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Motorworld’s newspaper №65

One can only be jealous of courage and technical talent of Carlo Guzzi. Almost a century ago, he designed an engine that was completely different from everything that the motorcycle industry was producing then. The engine was so good that it was produced without much change till 1980! The main change was the transition from the “valve over valve” scheme to the ohv design, in 1930s.

The excellent technicals parameters, high quality assembling and sporting achievements (Guido Mentasti won the Europe Grand Prix, in 1924) made Moto Guzzi one of the leading motorcycle manufacturers. Its position was further strengthened when in 1928, along with a solo version, the company began producing three-wheeled vehicles (‘motocarro’ in Italian), which were with a high degree of unification with two-wheeled machines (powertrain, front fork, frame elements).

The Moto Guzzi three-wheelers were rapidly improving: while the first Tipo 107 with a 13.2 hp engine could carry 350 kgs, the ER model (manufactured in 1938) with a 17.8 hp engine could carry a ton! 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, the trikes were produced 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. The Trialce was a light-weight machine with a load capacity of 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.

In accordance with this order, in 1942, the company’s designers developed a heavy trike with a load capacity of 1,000 kgs, the Moto Guzzi Tipo U (U stands for ‘unificato’, i.e. unified). It was based on the ER model (1938) but had 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, the Moto Guzzi cargo trikes had a forced-air cooling, although, pretty primitive: a fan and a flywheel shared the same cover; the fan blew air forward, but the cylinder wasn’t equipped with a relevant jacket. The camshaft was located in the crankcase. Pushrods running in the pipes actuated the cylinder heads’ valves via the rocker arms. The valves were equipped with pin springs, which provided a smaller length of the entire unit. However, the large size of the springs themselves didn’t allow then to close, so the mechanism was open to dust and dirt. The engine and the gear unit formed a single unit. 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, with intermediate sprockets to avoid unnecessary length.

Moto Guzzi 600 U with a Breda 37 machine gun

The chassis of Moto Guzzi Tipo U was monumental. The trike had a parallelogram front fork with heavy-duty pressed arms, while at the rear was a solid axle suspended from springs. The frame was made of profiled bars. The front wheel was a conventional spoked wheel or a plate wheel, at the rear there were standard plate wheels. Large knee pads protected the driver. At the front, there were brackets for mounting the spare wheel and gasoline canisters. However, more often the Tipo U was used as a gun carrier vehicle because of the powerful chassis.

During the war, the Axis powers (Italy, Germany, and Japan) faced a gasoline shortage. The way out of this situation was the use of gas generators, producing combustible gas from wood. Gas generators were also installed on 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, produced until 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”.