Tagged: heron heads

1980 Moto Morini 3½ Sport for Sale

1980 Moto Morini 350 L side

With even the unlovely Ducati 860GT and Mark II and III Moto Guzzis rapidly escalating in value, riders on the hunt for budget Italian exotica may finally be turning to Morini to get their fix.

Either because of a lack of development budget or sheer stubbornness, Morini never got caught up in the frenzy to develop larger machines for American buyers that afflicted… Well just about every other major manufacturer. They stuck with their middleweight philosophy that stressed handling and light weight, and the 3½ [344cc] was the little brother to their 500, but was in no way de-contented or stripped-down: it was a legitimate sportbike that could easily embarrass larger machines with an experienced pilot at the helm.

1980 Moto Morini 350 Dash

The 72º v-twin was compact and smooth, and made the most of its respectable 37bhp [in Sport form] with a rare-for-the-period six-speed gearbox. This innovative engine featured traditional pushrods, but used a toothed belt to drive the camshaft and featured Heron heads that gave excellent fuel economy.

This particular example features an angular full fairing that, until recently, I hadn’t seen before on a Morini. Does it work? Probably. Is it particularly good-looking? Well I’m not a fan, but if you love early 80’s Guzzis, this might be right up your alley. It’s likely easy to remove and reinstall if you ever intend to sell it.

1980 Moto Morini 350 R Bar

From the original listing: 1980 Moto Morini 3½ Sport for Sale

Offered for sale, a fully-sorted Morini 3 1/2 Sport (yes, a real Sport, has the “S” stamp on the engine, see pics). 

Was owned (we believe original owner) by a motorcycle collector who unfortunately cannot ride anymore due to injuries from a car accident, then acquired by long-time Italian motorcycle specialist in 2012. All issues sorted out and is now turn-key, unlike a couple other vintage Morini’s that have popped up here recently. Had posted this here a few times and decided to throw some more maintenance items at it before re-posting. 

Original paint and tires

Factory fairing and lowers

Modified mufflers with re-packable inserts.

Electric tach and starter working fine

Cracked red turn signal reflector, right rear, repaired poorly

Bike is being ridden daily, mileage may change. Just put 200 miles on last weekend, no problems.

The seller mentions that the starter is working fine, which is definitely notable, since it wasn’t exactly reliable, even when new. No worries though: the bike also featured a kick-start and that’s generally how people get them going these days.

1980 Moto Morini 350 Front

The listing also features a very nice video of the bike being started and revved.

These are popular bikes among fans of classics who like to use their bikes, and parts are available to keep these on the road. Honestly, these have always been hard to find, but prices have been almost embarrassingly low for far too long and are slowly on the rise. Grab one now and stash it in your garage, or show up at bike nights and impress with your eclectic taste.


1980 Moto Morini 350 R Side

1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport

1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Side

Looking for a sporty Italian classic with handling, rarity, style, and a reasonable price? One you can own, maintain, and ride without having to sell a kidney or two? Look no further: I’ve found your ride, a 1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport.

1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport R Engine

Moto Morini never developed a big motor to compete with rivals from Guzzi, Laverda, MV Agusta, and Ducati, which likely explains why they’re largely forgotten in this country. It certainly isn’t because they’re lacking in the technology department: compact 72º v-twin, interesting Heron-style cylinder heads, a six-speed gearbox, and electric start? Which one of those other manufacturers offered all that in one package?

And while these aren’t horsepower kings and won’t win too many drag races, you should catch the bigger boys in the corners: by all accounts, Morini’s are sweet-handling and very nimble. And keep in mind that, with 46hp, the 500cc version certainly isn’t slow.

1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport Dash

This particular example is claimed to start “on the button”, which is notable since Morini’s electric start is generally thought to be decorative…

From the original eBay listing: 1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport for Sale

Up for bid is a pristine 1983 Moto Morini 500 V Sport. I bought the bike with 460 miles and it has only 1300 now. The bike is in pristine condition as the mileage would indicate.

Under my ownership, I added stainless mufflers, billet V stacks for the Dellorto carbs (which were re jetted), CRG mirrors, metal/enameled tank, side cover and triple tree badges,stainless hardware throughout the bike, and rear sets from Wolfgang Tritsch. The rearsets required a modification to the kick-start lever and new shift lever linkage to be fabricated.

The bike starts on the button or will kick over and start on first kick. It runs flawlessly and is a joy to ride.

1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Engine

This later Morini lacks some of the classic styling cues of earlier versions, but on the plus side it has obviously been very well cared for and has almost impossibly low miles for a bike that must be very tempting to ride. Also note the vented clutch cover, with the dry clutch peeking out.

1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Wheel

Bidding is at $4,500 with the reserve not yet met and plenty of time to go. These used to be available at that price just a few years ago, when you could find them. It looks like values of nice Morinis are on the rise, although maybe that’s just inflation…


1983 Moto Morini 500 Sport R Side

1979 Moto Morini 3½ for Sale

1979 Moto Morini L Rear

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.”

1979 Moto Morini R Engine

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.

1979 Moto Morini Speedo

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.


1979 Moto Morini R Side