Home   Contact   Converter   Video   Technical 

  

 

 

Classic Bikes

Custom Bikes

Racing Bikes

 

AC Schnitzer

AJP

AJS

Alfer

Aprilia

Ariel

Arlen Ness

ATK

Bajaj

Bakker

Barigo

Benelli

Beta

Big Bear

BigDog

Bimota

BMS Choppers

BMW

Borile

Boss Hoss

Boxer

Brammo

Britten

BRP Can-am

BSA

Buell

Bultaco

Cagiva

Campagna

CCM

Confederate

CR&S

Daelim

Deus

Derbi

DP Customs

Drysdale

Ducati

Dunstall

Exile Cycles

Factory Bike

Fischer

Foggy Petronas

GASGAS

Ghezzi Brain

Gilera

Harris

Harley Davidson

HDT

Hesketh

Highland

Honda

HPN

Horex

Husqvarna

Husaberg

Hyosung

Indian

Italjet

Jawa

Kawasaki

KTM

KYMCO

Laverda

Lazareth

Lehman Trikes

LIFAN

Magni

Maico

Matchless

Matt Hotch

Megelli

Midual

Mission

Mondial

Moto Guzzi

Moto Morini

MotoCzysz

Motus

Mr Martini

MTT

Münch

MV Agusta

MZ

NCR

Norton

Oberdan Bezzi

OCC

Paul Jr. Designs

Piaggio

Radical Ducati

Rickman

Ridley

Roehr

Roland Sands

Royal Enfield

Rucker

Sachs

Saxon

Sherco

Suzuki

Titan

TM Racing

Triumph

Ural
Velocette

Victory

Viper

Vincent

Vilner

VOR

Voxen

Vyrus

Wakan / Avinton

Walz

Wrenchmonkees

Wunderlich

Yamaha

Zero

   

Moto Morini 3½  Sport

 

 

 

 

Model

Moto Morini 3½ Sport

Year

1974-75

Engine

Air cooled, four stroke, 72° V-twin, OHV, 2 valves per cylinder.

Capacity

344
Bore x Stroke 62 x 57 mm
Compression Ratio 11.0:1

Induction

2x 25mm Dell'Orto carbs

Ignition  /  Starting

CDI  /  kick

Max Power

39 hp @ 8500 rpm

Max Torque

24.8 ft-lb @ 6300 rpm

Transmission  /  Drive

6 Speed  /  chain

Front Suspension

Telehydraulic forks

Rear Suspension

Swinging arm dual adjustable shocks

Front Brakes

Drum

Rear Brakes

Drum

Front Tyre

3.25-18

Rear Tyre

4.10-18

Dry Weight

160 kg

Fuel Capacity 

13 Litres

Consumption  average

51 mp/g

Top Speed

97 mp/h

Among the rarest and most unusual Italian bikes is Moto Morini's range of modular V-twins, produced in small numbers from 1972 to 1993 at the family-owned Bologna works. The first to appear was the 3½ (350cc), which was designed by Franco Lambertini and first shown at the Milan show in November 1971.

It was followed in 1975 by a "bored and stroked" 500cc version which, although it was much torquier, never achieved quite the cult following of the charismatic 3½.

There are so few in South Africa that until recently I had only ever seen three and I'd never ridden one so, when Lance Allam and Richard Piller offered to lend me their neatly restored 1979 500 Sport, I grabbed the chance.

"Keep it as long as you like," they said, "Ride it around, use it as a commuter – it's a nice street bike."

Lambertini's magnificent 72º V-twin is based on proven, conservative engineering principles.
This was so different from the usual attitude of Italian bike owners that it increased my curiosity even further – so I did exactly that and used this 24-year-old exotic rarity as daily transport for two weeks ... and I loved every moment of it.

The cylinder heads are flat, the valves are parallel and the combustion chambers are recessed into the top of the pistons. It's called a Heron head and, if it sounds familiar, it's exactly the same as on a 1600cc Ford Kent engine.

It also allows impressive compression ratios on ordinary petrol – the 500 runs at 10:1, high for the period.

It's fed by two very ordinary 28mm Dell'Orto carbs mounted back-to-back in the vee and drives via a (theoretically) dry clutch and a five-speed gearbox. In typical late-1960s European fashion, the gearshift is on the right and the kickstart on the left. An electric start is fitted, though that on the test bike wasn't working.

