1953 Moto Guzzi 250

Bird Beak 250 Guzzi GP Racer

With Phil Aynsley


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1953 Moto Guzzi 250 with wind-tunnel designed fairings

Moto Guzzi won the first post-war 250cc World Championship in 1949 with rider Bruno Ruffo. He followed up again in 1951 (Benelli’s Dario Ambrosini taking the 1950 title) and Enrico Lorenzetti continued Guzzi’s success in 1952 (with fellow team riders Fergus Anderson, Maurice Cann and Bruno Ruffo finishing in second, fourth and sixth respectively).

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The unique bird-beak front fairing on this racer was only seen in 1953

However the NSU was starting to show a lot of promise so Guzzi looked to the company’s newly installed wind tunnel to provide an advantage for the 1953 season. The result was the distinctive “bird beak” racers of that year’s championships.

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Moto Guzzi experimented with both DOHC and SOHC heads, and two and four-valve options

The 250 was raced with both a DOHC head (as seen here) as well as SOHC at some races. A 4-valve head had been experimented with early in the season but the 2-valve design provided the best results. The twin-cam motor made 28 hp at 8000rpm which propelled the 125 kg bike to a top speed of 200 km/h. An enormous 40 mm Dell’Orto carb was fitted.

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A 40mm Dell’Orto carb was also used

As can be seen from the position of the fuel cap, the fuel was carried as low as possible, requiring a pump to feed the carburettor. The attention to detail and workmanship of the alloy bodywork is evidenced by the shrouding of the clutch cable as it emerges from the “tank”.

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The clutch cable shrouded into the tank

However all of this was not enough to retain the 250cc crown which went to Werner Hass on the NSU (with his team mate Reg Armstrong finishing runner up).

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Despite the redesign the Moto Guzzi wasn’t able to win the championship but did take the final podium position through to sixth

Guzzi riders Lorenzetti, Anderson, Montanari and Aussie Ken Kavanagh (a late season replacement for the injured Ruffo), took third to sixth places. Interestingly the top three finishing riders all scored two wins apiece in the seven round season (Anderson winning the other).

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Front on view of the bird-beak feature that’s now common on some adventure machinery

1954 saw full dustbin fairings being employed so ’53 was the only year the “bird beak” was used by the factory team.

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1953 Moto Guzzi 250 Racer
Moto Guzzi PA Guzzi
1953 Moto Guzzi 250 Racer
Moto Guzzi PA Guzzi
1953 Moto Guzzi 250 Racer