Happy 100th Birthday, Moto Guzzi!

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan
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Add Moto Guzzi to the very short list of manufacturers able to say they’ve been in existence for 100 years. Today – March 15, 2021 – marks the 100-year mark for one of Italy’s famed motorcycle brands, which can also lay claim to having every single one of its models since the beginning roll out from the same door in Mandello del Lario.

While we had originally intended on penning a brief history of the brand, highlighting major accomplishments along the way, Moto Guzzi’s own press release below does a good job of covering the brand’s last 100 years.

As you can imagine, Moto Guzzi accomplished a lot over the past century, not least of which includes capturing 14 world championships, some land speed records, and successfully completing a trip to the arctic circle – in 1928. Today we don’t really think of the brand as one pushing the limits of technology and innovation but in Guzzi’s early years its motorcycles only had one cylinder and an external flywheel beside the rider’s left foot to keep the engine dimensions small.

Moto Guzzi even experimented with a V8 engine – the Ottocilindri (eight cylinder)– for the 1955-1957 grand prix seasons. At only 500cc, the engine featured dual overhead cams, liquid-cooling, and a separate carburetor for each cylinder. It was able to reach 172 mph but was incredibly dangerous to ride, even for the time, as the tires, suspension, brakes, and chassis couldn’t keep up with the incredible speed the engine could produce. The project was ultimately scrapped, and it would take another 20 years before grand prix motorcycles could top the 172 mph mark.

Today Moto Guzzi motorcycles are better known for their quirky (some would call it charming), laterally-mounted V-Twins. With each cylinder sticking out the sides, Moto Guzzis would tilt to one side as you rev them at a stop. Performance isn’t part of the appeal anymore, but character, style, and elegance are now the brand’s strong suits.

It’s fair to say Moto Guzzi has aged well over the past century. Whether you like them or not, the brand holds a special place in motorcycling history. Check out the brand’s official press release below celebrating its accomplishment. There you can get a brief history of the company’s beginnings, as well as other milestones achieved throughout the years.

After that, prepare yourself for a giant photo gallery with nearly 400 pictures highlighting the Mandello del Lario factory, the company’s founders, early racing pilots, and several models from over the years.

Happy birthday, Moto Guzzi. Here’s to 100 more.

Begin press release:

On 15 March 2021, Moto Guzzi will celebrate its first legendary 100 years.

A century of history, splendid motorcycles, triumphs, adventures and extraordinary personalities, who together built the legendary Eagle Brand. Moto Guzzi celebrates this exceptional milestone at a time when it is enjoying a fresh new season of success.

The motorcycle range has been extensively renewed, with the deployment of state-of-the-art technical features in terms of electronic rider aids, while the brand values of style and authenticity have been kept intact. Each Moto Guzzi motorbike is constructed at the Mandello del Lario plant with craftsmanlike care and commitment to a unique, authentic identity, skillfully balancing the classic Moto Guzzi style with cutting-edge technology and reflecting a construction philosophy that creates an exclusive relationship between the bike and the rider.

Piaggio Group Chairman and CEO Roberto Colaninno said: “The Moto Guzzi centenary is a proud moment both for the Piaggio Group, which was joined by the Eagle brand in 2004, and for Italian industry as a whole, not just the motorcycling sector. A capacity for innovation, boldness in moving ahead of the times, a competitive spirit, love for the product and meticulous attention to production quality are the skills that over the years Moto Guzzi has combined with its unique relationship with the local community. Ever since 1921, every Moto Guzzi bike that has gone out into the world has been built at the Mandello factory, the place where the company was set up exactly one hundred years ago. All this will continue through its second century of history. Moto Guzzi is an example of all-Italian excellence,” added Colaninno. “It has gone down in our country’s history without ever losing its youthful spirit and continues to inspire genuine passion among thousands of Guzzi bikers all over the world.”

The eagle logo, the unmistakable Moto Guzzi emblem, has in itself helped to create the legend of a brand that has always been indissolubly tied to the history of Italy.

The spread-winged eagle dates back to the military service of the company’s founders, Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi, in the Italian Royal Navy’s Aviation arm during World War One. It was during the war that the two friends, and pilot Giovanni Ravelli, decided to go into motorcycle manufacturing once the conflict ended. Ravelli was killed in an accident in 1919 and was never able to achieve his dream. Guzzi and Parodi chose the Eagle as their symbol to commemorate their companion.

Over its one hundred years, Moto Guzzi has won victories on racing circuits around the world, raising the Italian flag for an impressive 14 World Championship Titles. It was the motorbike of the speed record, the symbol of growth of a country looking to the future, the motorcycle of the police force and the army, and extended its vocation to the international stage, equipping the Californian Police and, more recently, the police forces in Berlin and many other European cities, as well as the sovereign’s escort in Jordan. Moto Guzzi is also the motorcycle of the Corazzieri, the elite corps that escorts the President of the Italian Republic.

