Kickstand Classic: 1951 Moto Guzzi 500 Falcone: The Classic Moto Guzzi Single Made For 55 Years

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Moto Guzzi was founded in 1921, and is the oldest continuously-operating motorcycle manufacturer in Europe. In those 93 years, the company has made only two basic engines, except for a few smaller bikes right after WW2 and its racing machines. Since 1967, that would be its iconic V-twin shaft-drive bikes. But from 1921 through 1976, Moto Guzzi made a 500cc single, the Falcone, that became legendary for its performance, quality and durability, as well as its “bacon slicer” exposed flywheel. The Italians have a knack for making mechanical fests for the eyes comparable to their women or cuisine. Let’s take a closer look, but no drooling, please.

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The great joy of bikes is even if one doesn’t ride them, they offer so much for the eyes. Let’s face it, their exposed enginalia is just not something readily available in cars. And bikes like this Moto Guzzi are almost obscene; everything is just out there, nothing hidden behind a cover or skirt. And we haven’t even gotten to the flywheel side yet.

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If it looks a bit old-fashioned, well, that 1951 version is a very direct descendent of the first Moto Guzzi ever, this one built in 1921. And form the beginning, its bikes quickly gained a rep for their mechanical excellence and fine performance, thanks to their light weight.

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The early Falcone’s used an F-head, with overhead inlet valve and a side-valve for the exhaust. But later ones had a classic hemi head, operated by bevel-gear driven overhead vams, in these lovely compartments.

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The rear suspension is rather unusual and advanced, with a swing arm whose springs are mostly hidden in the its very front, working against the frame, not unlike most modern bikes.

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The shock absorber is a friction unit, quickly adjustable (on the go?) with this big handle. The fishtail exhaust is typical for this vintage.

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Lets work our way around, past the little tool box, I assume.

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There’s that exposed flywheel; make sure your shoelaces are tied well…

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I should point out that the front fork and wheel are not original, being from a Norton. But it seems to be a happy marriage.

Shot at Bob Macherione’s Sports Car Shop