Moto Guzzi is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer, the oldest European manufacturer in continuous motorcycle production and, since 2004, one of seven brands owned by Piaggio.
Established in 1921 in Mandello del Lario, Italy, the company is noted for its central historic role in Italy's motorcycling manufacture, its prominence worldwide in motorcycle racing, and a series of industry innovations – including the first motorcycle center stand, wind tunnel and eight-cylinder engine.
Engineering, design and styling
Before the Tonti Frame, several Guzzis used a frame known as the Loop Frame. It was at the time, considered sufficient.
Engineered by Lino Tonti, the Tonti Frame represented a significant breakthrough for Moto Guzzi, giving the company a new and up-to-date structural backbone for its cycles beginning with the famed V7 Sport of 1971. Tonti designed the frame with racing in mind, with the goals of mass centralization, lighter weight and compactness. The frame is especially light and strong, and remains in use to this day in modified form in the small block Breva 750 and Nevada Classic and in the big block California. The design contrasted sharply with competitors' frame designs at the time of its introduction; many motorcycles were noted for their "hinge in the middle" feel. Notably, the frame tilts the engine slightly rearward.
The Tonti frame was engineered for stiffness using short, straight tubes working well with the engine design and allowing the main backbone to pass through the cylinder splay and connect the steering head to the swingarm in the shortest possible distance.
The frame hugs the engine tightly, giving 'Tonti' big-blocks a low center of gravity and compact overall dimensions. Unladen, 'Tonti' Guzzis are very small, low and easy to handle. Detachable lower-frame tubes accommodate engine access and can be modified for specific applications such as floorboards and pegs.
Dr. John Whittner later adapted a frame design known as the spine frame, a version of which would be incorporated into the early Daytona, Centauro, and 1100 Sports models.
Moto Guzzi also has its own Design and Styling studio at the Mandello del Lario works, and in recent years (beginning during the Aprilia tenureship), Moto Guzzi has used independent Italian agency Marabese Design for the V11, V10 Centauro, Breva 750 850 and 1100, Griso and Norge. Marabese Design was founded in 1997 and is led by Luciano Marabese along with Rodolfo Frascoli and Riccardo Marabese. Moto Guzzi worked with Ghezzi & Brian on the MGS-01 Corsa.
It remains unclear what role Piaggio's Pontedera headquarters plays with the ongoing design of Moto Guzzi models.
Moto Guzzi models currently in production include the Breva, Nevada Classic and Bellagio standards; California cruiser; Griso sport/standard hybrid; Norge 1200 sport tourer/GT; 1200 Sport and MGS-01 Corsa sportbikes; Stelvio dualsport.
Guzzi has made a number of historic racing and military motorcycles. The historic racing heritage is best epitomized in the Le Mans model range, still held today to be a styling masterpiece and motorcycle design as an art form.
Through various periods of its history, Moto Guzzi has produced models specifically for military and police forces. Notably, the Italian police and military and various US police departments (e.g. LAPD) have used Moto Guzzi bikes in their fleets. Guzzi currently markets police versions of model range – the Breva (all three models) most commonly, as well as the Norge, adopted by Berlin police.
In 1950 Moto Guzzi created the first motorcycle wind tunnel, La Galleria del Vento, capable of testing 1:1 prototypes at the Mandello del Lario works, thereby allowing the company to market an integral fairing. The wind tunnel enabled racers to mimic real-life riding conditions and optimize their seating and body position at varying racing speeds – an unprecedented advantage for racing and production motorcycles. In motorcycle prototyping, Moto Guzzi could refine the air stream around the motorcycle itself, develop an envelope of still air around the rider, reduce frontal area, optimize air penetration, and maximize fuel economy.
The wind tunnel design is a modification of the open-circuit Eiffel type (after Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel tower in Paris), consisting of three sections. Air is drawn into the "Air Duct" with an aperture of 8.2 m (26.9 ft), air speed increases as it is passed through smaller and smaller diameters reaching max wind speed in the "Test Chamber" with a diameter of 2.6 m (8.5 ft), and finally is exhausted through the "Outlet/Discharge" duct containing the fan mechanism – a three-bladed variable speed propeller driven by a 310 hp (231 kW) electric motor.
Located outside of the testing chamber adjacent to the central section, a control room houses fan mechanism controls and the measuring instruments. Outside of the chamber is a large dial "Scala Convenzionale" or "Conventional Scale" to indicate the varying degree of resistance offered by the motorcycle (and rider) to the passing air. Around the circumference of the dial, red lights at each degree provide a visual indicator to the rider and test personnel. This large scale remains visible to the rider in the tunnel during testing and by repositioning himself on the bike he can determine the changing and optimal resistance. A second measurement tool was an alcohol-filled micro-manometer connected to a Pitot tube placed at a 90–degree angle to the airflow in the tunnel.
It is unknown to what extent the wind tunnel is used currently. The December 2005 press release for the Norge 1200 states that the bike was "thoroughly tested" in the Mandello wind tunnel. Aprilia, a company in the same group as Moto Guzzi, maintains a relationship with the aerodynamics program at the University of Perugia, where computer simulations combined with practical tests (done in smaller tunnels using scale models) can more effectively and economically provide accurate testing and feedback.
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