Moto Guzzi V 50


Make Model

Moto Guzzi V 50


1977 - 78


Four stroke, 90° V twin, longitudinally mounted, OHV, 2 valve per cylinder.


490 cc / 29.9 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 74 x 57 mm
Cooling System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 10.4:1


2x 24mm Dell'Orto carburetors


Battery powered inductive
Starting Electric

Max Power

48 hp / 35.7 kW @ 7500 rpm

Max Torque

Clutch Dry single plate


5 Speed 
Final Drive Shaft
Frame Duplex spine type

Front Suspension

Telehydraulic gas forks

Rear Suspension

Swinging arm fork with hydraulic gas shock absorbers

Front Brakes

2x 260mm discs

Rear Brakes

Single 235mm disc

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre

Seat Height 30 in

Dry Weight

152 kg / 335 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

16 Litres / 4.2 US gal




Charlie Harris and Eric Silberman assess the performance of two little shafties during a year _of ownership.


Unlike my friend's V50 which has a good thrashing on the continent, the CX500 can offer no exciting fables of high-speed jaunts from Marseilles' red-light district back home to where the Mafia hold court in darkest Bedfordshire. All, or rather most of its progress has been from the depths of rural Reigate to (gay?) debonair Rathbone Place and Which Bike?'s West End headquarters, a daily trip of some sixty miles. That's meant a total of 6,000 miles spread over nine months and there follows a nail-biting, breathtaking report on how the bike's coped with such an arduous task.

Firstly, with hand on heart, I can say that my commuter express has not used a drop of oil in all the miles that it has been thrashed — no, none at all! Also the radiator hasn't seen any extra fluid, neither have the brakes been adjusted, not one single bulb or switch has failed, either. But what has amazed me most, that in all these months the machine has been used, is that I have constantly ridden with the headlight on and it is as bright today as it was when it was brand new.
The engine is really loose now and performs magnificently except for slight vibration around 65mph which affects the mirrors with annoying regularity. (This could be something to do with the tappets which, it seems, open up after adjust-

The only real luxury I have allowed myself is a pair of Avon tubeless tyres and what a differance they make, especially in the wet. The original Bridgestone "grip-less specials" sent the fear of God into me every time it rained, but that could be a little unfair, has anyone else been skating in Trafalgar Square, homeward bound on a wet Friday night? I'm sure that all those that know that particular piece of evil will understand!

Those that ride a CX in slowish traffic usually remark on how heavy the steering is and how white lines and ridges effect the handling of the bike. But when I changed to the Avons the handling was transformed, the steering was so much lighter than before and this, of course, made for easier manouvering and greater safety. So much so in fact that 1 hardly regard even the thickest of white lines as a hazard any more.

Braking distance has been improved in the wet, with the rear wheel hanging on where before it would have locked up, but grabbing a hand-full of twin discs up front can now be done with great confidence.

Whilst on holiday, various riders used my personal smoker, including former Editor John Nutting, who can be very hard on test bikes but even he failed to burn out the clutch after pulling continual standing lA miles at Santa Pod; other bikes might not have been so robust!
Over the last 18 months many machines have come my way, either because they were too valuable to park in the street over-night or purely for the fact that I fancied a bit of a 'pose'. The only trouble with exotic machines parked outside my gaff is the continual "what'll she do mister" or "I have been thinking of buying one of these" comments every time I step out of the door. It all gets very boring.

However that wasn't the case with the slowest but most economical bike I borrowed, a Batavus fully automatic moped. The Batavus managed 160mpg and the journey took 1 hour 20 mins, but car drivers gave me a little trouble because sitting on the dual carriageway at such a slow speed and so low to the ground they regarded me, if at all, as being of little consequence (are they alone in this?! - Ed) and frequently came far too close for comfort.

I went to the other extreme on the BMW RT1000 and the Moto-Guzzi G5, neither really suited to heavy comuter traffic, and of course a job they were not intended for. So here we are back to the Honda CX500 which has proved to me without doubt the best allrounder for general use. The advantages as I see them are as follows: The shaft-drive reliability, of course. High seating position enabling the rider to see at least 3 cars ahead. Superb lights front and rear. The most tractable engine I have yet come across, and for overtaking very quickly the engine will streak up to 10,000rpm in the gears, taking the rider away from any potential danger quickly and easily.

