Motorworld’s newspaper №65

We could only be jealous of Carlo Guzzi’s technical talents and courage. Almost a century ago he designed an engine totally different from every engine of those years. The engine was so good that has been manufactured till 1980 without any significant changes! During all the time it was being manufactured, the 500 cc model retained even its size 88×82 mm. And the most revolutionary change was transition from the “valve over the valve” to an overhead valve design in 1930s.
The perfect specifications, high quality assembling and sporting achievements (Guido Mentasti won the Europe Grand Prix 1924) made Moto Guzzi one of the leaders in motorcycle manufacturing. The company strengthened its position even more when, along with a solo-person motorcycle, it started the manufacturing of three wheel motorcycle trucks (motocarro in Italian), which were greatly standardized with two wheel machines (powertrain, front fork, frame pieces).

Moto Guzzi three wheelers has been readily improving: while the first Tipo 107 equipped with a 13.2 h.p. engine could transport only 350 kgs, the ER model (manufactured in 1938) equipped with a 17.8 h.p. engine could transport as much as 1,000 kgs! In the early 1930s, these machines drew attention of the military. A couple of words about an Italian particularity: when the armies of another countries required sidecar motorcycles, Italy mainly used cargo trikes (apart from Moto Guzzi, this type of trikes had been manufactured by Benelli, Gilera and many other companies). Besides Italy, only the Japanese military paid so much attention to cargo trikes.

Moto Guzzi ER from the «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

Daihatsu SB-7 from the «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

In the beginning of the WWII, the Italian military and secret service had both army versions of civil cargo trikes and special three-wheeled military motorcycle Moto Guzzi Alce, Trialce. Trialce was a light machine with a load-carrying ability of about 500 kgs. On August 9th 1941, the Ministry of Defence published an order on standardization of motorcycles and cargo trikes. The objective was to standardize machines in order to improve the spare parts procurement.

So, designers & engineers has developed a heavy trike (with a load-carrying ability of 1,000 kgs) Moto Guzzi Tipo U (U stands for unificato, i.e. unified). It was based on the ER model (1938) with significant improvements. The machine had a one-cylinder four-stroke engine (a lying cylinder having a slight angle). Both the cylinder with horizontal finning and the cylinder head were made of cast-iron. For the first time, Moto Guzzi cargo trikes had an forced air cooling, although pretty primitive: a fan and a flywheel shared the same cover; the fan was boosting air forth, but the cylinder hadn’t a relevant jacket. Camshaft resided in the crankcase. Pushrods running in the pipes actuated the cylinder heads’ valves via the rocker arms. The valves was equipped with pin springs – this design provided the shorter unit-power plant. However, the size of the springs was big and the unit couldn’t be completely closed thus was letting the dust in. The engine and the gear unit formed a single body. The gear unit had a reverse gear. The machine had an auxiliary transmission, so the trike had a total of six forward gears and two reverse gears. Transmission to the rear axle was implemented via a rolling chain. There were intermediate sprockets saving the overall length of the chain.

Moto Guzzi 600 U with a Breda 37 machine gun

The chassis of Moto Guzzi tipo U was monumental. Trike had a parallelogram fork with heavy-duty pressed legs; at the rear, there was a solid axle suspended on carriage springs. The frame was made of profiled bars. The front wheel was a conventional spoke wheel or a plate wheel. Rear wheel were standard plate wheels. As the driver’s kneel protection, big guard boards were installed. Brackets for a spare wheel and gasoline canisters were provided on the well car. However, Tipo U was frequently used as a gun carrier vehicle because of the heavy-duty chassis.

During the war, the Axis powers (Italy, Germany and Japan) faced with deficiency of gasoline. A way out of a situation was the employment of gas-plants producing combustion gas from wood substance. Gas-plants were also installed on the Moto Guzzi tipo U.

After the war, the Ercole (Hercules) cargo trike based on the Moto Guzzi tipo U was designed. Ercole was the most popular Italian motocarro that had been manufactured till 1980!


Manufacturer Societa Antonima Moto Guzzi, Mandello del Lario, Italy
Years of manufacture 1943-1945
Quantity produced, units N/A
Price N/A
Today’s value N/A
Type Single horizontal cylinder, 4 stroke
Engine capacity, cc 498,4
Bore and stroke, mm 88 х 82
Engine rating 17,8 hp at 4300 rpm
Sparking Magneto
Carburetor Dell’Orto 2 MC 25
Battery N/A
Clutch Multiple-plate, oil-bath
Transmission 3-speed + reverse gear
Frame type Pressed steel
Front suspension Parallelogram with a friction damper
Rear suspension Leaf springs
Brakes Drum type
Wheel size 6.00 x 16
Length, mm 3790*
Width, mm 1450*
Height, mm 1120*
Wheelbase, mm 2300*
Ground clearance, mm 220*
Seat height, mm 850*
Mass, kg
Gas tank size, l
Maximum speed, km/h
Range, km  200

* – Data on the results of the measurement at the exhibit of “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov”.