Moto Guzzi Historical Chronology

Motorcycle History

Moto Guzzi, the "Italian Eagle", was established in Mandello del Lario, in the Italian province of Lecco, in March of 1921. Its first motorcycle was the legendary 8 hp Normale.

The Normale was followed by such successful motorcycles as the 1928 Moto Guzzi Guzzi G.T. , known as the "Norge" after the ride to North Cape, and the 1939 Airone 250, the most popular medium displacement model in Italy for more than 15 years.

Guzzi soon made a name for itself in racing; its first motorcycle racing win was the highly regarded Targa Florio in 1921, the first of an impressive series of victories: when the company withdrew from racing in 1957, the Moto Guzzi trophy cabinet included 14 world speed titles and 11 Tourist Trophy (TT) cups.

The postwar period saw the debut of the Guzzino 65 Cardellino, Europe’s best-selling motorcycle for more than ten years, the celebrated 1950 Moto Guzzi Galletto and the 1956 Lodola 175.

In 1950 Moto Guzzi became the first motorcycle constructor to build a futuristic wind tunnel, at the Mandello del Lario factory. The racing team was an innovative group of engineers including Umberto Todero and Enrico Cantoni, and a motorcycle designer whose name would go down in history: Milan-born Giulio Cesare Carcano, father of the Guzzi Otto Cilindri with a top speed of 285 km/h.

At the end of the 1960s, Moto Guzzi introduced the 90-degree V-twin engine, which has come to be regarded as the symbol of the motorcycle company. This was the basis for the development of the Guzzi V7, the V7 Special and, another legend, the Guzzi V7 Sport.

The illustrious V-twin was also implemented on smaller motorcycles like the V35 and the V50. In the top displacement class, the Moto Guzzi California established itself as the archetypical motorcycle Grand Tourer, eventually to be offered with electronic fuel injection and linked triple-disk braking system.

Intended for the U.S. market, like the Ambassador and Eldorado motorcycles, the California fitted the characteristic 850cc engine, now re-proposed on the current range.

The company reclaimed and enhanced its motorcycle racing heritage with models like the Le Mans, the Daytona, the Centauro and the Sport 1100. An unmistakable style and spirit that made a powerful return in the 1990s with the new California, Nevada and V11 Sport series.

On December 30, 2004 Moto Guzzi became part of the Piaggio Group, Europe’s leading motorcycle manufacturer and one of the world industry’s top constructors. As part of its re-launch program, in March 2005 Moto Guzzi presented the Breva 1100, a successful Italian new entry in the "naked" segment.

In September of the same year, the arrival of the Griso 1100 motorcycle with its unique technical features and styling, attracted great attention. Since April 2006, the Breva and Griso have also been available with the classic Guzzi 850cc engine.

In May 2006, the Norge 1200 marked Guzzi’s return to grand touring motorcycles: full rider protection, a sophisticated chassis and a new 1200cc V-twin engine for total comfort mile after mile, thanks to advanced no-compromise features.

The Norge won the hearts of 14 international motorcycle journalists who rode it to North Cape in July 2006, a 4,429 km journey along the route followed by Giuseppe Guzzi on the motorcycle’s predecessor, the G.T. 500, in 1928.

Confirming an enthusiasm common to all the owners of a Moto Guzzi motorcycle, in September of 2006, 15,000 Guzzi devotees from more than 20 countries flocked to Mandello del Lario for the fourth Moto Guzzi World Days event.

Led by the Moto Guzzi Club, Guzzi associativism is highly developed, with an unparalleled level of member fidelity. Worldwide, the brand Moto Clubs have more than 25,000 motorcycle members, led by the USA with 52 clubs, and more than 70 websites are devoted to Moto Guzzi.

Moto Guzzi responded to the loyalty of its supporters by re-vitalising the racing heart of the Mandello eagle: in March 2006, at the legendary Daytona track, Gianfranco Guareschi scored an historic "double" with two victories in the Battle of Twins.

He repeated the feat on his faithful Moto Guzzi, when he won the 2007 title in Daytona. Powered by its international success, Moto Guzzi launched a new racing model, the 1200 Sport.

Presented in October 2006, the 1200 Sport is a stylish naked bike with a forceful design, chassis and ergonomics, based on the latest 1200cc 90° V-twin engine.

2006 was an extraordinary year for Moto Guzzi, closing with a record annual production figure of more than 10,000 bikes (a result previously achieved in 1983), and sales of 10,200 motorcycles, for volume growth of 46.4% compared with 2005.

As 2007 opened, the Italian eagle was stronger than ever. In November 2006, at the 64th EICMA Show in Milan, Moto Guzzi had already presented the Griso 8V (a revised version of the company’s fascinating "nude" model featuring the new engine with 4 valves per cylinder for more than 110 hp) and the Bellagio, a 940cc twin-cylinder short-stroke custom model.

In February 2007, at the Piaggio Group world motorcycle dealer convention in Berlin, the company announced plans for an important on-road enduro with an evocative name: Stelvio.

On 26 March 2007, in the splendid setting of Lake Como, Moto Guzzi proved once again that it keeps its promises: just months after the Milan show it presented the final version of the Bellagio; this was followed in September by the launch of the powerful Griso 1200 8V.

2007 was also a key year for the Moto Guzzi World Days event, with the presence of movie star Ewan McGregor, in Mandello del Lario to collect the white California Vintage he had purchased several months previously during shooting on the road movie Long Way Down at the Moto Guzzi factory.

EICMA 2007 saw the preview of two new motorcycle models at the extremes of the extensive Moto Guzzi range: the Stelvio 1200 and the V7 Classic.

The Stelvio 1200 was presented to the international press in March 2008 at the Rocca Salimbeni palace, headquarters of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, while the motorcycle press debut of the agile V7 Classic was held the following month in central Milan.

Another important event in 2008 was the successful bid to supply the Berlin Police Force with 35 Moto Guzzi Norge GT motorcycles, as well as 20 Moto Guzzi California Vintage bikes to Italy’s Corazzieri mounted cavalry corps.

2009 saw the arrival of the Moto Guzzi V7 Café, a sports version of the Classic model, presented in Rome in March together with the Griso SE, and the Stelvio NTX, marking the introduction of ABS on the Mandello company’s maxi enduro.

Star of an international motorcycle press launch in the Dolomites, the Stelvio NTX features a revised, more robust engine with smoother power delivery thanks to a new camshaft profile.