MOTO GUZZI V65 LARIO.............................
Small-block Moto Guzzi V-twins are acknowledged to be all-round excellent – apart from the rare ones with four-valve cylinder heads. These, say the armchair experts, are something close to devilspawn. Dave Simmons isn’t daunted by such scare stories, and lives with a Lario 650…
Launched at the 1983 Milan Show, the fourvalve V65 Lario came into the brave new world flanked by its near-identical but smaller capacity henchmen, the Imola II and Monza II (not to be confused with the two-valve Imolas and Monzas). They shared common styling but the Imola was a 350, the Monza a 500 and the Lario topped the range at 650. The Lario was available until 1989, accompanied for a while by some fourvalve oddities including the mysterious French/Japanese market only V40 Capri. This might’ve been a 350 sold as a 400. The Capri I’ve seen looked like the Imola, except it had a single seat and tail cowl arrangement.
Then there was also the extremely uncommon V75 fourvalve, a downright odd-looking bike with a washing up bowl fairing, usually seen in metallic brown with stripes. Guzzi reverted to two-valves part way through the V75’s short production run. The V75 had a stroked Lario motor which didn’t live up to expectations. Simon Howells wrote in the Moto Guzzi Club GB magazine, Gambalunga, how he bought one new. He had the engine rebuilt by Raceco UK who found the conrods to be unsuitable Lario items, prone to breakage as they were too short for the V75, and there was a host of other inadequacies. Once rebuilt and re-engineered the bike was fantastic, but it was an expensive labour of love. The V75, still on the road, was featured in RC154 and is a rolling testament to its owner’s dedication and an example of what the factory should have built.
There was also the addition of the Magura front brake master cylinder, acting on the front right disc only and integrated in a single unit with the front brake lever and switches. This is not the best master cylinder and has a tendency to leak from the lid seal. The remainder of the braking used the exceptionally good linked brake set-up, where the foot pedal operates the rear and front left discs. All discs have Brembo callipers that work predictably and well. The front discs can apparently warp; a result of being stamped from sheet steel. LM4 items are allegedly better and may be a straight swap.
Two-valves tended to come with 18” alloy wheels but the four-valvers reflected racing bikes of the day using 16” alloy rims, with 100/90 front and 120/90 rear tyres. Sixteens receive an amount of bad press then and now, but most agree that they suit the handling of the four-valvers better than the big-block Guzzis. The sixteens also help give the Lario a slightly supermoto ‘up on its toes’ look that I’ve grown to like. I have also read of hairline cracking of the alloy wheels.
The small-block frame was a very welldesigned item from the pen of Tonti that served the two-valvers well. For the fourvalvers there was some strengthening. It’s more flared towards the rear than its predecessors and has a longer swinging arm, extending the wheelbase for high speed stability. That swinging arm also has deeper flange holes for attachment of the bevel drive that carries the necessary longer securing studs. There were further improvements like roller taper steering head bearings, and the front and rear suspension now had oil/ air dampers. Guzzi provided additional suspension travel at the front and, aware of flexing of the front forks on previous models, built a neat integral fork brace into the front mudguard. Dry weight is 172kg (185 wet). My machine feels a bit ‘tippier’ at standstill than a V50, perhaps, in part, due to the four-valve heads carrying more mass higher up.
One change of questionable merit is the painted engine, gearbox and swinging arm, which was all bare metal for previous models. Rumours abound why it was applied; to prevent corrosion and preserve the looks, to update the range, or to cover up inferior quality castings…?
The single biggest development was, of course the four-valve cylinder head. ‘An all-new four-valve head combined with the ultimate in combustion chamber technology,’ proclaimed the Guzzi brochure. Could the four-valves fulfil the sporting potential promised? The Lario used a 643cc V-twin, with 84 by 64mm bore and stroke. 60bhp at 7800rpm was quoted, or 50bhp at the back wheel, with 54Nm of torque at 6000rpm. These factory figures were verified by a dyno test against a two-valve V65. The Lario produced about 45 at the back wheel compared to the V65’s 40 at 7000rpm. At higher revs the Lario’s power curve continued to increase, while the two-valve lost out. The new Lario delivered a standing quarter mile of 13.1 seconds and a top speed of 119mph.
Performance Bikes called it a transformation but Mick Walker’s assessment in his book ‘ Moto Guzzi Twins’ suggests that the four-valve experiment was probably