Moto Morini often gets lost in the shuffle when discussing classic bikes. They never really had much of a presence in the US, where big engines and straight-line performance ruled the day, although the “little” Moto Morini 3½ was actually considered a “middleweight” machine when it was introduced in 1974.
Although the 344cc 72° V-twin’s provided fairly limited power, the 3½ was blessed with typical Latin handling, so pilots could make the most of what was available and embarrass larger machines on a twisty road. The styling is simple and very handsome, although that rear exhaust pipe has always bugged me: it always looks a bit too kinked to be very “high performance.”
While the looks are conservative, the powertrain has several unusual features: a six-speed transmission, belt-driven cam, and “Heron” heads that have a flat underside and parallel valves. Combustion in a Heron-head engine actually takes place in the concave surface of the piston top, instead of in the cylinder head. This relatively unusual configuration was also used in the small-bore V35 and V50 Moto Guzzis to simplify manufacturing and provide impressive fuel economy.
From the original eBay listing: 1979 Moto Morini 3½ for Sale
1979 Moto Morini Strada 350 cc. New quality paint base coat clear coat in beautiful condition no defects, dings, or scratches. Seat reupholstered, very nice. Tires and rims good, starts immediately even if it sits for extended periods of time and runs out very well once warmed up. Shifts well, clutch good, no issues. Electric start as well as kick start works well. Original Moto Morini mufflers La Franconi a good 7 out of 10, no dings very minor pitting. No oil leaks, new petcock and fuel lines. Carbs set up well. Good turn key collectible, ride anywhere. Never down. 5,800 Original miles, recent oil change. Tank clean inside. All lights, turn signals, brake lights function properly.
These come up for sale from time to time and seem to be slowly creeping up in price, but they’re still a great way to get into classic Italian motorcycle ownership. Nimble, with unintimidating power, it’s a great bike for those just starting out on bikes, those short of limb, people who are happy to motor along at a relaxed pace, or those who for whom “maintaining cornering speed” is the name of the game.
This one’s price is staying pretty low: it’s at only $2,500 with about a day left to go. If it stays anywhere near that price, I’d say it’s a screaming deal.