburettor could be easily fitted to the Falcone to produce a very spirited mount. Weight had been trimmed to 176 kg and top speed pushed slightly to 135 km/h.

By 1953 the Airone had become the sedate version of what was now called the Falcone Sport, called the Falcone Turismo and producing a leisurely 19 hp.

Detail changes were made for the next decade, although production remained modest; 1960 being the peak of production with around 1,150 Falcones produced. The end of the Falcone officially came in late 1963, but there were still military and police markets to supply, and in 1967 the model was relaunched, at least in name as the Nuovo Turismo, using the Falcone Sport engine, still with the 280 mm external flywheel and fitted with windshield and legshields.

Less than 1,000 were produced prior to the end of 1968. But still demand persisted from official quarters, and the result was the Nuovo Falcone with the basic engine tidied up and with the trademark outside flywheel enclosed, in a completely new and more modern chassis. This engine featured wet sump lubrication for the first time, a 12-volt coilignition electrical system and an optional extra electric starter.

All these refinements added considerably to the bulk with the result that the Nuovo Falcone tipped the scales at 214 kg. In this form it continued until 1976 but for the Moto Guzzi purists, the real Falcone died in the European winter of 1963 after an amazing existence dating back 42 years.

Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport


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