Moto Guzzi Lodola
A model that found success in an unusual arena
With Phil Aynsley
The Moto Guzzi Sport Lodola (Skylark) was introduced in 1957 as an OHC 175cc road bike – a somewhat underwhelming response to the new Ducati, Morini and Mondial OHC singles which had made an immediate impression in the long distance road races such as the Moto Giro that were so important in Italy at the time.
It was Carlo Guzzi’s final design and the company’s first production OHC bike. Not all tradition was lost though, the flywheel was still mounted externally – but hidden behind a cast alloy cover for a more modern appearance.
However the bike’s nine horsepower was no match for the Ducati’s 14 hp, for example, and the bike was never officially entered in the Giro. Although these races were banned after 1957 in any event. This first bike is a 1958 Sport.
In 1959 an enlarged, 235 cc version was released and interestingly the motor was changed to an OHV design. Despite the change to pushrods the capacity increase meant power was raised to 11 hp. A 1961 235 GT is seen here.
It was in off road competition however that the Ladola found unexpected success. Regularity trials (such as the ISDT) were becoming increasingly popular and with the company having abandoned road racing, the Ladola Regolaritá was born in 1959.
Both 175 and 235 cc versions were built and they reverted to OHC heads. Works bikes took many Gold and Silver Trophies over the next several years. Some works machines were engaged to 247 cc and had five-speed gearboxes.
Privateer versions were made available from 1960 and this 235 cc bike is one such, and still in original period condition. Power was up to 14 hp at 7500 rpm by this point, with the bike weighing 110 kg, while top speed was 130 km/h.
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