The Flying Saucer: 1954 MV Agusta 175 CSS Disco Volante

The MV Agusta 175 CSS Disco Volante just might be one of the most memorable of the marque, and a favorite in moto giros.

| January/February 2014

1954 MV Agusta 175 CSS
Claimed power: 14hp @ 8,500rpm (factory specs)
Top speed: 84mph
Engine: 172.3cc air-cooled SOHC single, 59.5mm x 62mm bore and stroke, 8.2:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 246.4lb (112kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 3.7gal (14ltr)/80mpg (observed)
Price then/now: $448/$10,000-$16,000

Somewhere in the world — maybe even on back roads near you — there are happy people riding in a moto giro.

A moto giro — Italian for “motorcycle tour” — often has the feeling of an Old Home Week. Many of the riders already know each other, and many first timers are friends of previous participants. But newcomers are most welcome, and as riders unload their small, usually European postwar bikes, they’re introduced around as they search for the sign-up tent.

Yet despite all the camaraderie, there is a whiff of competition in the air. A giro is supposed to be a regularity trial, not a race, but when you gather together a group of competition motorcycles, even very small and quite old competition motorcycles, the participants start to feel a need for speed.

The first Motogiro d’Italia ran in 1914. It was a real motorcycle race over Italian public roads. This counterpart of the automotive Mille Miglia became Italy’s premier two-wheel road race. After World War II the event burgeoned, and by 1954, 50 different manufacturers were competing in an eight-stage event covering more than 2,100 miles. Three years later, it was all over: A fatal crash in the 1957 Mille Miglia led the Italian government to ban public road competition.

In 2001, a company named Dream Engine, run by a Ducati executive, resurrected the giro as a reliability trial. The original giro had classes for 75cc, 100cc, 125cc and 175cc machinery. The new giro had classes for the same size bikes, with the bikes limited to 1957 or earlier. The idea caught on, and giros are now being held around the world and across the U.S., including New England, Alabama and California, in addition to the original event in Italy, which is now presented by Club Terni. The rules differ from event to event, but the idea is always the same: riding small, older bikes against the clock on scenic roads.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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