Air cooled, four stroke,
V twin, longitudinally mounted, OHV, 2 valve per cylinder.
Bore x Stroke
83 x 78 mm
2x 29mm VHB Dell'Orto
Battery and coil /
64 hp @ 6500 rpm
(1) 11.42(2)7.92(3)5.98 (4) 4.96 (5) 4.28
8.7in x 1.7in. Drum
8.7in x 1.7in.Drum
14. sec / 94 mph
Among motorcyclists, there is ;i small group that
enjoys riding on long trips. It isn't a group, actually, for you seldom see more
than a pair who have covered more than the same thousand miles on a trip at the
same time. And more often than not, the long-distance rider is a loner. Alone at
times by choice, and in other instances simply because it's awful hard to get
any combination of two bikes and riders together that are comfortable with the
Some of these cycling tourists like to break up
their trip with social and/or service stops at dealers' shops along the way.
Others don't particularly cotton to the hail-fellow-well-met joviality at the
dealer's, but are compelled to endure it by their bike's lack of reliability or
frequent maintenance schedule. And another kind of rider thoroughly enjoys
working on his machine: he totes a full tool kit with all the special oils and
greases that his bike continually distributes on him, itself, and the road.
There are lots of motorcycles which provide
adequate service to the above types. Today, it is rare to find a new big bike
that sheds parts steadily along the road, and not too many vibrate so badly that
the rider has to rest every hundred miles. A bike as small as a 450 Honda is an
adequate tourer for a solo rider who doesn't carry much of a pack.
But for the cycling tourist who wants to be free,
there are only two motorcycles to choose from: the big Moto Guzzi V-twin, and
the BMW R75/5. Freedom means a lot in this sense. Freedom for a big rider to
carry a big passenger and the necessary luggage, even in a side-car if desired.
Freedom from the chain which the rider had to stop every 200 miles to lube or
adjust or both. And freedom from having to plan a journey route around the
business hours and location of dealers which have the special tools or stock the
spare parts and special oil that some bikes require. In all, freedom to simply
ride wherever and whenever you wish and be able to feel good about the trip.
We've tested two models of the big Moto Guzzi
750cc Ambassador: in the Oct. '69 and Apr. '71 issues of Cycle. We knew the
character traits, strong points, and drawbacks of these majestic tourers. In the
first part of this test, we'll refresh your memory of them and tell you what we
think of this year's improvements. In the second part, we look at one of the
most unlikely superbikes imaginable, the V750 Sport.
At first glance, the V850 Eldorado looks exactly
like last year's centerstand to be operated from either side of the bike.
V750 Ambassador, and not very much different from the 1970 Our test machine was
finished in solid black, with subtle white
model. The improvements, then, are all evolutionary ones that pin striping on
the tank, fenders, side panels and tool boxes. The
make an already great machine even better. bike is also available with a white,
red, or black tank with white
The Eldorado is a massive looking motorcycle, but
the big fend- fenders. We liked the solid black best—it gave the bike a Rolls
ers and wide, transversely mounted V-twin engine are deceptive. Royce look of
bulky elegance. The other schemes seemed just Its 58-inch wheelbase is a
half-inch shorter than the Honda 750 gaudy enough to detract from the
stateliness, though the all-while Four and H-D Sportster, and identical to the
Norton Commando, wasn't bad. Guzzi is very subtle with the use of chrome and pol-An
H-D 74 is 3.5-inches longer and a BMW R-75/5 is 3.5-inches ished aluminum on the
Eldorado. The roekerarm covers and gen-shorter, erator-drive belt cover are
polished alloy, while the exhaust system,
Sitting on the best seat in motorcycling gives
you added visual cylinder guard rail, brake and shift levers, seat grab rail,
fuel tank impression that the bike is bigger than it is. The fat, gracefully
knee pads, shock springs, and front fender guard are the main bulbous fuel tank
is 11 inches across where your knees touch the chrome plated parts.
All of the bolts and nuts, as well as the oil
chrome plated side panels, and it flares out to a width of 14 inches filler and
inspection plugs, are chrome or cadmium plated. On one at the widest section.
The Guzzi weighs 559 pounds with all its of the first nights we had the 850, it
was left outside. Of course it lubricants and a half tank of gas—almost 80
pounds more than a rained like hell. The Guzzi is the first motorcycle we've
tested that Honda 750. You can feel some extra heft when you let the tank fall
didn't have little rusty places all over it after a good drenching, from side to
side between your legs, but the impression isn't over- For some reason, as yet
inexplicable to us, sportiness in a motor-whelming.
