Exotic Motorcycles: The Morbidelli V8

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Photo by Kel Edge
"What might have been" is the common refrain for all exotic motorcycles that almost made it into production. Still modern-looking more than a decade later, the Morbidelli 850 V8 was designed to be the ultimate touring bike.

Morbidelli V8 Motorcycle

Years produced: 1997
Total production: 4 (including prototype)
Claimed power: 120hp
Top Speed: 150mph (249kph)
Engine type: 847cc four cam, water-cooled V8
Weight: 440lb (200kg)
Price then: $45,000
Price now: Who knows?
MPG: Does it matter?

Ask any two-wheeled techno-freak for a short list of the most exotic motorcycles ever made, and it’ll surely contain the mid-1950s Moto Guzzi V8 500cc GP racer, as well as the 1980s Honda oval-piston V4 NR500/750 — a V8 by any other name, with its 32 valves and eight connecting rods.

But there’s another multi-cylinder maxi bike for the checklist: the Morbidelli V8. Specifically, the Morbidelli 850, a sports tourer that was on the verge of starting production in 1998 after a decade of development. Unfortunately, after the first three customer bikes to meet a strong order book started making their way down the handbuilt production line, the bike was disappointingly cancelled.

Two-wheeler achiever Giancarlo Morbidelli’s life story is a classic rags-to-riches saga worthy of Hollywood, an archetype of the breed of self-made men from humble backgrounds who turned provincial Italy into the mainstay of the country’s economy in the 1960s and 1970s.

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
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