Moto Guzzi – an Italian Story

Moto Guzzi Breva

Moto Guzzi Breva

As promised, I will now tell you the story of Moto Guzzi.  This is the motorcycle that I love and ride at every opportunity (fair weather and minimal luggage.)  It is a Breva 1100 of 2007 vintage, an absolutely gorgeous bike, maneuverable, fast and oozing quality and Italian flair.  It is made in a small town called Mandello, on the shore of the Lago di Como.  The manufacturing facilities were established there in the 1920′ and they have remained there ever since.  In fact, Moto Guzzi is the oldest European motorcycle manufacturer that has maintained uninterrupted production until now.  The company has had many financial ups and downs in its nearly 90 years of existence, and it is now owned by Piaggio, which also makes the Ducati motorcycle and an array of scooters, including the fabled Vespa.

Moto Guzzi was the brainchild of two aircraft pilots and their mechanic, Carlo Guzzi, Giovanni Ravelli, and Giorgio Parodi.   Guzzi was a gifted automotive engineer, Parodi came from a wealthy family able to finance the venture, and Ravelli was already a famous motorcycle race driver who could publicize the new marque through his victories.  This is in fact what happened: Moto Guzzi participated  in Grand Prix racing until 1957, by which time it had logged 3329 official races, 8 World Championships, 6 Constructors’ Championships, and 11 Isle of Man TT victories.

Since the beginning Moto Guzzi has been renowned for their technical innovations.  These included advances not only in engine design, but also in the design of transmissions and in frame construction technology.  The first wind tunnel for motorcycle testing was built by Moto Guzzi.  Their current offerings are all bikes of technological excellence, unsurpassed quality,  and stunning beauty: they include the Breva, the Griso, the Norge, the Nevada, the Bellaggio, and other lesser known or specialty models.  Several police and military organizations all over the world have opted to use Moto Guzzi motorcycles, including, for a period, the Los Angeles Police Department.

So, is the Guzzi a worthy replacement for the long-gone Ferraris?  Not a fair question, the Guzzi is not a replacement for anything.  It is a vehicle sui generis, in a whole different category, requiring a whole new mindset.  The Ferraris, on the other hand, are irreplaceable.  But both the moto and the car satisfy the same basic craving of unfettered freedom of movement, overwhelming speed on demand, and Italian style and panache.

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