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Happy 100th Birthday to Moto Guzzi

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the iconic Italian motorcycle manufacturer Moto Guzzi. The anniversary is being celebrated by the company in a number of ways, culminating in Moto Guzzi World Days in Mandello del Lario from September 9 to 12 of this year. According to Moto Guzzi, it has been “A century of history, splendid motorcycles, triumphs, adventures and extraordinary personalities, who together built the legendary Eagle Brand.

Moto Guzzi occupies a special place in the heart of MD and its editor, Dirck Edge. Motorcycles are not all about power-to-weight ratios, massive horsepower or the latest electronic rider aids. In the end, to the experienced rider, they are about the feeling one gets when riding the bike. For many of us, this is where Moto Guzzi excels.

So, happy birthday to Moto Guzzi and best wishes for the next 100 years. Here is a press release, followed by two videos to mark the centennial.

1921 – 2021, MOTO GUZZI CELEBRATES ITS CENTENARY ON 15 MARCH

A CENTURY OF MOTORCYCLING HISTORY CONSTANTLY AT THE CUTTING EDGE, WITH THE ABILITY TO INNOVATE WHILE KEEPING FAITH WITH VALUES AND TRADITIONS

PIAGGIO GROUP CHAIRMAN AND CEO ROBERTO COLANINNO: “THE MOTO GUZZI CENTENARY IS A PROUD MOMENT FOR ITALIAN INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE. TODAY THE BRAND IS ENJOYING A FRESH NEW SEASON OF SUCCESS AND CONTINUES TO INSPIRE GENUINE PASSION IN BIKERS ALL OVER THE WORLD”

A HOST OF MOTO GUZZI INITIATIVES TO MARK THE ANNIVERSARY, CULMINATING IN MOTO GUZZI WORLD DAYS IN MANDELLO DEL LARIO FROM 9 TO 12 SEPTEMBER 

Mandello del Lario, March 2021 – On 15 March 2021, Moto Guzzi will celebrate its first legendary 100 years.

A Moto Guzzi advertisement from the 1920’s alongside the V9 Bobber Centenario.

A century of history, splendid motorcycles, triumphs, adventures and extraordinary personalities, who together built the legendary Eagle Brand. Moto Guzzi celebrates this exceptional milestone at a time when it is enjoying a fresh new season of success.

The motorcycle range has been extensively renewed, with the deployment of state-of-the-art technical features in terms of electronic rider aids, while the brand values of style and authenticity have been kept intact. Each Moto Guzzi motorbike is constructed at the Mandello del Lario plant with craftsmanlike care and commitment to a unique, authentic identity, skillfully balancing the classic Moto Guzzi style with cutting-edge technology and reflecting a construction philosophy that creates an exclusive relationship between the bike and the rider.

Piaggio Group Chairman and CEO Roberto Colaninno said: “The Moto Guzzi centenary is a proud moment both for the Piaggio Group, which was joined by the Eagle brand in 2004, and for Italian industry as a whole, not just the motorcycling sector. A capacity for innovation, boldness in moving ahead of the times, a competitive spirit, love for the product and meticulous attention to production quality are the skills that over the years Moto Guzzi has combined with its unique relationship with the local community. Ever since 1921, every Moto Guzzi bike that has gone out into the world has been built at the Mandello factory, the place where the company was set up exactly one hundred years ago. All this will continue through its second century of history. Moto Guzzi is an example of all-Italian excellence,” added Colaninno. “It has gone down in our country’s history without ever losing its youthful spirit and continues to inspire genuine passion among thousands of Guzzi bikers all over the world.”

The eagle logo, the unmistakable Moto Guzzi emblem, has in itself helped to create the legend of a brand that has always been indissolubly tied to the history of Italy.

The spread-winged eagle dates back to the military service of the company’s founders, Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi, in the Italian Royal Navy’s Aviation arm during World War One. It was during the war that the two friends, and pilot Giovanni Ravelli, decided to go into motorcycle manufacturing once the conflict ended. Ravelli was killed in an accident in 1919 and was never able to achieve his dream. Guzzi and Parodi chose the Eagle as their symbol to commemorate their companion.

