The journey of Moto Guzzi becoming a brand all began in Corso Aurelio Saffi, Genoa, on 15 March 1921. The rest is history as the small company has become a legend in motorcycle production, fabrication, and sale for over 95 years. Over these years, this establishment has gained prominence globally in industry innovation with amazing bikes and motorcycle racing. The brilliant minds behind this company were Emmanuelle Vittorio Paradi, a ship-owner, his son Giorgio and close friend Carlo Guzzi. Guzzi and Parodi were colleagues in the Italia Air Corps. Their background in military service might have contributed to the creation of our feature motorbike in this article, the 1940 Guzzi Alce.
History of the 1940 Moto Guzzi Alce
After forming “Societa Anonima Moto Guzzi, “the production work to set the company rolling was the creation of the first motorcycle, which was christened the legendary 8 HP Normale. After tasting success with this bike, they followed that success with other models like the 1928 Guzzi G.T which was widely known as “Norge” to celebrate the expedition of the Polar Arctic Circle. According to Moto Guzzi, the company enjoyed success with Moto Guzzi GT 17 and Moto Guzzi GT 20 before they began the production of the Moto Guzzi Alce. The idea behind the 1940 Moto Guzzi Alce started in 1938. The project aimed to produce motorbikes to be used for military service in convoy and patrol driving. The production work extended to supply the Royal Army who was fighting during World War II on all fronts, with three different versions of the motorbike-Monoosto (single-place), Attrezzata (sidecar combination), and Biposto (two-place).
The Moto Guzzi Alce was registered in the category of all-terrain when marketing of its first generation began in 1939, a generation that has lasted over 83 years. The designers improved this version when they began producing the Super Alce in 1943, which also brought so many accolades to the company. These super Alce models were introduced in 1946, and their production continued until 1958. Major changes that were done to the bike were fitting it with a 500cc V motor which was a full design of OHV with an output of 18 horsepower. During the reign of the Super Alce, no major changes were made by the company until 1952, when the engineers replaced and fixed an advanced automatic ignition to the motorbike. The unique dual muffler was featured in the bike until 1955.
Another feature added to these bikes was borrowing the light machine gun known as the Breda M30, which was adopted from the Bersaglieri motorcyclist in 1940. However, the military personnel using these motorbikes could only operate them when the bike was standing still and not in motion. The good thing is that they were more effective than the simple scout pistol, rifle, or SMG, which a rider needed to dismount before fully firing at the enemy during war. The super Alce’s other military operation duties were transporting small arms and land mines. Further, attempts were made to mount a 9mm Beretta M38A Sub Machine on the bike handlebars for the rider to fire when on the move. These powerful war machines remained popular until 1955 when their production stopped, and they were replaced by another legendary model called the Moto Guzzi Falcone.
Characteristics and Performance
The Moto Guzzi Company did a great job of exceptionally engineering the 1940 Moto Guzzi Alce. It produced about 6,390 one and two-seater models of these bikes and 669 sidecars until its end in 1955.
The 1940 Moto Guzzi Alce was equipped with a 500cc and had a single–cylinder. It could reach four-stroke engines with a 12.5 horsepower motor and exposed overhead valves that could attain a top speed of 90 km/h and cover a range of 300 km when they lift the power of the motorbike. On the other hand, the Super Alce had an 18.5 horsepower motor that could achieve a top speed of 110 km/h with a single rider. The long 4-stroke in the bike was purposeful to help reduce the stress that could build up in the main bearings. This could also reduce rod angularity and produce more power for the military bike. Fuel consumption was 5.4 liters per 100 kilometers and was fitted with a tank capacity of 12.5 liters. The engine weighs about 195 kilograms, which works with the Carburettor fuel and air cooling systems. The oil tank was mounted beneath the bike seat. According to Hessink’s, the bike also had a foot shifted gearbox that worked with four speeds and multiple wet plates’ clutches. The engine also featured a 4.7:1 compression ratio, chain transmission type.
Chassis, Suspension, Wheels, and Brakes
The 1940 Moto Guzzi Alce stopping function was achieved by including expanding brakes (drum brakes) in the front and Expanding brakes (drum brakes) in the Rear part. The front had friction damped parallelogram girder fork. On the other hand, the rear suspension also included damped friction plates. Under the engine block were horizontal compensator springs. The wheels were about 19 inches for both the front and rear parts. A rider could bring the motorbike into life with a kick start. As the lever starts to descend under the rider’s foot, the ratchet begins to engage the gear linked towards the crankshaft. This causes it to begin spinning past the top dead center, and it eventually ignites a spark that causes compression in the fuel mixture. When the engine starts, the ratchet will disengage, and then the rider proceeds to fold the lever back.
The 1940 Moto Guzzi Alce can be remembered for its role and service during the war period. It served the military well with its brilliant runs and pulls, which resembled that of a train. It was used in the fight between the Libya and Italian soldiers. Interesting features like a hill start ratchet and pillion bars make it unique. It is a motorbike that the company can be proud of from moving from standard bike production to art form bikes.