Here we have the first example of a race bike that was successfully developed over a ten year period from an also-ran, in to a six-time World Championship winner!
MV Agusta began their long and outstanding GP history in 1948 by racing a 125cc version of their 98cc two-stroke road bike (their first motorcycle design). However the bike was outclassed by the F.B. Mondial, a four-stroke.
At the end of 1949 Arturo Magni and Ing. Piero Remor joined MV from Gilera and while best known for the famous 500cc four, a 125 was also penned by Remor.
When it debuted in 1950 the DOHC single made 12 hp at 10,000 rpm – while by 1960 power had doubled to 20 hp at 12,500 rpm! Top speed also rose from 140 to over 200 km/h over the same period.
The first two years saw little in the way of results, Les Graham’s third at Assen in ’51 being the best result. Cecil Sandford joined the team for the ’52 season and the bike saw the introduction of telescopic forks and better brakes. Power was up to 14 hp at 10,800 rpm.
Sandford won MV’s first ever GP at the Isle of Man and went on to take the title with two more wins that year. Graham placing fourth.
1953 introduced major engine modifications including internal flywheel, a five-speed gearbox and magneto ignition.
An Earle’s fork front end and 19 inch wheels were fitted. Output rose to 15 hp at 11,500 rpm. Sandford finished second to Werner Haas on the NSU with MVs also taking 3rd to 5th placings.
1954 saw another NSU take the title (with Rupert Hollaus) with Carlo Ubbiali on the MV in second. Output was up to 16 hp and top speed was 175 km/h, running a dustbin fairing.
1955 had power raised to 17 hp and the return of telescopic forks. Ubbiali took the first of his five titles on the MV.
1956/57 saw twin-plug heads used and output up to 19 hp at 12,000 rpm. Top speed was 190 kph. Ubbiali won again in ’56 but Tarquinio Provini took the ’57 title on the Mondial with Luigi Taveri and Ubbiali 2nd and 3rd on the MVs.
1958 saw new forks, 18-inch wheels and better brakes. Ubbiali won the championship again from Alberto Gandossi and Taveri, on Ducatis, in second and third.
1959/60 saw only minor detail changes to what was by now a fully evolved design. Output had reached its maximum of 20 hp at 12,500 rpm.
Ubbiali again took first in ’59 and Provini, now his team-mate, was runner up. A certain Mike Hailwood was third for Ducati.
1960 saw Ubbiali win the title for a fifth time from team mate Gary Hocking in second and Ernst Degner on the MZ in third.
The 1950 bike seen here is a part of the Elly collection.
Phil Aynsley sadly passed away in 2023 after a life spent travelling the world photographing many of the rarest and most beautiful motorcycles ever made. We are proud to continue showcasing his catalogue of work on MCNews.com.au.
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