Over its one hundred years, Moto Guzzi has won victories on racing circuits around the world, raising the Italian flag for an impressive 14 World Championship Titles. It was the motorbike of the speed record, the symbol of growth of a country looking to the future, the motorcycle of the police force and the army, and extended its vocation to the international stage, equipping the Californian Police and, more recently, the police forces in Berlin and many other European cities, as well as the sovereign’s escort in Jordan. Moto Guzzi is also the motorcycle of the Corazzieri, the elite corps that escorts the President of the Italian Republic.

From the very start, Moto Guzzi has been the motorcycle of choice for long-distance travel. It was 1928 when Giuseppe Guzzi reached the Arctic Circle on his GT “Norge”, starting a tradition that still continues, with travelers setting off on their Moto Guzzi bikes every day, somewhere in the world, bound for distant lands.

Today Moto Guzzi is a core division of the Piaggio Group, Europe’s leading constructor of motorcycles and scooters, which has conserved Moto Guzzi’s original characteristics, promoted its values and returned it to a forefront position.

The move back into competitive racing with the Moto Guzzi Fast Endurance Trophy, to be held this year on a European scale, and a new family of motorbikes have brought Moto Guzzi back to a prime market position and introduced its name to a younger public. The classic V7, which has just come out on the new 850 twin cylinder, and the classic enduro V85TT intended for travel and designed for comfort and easy riding, are the best-sellers of a brand that has been enjoying a revival for a number of years.

Moto Guzzi has always been admired and respected by bikers all over the world, whatever motorcycle they own, and bikers will be the protagonists of Moto Guzzi World Days at Mandello del Lario from 9 to 12 September, the clou event in the festivities for the Moto Guzzi centenary, the main celebration for this special anniversary.

Moto Guzzi World Days has always been an unmissable occasion for bikers and now makes its eagerly awaited comeback, ten years after the last edition. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts will arrive from every corner of the planet to enjoy a unique and unforgettable event, made possible thanks to the collaboration between Moto Guzzi, the Comitato Motoraduno Internazionale and the municipality of Mandello del Lario.

100 YEARS OF HISTORY FOR THE MOST AUTHENTIC NAME IN WORLD MOTORCYCLING

It was 15 March 1921 when the “Società Anonima Moto Guzzi” company was established, for the “manufacture and sale of motorcycles and any other activity related or linked to the metalworking industry”. That was the moment when the founders, Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi, chose the spread-winged eagle as the company logo, in memory of their comrade-in-arms Giovanni Ravelli. The trio had served together in the Royal Navy’s Aviation arm, where they had developed the idea of setting up a business to build innovative motorcycles once the war had ended. Ravelli died in 1919 during a test flight and his two friends decided to commemorate him with the symbol of the air division. The eagle has been the symbol of Moto Guzzi since then, and rapidly became a world-famous trademark.

This was the beginning of an industrial enterprise based in Mandello del Lario – in the factory where Moto Guzzi bikes are still manufactured today – that has gone down in the history of world motorcycling, producing bikes that have become part of the collective imagination: bikes like the GT 500 Norge (1928) ridden to the Arctic Circle by founder Carlo Guzzi’s brother Giuseppe, the Airone 250 (1939), the Galletto (1950), which powered mass motorization in the postwar period.

The 1950s saw the debut of the wind tunnel – a world first in the motorcycle industry, and still open for visits today at the Mandello factory – the brainchild of a close-knit team of extraordinary engineers including Umberto Todero, Enrico Cantoni and a designer whose name would quickly acquire legendary status: Milan-born Giulio Cesare Carcano, father of the incredible Otto Cilindri, or V8, with a top speed of 285 km/hour (1955), and the prototypes that won 15 world speed titles and 11 Tourist Trophy titles between 1935 and 1957.

