Moto Guzzi Bicilindrica: The Methuselah of Motorcycle Racing

Alan Cathcart rides Sammy Miller’s 120-degree V-twin 500cc Moto Guzzi Bicilindrica.

| September/October 2013

1951 Moto Guzzi 500 Bicilindrica
Claimed power:
52hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: 130mph (est.)
Engine: 494cc air-cooled OHC 120-degree V-twin, 68mm x 68mm bore and stroke
Weight: 319lb (145kg)

Longevity isn’t usually a characteristic of factory racing motorcycles. Competition with the opposition is the target of any manufacturer going racing, and that often means trying and discarding different designs before coming up with a race-winning package. The trick then becomes staying a step ahead to maintain that winning streak.   

That’s evolution, competition style. It’s the way of the world, making the idea of a works racer that stays competitive for 18 years (1933 to 1951) rather than just months truly remarkable. The 120-degree V-twin 500cc Moto Guzzi Bicilindrica, whose evolution mirrored the evolution of the racing motorcycle from a pushrod-engined boneshaker with zero rear suspension to a swingarm-equipped modern cammy racer, was an almost mystical motorcycle whose unique design has never been copied. It is the Methuselah of motorcycle racing.

Through the years

Although roughly a dozen were built for the factory race team, Moto Guzzi Bicilindricas are few and far between nowadays, and until recently it was some time since one had last appeared in action anywhere in the world. The circa 1947 postwar version in the Moto Guzzi museum at Mandello del Lario sadly never runs, making the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed appearance of Sammy Miller’s two latest acquisitions, all the more exciting for Guzzisti everywhere.

Miller has uncovered two examples of Moto Guzzi’s exotic 500cc Grand Prix hardware, which for the past few decades have lain unseen in a private Italian collection — a mid-1950s 500cc V8 and the 500cc Bicilindrica that preceded it. MC 

For more from Alan Cathcart, read A Little Moto Guzzi Bicilindrica History.  

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

Classic Motorcycle Touring and Events.

The latest classic motorcycle events and tours.


The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $4.95 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $29.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265