’78 Moto Guzzi V50
From Cycle World in 1980…
“Despite its exceptional handling and good looks, rest assured the V50
will never be a popular motorcycle. That’s part of its charm. It is,
above all else, an exotic motorcycle, available in much smaller
quantities than any previous Guzzi. Evaluated as an exotic motorcycle,the V50 is nearly ideal, its temperate nature being easy to live with and its individualistic features and style clearly telling any other motorcycle it is not just like anything else.”
Being a lover of small and mid size motorcycles, I’m always intrigued by the little exotics that show up on ebay or at swap meets. Also, I have this building need to have a Moto Guzzi in my barn. I have to finish two Honda 350’s, a Benelli 250 and Yamaha SRX however before any other two wheeled orphans show up.
The Guzzi V50 was brought out during the days of the gas price crisis here in the US. Guzzi head honcho Alejandro de Tomaso was sure that the growth of motorcycling would continue to spiral upward and mid size bikes would be leading the way. He didn’t understand the American motorcycle buyer mentality very well apparently. Few V50’s came to these shores when it first came alive in 1977 and sales never really met expectations. In the early 80’s the Lake Como factory brought the Monza out to capitalize on the more ‘sportbike’ oriented market.
There was really only one issue with the V50 that every magazine editor / tester brought up…lack of horsepower. The bike was lightweight, therefore easy handling, it has a great sound, comfortable in sporty way but…just down on power. Some reviews have put it into the class of not really freeway / highway capable. Again, I go back to the American mentality of bigger is better. I really don’t get it. At just over 400 lbs and pushing out somewhere in the vicinity of 40+ HP and…the ability to reach 100 mph, it is perfectly capable of highway travel. Well, it may take a while to get up to speed and that can make getting on some freeways (especially here in Southern California) a bit iffy.
So, here is why you buy the V50…its handling. If you live in an area where you have tight twisty roads, you are going to have a field day playing with bigger, modern sportbikes. Light, agile and exotic…what more could you possibly ask for? Cycle Magazine described it as “simply not a mass market machine for the casual or average buyer.” Well said.
The early V50’s were built at the main factory in Mandelo near Lake Como (one of the most beautiful places on earth), starting in ’79, the V50 was made in the Lambretta Scooter factory. The V50 adopted electronic ignition, linked brakes and cast wheels. There are quite a lot of good resources for vintage Guzzi information and parts. Start with Mick Walkers books, then find your way to www.mgcycle.com or www.motointernational.com Guzziology and spend way too much time cruising the forums. If you do buy a vintage Moto Guzzi there is so much help out there and parts are much easier to find than you might think.
I found a very clean ’78 V50 on ebay this morning that is a great bike for someone to get into vintage Italian motorcycles or Moto Guzzi in particular. With only 4483 miles on the clock, it’s barely broken in. Even though the owner says it starts and runs just great, I would still pull the carbs and give them a good going through, junk the ‘original’ tires and spoon on a set of modern rubber….AND most importantly, get rid of that UGLY seat. Other than those little details, the bike looks great. Paint is good for it’s age, chrome is great. Nice bike. Click on the pics below for more details.