In the 1960s, after the lightweight two-wheelers Stornello and Dingo, Moto Guzzi brought out the 700 cc 90° V-twin engine with cardan shaft final drive, destined to become the symbol of the Mandello manufacturer on such legendary models as the V7 Special, the V7 Sport, the California and the Le Mans. The engine was consistently evolved on this architecture and today, flanked by cutting-edge electronic control features, powers the most popular Moto Guzzi two-wheelers, such as the V7 range, the V9 Roamer and Bobber, and the great V85TT tourer, the world’s first-ever classic enduro. 

To celebrate the centenary, the entire Moto Guzzi range is also available in the special Centennial Livery, in an exclusive edition for 2021 only, inspired by the legendary Otto Cilindri racer.

47 Comments

  1. 1203cc says:

    I own three Guzzi’s. A 1997 1100 Sport, a 2000 Jackal and a 2007 California Vintage. A lot of the criticism about Guzzi here is accurate and warranted. When ever somebody asks me why I am into Guzzi’s I always tell them that Guzzi’s don’t do anything great but they do everything really well. If you are moderately good with tools they are extremely easy bikes to work on. I have purchased Guzzi’s and have never taken them back to the dealership for anything. Whenever I need parts I have them mailed to the house. I use automotive Mobil 1 oil filters and synthetic Motul oil in the bikes and that goes a long way towards making them low maintenance machines. If you ever crash a Guzzi beyond repair, the bike is worth much more in parts than the bike itself so its relatively easy to stay cash positive if such a mishap were to occur. If you care about what people think or how your bike stacks up against a friend’s CB/GS/YZ/ZXanaki, a Moto Guzzi probably isn’t the bike you want to get into. If you are into riding for the sake of riding and want to ride as much as possible and if you are relatively adept with the basic maintenance of a motorcycle then a Guzzi is a practical option.

    • huls says:

      Moto Guzzi: All the stupidness from BMW combined with shoddy Italian electrics and appaling workmanship with a large dollop of ugly.
      Why anybody wants to get near these circus monstrosities is beyodf me.
      I have -anonymously of course- ridden Guzzi’s. Beyond stupid. Cylinder placement means there is nowhere for your legs to go and in the summer you cannot stand the heat. Driveshaft same abhorrant BMW behaviour: falling over and raising the backend. What right minded engineer thinks uo such crazyness?
      What human of sound mind and will buys these catastrofes?

  2. JVB says:

    I have an ’03 V11 Lemans. Great bike. Sometimes I look at old ElDorados for sale. Only shortfalls is short leg room and 4-5K rev bar buzzyness. Longest ride sofar was 850 in a day. Won’t do that on my Ducks.

    MG could be so much more if Piaggio made some effort to make a modestly powered standard that wasn’t priced like a bigger bike. V7’s are meh. Bring back a torquey literish twin into a nice standard or Lemans.

  3. MGNorge says:

    I’ve owned my ’08 Norge now since 2010, bought new. I’ve always owned Hondas since I started riding at age 11. Still have my ’84 Interceptor. I guess it might have been some of the character of my CX500 that had my eye caught by the occasional Guzzi. When out riding my Interceptor I had the opportunity to follow a guy on a Guzzi Centauro for a bit. I had thought I would have been competitive power wise, mine being way up high in the range, his obviously lower down. As we came out of a 40mph turn, leading to un uphill onramp to the freeway he just handed me my riding cred. So easily did he motor away from me. That must have stuck with me so when the bug hit me I went lookin’. The dealer offered test rides so off I went. Took me a while to learn that the engine didn’t need to be wrung out to get to its power. I bumped into the rev alarm all the time. With that I found the tranny shifted easily enough, never to be confused with the “snick snick” types but not bad, certainly not what I expected after reading of “agricultural or tractor like” as some offered. The Brembo brakes up front are almost too powerful at slow parking lot speeds, certainly more powerful than my Interceptor’s stoppers. But what sold me was the relaxed way it got down the road and looked to be built well. So far it’s been great. Fires up after a few spins of the crank and is ready to go in short order. Fueling just off idle could be better as it’s very lean there, but there are solutions available. It handles very neutral which inspires confidence in most situations. I’m satisfied.