The V850's heavy parts, the crankshaft and
gearbox, cycle has been stylistically idealized by abbreviated and mostly are
carried very low in the frame, which makes the center of gravi- useless
nonstructual parts. Given this theme, the Guzzi is certainly ty correspondingly
low. The center stand lifts the bike a full two not sporty.
As mentioned before, the tank is large and
rotund. But inches at the rear wheel, and we thought that it would be very its
volume gives the bike a 200-plus mile cruising range.
The fend-difficult to put the stand down. But
once you get the knack of ers are very wide and deep and cover a lot of the
tires' circumfer-stepping on the stand's end while tugging on the seat rail,
it's ence. We rode the 850 about 60 miles on wet roads, during stop-actually a
fairly easy, if awkWard, operation. Foot tabs allow the and-go showers: those
non-sporty fenders kept nearly all the wheel spray off us. And that big, long,
funny-looking, lumpily-contoured seat luxuriously supported one of our staff
members and his wife on a day-long tour of Long Island that was the first long
passenger ride that the lady had ever enjoyed.
The tool boxes are just that: boxes. They are
about three-inches deep and have lazily rounded corners. The shape is that of a
canned-ham tin: kind of a 3-D triangle that was blown up with an air hose.
Stamped steel side covers, just under the front of the seat, hide the huge
battery (required by the electric starter), and the air cleaner. In shape, these
covers are slight trapezoids, not far from being square. The only thing that
keeps them from being nice-looking is the placement of a row of imitation
breathing louvers over the portion which covers the air cleaners. Even the
chrome plated pads on the sides of the fuel tank are entirely functional:
They keep the rider's knees from rubbing the
paint off the tank. Black rubber pads wouldn't look as good and would eventually
The headlight is half-egg-shaped and is supported by very plain stamped ears
which attach to the top legs of very massive-looking forks. The tires are fat
4.00x18 Pirelli Supersport Universals and are mounted on Borrani Record aluminum
rims. A golden eagle, like the one in the Sesame Street cartoon, flies above the
logo on the tank. The net visual effect of the layout and styling is one of
classical-funky, ageless, rich, utilitarian, graceful. In the way that an old
Mercedes or Rolls sedan is grand, the Guzzi Eldorado is a Grand Motorcycle.
Sitting on the saddle again, we gaze at the
stamped mini-automotive instrument panel. There's an electric tachometer on the
left, opposite a mechanical speedometer. Between these two instruments is the
ignition switch and a quartet of indicator lights. A little black plastic hinged
cover keeps water and grit out of the key hole when not in use. The key controls
power to the ignition and starter only, but serves additionally to control a
mechanical fork lock. With the key rotated to its most counter-clockWise
position and/or removed, the forks are locked to the left.
The first clockWise position unlocks the forks,
but all power is off. Another twist of the key lights the little red indicator
lamp to tell you the ignition is on and the battery is discharging. If the
gearbox is in the neutral position, an orange lamp also lights. If the engine is
cold, a lever up near the throttle grip is pulled clockWise to actuate the
carburetion enriching system.
This system is new to the Guzzi, and is a vast
improvement over the pseudo-accelerator pump on last year's 750. With the
throttle off, a touch on the dime-sized button down under the en-richer lever
actuates the electric starter. The starter groans its complaint at being
summoned, but twists the engine over, cha-glunk, cha-glunk. It always started on
the second cha-glunk, hot or cold. If we tried to start off before allowing the
engine to warm for three minutes, the bike would hiss and pop its rebellion.
Upon warming, the lumpy exhaust note tells you it's time to shut off the
A smooth but irregular idle develops that sounds
exactly like that of a 74 H-D. It's a very deep, hollowish sound which has a
soul stirring cadence, much like the drum lead to Song Of India. Without
exception, people we encountered during the test liked the sound and said so
without being asked or prompted.
The rhythm of the sound is common to all V-twins
and is caused by the irregular placement of the cylinders, and consequent
irregular firing. In the case of the Guzzi, the left cylinder fires 270 degrees
after the right, then there is a long pause while the crankshaft rotates 450
degrees and both cylinders breathe for another power cycle.
Sitting there idling, there is a noticeable sideways reaction of the bike to the
crankshaft firing impulses. Since the crankshaft runs front-to-back
(transverse), reaction to engine torque tries to rotate the whole bike like a
goat on a barbeque spit. Just like a car. (On conventional bikes, where the
crankshaft runs across the frame, torque reaction makes the rear end of the bike
An easy six pound pull engages the clutch and a
push back with your boot on the rear pedal of the rocker-type gear shift lever
engages low gear. On last year's test bike low gear engagement was accompanied
with a resounding clunk. The clunk is gone, but at times the engaging dogs
inside the gearbox butt instead of meshing. The result is that you push down on
the pedal, and you feel something move not quite far enough. Sure enough, you
let the clutch out and nothing
The answer is to roll the bike backWard or
forward a few inches to let things line up. Or just let the clutch out gently
while maintaining pressure on the pedal.
Clutch action when moving off was very abrupt and jerky at first. We would let
the lever out slowly, ever so slowly, and then get to a point where the bike
would give a sudden lurch forward that would be very unnerving to our passenger.
The clutch action improved somewhat after a couple hundred miles, but it never
got anywhere near being smooth.
Once moving, even very slowly, all feeling of the
torque reaction vanishes, and the bike becomes 550 pounds of rolling grace. It
feels like a much lighter machine and responds quickly to light efforts applied
against the handlebars. You can idle along at an easy walking pace and there is
absolutely no jerking or roughness. It feels like there are fluid couplings and
shock absorbers all through the drive train.
Slowly opening the throttle from the snail's pace causes the Eldorado to
accelerate very briskly and with steam-engine smoothness. The bike loves to rev
and is amazingly smooth at its 6500 rpm red line. Pushing down on the toe end of
the shift rocker catches second gear with only a hint of the resounding clunk in
last year's gearbox. Because of the huge amount of mass in the Guzzi's engine
shafts and clutch, it takes a moment for the revs to fall to the appropriate
level when you shift gears. If you do wait just that split second, the shifts
are all velvet-smooth. Speed shifting produces a torque-reaction lurch that is
more a novelty than an annoyance.
Moving out onto the interstate lets you know what
the Eldorado is really all about: solid, high-speed, vibrationless comfort. That
machine eats miles like no other motorcycle. Side winds and pressure front
blasts from passing trucks don't faze it in the least. Ripply pavement and chuck
holes go almost unnoticed by your backbone.
And there's incredible cruising power. All last
year's 750 needed was an extra transmission speed to provide an overdrive
situation for cruising. What Guzzi gave its customers was the extra ratio and a
lot more torque to boot. The extra lOOcc obtained from lengthening the stroke
8mm (.314-inch) gives the bike a lot more urge.
The machine cruises absolutely effortlessly at 80
mph and gets there in a hurry, if you want to. At the drag strip, the 850 ran
94.50 mph in 14.04 seconds: that's as quick as any Triumph Bonneville we've ever
In more congested traffic, especially on winding,
curvy roads, a few things gave us a little grief. The turn signal switch is
located near the throttle grip, but just far enough away so that you sometimes
have to take your left hand off the grip and reach over to turn the switch on or
off. It's especially annoying when a hole opens in the traffic, and you can't
signal quickly enough to take advantage of it. And, again this year, cornering
clearance is rather limited. It is easy to scrape the center stand when leaning
into a turn in either direction. And getting stopped is still a hassle: the
brakes are marginal at best.
In normal turnpike cruising, our 850 averaged 42.6 mpg, and gave 36.2 mpg around
Throughout our test, the big V850 suffered
absolutely no mechanical failures and did not leak a drop of oil. We had to
replace one of the steel-shrouded spark plug caps that we accidently crushed
against the side of our van when we picked the bikes up at the U.S. distributor,
Premier Motor Corp., in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. We did remove the tools
from one of the locked tool boxes a couple of times to check the oil levels in
the engine, gearbox, and rear drive during trips, but that was the extent of
trip maintenance. No oil replenishment was required during any of our trips.
The only thing we did to the bike in our shop was
to check the tappet clearance. It was spot-on. We rode the bike and enjoyed it
immensely, while taking in a lot of scenery. Our Eldorado was reassuring and
inobtru-sive at the same time. We simply felt that we could depend on it, no
In all, the Moto Guzzi V850 Eldorado is the most comfortable and least tiring
tourer on the market. With better brakes and more cornering clearance, it could
We had seen pictures of the V750 Sport in the
European papers for over a year. The prototypes for the Sport were largely
exercises of resentment on the part of Guzzi's design and development engineers.
They were tired of the new image, comprised of
staid conservatism, that they projected with producing only the Ambassador.
There are a lot of the same people in Guzzi's offices and shops that were there
when World Championship road racing bikes were being built. After all, they were
still Italian, and the emotional reward derived from building a superlative, if
stodgy-looking, touring bike could only sustain them for so long.
The Guzzi engineers placed the
engine-transmission outline on the drafting paper and drew in the lowest,
strongest frame they could within the bounds of lightness and human anatomy.
