Moto Guzzi was once a legendary name in motorcycles. Can it make a comeback? (2024)

Mandello Del Lario, Italy – A motorcycle factory sits on the edge of Lake Como in a little town that proudly proclaims itself “La Citta della Moto Guzzi” – the city of Moto Guzzi. Artisans have been hand-fabricating motorcycle parts here since 1921.

Lately the venerable Mandello plant is working overtime. Moto Guzzi, in a bid to compete with leading European manufacturers, has nearly doubled its workforce to produce the V85 TT, an adventure motorcycle that will vie for customers with BMW’s GS, KTM’s Adventure, Ducati’s Multistrada and Triumph’s Tiger machines.

Moto Guzzi was once a legendary name in motorcycles. Can it make a comeback? (1)

So far, the strategy is working. In the six months since it was introduced, the V85 TT has become the company’s hottest model, far exceeding sales expectations. More than 70% of trade-ins on purchases of the V85 TT are from non-Moto Guzzi owners.

“That was our goal, to take new customers from the other brands,” production manager Nello Mariotti said recently as he guided a group of visitors through the factory. “We must make owners of other brands know, what is Moto Guzzi.”

Founded by two World War I airplane pilots and their mechanic, Moto Guzzi entered the European motorcycle market in 1923 and was soon Italy’s leading bike builder. The company manufactured affordable scooters for commuters and elegant, expensive race bikes for enthusiasts – machines that dominated the European Grand Prix circuit. For a time, even the Los Angeles Police Department used Moto Guzzis for its motorcycle fleet.

Despite its successes, the company began to wane. Its founders died; its funding evaporated. Moto Guzzi endured decades of ownership changes before finally being absorbed into the giant Piaggio Group in 2004.

Moto Guzzi became a niche player. It was followed by a small but passionate number of “Guzzisti.” More than 30,000 of them assembled at the Mandello factory for the 2018 Moto Guzzi World Days gathering.

The V85 TT is the company’s play to re-enter the big leagues. With the PR assistance of actor Ewan McGregor – a longtime Guzzisti and recent V85 TT convert – the company is boasting that it has built a tough, tractable machine for the “adventure” market, promising that the V85 TT is capable around town, comfortable on freeway tours and durable enough for off-road riding.

Ed Cook, who operates the AF1 Racing motorcycle shop in Austin, Texas, has had the V85 TT in stock for only 45 days, but he has sold half of the 16 he ordered from Moto Guzzi. He’s ordered 12 more.

“We had more pre-sales on this than any bike we’ve ever sold,” said Cook, who’s been selling Italian motorcycles at AF1 since 2001. “It’s a fresh new design, and a fresh new motor, and it’s a really good bike. Customers are excited about them.”

After a week of piloting a V85 TT around Northern Italy, I understood. Extremely easy to ride, the retro-styled new bike is a marvelous commuter machine and quite at home on the motorway.

The 850cc V-twin motor hums nicely, and at 80 horsepower and 59 pound-feet of torque pulls strongly and produces surprisingly little vibration. Over a series of Alpine riding days in June and July, the bike easily conquered the Spluga, Maloja, Julier, Fluela and Albula passes. Despite many long hours in the saddle, I was only eager for more.

In a few off-road excursions – the “TT” in the name stands for “tutto terreno,” or all terrain – I quickly learned two things: The V85 TT, with its stock tires, is happy on a dirt road or sandy trail but is no match for muddy Alpine meadows recently exposed by melting snow; and the bike, thanks to its V-twin engine construction and the rear luggage boxes my model was wearing, is pretty easy to pick up when rider expertise cannot keep it from tipping over.

Critics will note that it doesn’t have the power or the build quality of its BMW, KTM, Triumph or Ducati counterparts. But at $11,990 for the stock V85 TT and $12,990 for the V85 TT Adventure model, the Moto Guzzis cost several thousand dollars less than those more established European competitors.

Mariotti and other Moto Guzzi officers hinted repeatedly during our Mandello visit that the all-new, air-cooled engine that powers the V85 TT will be the propulsion behind an entire new line of mid-size motorcycles.

