3 Cilindri Bialbero
Contrasting the hi-tech, electronic, traction-controlled world of today’s MotoGP motorcycles, are the hand-built racing motorcycles that made up the grid in the early years of GP racing.
Many of the vaunted brands that contested the early grand prixs have long since vanished. However, MV Agusta, a major force in ushering along meteoric advances in racing motorcycles, is still with us.
One beautiful example of the exotica that took to the pavement in those nascent years of grand prix is the MV Agusta 350 Bialbero.
This innovative three-cylinder motorcycle (3 cilindri) was created under the demanding mandates of Domenico Agusta in 1963.
The MV Agusta Bialbero debuted in 1965 at the Grand Prix of Germany where it earned its first victory. Piloted by the legendary Giacomo Agostini, the win was a portent of things to come.
Under the riding talents of Agostini and the engineering brilliance of Agusta the Bialbero went on to earn 4 Manufacturer’s World Championships, 3 Italian Championships, and a total of 39 Grand Prix wins.
Agostini and MV Agusta were indelibly linked (much the way Valentino Rossi and Yamaha have been) in an unequalled pageant of victories.
This was a marriage of personalities and talent between designer/engineer Agusta, rider Agostini, and machine; the Bialbero.
The basic design of the Bialbero carried through from its first appearance in 1965 until 1973 with various changes and modifications, remaining a powerful weapon in the GP wars.
The bike’s omnipotence on the asphalt earned MV Agusta a legion of devoted fans, transforming their race wins into motorcycle sales.
Although dwarfed by today’s staggering GP motorcycles the Bialbero’s performance and specification sheet was quite respectable in its day.
The 348cc air-cooled 3-cylinder, 4-stroke engine had a compression ratio of 11:1, producing 68 hp at 14,000 rpm.
A double overhead cam operated 12-valves which were fed by three 29mm carburetors. Six-speed gearbox and a multi-plate dry clutch delivered the power to a relatively narrow 3.25×18" rear tire.
Tubular steel frame with telescopic fork and a swingarm handled by twin hydraulic shocks was as trick as it got in those days. Top speed was reported as 250 kph (155 mph).
The race bike was brought to a stop by a 225mm front drum brake (a 180mm rear drum). The Bialbero’s weight was a lithe 116 Kg (255 pounds).
This MV Bialbero, when brought to life with its three straight pipes, cracked the eardrums and electrified racing MotoGP fans of the day. Those must have been spectacular motorcycle races to have witnessed.