MOTO GUZZI V65 LARIO.............................

Real Classic - - What Lies Within -

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

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