" Somewhere back in the mists of time I spent a lot of time dreaming of riding a Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850. I was at the harrowing cusp of adolescence at the time, so this bike was about as unattainable as "
Moto Guzzi Otto Cilindri
Yep. Eight cylinders. 500 ccs. Eight carbs. 78 BHP. 148KG without the juice. This monster from the middle of the 1950s might look a cumbersome beast but there’s something brutally beautiful about it, right? God knows how that fairing coped with sidewinds – but hey, riders astride it won some GPs…
The Otto Cilindri hit the GP circuits in 1955 and according to some sources at least it was a little unreliable. That would be understandable when you consider trying to tweak and tune such a monstrously complex engine – complete with overhead cams and that acreage of fuel mixture apparatus.
Apparently only five were ever built and they were withdrawn from official racing in 1957 – but it remains a totemic piece of design and typical of the 1950s halcyon of Italian bike engineering.
Motorcycles from this time and this place seem infused with a brilliant kind of ‘make do and create’ genius. It must have been tough in post war Italy – and for engineers to come up with creations like this shows that passion and commitment shines through in the end.
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