Eighteen-inch wheels were placed at each end, in the right relationship to the
frame, to give racing Ground Clearance. The Italian technicians then went to
work on the engine to remove as much weight as possible. First to go was the
huge automotive-type 300-watt generator from the crotch between the cylinders,
and it was replaced with a small, compact unit that fits right on the front of
A much smaller Spanish-Bosch starter motor
replaces the Ambassador's .7 bhp model, but only spots it .3 bhp. The touring
model's massive flywheel/ring gear/dual-plate clutch assembly was lightened
The engine still looks practically the same as it
did: like someone had taken an air-cooled V-eight automobile engine and
band-sawed off the front six cylinders. The crankshaft, camshaft, transmission,
and clutch layout is the same as such a car would have. The frame tucks so
closely to the crankcase and between the cylinders that the bottom frame tubes
had to be made removable, so the engine could be installed and replaced.
To create a more sporting power curve, the breathing components were replaced
with ones which are more efficient at slight-
ly higher revs. The same type square-slide Dell'Orto carbs are a millimeter
larger than those on the tourers.
Three-ring pistons with 9.8:1 compression ratio
replace the stock 9.2:1 c.r. pistons which have an additional oil control ring
at the bottom of the skirt. Of course, the camshaft pushes the valves open
farther and keeps them open longer. The Sport's mufflers are larger in volume,
though not noisier than the tourer's, and there are dual cross-over tubes so
that both cylinders share both mufflers during scavenging. Closer-spaced ratios
in the gearbox with a higher rear-end ratio allow useful advantage of the
peakier engine. A complete dual point, condensor, and coil ignition system
replace the single component distributor setup.
The suspension components have a racing look that gives warning of the Sport's
capabilities. Up front is a very Ceriani-appearing set of forks that bear the
Moto Guzzi logo.
The'bare, chrome plated stanchion tubes and
aluminum sliders and triple clamps hold the same geometry as the touring bike.
Koni multi-adjustable shocks control the action of the rear end.
A completely new set of dual double-leading shoe
brakes are up front, while the standard rear unit has been converted to
The long, low, sleek looks of the Sport are very sporty, in the very most
Italian sense of the word. The frame is painted silver and an angular, 4-gallon
gas tank nestles right down between the cylinders. A quartz-iodide Mar-elli
headlight in an abbreviated shell fairly burns a hole in the road at night.
Though less posh than the tourer's seat, the one on the Sport is beautifully
soft and comfortable. The polished alloy fenders are short and narrow: good for
keeping stones from hitting you in the eye, and that's about it.
Very special Michelin high-speed tires and
Borrani Record rims complete the visual visceral effect of the Sport.
As a well developed and limited production personal superbike, the Sport is
incredibly fine. We took it to Bridgehampton Raceway and thrashed it for a full
afternoon of racing-speed exhilaration.
The machine feels and handles like it weighed 200
pounds less than its 500-pound curb weight. It will corner at road-narrowing (in
the mind's eye of the rider) racing speeds without dragging anything other than
the tip of the footrest rubber. You can't exactly flick it around like a
lightweight, but it responds a lot more quickly, with less effort from the
rider, than any other machine of its type that we have ridden. The red line for
the Sport is 7500 rpm, and we had it at 8500 several times.
Even at those revs, the engine, indeed the entire
motorcycle, is absolutely smooth. Uncannily so. We're accustomed to bikes that
are fast being accompanied by a lot of noise
The clutch is soft and positive in operation and
the right-mounted shift lever has a short, crisp throw. We never missed a shift
on the Sport.
The front wheel brake is built so that you can pull on the lever very hard and
get strong, but not tire-howling, force. The rear unit is quite the opposite.
You have to be careful not to lock the wheel during braking. We had to practice
quite a bit to get the right combination of front and rear brake lever
pressures, coupled with well-synchronized down shifts, to get the most effective
slowing at the corners.
Riding the Sport on the street was no less satisfying than on the track, but
only on open, traffic-free roads. The engine pulls smoothly up to 4000 rpm, then
the cam timing really gets efficient.
The power gets much stronger and from there to
7500 rpm in any gear, the bike accelerates voraciously. In the same way it is
frustrating to drive a
big-engined Corvette on the street, it is difficult to make yourself hold the
Sport within legal bounds. It feels like it wants to charge.
The only thing that spoils the street manners of
the Sport is the absence of an air filter of any sort. The carburetor bells open
into a rubber boot that points down to, and almost touches, the crankcase. Not
only is the engine susceptible to swallowing grit that might scar its chrome
cylinder bores, but a lot of noise also gets out to bother the rider at cruising
speeds. We'd guess that the production batch of Sports will have filters.
For riding around on the street, the short clip-on bars can be raised and
Perhaps the Sport is an introduction to a new
kind of ultra-performance motorcycling: one without the aggravation of a greasy,
clanking engine. For the 300 or so lucky souls who happen to have an extra $2500
in their jeans this year, we do not know of a more potentially satisfying
special edition to spend it on. ®
Source Cycle 1972
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