1950 MV Agusta 125 Racer

With Phil Aynsley

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!

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An early example of the MV Agusta 125 single racer

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.

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In 1950 the 125 single was producing 12 hp

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.

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By 1960 power would almost have doubled on the MV Agusta 125

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.

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10 years saw top speed rise from 140 to 200km/h

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.

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Cecil Sandford would herald the MV Agusta’s 125 turn of fortune in 1952, with telescopic forks adopted the same year

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.

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The MV Agusta 125 Racer saw improvement year over year, as performance grew

1953 introduced major engine modifications including internal flywheel, a five-speed gearbox and magneto ignition.

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The external flywheel seen here on the 1950 model

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.

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1953 saw the introduction of a 19 inch front wheel

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.

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By 1954 power was 16 hp, with top speed reaching 175km/h

1955 had power raised to 17 hp and the return of telescopic forks. Ubbiali took the first of his five titles on the MV.

MV Agusta ImagePA
1950 MV Agusta 125 Racer

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.

MV Agusta ImagePA
Telescopic forks would later prove the best option, with 18 inch wheels also adopted

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.

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The early 1950 MV Agusta 125 Racer may not have had the accolades but by 1960 it had true pedigree

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.

MV Agusta ImagePA
1950 MV Agusta 125 Racer

Ubbiali again took first in ’59 and Provini, now his team-mate, was runner up. A certain Mike Hailwood was third for Ducati.

MV Agusta ImagePA
1950 MV Agusta 125 Racer

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.


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