    • Marcus says:

      A friend and myself took a 2500 mile round trip to Cape Briton Canada. He on his Motorcycle Guzzi Corso Rosso 1100 with Termi exhaust and Ohlins suspension, Brembo brakes. Talk about a gorgeous bike.
      Me on my Kawi ZRX1200. Also gorgeous.
      Power wise, the ZRX had the upper hand but at any speeds up to 120 mph or so there was nothing between them. The Guzzi moved out just fine.

      The only real negative I could find with the Guzzi, outside of the torture rack clip on bars, was that the shape of the gas tank didn’t lend itself well to gripping with your knees to keep the pressure off your wrists. That tank shape is designed to to tuck your legs in on a full lay down position, which is not practical for the street.
      But it is a beautiful bike.

  4. Fastship says:

    One of the most mis-managed brands in all of motorcycling.

    • Mick says:

      No way. It was never owned by Cagiva.

      • Nick says:

        Might have done better if it had been, actually. You have to admit that Ducati survived that fate!

        Nick (Cagiva fanatic and proud of it)

  5. joe b says:

    When I think of Moto Guzzi, I dont think of big sideways V-Twins, I think of their tiny little 500cc V8! the Solvang MC museum has one and brings it out to Willow Springs now and then, what a fascinating little machine.

  6. Jeremy says:

    The first Guzzi I ever saw was a Jackal sometime just before the turn of the millennium. It was on display at a mall (remember those?), and I thought it was the coolest take on a cruiser I had seen. I was pretty captivated by the longitudinal V. A few months later at a new job, a guy I worked with commuted on an old V65, though I can’t recall the year model. He later replaced that with a new Quota, a very original looking adventure bike.

    The internet introduced me to the V11 which I thought was gorgeous, and I decided I wanted one. Or so I thought, but then I rode it. The bike felt so unrefined, something I wasn’t accustomed to. Later in life, I would be instructed that things like the paralyzing vibration coming through one (but not both?) handlebar and the farm tractor transmission were what was refered to as “character,” something apparently made Guzzis better than bikes that worked. But I lacked such enlightenment at the time.

    Guzzi would tempt me once more nearly 15 years later more with the V7 Racer. An absolutely beautiful machine and the only bike that ever felt truly perfect to me ergonomically straight from the factory. But then the gutless engine, terrible brakes and suspension, and I swear I felt the frame flex. I wouldn’t think that would be noticeable on a test ride, but that is something I had felt on downhill mountain bikes a number of time. And the sensation was identical.

    Still don’t get the whole character thing I guess.

    • Scotty says:

      I suppose you get them or you dont. Up to around 60,000 miles on my Breva750 and its a smooth runner, and has taken me all over Europe from my base in the UK, and all over the UK. Handling seems fine to me, vibration ok, but perhaps I just put up with stuff others would not. My two previous bikes on the road were 600 and 660 thumpers so that might explain it. I would say its no good going on a short Guzzi test ride – it has to be half a day at least and a day by preference. Then you really find out, or not. 🙂 Those that like them – really do. In fact we turn a bit fanatical given half the chance. Guzzi riders are very biased towards twisty roads, and touring. In the mountains.

      • Jeremy says:

        They are interesting bikes for sure, and I understand why some people might be drawn to such motorcycles. I tend to like “different” things myself. But I just expect more from a bike than the two Guzzis I’ve test ridden could deliver. They are no doubt perfect for some people, just not my thing at this point in my life.

  7. Stuart Brown says:

    Gave my Griso a gentle bath yesterday in honor of Moto Guzzi’s 100th anniversary of producing distinguished and charismatic motorcycles. It’s my 3rd
    Guzzi, and a very sweet one.

    Let us all raise a glass to this fine old maker.

  8. Gary says:

    Happy birthday to a global icon. Here’s to 100 more …

  9. Scotty says:

    Happy birthday to my favourite motorcycle brand, and the one I have ridden now for nearly 17 years – and the same bike too – one of those “no power no brakes” Breva750s. All over the UK and Europe. The V85TT has been a great success for them, but they do need to build on it more than the Retro line – after all, my Breva wasn’t retro style in 2004. A modern Breva 850 with a 1/2 fairing maybe and hard bags as standard would do OK in todays speed camera infested roads. And as other have said a Le Mans 850 – not sports but “sporting” with 85hp, decent weight, good handling and killer styling. And finally, a 500 single called the Falcone to get them in, for commuting and pootling about.