Moto Guzzi was once a legendary name in motorcycles. Can it make a comeback? (2024)


Do Moto Guzzi hold their value? ›

Without these parts, if they can't be found at great cost, the machine is just not investment grade. As classic Moto Guzzi values have been languishing so low, any historic work will have been done on the cheap and usually very poorly.

What is special about Moto Guzzi? ›

The company's motorcycles are noted for their air-cooled 90° V-twin engines with a longitudinal crankshaft orientation where the engines' transverse cylinder heads project prominently on either side of the motorcycle.

What happened to Moto Guzzi? ›

The Moto Guzzi California name has adorned generations of bikes aimed squarely at the US market dating back to the early 1970s, but since 2020 the name's been conspicuously absent from the company's lineup following the demise of the 1,380cc “Big Block”–powered machines in the face of tightening emissions rules.

Are old Moto Guzzi reliable? ›

A Guzzi is easy to work on for most of the things that need working. Guzzi parts are robust and easy to work on. It's not hard to get to most of what you'll need to be working on, and the parts are generally well enough built that there are few throw-away things on the motorcycle. A Guzzi is reliable.

How long do Moto Guzzi engines last? ›

Traditionally Guzzi engines last a very long time. Many would say that 15k miles is just about run in nicely! There's lots of very high mileage Guzzis out there and I know some owners are concerned the V7 mileometer can't read higher than 99,999 so at that point they will have to buy a new speedo!

Do Moto Guzzi overheat? ›

Overheating: Overheating is a common issue faced by Moto Guzzi owners, especially in hot climates or during long rides. This could be caused by a variety of factors, such as a malfunctioning cooling system or a clogged radiator.

What is the most powerful Moto Guzzi? ›

In conclusion, the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 is the fastest and most powerful motorcycle in the Moto Guzzi lineup. Its advanced features, powerful engine, and aerodynamic design make it a top choice for riders who crave speed and performance.

How long does a Moto Guzzi clutch last? ›

Additionally, keep some free play in the clutch cable to prevent it from dragging or not disengaging fully. Moto Guzzi clutches can last 20K miles (if you're extremely rough on them) or well over 100K miles with care and maintenance.

How fast is a Moto Guzzi? ›

But it was with the 8-cylinder with its maximum speed of 275km/h that Moto Guzzi enters the racing motorcycle hall of fame.

Is Moto Guzzi bringing back the California? ›


US trademark laws ensure that Moto Guzzi's California will make a comeback.

Where are Moto Guzzi engines made? ›

Moto Guzzi's motorcycle factory is located in Mandello del Lario, Italy. As a small town on the shore of Lake Como, its residents have so embraced the company that they've officially named it, “La Citta della Moto Guzzi”—the city of Moto Guzzis.

What is Moto Guzzi known for? ›

Moto Guzzi is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer, known for its retro, iconic styling and high-quality craftsmanship, highlighting the essence of Italian style. Since its conception in 1921, it has represented affordable freedom of movement and individualism in a world increasingly dominated by the automobile.

What is the Moto Guzzi logo? ›

From the beginning, Moto Guzzi's logo – an eagle with spread wings – was adopted in commemoration of their dead friend, being identical to an Italian military pilot's wing. Early production models were called “G.P.”, reflecting the Guzzi and Parodi partnership.

How long does a moto last? ›

The Average Lifespan of a Used Motorcycle

If a used model wasn't taken care of well by the previous owner, the bike will usually only last for about 20,000 more miles. However, if the model was well-maintained it would usually last for about 100,000 more miles.

Do Moto Guzzi make good bikes? ›

Still, Moto Guzzi motorcycles are highly desirable machines that perform well and come with a bit of style in the Italian way. Moto Guzzi's origins lie in the years after World War I when a trio of veteran pilots with a vision for a new Italian motorcycle set up shop in 1921.

Do motorcycles appreciate in value? ›

Limited edition models - Motorcycles produced in limited quantities or special editions can become collectible and increase in value over time. Vintage motorcycles - Older motorcycles, especially rare or in excellent condition, can appreciate as they become more desirable to collectors.

How long is Moto Guzzi warranty? ›

Season after season, mile after mile, the safety and performance of your Moto Guzzi always come first. For this reason, we offer our customers the option of extending the warranty on their motorcycle beyond the 24 months provided as standard, with specific packages for the third and/or fourth year of ownership.

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