Words: Phil Turner Photographs: Gary Chapman
Alongside fast, lithe, racing thoroughbreds, Moto Guzzi could turn its hand to more utilitarian two-wheelers when needed. The Superalce was one of the finest.
As the dark clouds of conflict drew in across Europe for the second time, Moto Guzzi – like most established motorcycle manufacturers – would have to turn its attention to making machines fit for the battlefield.
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It would be an easier transition for the Mandello Del Lario team than for most, as by then the factory already had a decades-worth of experience supplying the Italian army. Initially this was with a small batch of modified GT16 road machines, but this would soon morph into a much more superior purpose-built bike – the GT17.
Pressed into active service in 1932 the GT used the familiar 498.4cc, inlet over exhaust, flat single, with gear-driven primary and a three-speed, hand-change gearbox. Both cylinder head and barrel were cast iron; the piston inside flat-topped; the fuel supplied to it via a Dell’Orto MC26F and the gasses expelled through a twin silencer. Nineteen-inch wheels and a spring frame kept it all upright. Maximum power output was 13.2bhp, which would happily push the 196kg GT17 along to a top speed of just over 60mph.
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