    • mickey says:

      ahh so you admit it lol

      • Scotty says:

        Of course mate!!! Been riding bikes for more than 40 years, but only on the road since 1995. VT250 – SRX600 – SZR660 – Breva 750. Last 3 bikes have been similar HP and have toured on all of them, but have settled on Guzzis now, until I kark it. 🙂

  10. Buckwheat says:

    Most motorcycle brands excel at making the motorcycle equivalent of the hot babe you want to date. MG has excelled at making the equivalent of the lovely wife you want to spend your life with. Happy birthday MG.

    • Nick says:

      What a brilliant comment!

      However, I’ve always found MG twins to be slightly too agricultural for me, probably because I’m no farmer! That said, when I tried a demo Breva, the steering felt as though the front wheel was going to fall off. It was so light and scary, I breathed a sigh of relief to get back onto my trusty Duke ST4. I suppose it could have been the tyres or pressures, but some motoj-ournalists said much the same. Not that I usually take great account of them, present company excepted, of course!

      I have great respect for Guzzi fanatics though, and do congratulate the marque for ploughing their own furrow for so long.

      Nick

  11. dp says:

    Actually, this V90 twin across the frame is a concept which was generated in 70s. It was supposed to be motor for light military vehicle. The MG took part in the contest and recycled the layout since after.

    • Nick says:

      The first motorcycle prototype was actually shown in 1965, being based on the military version of the motor designed in the mid 50s. Maybe you just hit the wrong key?

    • Charles Mullendore says:

      It is a continuing myth that the Guzzi engine originated from: a) the engine they designed for in the Fiat 500, b) the engine from the “Mechanical Mule” 3 x 3 military vehicle. Neither is true, it was a clean sheet design, sharing only the 90 degree v angle. I suggest picking up a copy of Greg Field’s excellent book “Moto Guzzi Big Twins” and reading the truth of the matter.

    • Charlie Mullendore says:

      I suggest picking up a copy of “Moto Guzzi Big Twins” by Greg Field and reading the real story behind the development of the Guzzi V700. Spoiler: it was not a development of either the 600 cc engine they designed for in the Fiat 500 or the the 750 cc engine they for the “Mechanical Mule” 3 x 3 military vehicle. It was a clean sheet design, sharing only the 90 degree V angle.

  12. Tommy D says:

    How did Moto Guzzi survive the last 40 years? Supplying unique motorcycles to a unique group of people that asked the question, “What can I get that no one else has….”

    • Dave says:

      Looking at their history on their wiki page tells a tale of a company that’s spent 40 years of the brink, being bought, sold, and saved a few times. Thankfully he investors believed there were enough people asking that question to warrant the risk.

      • denhajm says:

        Didn’t (maybe still) MG sell engines to military contractors for UAV’s? That may have been a lucrative business for them.

        • Charles Mullendore says:

          Yes, some Hunter UAVs were powered by a 750 cc, hemi head version of the Guzzi “small-block”. A gentleman in Indiana found a surplus one and has installed it into his Guzzi Lario. https://wildguzzi.com/forum/index.php?topic=65696.1050

          From what I’ve read, it was not a lucrative business for Guzzi.

        • Charlie Mullendore says:

          Yes, Guzzi engines were used in the early Hunter UAV. It was not a lucrative business for them – very short lived. A gentleman in Indiana bought a new-in-the-box surplus Hunter engine and installed it into his Guzzi Lario. The same engine was originally meant to be used in the stillborn “Ippogrifo”.

  13. dp says:

    When it comes to MG I cannot imagine a more conservative brand. But, what does it tell us is that even so minded company can keep in existence, as long as there is a fan base. You can call it ‘old style’ lovers; nothing wrong with that.