I was asked if there were any improvements that could be incorporated in the CX, and of course there are. I would start with the gearshift, which in constant traffic means one is having to go from 5th down through neutral and then to 1st and 30 seconds later repeat the whole process again, and an unnecessary one at that. Why don't bike manufacturers copy car-type gear changes, whereby you can cruise up to traffic lights in 3rd or top and just slip the thing into neutral and go straight into first gear?
I would also like to see
permanent side lights fitted to the bike along with a reflector facing out sideways from each of the spokes on the wheels, anyone who drives a car at night in dark, wet and conjested traffic will know all too well how easy it is to miss a rider who is pulling-out from a road junction. (Huh? - Ed).

Finally, I would like dual operating brakes like the Moto-Guzzi, but with more sensitive controls instead of having both brakes working from the foot pedal have them from the front brake which is easier to use, has more finesse and is immediately to hand.
In summation I would say the CX has been perfect for the job I have used it for and has never let me down in any way whatsoever. Charlie Harris


Moto-Guzzi's 500cc V50 is, on paper at any rate, an ideal touring machine with its combination of shaft drive, simple engine and low weight to make up for any deficiencies in the power department. To put this theory to the test. I recently took it on a two
week tour of France, Switzerland and Italy.

Setting off from Calais, courtesy of Townsend Thore-sen, the bike seemed unaffected by the additional burden of a pillion passenger and 60 pounds of camping equipment and luggage packed onto a Hi-Way rack and panniers, although getting the bike onto the centre-stand proved awkWard because the bike was very precariously balanced when on its side stand and would also drip oil from a breather pipe in this position.

Two days out from Calais saw us arrive at Lucerne in Switzerland, the bike having behaved impeccably, cruising at speeds of up to 85mph for hours on end on minor French roads (the Auto-routes are very expensive) with temperatures sizzling into the high eighties.
Leaving Lucerne where I contrived to drop the bike, fortunately with no more damage than a bent brake pedal, it was time to head for the Guzzi's motherland. The St. Gothard Pass is an impressive masterpiece of Alps; the rarified atmosphere and steep climbs making themselves felt as the machine struggled to reach the top. It was during the descent into Italy that an old fault recurred — oil on the rear disc.

Heading for Lake Como the heavens opened, releasing an almost tropical downpour but thankfully the original archaic metal plug caps had been replaced with rubber ones after failing on the return trip from the Isle of Man TT, and the well waterproofed electrics never displayed any of their infamous Italian temperament.

The roads around Lake Como resemble a permanent Mad Sunday with every form of motorised two-wheeled transport hell-bent on getting nowhere fast. . . and first! Everything from moped-kids with their feet on the bars to stripped-down scooters with side-saddled signorinas riding pillion, and occasionally cruising majestically through the crowd an Italian super-bike, a rare sight even on its own home turf.

From Como it was off to the French Riviera and some serious cafe posing in St. Tropez where Honda's CBX was the machine to be seen on. Another port of call was the highly over-rated Monte Carlo; a sort of Birmingham inner ring road, plus sunshine.

The journey from the South of France to home, 50 miles north of London should have been a leisurely two day affair but once again the weather turned nasty; gale force winds and torrential rain making a night under canvas a depressing prospect, so the entire 850 mile trip was tackled in one twenty-two hour stretch. This was the only part of the journey where I felt the need for a more powerful machine, and more padding on the seat, as the bike was blown all over the road and had to struggle against a strong head wind.

Like good wine the Guzzi is improving with age. Over 6,000 extremely varied miles, the motor has loosened up nicely and the gearchange become smoother. The only modifications from standard have been the aforementioned rubber plug caps, the fitting of a Cibie Z Beam to replace the inadequate headlamp, and treating the engine to a set of gold tipped sparking plugs which seems to have cured the occasional hiccup that would occur after prolonged town riding at low revs.

Most of the faults have been trivial ones, like three blown stop lights and the side stand vibrating itself loose (cured with a drop of Loctite). More serious was a vicious front wheel wobble at 85mph but this was easily cured by inflating the front tyre to 31 psi.

Moto-Guzzi are obviously aware of the problem as later models now arrive with a ribbed front tyre. The long running problem of oil leaking onto the rear disc has now been cured once and for all (I hope) and as far as oil consumption is concerned, the Guzzi has proved quite abstemious, using only a pint and a quarter on its 2,000 mile European jaunt.