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Took me a while, and I must warn you: I'm not a native italian speaker, so I might have missed a few details and made a few mistakes, and I'm also a newbie to motorcycling, so I might have botched some of the technical details... anyway, here's the full article, translated to english.


Moto Guzzi MGS-01 Corsa: One hell of a Guzzi!

One of the most visited stands at the Monaco Exposition was that of Moto Guzzi. There were three new models, all of them very important: Breva, Griso and MGS-01. Of these, one is already on sale; the second will arrive in 2004. The 'queen' of the stand, nevertheless, was the MGS-01, a true sport-bike.

A modern, sharp and aggressive line, a four-valve motor, racing cycle. It is the result of the work of Giuseppe Ghezzi, the renowned motorcycle specialist from Mandello and cofounder of Ghezzi&Brian, a studio that produces fabulous, limited-edition motorcycles. The MGS-01 is a Moto Guzzi through and through, given that for several months Giuseppe Ghezzi has been working full-time at Mandello. It is he who has carried out the project that deals with developing motors and motorcycling.

It was born in 2002 as a concept bike for shows, to prove that at Guzzi there is no shortage of creativity and dedication. The public's response to the MGS-01 was so overwhelming, however, that it was decided to bring the MGS-01 to the production line.

But what is the 'purpose' of this sportbike? According to Roberto Brovazzo, the director of the Moto Guzzi Business Unit, it is "a modern project that follows a unique philosophy. A sportbike of great character, immediately identifiable as a Moto Guzzi, loaded with the highest technology, and providing a thrilling ride to the driver. It doesn't compete with the Japanese bikes, nor is it a 'Ducati-killer'. It is a motorcycle that breaks the mold, clearly a sportbike, yet not geared exclusively towards absolute performance.

The Corsa (race) version will become available during the first months of 2004, and the Stradale (road) model will be phased in as of October. It is expected to cost approximately 15,000 Euros for the Stradale and 20,000 Euros for the racing package. The production run is expected to be of 7000-8000 units/year. And after all this talk, let's see some action!

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Sweltering heat at the Monza racetrack: temperatures of 38 ° don't really provide the best conditions to test an air-cooled engine. But the two-cylinder Guzzi is a cleverly-designed engine; the transversal V exposes the hottest parts of the block to the wind, positively affecting thermodynamic performance. The MGS Corsa is on display at the pits. The aesthetic impact is notable.

No headlamps for this version: in the gap left behind by the optics bay we find the oil radiator, at the point of highest aerodynamic pressure. The fairing and tank, angular and painted bright red, create a pleasant contrast with the black mechanicals (with the exception of the cylinders). The racing aesthetic is reinforced by the aluminum swingarm, the golden Ohlins shocks and the snake-like exhausts.

And now, let the concert begin! When the motor starts up, chills run down one's spine. The 1,225 cc engine 'thunders' out of the single under-seat muffler. When we head out for a spin we quickly find an optimal stance for riding: a sporty position, chest-forward without going too far, foot-pegs back, and a wide handlebar, to better control a bike which puts the engine on center-stage, pulling its 93 kg mass! For riders taller than 1m74, a longer seat is available, to thus avoid hitting the cylinder block with one's knees. The MGS needs to be ridden forcefully; it isn't one of those Japanese bikes 'you feel you've ridden forever'. You need serious muscle, but the bike repays you with intense excitement.

The clutch (dry plates) is smooth but requires some effort, as the piston of the pump passes from 13 to 15 mm. Disengagement is fast, but less easy to modulate. The shifter has long, imprecise gates; this is an area Guzzi needs to work on. On the straightaway, the 4-valve from Mandello spins with a smooth progression, with a small spike at around 4500 rpm which the company assures will be eliminated with a more refined engine-mapping. The engine's maximum torque of 11.6 kg-m comes at 6400 rpm, and the max output of 122 hp comes at 8000 rpm. This power is easily felt at the throttle.

The bike rides quickly through the turns smoothly, allowing you to easily set up the trajectory and let the bike run on the racing line. The brakes are excellent in terms of power but we noted an increase in the travel of the brake handle after a few laps. The true limitation of the MGS is in the fast changes of direction, because flicking the bike from side to side requires lots of physical effort. We slightly improved the situation by adjusting the bike's setup.

A particularly pleasant spot of the track was the Ascari S. One enters fast, and to compensate for the MGS' understeer one opens up the throttle. "Magically', the front wheel points inward and closes the trajectory... truly fun! We know the Monza track quite well, but a 2'05" lap time, on a bike that's as different as this one, on our first ride... ain't bad at all!

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The engine on the MGS resembles that of the old Daytona 1000. The substance, nevertheless, is quite different. The displacement of 1225 cc is achieved with a bore of 100 mm and a stroke of 78 mm (the Stradale will have a bore of 92 mm). The use of high-compression Cosworth pistons requires longer rods. In the cylinder heads we find 36 mm intake valves and 31 mm exhaust valves.

The camshafts have a longer profile. Each cylinder is fed with a single, 54 mm butterfly injector made by Magneti Marelli, the same company that makes the electronic engine controller (IAW 15M). The engine is declared to have 122 hp, but engineers expect to reach 130 hp and to place the fuel injectors closer to the cylinder heads to improve throttle response. The clutch is a dry twin-disc in sintered material with reinforcements.

The sport exhaust is made in stainless steel and the two pipes combine to flow into the single, under-seat muffler. The MGS-01 has a 6-speed gearbox, and was placed to accommodate the single shock vertically, just to the rear of the engine. This allows ample space for the 18.5 liter airbox. Obviously, the motor is a highly-emphasized component of this motorcycle. The chassis is quite simple: a descending beam reinforced by struts. Right now, the tank is integrated to the frame but this solution will be abandoned for a new frame, as the present one is too complicated to manufacture and repair. The rear wheel is height-adjustable.

It is hard not to recognize the front wheel: it is a copy of the Aprilia RSV Mille R. It has Ohlins shocks and Brembo calipers. Ohlins also manufactures the single, rear shock. The wheels are forged-aluminum OZs, which are strong, light and attractive. Some may argue that designing a 'racetrack bomber' is much easier than making a reliable, powerful and fuel-efficient tourer. We have asked this question to Guzzi, and their answer is that several parameters of the production model have yet to be determined, but that they are aiming towards an engine that emphasizes the vehicle in its environment.
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