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.
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.
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…