  14. fred says:

    Happy Birthday, Moto Guzzi! It’s great to see manufacturers who still like to do things their own way.

  15. HS1... says:

    Happy big one Moto Guzzi. Now get busy on that liquid cooled 1200.

  16. DB says:

    Happy Birthday Moto Guzzi! When I was younger growing up in the Long Beach, California area, I remember some of the Police bikes were Guzzi’s. Had one pass me on the freeway while splitting traffic on my Honda MB5. Thought for sure I was getting a ticket since this bike was a 50CC. I moved over, he went by, whew! That was the last Guzzi I can recall seeing a police officer on. My favorite Guzzi was the 850 Lemans. Always thought if I had the money, and a collection, this would be one I would like to have!

    • Stuki Moi says:

      The Lemans is my fave as well. A forward leaning ergonomy just makes more sense to me, when your lower body is forced so far back by those jugs.

      With BMW no longer making another fave, the Rxxx(x)S, (and, heck, even larger V-twin street-sport bikes (SV1000, VTR…) being mostly gone) if Guzzi would make a serious Lemans, they’d have another traditional niche almost entirely to themselves. I still miss my 1100S, and sort of wish I had bought the 1200. But the Lemans was just as / at least as nice in its era.

      Just make is somewhat “serious.” Not just a cafe racer styling exercise, but indeed a viable, even if perhaps a bit (but only a bit) off pace next to the Supersport 950, sport/sport touring bike. Longitudinal, air cooled, shaftie sporty bikes may not be the world’s largest niche, but it is a niche. And one where MG has proud traditions.

      • Fastship says:

        I have a vivid memory of watching a LeMans taking a gentle curve, cylinders firing at each lamppost, looking the perfect motorbike.

        Also, watching club races at my local track, always a LeMans, a Ducati and a Laverda Jota battling it out for the win (always the Jota!).

        I would buy one in an instant. I’ve given up on them ever making a full blown tourer, even though they have the perfect base with the California, another icon of the seventies that is vivid in my mind.

        • Jeremy says:

          I don’t think they make it anymore, but was the Norge not a “proper tourer?”

          • mickey says:

            I can tell you my younger brother’s 850 Eldorado set up with a Bates fairing, bags and trunk made a great tourer back in the 70’s. Truly an all day comfortable seat, a large gas tank, plenty of torque, and enough power for back then. Wouldn’t compare to today’s tourers, but in it’s day, it was a great bike.

  17. Goose Lavel says:

    Happy birthday Moto Guzzi! Never owned one as my knees always rubbed on those cylinder heads.

    • Reginald Van Blunt says:

      Sit farther back.

    • Charlie Mullendore says:

      Even though I’m only 5′ 6″ tall with a 30″ inseam, my knees still rub the rocker covers on “Tonti frame” Guzzis such as my V1000 I-Convert. No such problem with the older “Loopframe” models (V700, Ambassador, Eldorado) which have their engine located lower and farther forward.

    • TimC says:

      Thank you for this. I’ve long wondered if I’ve erred not getting one, but I figured it might not work with my beanpole build. I can sleep better tonight.

  18. mickey says:

    Happy Birthday Guzzi

    We’ve had 3 in the family. A mid 70’s 125 single my dad owned, (I think it was called a Stornello?), a 72 850 Eldorado my brother bought new and a 2019 V7 III my nephew owns.

    • Motoman says:

      How cool is that. And owned by three generations to boot!. Betcha you could make a great Moto Guzzi commercial, think about it… 🙂

      • mickey says:

        I’ve thought about buying a Moto Guzzi a couple of times. Test rode a Breva 750..no power, no brakes. Test rode a Griso, plenty of power all up high, hated running below 4000 rpms, also rode my brothers Eldordo (probably the best Guzzi I have ever ridden) and my nephews V7. Guess I’m just not Guzzi material. Too weird for me.

        My family doctor/riding buddy has a new V85TT and says he’ll let me ride it when the weather clears up here, but I don’t have high expectations that it would please me enough to buy one.

        Like BMW’s (for me)..love looking at them, don’t like riding them.