Late ’30s Moto Guzzi at the Ponderosa

A friend and I had a cracking ride around the roads and lanes of North Wales last Sunday. Theme for the day was 650 twins with John aboard his Cagiva Raptor and myself on the ’64 UK-spec T120 Bonnie.  Despite the difference in technology and years, the bikes were pretty well matched performance-wise and the weather stayed fine throughout.

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The scenery around this part Wales stands comparison with anything the rest of the world can offer and should well be on the bucket list for all discerning motorcyclists. A lovely little loop, from Ruthin we followed the B5105 South which skirts the Clocaenog Forest until meeting the A5 at Cerrigydrudion. Following the A5 for a short way towards Llangollen we then turned right onto the B4501 which takes you down towards Bala. Turning right onto the A4212 is a stunning road that takes you past the National White Water Centre before following the right-hand B4391 fork towards Ffestiniog. The loop back up to the A5 at Pentrefoelas is completed by taking the right-hand turn onto the B4407 towards Ysbyty Ifan. A fabulous road that was amazingly deserted across the open moor. After a quick blast down the A5 we had a welcome pit stop for a cup of coffee and slice of Bara Brith in the café at Cerrigydrudion then carried on towards Llangollen to tackle the Horseshoe Pass.

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Although the Bonnie is a flying machine it is currently suffering with a smokey right-hand cylinder which will need attention over the winter. The bike is not ridden with kid gloves but as the maker intended. So, I’m quite happy to deal with the consequences of regular flat-out blasts and runs on the dyno . With its slightly raised compression it is also prone to pinking on the regular pump unleaded that passes for petrol here in the UK. This means keeping the revs up rather than lugging in the higher gears which of course is a good principle to adopt for a spirited ride. After stopping at the Ponderosa Café we came across this rather lovely 500cc Moto Guzzi which if I remember right is the rare 1938 GTS.

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Having been restored many years before by the rider’s father it had apparently acquitted itself well on the climb up the hill. The bike featured a combination of over-head inlet valve and side-valve exhaust which was something I did not realise was common practice for certain manufacturers. With the luxury of rear suspension controlled by springs located under the engine-gearbox the bike may well be the “De-Luxe” model and must have been a revelation back in the day.

 

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