Guzzi enters new world

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MOTO GUZZI will be releasing an all-new sports bike at the end of 2002 – using water cooling for the first time in the firm’s history.

In one of the most radical steps forward for a manufacturer since Harley-Davidson started working on the V-Rod, Guzzi has broken from its trademark air-cooled motor to a new format and a new engine configuration.Expected to be launched at the Munich Show in September 2002, the new Guzzi will have a 75 degree V-twin, keeping the same transverse layout that has become synonymous with Guzzi, but reducing the angle between the cylinders. Surprisingly the engine used is not actually new. It was first developed in 1998 to spearhead an attack on the World Superbike title by the Italian factory. However this was cut short in 2000 when Guzzi was bought out by Aprilia.

Now Aprilia’s president, Evano Beggio, wants to resurrect the motor.

Labelled the VA10, the engine was expected to produce 165bhp in race trim and 135bhp on the road. In April1999 the motor was first started and according to factory sources ran with no problems, then all went quiet – until now.

Aprilia has always been keen to develop the Guzzi brand. At this year’s Milan show it launched three new models to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Guzzi: the Le Mans Tenni, California EV80 and California Stone Metal.

As the motor was first developed with racing in mind it has many features designed to get as much power out of it as possible. Each cylinder has four valves as well as twin cams, which is common to most sportsbikes, but the Guzzi also has twin exhaust ports, unlike most other twins which rely on a single port. This should help the burnt gases escape the motor faster by reducing turbulence in the pipe, boosting power.

Fuel injection will be used with the water-cooled engine, however it is likely the shaft-drive common to all current Guzzis will be dropped in favour of a lighter chain-drive system.

A gearbox similar to Yamaha’s R1 with two shafts, one over the other, will be used to help reduce the engine’s length and allow a shorter wheelbase.

While the original prototype was 1000cc, the production motor will be made in 1200cc and 1400cc versions.

This is because Aprilia want Guzzi to produce two new bikes, the sports bike and a new cruiser. The sports bike will use the 1200cc motor, while the larger, heavier, cruiser will have a 1400cc motor along with the shaft-drive set-up of the current machines.

The sportsbike is expected to shown first at the end of next year and go into full production in 2003, with the cruiser following shortly afterwards. However both bikes could be delayed as Beggio is keen to get everything right before they are launched.

What seems certain is that Guzzi will not abandon the air-cooled bike. It will stay in the range to keep traditional customers happy – in the same way as Harley is not using its new water-cooled motor on all its bikes. The new Guzzis will run in parallel before the water-cooled motor is phased in through out the range over a long period of time.

But while some Harley die-hards were horrified when the American firm launched a water-cooled bike, Guzzi fans are keen to see the firm moving forward. Paul Harris, boss of London based Guzzi specialists Corsa Italiana, said: ” Guzzi needs to do something radically different to get out of the rut. A water-cooled bike would be a great thing, as long as it keeps the V-twin image. ”

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff