Mystery MV: 1954 MV Agusta Idrobad Automatic

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1954 MV Agusta Idrobad Automatic
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1954 MV Agusta Idrobad Automatic
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The left twist grip moves the two cables that control the hydraulic transmission.
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1954 MV Agusta Motoleggera Idrobad
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To start the bike, the clutch is pulled in and the button is pressed to lock it, then just kick!
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1954 MV Agusta Idrobad Automatic
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1954 MV Agusta Idrobad Automatic
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MV enthusiast Dorian Skinner sits astride the 175 Idrobad.
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For some reason the 175 doesn't have any gauges. It looks as though the factory installed a "delete" plate instead.
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1954 MV Agusta Idrobad Automatic
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You can just see the cables that actuate the setup.
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The diagram illustrates how the swash plates (C and E) vary the strokes of the pistons.
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"It's much easier to ride than to explain how it works," Dorian Skinner said about the 1954 MV.

1954 MV Agusta Motoleggera Idrobad
Claimed power: 7.5hp @ 5,200 rpm
Top speed: 62mph (100kmh)
Engine: 172.3cc air-cooled OHC single, 62mm x 59.5mm bore and stroke, 6:1 compression ratio
Weight (wet): 227lb (103kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 3.7gal (14ltr)/55-65mpg (est.)

No more gears! No more clutch! This was what the prematurely printed brochure for the “automatic” MV Agusta 175 proclaimed. But the early promise was never fulfilled, and while the “greatest novelty in motorcycling” never went into production, one did survive.

It’s no exaggeration to say the MV Agusta Motoleggera 175cc “Idrobad” has to be one of the rarest motorcycles in the world. And it’s only thanks to MV enthusiast Dorian Skinner and the generosity and trust of the MV’s owner that it was able to see the light of day to be photographed, pored over, and ridden. It is a bike that was developed ahead of its time, but whose eventual production was canceled for reasons we can only guess at. Likely to be the only complete overhead cam MV Agusta 175 with cambio idraulico (hydraulic gearbox) in existence, it’s a motorcycle about which little is known.

Digging deeper

Sig. Sironi, the gatekeeper and historical expert of the MV Agusta Museum in Cascina Costa, Italy, knows of the bike but has never seen one, and reckons only a couple were even made; any records at MV are sparse. There is a mention in Mick Walker’s MV book along with a photo of a prototype — identical to this machine — that was displayed by MV Agusta at the 1954 Milan show, and it is extremely likely that it is the same bike: Even the battery looks to be the same one, still in place.

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