TEN YEARS AGO, FOR THE 85TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EAGLE BRAND, THE “MOTO GUZZI NORGE” RALLY RE-TRACED THE JOURNEY MADE IN 1928 BY GIUSEPPE GUZZI, WHO REACHED THE ARCTIC CIRCLE ON A G.T. 500.
The Moto Guzzi Norge G.T. 500 from 1928.
On 24 July 2006, at 7 a.m., a caravan of 14 sparkling Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 GT motorbikes set off on a ride that, six days and almost 5,000 km later, saw them reach their destination, Norway’s North Cape. The 14 Italian tourer motorbikes were ridden by journalists from France, Spain, Britain, Germany and America, as well as Italy, repeating the adventure that in 1928 took Giuseppe Guzzi (the elder brother of Carlo, the founder with Giorgio and Emanuele Parodi of the company with the eagle brand) and his Norge G.T. 500 right up to the Arctic Circle.
The 2006 expedition was followed by a crew of photographers and a cameraman who documented the ride, while the Moto Guzzi website published a report on the trip with daily updates. The expedition preview, at which the 14 Norge 1200 GT motorbikes plus satnav were displayed and the route was presented, was held the day before the start of the trip, by the Moto Guzzi wind tunnel, in the historic factory in Mandello del Lario where the Eagle Brand was established 95 years ago.
As in 1928, the real star was the Guzzi Norge motorcycle, a name inherited from the dirigible used by Umberto Nobile in 1926 for the first flight over the North Pole. Developed at a time of rapid technological change, the Guzzi Norge G.T. 500 marked the introduction – almost 90 years ago – of the elastic frame, the first time a change had been made to the rigid frame typical of motorcycle production in those years. The benefits – in terms of comfort and reliability – of the new technical solution, based on a sophisticated rear suspension, were widely recognised after the journey of Giuseppe Guzzi.
The more than 6,000 km round trip, on roads that, at the time, were not always well maintained, often in adverse weather conditions, demonstrated the superior technology of the Guzzi bike and greatly raised the popularity of a brand launched only eight years earlier. For the record, Giuseppe Guzzi’s G.T. 500 Norge took 28 days to make the round trip from Mandello to the Arctic Circle, consuming 182 litres of petrol and three tyres.
After 85 years of uninterrupted success, Moto Guzzi repeated that pioneering expedition – extending it to the North Cape –associating it once again with the historic name of the Norge.
The Norge 1200, a worthy successor of the G.T. 500 from 1928, was a cutting-edge interpretation of the spirit of the original, and a fascinating Italian tourer. Developed on a renewed version of Moto Guzzi’s signature 90° V-twin engine delivering benchmark torque and power, the bike was a tourer that devoured distances in the greatest riding comfort and featured the latest motorcycling innovations (GPS satellite navigation, ABS, heated handgrips, adjustable windshield, etc.), as well as the new compact reactive shaft drive (CA.R.C.), a Moto Guzzi patent. With this transmission, integrated into the aluminium alloy swingarm, the bike offered a consistently smooth and precise response, without the typical “jumps” of the shaft drive. So although the ride of the 14 journalists was perhaps less epic than the 1928 adventure, it demonstrated once again the capacity for innovation that has distinguished the Moto Guzzi brand for 95 years, introducing to the roads of the Great North – ridden by generations of bikers – a new Italian tourer that was fast and reliable.
RIDER MAGAZINE: JOURNALIST KEN LEE ROAD TESTS THE MG NORGE GT V8.
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