Moto Morini On The Move
AFTER YEARS OF DORMANCY, the Italian company Moto Morini—best known to Americans for its quirky, 350cc, twin-cylinder sportbike named the 3½—is working on a new engine to be used in a sport-touring motorcycle.
The engine and bike were made possible when Cagiva purchased the foundering Moto Morini concern last year. “I designed this engine more than three years ago," says Franco Lambertini, Morini’s chief engineer, “but we would never have had the capital needed to put it into production if not for the Cagiva takeover."
The engine which will carry the Moto Morini name into the 1990s is a liquid-cooled, eight-valve V-Twin with several innovative design features. “My aim is to present an engine that is avant garde yet practical. as the current air-cooled, VTwin motor was when we launched it back in 1973," says Lambertini.
The engine is designed as a fully load-bearing component of the chassis, so its major castings, including the cylinders, are deeply ribbed to provide adequate stiffness. This permits the chassis as such to be all but eliminated, so that the large steel airbox represents what would otherwise be the frame on a conventional bike. Rear-shock linkages and the rear subframe will be mounted to the engine cases. In spite of the extra strength built into the engine.
the prototype powerplant weighs only 1 10 pounds, and the complete bike is intended to weigh no more than 375 pounds.
The new engine has a relatively narrow, 67-degree cylinder angle resulting in a compact power unit. To lessen the accompanying vibration. offset erankpins, as seen on recent Honda V-Twins. are used. “I truly admire the 90-degree Ducati V-Twin engine," says Lambertini of the older design know n for its perfect primary balance, “but it has one draw back: the inevitably long w heelbase you must adopt if you place the engine lengthways in the frame, which is the only rational alternative. I humbly believe my design will result in an easier handling, lighter-feeling machine."
When w ill the world be able to sample the new Morini? “We will have the prototype complete for testing by 1 990, with a view to going on sale for 1992," says Lambertini. “We won’t be competing with Cagiva/Ducati for their share of the enthusiast sporting market, but instead we will create a sort of sportivo-turismo machine: a comfortable bike with good performance at reasonable cost, offering the practicality of, say. a BMW."