1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone for Sale

1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone R Side

If you’re only cursorily familiar with Moto Guzzi, it’s likely you associate them primarily with their iconic v-twin, which is odd, considering that, for so much of their history is steeped in the big, thumping singles like this Moto Guzzi Falcone.

Motorcycle manufacturers become victims of their own success: introduce a successful model, and you’re forever trapped in that mould, forced to include features, technologies, or a specific engine configuration long after it is useless as anything other than a character trait.

And forget the truth of history: most buyers have some vague idea of “heritage” but don’t really know all that much about the marques they’ve chosen as extensions of themselves: Italian bike buyers have so long had to justify the higher prices their machines commanded and their perceived unreliability, that they’re surprisingly conservative when it comes to change, and you risk upsetting the apple cart if you, say, radically restyle your iconic superbike, even if the actual machine performs better in almost every way.

When Moto Guzzi was working on a modern superbike back in the 90’s, the designs that were leaked featured modern, four-valve heads, liquid cooling… and a v-twin with a longitudinal crankshaft. Yeah, it was going to be 75° instead of the traditional 90° and it was going to feature chain drive to the rear wheel. But the main goal in choosing that configuration seemed to have been to keep the machine recognizably Guzzi, rather than for any real performance benefit.

1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone Dash1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone Rear

Produced from 1950 to 1963, the Falcone, or “Hawk” in Italian, followed Guzzi’s bird-name convention of the period. It featured telescopic forks and their famous “horizontal” single that allowed for good access to cooling airflow and a low center of gravity. The distinctive exposed flywheel kept engine castings light and compact, since they didn’t actually have to surround the spinning mass, while the flywheel itself remained heavy enough to smooth out the juddering power pulses of the big single and helped the bike pull cleanly from low revs. The low center of gravity made for excellent handling and the machine was famed for its smoothness, durability, simplicity, and high-quality construction.

From the original eBay listing: 1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone for Sale

For auction is my 1954 Falcone. This bike is a beautiful restored motorcycle about 13 years on the restoration. It has been garaged and covered with an occasional ride a couple times a year. It starts on the first kick. 3 days ago I took the pics and a running video that I can send you if interested. On start up the fuel petcocks were dripping. I drove it 5 miles and when I returned It had a bit of oil mist on the back fender. It did have a oil drip. It shifts and drives excellent. I have put around 100 miles on this bike during my ownership driving to local shows and meets.  It takes the show as the chrome work is flawless.  This motorcycle will be a very nice addition to any collection.

1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone L Front1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone R Rear

This one is not quite perfect perhaps, with a couple fluid drips but, looking at the miles, it’s clear that just means it actually gets ridden. There’s a pretty active community that adores these bikes, and parts are available to keep them running. And run they do: designed with locomotive torque in mind, they will basically pull from a walking pace in top gear with the engine turning over so slowly you can literally count the combustion events. Plus there’s the always amusing benefit of having your left boot tip polished to a mirror sheen by that exposed flywheel…

-tad

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7 Responses

  1. I’m very curious about the Guzzi designs you referenced with 75d jugs and chain drive… do you have a link or any more info on them? I’ve built loop, tonti, & spine models and am a Guzzi nerd. Never heard of these leaked drawings!

    At first I assumed you were talking about the MGS-01, but that was the same basic 8V big block that Dr. John Wittner developed racing, and certainly a normal shaft drive.

  2. tad says:

    I’d love to give you more details, but that’s basically all I’ve got: I’m pulling it from memory, since this was from back in the largely pre-internet days. I’m sure I’ve got a magazine article buried in a box somewhere in my parents’ basement. I’ll try to remember to dig around a bit, next time I’m there. What I read was largely conjecture and rumor, and I’m pretty sure I saw a pic of a prototype engine. It was supposed to be Guzzi’s competition for the 916, but it obviously never materialized. And if you look around for “Swallower Moto Guzzi” you can find some pretty cool chain-driven Guzzis with alternative front ends…

  3. I’ll let you know if I find info on it myself. Guzzi has a rich history of developing beautiful sport bikes and shelving them.

    The Swallower(s) are definitely interesting. Especially the tele-lever style front ends.

  4. tad says:

    Well, look what I found: http://www.motorcyclenews.com/mcn/news/newsresults/archive/83313/83314/83317/83338/ That’s exactly the image I remember of the engine. Too bad this never panned out. And as a Guzzi guy, does it bother you that the v-twin is considered “transverse”? This bugs the heck out of me, since in the car world, it’s the crankshaft orientation that determines transverse/longitudinal… Apparently, they throw that rule out the window for motorcycles. I still say that Ducati’s twin is “transverse”, Guzzi’s “longitudinal.”

  5. And heres some larger images I found based off that article:

    http://imgur.com/f36DbUw
    http://imgur.com/TntGKMj

    Really bummed reading about their 1998 SBK aspirations. Can you imagine what we’d have now if they had started racing this engine in the early 2000s?

    I make the same distinction you do, crank vs frame should determine orientation. A Harley would be transverse. I guess at some point a line through the cylinders became the new mark.

  6. tad says:

    Yeah, would have been cool to see them in SuperBike racing for sure. They’ve carved out a niche for themselves in the current market, but I’d like to have seen them as a viable, sporting alternative to Ducati, which will never happen as things stand right now: that’s Aprilia’s job, as part of the Piaggio Group. Actually, I’d like to be able to watch SBK in general: not easy to do in the US, and I actually prefer it to Moto GP.

    I got into the transverse/longitudinal discussion online the other day. Honestly, why would the number of wheels make any difference as to how you categorize engines? To classify them by “their widest point” really makes no sense: so is a single-cylinder engine transverse or longitudinal? What about a square four? I think someone who didn’t know any better just screwed up at some point and everyone else just sort of went along with it. Unfortunately, that includes Moto Guzzi’s official US website…

  7. Piaggio is a bad place for Guzzi right now. I would’ve liked to see Rotax in control. The mill in the Aprilia RSV might’ve been developed (longitudinally) for Guzzi instead. Tables turned. I’d buy Rotax engineered Mandello Del Lario hand-built sports bikes all day long, until I ran out of money (which would be before breakfast)

    That said, there has been talk of a(nother) new water-cooled mill in development in the 1300-1400 range for a (rumored) new LeMans. Could it be our Daytona? Probably not.

    (source: http://www.cycleworld.com/2013/06/04/new-moto-guzzi-liquid-cooled-v-twin-engine-work-in-progress/)