Moto Guzzi Bicilindrica: The Methuselah of Motorcycle Racing

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Photo Courtesy Alan Cathcart
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.

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.
 

Order the
September/October 2013 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about
the Moto Guzzi 500 Bicilindrica. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or
contact us by email.

 

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