From the very start, Moto Guzzi has been the motorcycle of choice for long-distance travel. It was 1928 when Giuseppe Guzzi reached the Arctic Circle on his GT “Norge”, starting a tradition that still continues, with travelers setting off on their Moto Guzzi bikes every day, somewhere in the world, bound for distant lands.

Today Moto Guzzi is a core division of the Piaggio Group, Europe’s leading constructor of motorcycles and scooters, which has conserved Moto Guzzi’s original characteristics, promoted its values and returned it to a forefront position.

The move back into competitive racing with the Moto Guzzi Fast Endurance Trophy, to be held this year on a European scale, and a new family of motorbikes have brought Moto Guzzi back to a prime market position and introduced its name to a younger public. The classic V7, which has just come out on the new 850 twin cylinder, and the classic enduro V85TT intended for travel and designed for comfort and easy riding, are the best-sellers of a brand that has been enjoying a revival for a number of years.

Moto Guzzi has always been admired and respected by bikers all over the world, whatever motorcycle they own, and bikers will be the protagonists of Moto Guzzi World Days at Mandello del Lario from 9 to 12 September, the clou event in the festivities for the Moto Guzzi centenary, the main celebration for this special anniversary.

Moto Guzzi World Days has always been an unmissable occasion for bikers and now makes its eagerly awaited comeback, ten years after the last edition. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts will arrive from every corner of the planet to enjoy a unique and unforgettable event, made possible thanks to the collaboration between Moto Guzzi, the Comitato Motoraduno Internazionale and the municipality of Mandello del Lario.


It was 15 March 1921 when the “Società Anonima Moto Guzzi” company was established, for the “manufacture and sale of motorcycles and any other activity related or linked to the metalworking industry”. That was the moment when the founders, Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi, chose the spread-winged eagle as the company logo, in memory of their comrade-in-arms Giovanni Ravelli. The trio had served together in the Royal Navy’s Aviation arm, where they had developed the idea of setting up a business to build innovative motorcycles once the war had ended. Ravelli died in 1919 during a test flight and his two friends decided to commemorate him with the symbol of the air division. The eagle has been the symbol of Moto Guzzi since then, and rapidly became a world-famous trademark.

This was the beginning of an industrial enterprise based in Mandello del Lario – in the factory where Moto Guzzi bikes are still manufactured today – that has gone down in the history of world motorcycling, producing bikes that have become part of the collective imagination: bikes like the GT 500 Norge (1928) ridden to the Arctic Circle by founder Carlo Guzzi’s brother Giuseppe, the Airone 250 (1939), the Galletto (1950), which powered mass motorization in the postwar period.

The 1950s saw the debut of the wind tunnel – a world first in the motorcycle industry, and still open for visits today at the Mandello factory – the brainchild of a close-knit team of extraordinary engineers including Umberto Todero, Enrico Cantoni and a designer whose name would quickly acquire legendary status: Milan-born Giulio Cesare Carcano, father of the incredible Otto Cilindri, or V8, with a top speed of 285 km/hour (1955), and the prototypes that won 15 world speed titles and 11 Tourist Trophy titles between 1935 and 1957.

In the 1960s, after the lightweight two-wheelers Stornello and Dingo, Moto Guzzi brought out the 700 cc 90° V-twin engine with cardan shaft final drive, destined to become the symbol of the Mandello manufacturer on such legendary models as the V7 Special, the V7 Sport, the California and the Le Mans. The engine was consistently evolved on this architecture and today, flanked by cutting-edge electronic control features, powers the most popular Moto Guzzi two-wheelers, such as the V7 range, the V9 Roamer and Bobber, and the great V85TT tourer, the world’s first-ever classic enduro.

To celebrate the centenary, the entire Moto Guzzi range is also available in the special Centennial Livery, in an exclusive edition for 2021 only, inspired by the legendary Otto Cilindri racer.

Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

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  • Mad4TheCrest Mad4TheCrest on Mar 17, 2021

    My very first 'big' bike was a Honda CX500, which had at its heart an engine that looked very much like a Guzzi engine, though water-cooled. I loved the look of Guzzi-style transverse twins, and still do. There wasn't a Guzzi dealer anywhere near me in those days, but now there is. So maybe i will have the real thing, finally. The 850cc motor in the TT is powerful enough and characterful enough, and if it finds its way undiminished into a more standard-style model, that could be my opportunity.

  • Stuki Moi Stuki Moi on Mar 17, 2021

    I wish manufactures would still experiment with 500cc V8s.......

    And that Guzzi would again build a somewhat "serious" Lemans