Theory in Motion: 1977 MV Agusta Ipotesi

The MV Agusta saga starts in the rubble that was Italy after World War II.

| March/April 2015

1977 MV Agusta Ipotesi

1977 MV Agusta Ipotesi

Photo by Nick Cedar

1977 MV Agusta Ipotesi
Claimed power: 34hp @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: 103mph (period test)
Engine: 349cc air-cooled OHV parallel twin, 63mm x 56mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 352lb (160kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.17 gal (19ltr)/50-60mpg
Price then/now: $2,292/$6,000-$10,000

Ipotesi, in case you’re wondering, is Italian for “hypothesis.” “I saw it translated as ‘hypertensive,’” says Ipotesi owner Danny Aarons. “Hypertensive fits its character better; I’ve never heard a credible story as to why MV used that name.”

One could guess. In your imagination, you’re out for a morning’s ride through the foothills east of Lake Como on the Italian-Swiss border, and you come across an insolent rider on a large, multi-cylinder bike from Japan. You, however, are riding your Ipotesi, a machine designed to prove that handling can beat horsepower: That is its hypothesis. The proud yokel cannot power his heavy machine through the turns as quickly as you can hustle your MV Agusta, and your light, agile 350 dances up and down the hills, leaving the multi in the dust.

The MV Agusta saga starts in the rubble that was Italy after World War II. The Agusta company manufactured aircraft for Mussolini’s forces during the conflict, and was now out of business. To keep their workers busy, Vincenzo Agusta and his brother Domenico turned to manufacturing motorcycles in 1945. MV quickly became involved in racing, winning the Italian Grand Prix in 1948.

For years the bright red “fire engines” built near the Italian town of Gallarate led the competition, with legends John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read and Giacomo Agostini holding the handlebars. In 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960, MV won all four Grand Prix displacement classes. The 37 stars in the Ipotesi’s logo recall Agusta’s 37 World Championship wins.

The street MV’s were totally unlike the multi-cylinder Grand Prix racers. Geared for the Italian worker, they were small but very pretty single-cylinder bikes that were simple to repair.

4/2/2015 11:53:44 PM

I really like the idea of a <400cc bike designed with handling in mind, partly because of the local insurance categories (<400 is much cheaper than 401-750) and partly because I live in a semi urban environment with lots of twisties. 400s are pretty good in town, too. I used to get a big kick out of my Honda Super Hawk with 305cc and a great exhaust note. I notice the sound of a bike under test is not often mentioned in tests, but it is an important part of the experience to me - the sound of the mechanicals and the exhaust.

bike on highway

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