The low centre of gravity allows the bike to flick from side to side like a kitten chasing the wind.
No problem. The bike kickstarts easily although it takes about a dozen hefty swings first thing in the morning. Hot, the bike bursts into life on the first prod.

This idiosyncratic motor kicks out 31.3kW at 7500rpm with usable power from 2500 revs. It vibrates noticeably until just over four, at which point it comes on song, smoothing out and surging strongly forward.

Morini's contemporary factory literature claims a top speed of 175km/h and the Sport went easily up to 163 in performance testing, the little vee spinning at 6500rpm with no sign of distress, accompanied by a harsh and flat barking from the replica factory tailpipes (no noise regulations in 1975, Cyril).

The clutch is firm and predictable, with a sudden take-up very close to the grip, typical of multi-plate dry clutches. The test bike's clutch exhibited some clutch drag when hot, due to a faulty seal having leaked some oil on to the friction plates, but that's easily fixed with some solvent and steel wool to remove the glazing.

As it was, it just meant I had to be careful to find neutral before the bike stopped moving, not always as simple as it sounds because there's no neutral light. The gear lever extends from behind the foot-peg and its action is a little long but light and firmly positive.

After a little practice I was able to reel off seamless upshifts without the clutch, although I always used it for downshifts out of respect to the box's age.

conventional frame

This beautifully sculpted and surprisingly narrow motor is mounted in a neat, conventional double-cradle frame welded from steel tubes with 35mm Marzocchi cartridge forks in front and twin hydraulic shock absorbers, adjustable only for preload, on the swing-arm.

The wheels are crisp cast alloy and the brakes are by Grimeca, twin 260mm discs in front and a single rotor the same size on the back wheel, all with opposed-piston calipers. This was cutting-edge stuff in the mid-1970s.

The rest of the bike is all borrowed: the switchgear and all the lights are from Ducati's 860GT, the instruments from the Guzzi V50 and the fuel cap is shared with every Laverda and Ducati of the period.

It has all proved durable and reliable and everything falls neatly to hand, which is more than can be said for some modern machinery.

Weird features abound; the bike has a unique electronic fuel tap on the left side of the tank which opens with an audible click when you switch on the ignition – but the right (front) carburettor is fed by a normal three-position manual tap just like any other bike of the period.

The motor has four breathers, all in a collector box behind the motor. To keep the bike from dribbling all over itself, the twin overflow pipes are now led into a 500ml bottle hidden behind the battery. In two weeks it collected about a tablespoonful of oil.

Despite an odd riding position, with the footpegs rather too far forward for the low, narrow clip-ons, the long, deeply padded seat is remarkably comfortable with plenty of room to move around on longer rides.

Superb road-holding

The bike is a joyOn the road. The frame is taut and more than stiff enough to cope with 31kW and a dry weight of just 160kg. The steering is razor-sharp and as quick as a modern GP machine while the low centre of gravity and amazingly narrow chassis allow the bike to be flicked from side to side like a kitten chasing the wind.

On smooth roads the road-holding is superb even by modern standards, the ground clearance more than adequate and suspension surprisingly supple. The only time the damping shows its vintage is on bumpy back roads, where it begins to patter when pushed.

The brakes take a firm squeeze to get them working but then haul the bike down firmly and controllably – although the back brake is if anything a little too powerful; I locked the rear wheel a couple of times at low speeds.

In heavy traffic the motor's quick response and mid-range torque let you grab the narrowest of gaps and, unusually for an outright sports bike of any era, it will sit at a red light for as long as you like, quietly idling at an even 1000rpm.

Within its limits, Morini's middleweight vee is a magnificently competent package. On a twisty but well-surfaced road it's pure sex on wheels, yet it will idle reliably and has the tightest turning circle I've yet measured on an Italian bike.

It's as good a commuter as anything you can buy off the showroom floor, with a healthy dose of vintage class. It's also widely regarded as the prettiest motorcycle yetbuilt; certainly that air-cooled 72º V-twin is the most exquisitely sculpted engine in motorcycling.

Allam and Piller were right; it's a very nice street bike. I didn't want to give it back so thanks for the loan, gentlemen.

Source Dave Abrahams

 

NOTE: Any correction or more information on these motorcycles will kindly be appreciated, Some country's motorcycle specifications can be different to motorcyclespecs.co.za. Confirm with your motorcycle dealer before ordering any parts or spares. Any objections to articles or photos placed on motorcyclespecs.co.za will be removed upon request.    Privacy Policy      Contact Me