Moto Morini 3-1/2 Sport

The First Moto Morini 350 V-Twin

| March/April 2011

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    1975 Moto Morini 3-1/2 Sport.
    Photo by Nick Cedar
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    The difference in size between the Moto Morini 3-1/2 and everything else on a six-lane road can leave a rider feeling intimidated.
    Photo by Nick Cedar
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    Short wheelbase and light weight help make the Morini a willing performer.
    Photo by Nick Cedar
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    A double-sided drum front brake was used through 1976, when Moto Morini finally switched to a disc front brake.
    Photo by Nick Cedar
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    Photo by Nick Cedar
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    Helping to boost its go-fast image, the Morini Sport eschewed rear footpegs; two-up riding was available to buyers of the touring-oriented Strada.
    Photo by Nick Cedar
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    Photo by Nick Cedar
  • morini 350 6

    Photo by Nick Cedar

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1975 Moto Morini 3-1/2 Sport
Years produced:
1972-1987
Claimed power: 39hp @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: 107mph (period test)
Engine: 344cc air-cooled 72-degree V-twin
Weight (half tank fuel): 353lb (160kg)
Price then/now: $1,795 (1974)/$3,500-$4,500

John Burkhard likes his Moto Morini 3-1/2. Not because it’s rare (it is) or unusual (that too) but because it’s a joy to ride. “It’s a rev happy, great handling, great stopping motorcycle. It’s a keeper,” John says of the first Moto Morini 350 V-Twin.

Never heard of a Moto Morini? You’re not alone. Although this northern Italian company has been constructing interesting motorcycles since 1937, Morinis have never been built in large numbers, and only a few ever made their way to the United States.

Morini beginnings

Alfonso Morini started out repairing motorcycles before World War I. Following the war, he partnered with Mario Mazzetti to build two-stroke lightweights on which Morini, an accomplished rider, won numerous races under the Morini-Mazzetti name. The partnership broke up in 1937, at which point Morini established Moto Morini, building commercial three-wheelers in Bologna, Italy.



Morini’s factory was destroyed during World War II, but he gathered up the pieces and was back in business by 1946, building 125cc two-wheelers. Morini designed its first racing four-stroke single in 1949, and during the Fifties and Sixties fielded an international racing team in the lightweight class, with Giacomo Agostini and Tarquinio Provini in the saddle at different points. In the mid-Sixties, Morini started exporting its lightweights to the United States.

Gabriella Morini, Alfonso’s daughter, took control of the company after her father’s death in 1969, becoming one of the few women ever to manage a motorcycle factory. In 1970, she convinced Franco Lambertini to leave Ferrari to work for Moto Morini, where he proved himself an innovative designer.

Trevor Lock
3/7/2011 4:35:40 PM

A few corrections are required in the Morini 3 1/2 Sport article: (i) The Strada was the first Morini, not the Sport (ii) Pushrods are used because they allow the motor to be much shorter (the cam is at the base of the cylinders) (iii) The standard shift pattern is 1 down 5 up (the owner's Morini is different because he has reversed the gearshift due to rearsets being fitted)




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