Retrospective: Moto Guzzi Eldorado 850: 1972-1974 Rider Magazine

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Moto Guzzi 850 T 4

Retrospective: Moto Guzzi 850: 1972-1974

Photo Clement Salvadori


October 4, 2012

Change can be even when it’s When Moto Guzzi the ante with the 850 Eldorado, the 750 Ambassador, it was all good.

The new model had a larger engine, another in the transmission, neither anything to about. This was a big, motorcycle that handled well, if a bit slowly. Any go-fast wanting really refined would buy the race-worthy companion, the V7

1973 Moto Guzzi 850.

Slide a leg across the turn on the two petcocks which the two Dell’Orto 29mm square-slide do a little tickling, turn the key up by the use the choke if cold, push the button, sparks fly through an distributor, and a very nice comes out of the two mufflers. Pull in the toe the shift lever up (or heel it to first gear, gently the clutch, and the rider is away, Shift at 5,000 rpm, and by the one gets to fifth the speedometer is 100 mph.

A little history here. Guzzi began building after World War I and was justifiably for its 500cc single-cylinder machines, the laying flat, pointing After World War II the factory, had escaped Allied bombing, as before, but these models getting a bit long in the tooth.

In the a number of two-… and four-… all under 250cc, were catering to the demand for inexpensive transportation.

1973 Moto Eldorado 850.

Along 1959, the Italian government the company to produce a utilitarian for military use, which it powering it with a low-revving, 754cc 90-degree V-twin had loads of torque but only 20 at 4,000 rpm. After contract ended, the factory what could be done this efficient, low-maintenance Then the government announced it was looking for a reliable motorcycle for the and police, from any Italian one proviso was that the engine be for at least 100,000 kilometers miles) without needing repairs.

Guzzi engineers rapidly up with the idea of putting the between two wheels and giving it horsepower. The engine was reduced to with a bore of 80mm, 70mm, and at 6,000 rpm generated 50 horses. The government loved it, and out contracts. Soon, civilians demanding a chance to own this

The V7 appeared at the Milan show in 1965, and soon got a reputation for bulletproof.

1973 Moto Eldorado 850.

The engine was low in the tubular, double-cradle frame, fattish 18 x 4.00 tires good grip in the curves. The was up in the crotch of the Vee, minimizing the of the pushrods. Six pints of oil went the wet sump, with an excellent system sending it wherever At the front of the engine a belt was to drive a big 300-watt Marelli that sat between the cylinders.

Under the saddle was a 32-amp/hour and on the left side was a Marelli starter motor; this may been the first motorcycle to with just an electric no kickstarter back-up like and all the Japanese had. The big battery was to boost the rider’s confidence.

A friction, two plain—clutch carried the from the longitudinal crankshaft to the gearbox, and then via shaft to the wheel. One entertaining note: the V7s had straight-cut gears, which exceptionally noisy, but by March of ’68 gears were being everybody’s satisfaction.

For 1969, the was bored out to 757cc, and a model for the market—with newly required headlight—was called the Ambassador. New heads were used, a higher compression ratio, helped up the horsepower to 60. In June of a much modified Ambassador 145 mph on the Monza racetrack.

Moto Guzzi 850 T 4
Moto Guzzi 850 T 4

1973 Moto Guzzi 850.

Two years later the was stroked to 844cc, compression to 9.2:1, and the Eldorado was created. model actually had two names, one the 850GT (Gran Turismo) in and the Eldorado for the American market. Guzzi’s American importer, Berliner’s Premier Motor was going to give Harley-Davidson a bit of for the lucrative police contracts.

the Eldorado had a lot of touring potential, with that maintenance-free drive. A full-dress version, the California, became available, a windscreen, saddlebags and a host of touring amenities, rather Harley’s Electra Glide. The aftermarket had already picked up on the model, offering handlebar travel trunks…all the regalia riders loved.

For a minor the Harley FLH weighed in at close to 800 while the Guzzi Eldorado was 600 pounds. Both engines OHV V-twins and both claimed 65 horsepower, but the Harley was 1,200cc, the 850. The FLH’s wheelbase was 61 inches, while the Eldo was a far 58 inches—very useful when U-turns, which police were often called to do. And there was the matter of price—with the going for $2,500, the Guzzi for

In the early 1970s, the Los Angeles Department bought a slew of as did the California Highway Patrol and constabulary forces across the Berliner did achieve his goal in a way, though he did not come to unseating Harley’s police

1973 Moto Guzzi 850.

The Eldo was aimed at the who wanted to cover long without pain. A long seat was available for solo while a plush dual was available for two-up touring. fenders kept the rain and grime at bay. The brakes of the drum variety, using a shoe on the front and single-leading on the rear; both drums identical at 8.7 inches in diameter, 1.7 wide.

Several overly test riders complained brake fade after a of hard stops, and options available. One was the four-leading shoe brake from the V7 Sport, being a Brembo single

However, new management at Guzzi to play up the sporty side of and dropped the touring Eldorado in of the 850T late in 1974, the T the V7 Sport frame and abbreviated And the police market went

(This Retrospective article was in the October 2012 issue of magazine.)

Moto Guzzi 850 T 4
Moto Guzzi 850 T 4
Moto Guzzi 850 T 4
Moto Guzzi 850 T 4
Moto Guzzi 850 T 4

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