V8 Motorcycle from 1950s Still Awesome Today

By: On: June 22nd, 20090 Comments »Updated: November 10, 2012

V8 motorcycle engineWith motorcycle engine sizes getting larger then ever, it seems that sticking a V8 engine into a motorcycle frame is not as crazy of an idea as it used to be.  In fact, Boss Hoss Motorcycles has had a V8 motorcycle on the market for several years already.

But did you know that the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Moto Guzzi, had a water-cooled V8 engine in the 1950’s?  They wrapped an aerodynamic body around it and proceeded to dominate motorcycle grand prix races.

The Moto Guzzi V8 engine, called the Otto Cilindri (eight cylinder), weighed just about 100 pounds (45kg), and is still considered a huge achievement in motorcycle history.  Incredibly, this Guzzi engine was a small four stroke V8, just 499cc, and was used by their factory Grand Prix motorcycle racing team.  With dual overhead camshafts and 8 carburetors, it was quite the hot engine for the 1950’s, especially for a motorcycle!


Moto Guzzi V8 Otto CilindriHow fast did the Moto Guzzi V8 go?  An impressive fact is that it wasn’t until the 1970’s that Grand Prix motorcycle race teams could match the 172 miles per hour (280 km/h) that the Moto Guzzi V8 Otto Cilindri motorcycle ran in the 1950’s.

It’s odd looking body was another motorcycle advancement from Moto Guzzi.  The Guzzi factory team kicked some serious butt with this wild bike, but as you can imagine, it was more than a bit unsafe back then to push the limit of motorcycle tires and brakes for any length of time,  especially when they had that screaming dual overhead cam race engine stressing components to the limit.

Will we see more V8 motorcycles become more popular in the motorcycle world?  Probably the only 8 powered motorcycle that we’ll see in the future is an 8-pack of batteries in an electric motorcycle.  Battery powered motorcycles are already on the racetracks and in the showroom floors, and hybrid motorcycles are coming soon.  In fact Piaggio, the current parent company of Moto Guzzi, has an innovative hybrid powered scooter already.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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