Motorcycle Classics’ Motogiro America entry: 1966 Moto Guzzi Stornello

One of the most fun little Guzzi’s we’ve ridden in years just happens to be this 1966 Moto Guzzi Stornello, our entry in the Motogiro America. The Guzzi belongs to tiddler fan, collector and friend of the magazine Stewart Ingram. Back in 2007, Editor Backus and I flew into San Francisco the day before the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in Half Moon Bay, Calif., and hopped the train to Ingrams’ house. Once there, he showed us his great collection of small Italian motorcycles and was kind enough to lend us the Stornello and a newer Ducati Monster to serve as our transportation around the Bay area for the weekend.

Though suffering at the time from a bad set of steering head bearings, the Stornello proved to be reliable and fun throughout the weekend, as Backus and I rode more than 300 miles up and down the California coast, covering the Legend show and also getting in a nice ride up Highway 1 to Point Reyes Station, Calif., and back the Sunday after the show. Though not a fast machine by any stretch of the imagination, the 125cc, four-stroke Stornello was a great little ride for the tight, narrow streets of San Francisco. We even made a few early-morning runs down the infamous “crookedest street in the world,” the one block section of Lombard Street that’s known for its red bricks and hairpin turns. The left-foot heel-toe shifter required a bit of extra brain-training to ride smoothly at first, but with a bit of practice, the tiddler became a fun, easy to ride bike with great charm and a lovely, slightly-worn patina. Backus fell in love with the bike and threatened to bring it back to Kansas with him, but sense prevailed, and we thanked Ingram and left the little bike at his place and flew home. Who could have guessed that the Stornello would also wind up being friend of the magazine Dave Miller’s Motogiro America ride more than a year later?

Miller, you might remember, teaches motorcycle restoration at City College in San Francisco. We highlighted his popular restoration classes in a story called “Making the Grade” in the July/August 2006 issue. Miller and Ingram are friends, and when Ingram offered up his Stornello to Dave as a ride for the upcoming Motogiro America, Dave jumped at the chance.

After freshening the top end of  engine, attending to the steering-head bearings, and a small amount of fiddling and fettling, Miller has the bike all tuned up and ready to go, and is looking forward to the many miles of the Motogiro he’ll ride in the upcoming week aboard the Stornello. Though not perfect cosmetically, both Miller and Ingram agreed that it was best to restore the bike mechanically, but to leave it in its period paint, chrome and vinyl. That means if you get a chance to see any of the Rally next week, it will be easy to pick out Miller and our favorite Stornello. After all, it will look just like it does here in our photos! — Landon Hall

Motorcycle Classics at Motogiro America

Motorcycle Classics and Moto Guzzi team up for Motogiro America

If you’re like, oh, about 99.9 percent of classic bike fans, right about now you’re probably wishing you had something along the order of a 100cc 1955 Moto Guzzi Lusso so you could participate in the upcoming Motogiro America, kicking off this coming Saturday, July 12. And who could blame you? With a planned field of 120 bikes competing in the Vintage Class (1957 and older, 175cc and smaller), plus a Super Sport Class for 250cc and smaller, a Super 70s Class for 1,000cc and smaller, a Scooter Class and a Tourist Class open to any bike – any year, any size – it’s going to be the classic rally of the year. Well, thanks to some help from our friends at Moto Guzzi, Motorcycle Classics will be there, running a 125cc 1966 Moto Guzzi Stornello in the Super Sport Class for 250cc and smaller bikes built before 1969.

Patterned on the successful Motogiro d’Italia (go here to see our article on last year’s event), a retrospective rally launched in 2001 celebrating the Motogiro that ran in Italy from 1953 to 1957 (itself a recreation of the original Il Giro Motociclistico d’Italia that ran, with interruptions, from 1914 until 1931), Motogiro America is enticing classic bike fans from as far away as Italy – including Fifties Motogiro winner Giuliano Maoggi – to come participate in what’s hoped to become an annual event.

We knew as soon as we heard about the rally (Giro organizers frown on calling it a race, preferring to focus on the event’s five stages as trials for time, not speed) that we’d have to get an entry in some way, some how, but it wasn’t until recently that we finally found the rider, the bike and the support to make it happen. The support comes, fittingly enough, from Moto Guzzi, a manufacturer with a long history in the Giro including entries in the early races in the 1920s and again in the mid-1950s after the race was relaunched in 1953.

Although I’d been hoping to make the rally myself, reality set in and it became clear I’d never be able to pull together the resources of time to make it happen. Spreading out over a full week and then some, the event kicks off with a bike show and auction on Saturday, July 12, and ends five days later on Thursday, July 17, with an awards dinner at the Hyatt Regency Monterey, the unofficial event headquarters.

Sunday, July 13, will be the big day. That’s when competitors will line up under Cannery Row bridge in Monterey before heading off to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a lap of the famed track, which will host the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix MotoGP the next weekend starting with practice and qualifying on Friday, July 18. Friend of the magazine Dave Miller, who teaches motorcycle restoration at City College in San Francisco (we featured Dave and his class in the July/August 2006 issue; go here for more), will be riding for us, decked out in a special Motogiro America jacket crafted for us by the folks at Vanson Leathers and riding a 1966 Moto Guzzi Stornello plucked from San Francisco resident Stewart Ingram’s lovely collection of Italian tiddlers. Ingram will also be on hand as well, riding a Moto Morini from his collection.

We’ll be running regular postings on our progress in the rally, so check back daily for updates on our bid to take the Super Sport class with our little single-cylinder Moto Guzzi Stornello, and look for a full article on the inaugural Motogiro America in an upcoming issue of Motorcycle Classics. Bene! – Richard Backus 

Published on Jul 7, 2008

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