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Old 05-12-2008, 03:23 PM   #1
airheadpilot OP
Le Poulet du Désert
 
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Moto Guzzi Factory Museum Tour

This report could also easily have been posted in Old Skool, but I'll do it here. A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in Northern Italy on a mixture of business and vacation, and convinced my better half that a stop in Mandello di Lario was in order to visit the Moto Guzzi factory. They have an excellent museum and store, both of which are only open from 3:00 - 4:00 in the afternoon. There's only one tour, so if you aren't at the gate at 3:00, you aren't going. Also, the tour guide only speaks Italian, but many of the sign boards are also in English and he's sufficiently enthusiastic about his museum to overcome the language barrier.

Arriving at the rail station:


The factory and it's iconic sign loom large over the rail platform:




At the gate, waiting for the tour to start:




The gate opens...


There's a huge poster inside of Sean Connery astride a police-model Eldorado:


As we were walking to the museum, we passed a workshop where several technicians were working on some of their test mules - several of the new V7 Classics, a Griso, and a Stelvio. I took an illicit photograph as we passed.


The first Moto Guzzi motorcycle:


This was a racing single (500cc) with a bevel-drive overhead cam and a four-valve head!






An early air-cooled inline triple:








This sidecar rig used a complex system of shafts, belts, and chains to drive the chair wheel:




Lots of neat factory prototypes that were never raced or put into production. This was an early inline-4 with dual overhead cams. Looks a lot like the MV Augusta motors that would come many years later:




A prototype of a liquid-cooled v-twin, circa 1950:




A scale model of the in-house wind tunnel at the Moto Guzzi factory - the first motorcycle factory to have its own wind tunnel:


The famous Falcone:


Moto Guzzi was playing around with bevel-drive v-twins 15 years before Ducati made them famous:


A 250cc parallel twin:


Moto Guzzi scooters:


A streamlined 500cc racebike with a liquid-cooled inline-4, similar to an early BMW K-bike:


It was also their first shaft-drive bike:




Another bevel-drive v-twin:


A mid-1980's Paris-Dakar entry:




And one designed for Baja racing:


The Dr. John Special. Note the lack of the starter motor - it must have been a bitch to bump start!


A V750 loopframe Ambassador (my bike) dressed up to go racing!!




I got to get back to work. I'll post again in a little bit with a few more photos, including shots of the famous V8.

Andrew
1970 R50/5
1971 Ambassador
1972 R75/5
2000 XR650R
2003 Burgman 400
2005 FJR1300A
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Old 05-12-2008, 05:23 PM   #2
airheadpilot OP
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Continuation

Here follows several photos of the famous V8 racebike. At 500cc, liquid cooled, DOHC, it was the fastest bike in a straight line in its day. It was also too powerful for the metallurgy available and would frequently blow up. That, combined with being a beast to ride, meant that it was left without anyone willing to ride one in a race, and the design was retired.








The actual engineering drawings for the V8 were in a glass case on the wall. I'd love to get a copy of these for my own wall:


V7 Sport and the first 850 Le Mans:


Moto Guzzi V-twin being used in an aircraft application:




Lots of fun - I highly recommend it to anyone interested in old bikes, whether or not you're Guzzitisti. To see all of the photos I took, check here: http://airheadpilot.smugmug.com/gallery/4857867_qFVxX/1

Andrew
1970 R50/5
1971 Ambassador
1972 R75/5
2000 XR650R
2003 Burgman 400
2005 FJR1300A
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Old 05-12-2008, 06:20 PM   #3
Tom48
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Great report. Thanks
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Old 05-12-2008, 06:26 PM   #4
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Thanks for taking us with!


These are coolest things I've seen posted here in awhile:
Quote:

A mid-1980's Paris-Dakar entry:




And one designed for Baja racing:


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Old 05-12-2008, 09:20 PM   #5
funhouse
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great report!

a jewel among 'other reports' thx.....bruce
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:21 PM   #6
capriccio
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As the English like to say "The history is what makes the Guuzzyy so special" and why I prefer sitting on a Guzzi.

Thank you for sharing.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:56 PM   #7
knybanjo
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Nice report!
Thanks for sharing it....My Dad had a couple of Guzzis when I was a kid, one I even rode when I was a teenager.
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Old 05-13-2008, 01:28 PM   #8
NSFW
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I like Guzzis, and any biike with a driveshaft.

Nice pics and report.

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Old 05-13-2008, 04:18 PM   #9
dr_sean
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Nice Pics!!!! I am green with envy!
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Old 05-13-2008, 04:32 PM   #10
sperkins
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wow thanks for the great report!!! im jealous:(
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Old 05-13-2008, 05:30 PM   #11
MichaelJ
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Thanks for the pics. I always seem to be on the other side of the lake.

Have to correct that on my next trip.

Be there at 15:00.
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:31 AM   #12
capriccio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJ
Thanks for the pics. I always seem to be on the other side of the lake.

Have to correct that on my next trip.

Be there at 15:00.
They have Guzzi powered boat there, get on and get to the other side while listening to the beautiful Guzzi music.
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:36 AM   #13
GB
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Thanks for giving us the tour of the factory in pics!!
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:49 AM   #14
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Very cool, thanks for posting
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:39 AM   #15
airheadpilot OP
Le Poulet du Désert
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJ
Thanks for the pics. I always seem to be on the other side of the lake.

Have to correct that on my next trip.

Be there at 15:00.
It's a very doable day trip if you're over in Menaggio or Bellaggio, or elsewhere on the Swiss side of the lake. Catch the ferry from Menaggio to Varenna, walk up the hill to the train station, catch the next train to Mandello di Lario (about a 10 minute journey), and the factory is right there. With a little careful planning you can do the return trip and the factory tour in about 3-4 hours and be back across the lake in time for dinner.

The one thing I wanted to do and we decided not to do because the weather was kind of crappy is rent a motorcycle and ride around the lake. There is a Moto Guzzi dealership in Mandello that rents Guzzis and you can circumnavigate the lake in a long day or two pleasant days. The roads are fabulous, but you want to do it on a weekday. In general, going during the shoulder season helps with crowds too.
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