Table of contents:
- From the 500 cc in the Motorcycle World Championship to the first MV Agusta minibike
- Bonus track: MV Agusta Omer
When we think of MV Agusta we are used to imagining legendary racing bikes ridden by mythical names like Giacomo Agostini, or even in a more modern age of extremely striking Italian designs.
But there was a time when the motorcycle industry could afford certain licenses and it did. MV Agusta producing some really atypical mini bikes. This is the story of how the Italian brand tried its luck in this market.
From the 500 cc in the Motorcycle World Championship to the first MV Agusta minibike
For a factory like the one in Varese at a time, the second half of the 20th century, when they dominated the circuits with an iron fist, the feeling of invincibility was maximum. The best motorcycle riders in the world raced with their motorcycles, the best that anyone with minimal aspirations could wish for.
A) Yes, when Phil Read won the title of world champion in the premier category in 1973 (the sixth of its seven world championships) piloting the MV Agusta 500, the factory decided that among the celebrations of that success they were also going to give their son, a very young boy who enjoyed watching his father race, a little mini bike.
It was like this the MV Agusta Mini Bike Racing was born, a mini bike like those that populate karting circuits but with the exception that it was manufactured by a small large motorcycle brand and a huge prestige behind it.
Around a steel tube chassis equipped with a telescopic fork on the front axle and a double rear shock absorber, MV Agusta created a small scale motorcycle. A replica of the beautiful Grand Prix motorcycle that used a fiberglass fairing very similar to that of the champion motorcycle, with those straight lines and that characteristic bubble dome. And as a finishing touch, they used a tail with square lines and a long tank.
Inside it was a small 47.6 cubic centimeter air-cooled single-cylinder engine and a two-stroke mechanic that spat out its characteristic sound through an exhaust system that had four silencers. Yes, four, like the one on the 500cc bike.
The engine was not produced by MV Agusta, but was run by Franco Morini, while the transmission was made through a variator. Weighing just 30 kilos, this miniature racing bike was capable of reaching 40 km / h, not bad for a kid.
After the media coverage of MV Agusta's successes in the races, that little motorcycle for Read's son went viral. It was so popular that the phones at the Varese factory started fuming with fans who wanted a motorcycle like that., in a way forcing MV Agusta to fully immerse himself in the world of mini-bikes.
At the time of its commercialization, shortly after that 1973, the MV Agusta Mini Bike Racing could be chosen with three different sizes for their beautiful rims spoke: eight, ten or twelve inches in diameter and slight variations in the bodywork, although always painted in the iconic red and silver colors of the brand.
A couple of years ago one of these mini bikes, a 1976 unit, was auctioned in Paris and the bids exceeded several thousand dollars. No wonder then It is one of the few times that a major brand has officially produced minibikes. And even more so when it is known that some 300 units were produced, of which very, very few have survived.
Bonus track: MV Agusta Omer
But wait a minute, because this does not end here; there's still more. In case the Mini Bike Racing had not seemed grotesque enough to you, MV Agusta had another miniature model in a kind of attempt to replicate Ducati's success with the Cucciolo.
It was called MV Agusta Omer and it was a miniature bike with a utilitarian concept, youthful and ready to take on the world with its capabilities. Voucher, Its engine of 47 cc and two times of 1.6 CV, the same as that of the Mini Bike Racing for a slightly higher weight they did not make it the fastest motorcycle in the world, but the Italian firm believed it had found a niche.
With the exponential growth of cities in the late second half of the 20th century, the Omer launched a relatively innovative proposal, although previously seen in the airborne motorcycles of World War II: it was foldable. Yes, foldable like an electric bike worth more than 3,000 euros, but in a much more rudimentary way.
The Omer had all the functions of a motorcycleIt had a central spine steel chassis, a telescopic seat and handlebars, rear rack, lights, suspensions and brakes.
Apart from the traditional equipment of a motorcycle, the Omer added that its steering could be locked at 90º, fold the handlebars and retract the seat to minimize its dimensions. No, what remained was not a comfortably transportable pocket version, but at least it took up a more contained space than a life-size motorcycle of the time.