This article was originally printed in the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club monthly newsletter.

My First Moto Guzzi, by Len Karber L-284

I do not have much of a story to tell about my first Moto Guzzi, except to say that it was a 1935 250cc horizontal cylinder with bacon slicer flywheel and open hairpin valve springs - there was a small copper tube bleeder to lubricate the valves, but that was all. It was about 60 years ago that I had this bike. It was worn out but always started and ran as well as could be expected for the condition it was in. Even in those days the frame had rear springing and the dampers were a frictional scissors arrangement with a handle where one could tighten or loosen the friction of the scissors. I always left the friction loose. It had a right foot shift and left foot brake. The shift pattern was up for 1st and down for the other gears which I was used to, having owned British bikes before WW II.

In 1967 I moved to New Orleans from Nevada taking my 350 Bultaco with me. At the 1968 Mardi Gras parade I saw the Guzzi dealer with a V-700 hooked up to a sidecar. I was immediately struck by what I thought was a very beautiful motorcycle. I saved my money and in 1969 bought a V-700.

Riding this bike made me change habits of approximately ten years. I was used to right foot shift, left foot brake and up for 1st, down for 2, 3, and 4. The V-700 was left foot shift and down for 1st and up for 2, 3, and 4. This arrangement took some getting used to and even after the first week I was having to actually think about how to shift. Finally everything came to a head one Sunday when I went riding. I was about three miles from my house having made my way through a park when I shifted into 2nd gear after stopping at a stop sign.

The V-700 was a clunky shifter anyway and whether I did not pull the clutch for full release or what, I do not know. All I know was I came to a stop abruptly. I put the bike on the stand and spent the next 20 minutes working the shift lever to try to sort the gears out. Working the shift many times got me familiar with the spacing between gears and, I never had any trouble after that.

I rode the V-700 to one of the rallies when you (Frank) had them at the first campground. That year at least one dealer brought a V7 Sport for people to ride. I did not ride one at the campground, but I was so smitten with the styling that I bought one later.

After I left the campground I rode to Michigan to visit my brother and sister. I never made it home on this trip. The right exhaust pipe loosened up and burned an exhaust valve. I left the bike at a Guzzi dealer in Indiana and flew home. Two weeks later I picked the bike up and rode it home. I kept the bike for a couple of years until I could afford a V7 Sport. I rode it to Florida, to Texas and all over with no trouble after that. The drum brakes were no good. I went through too many stop signs for my own good. The Lord was with me since I was never hit, but I was scared many times.

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