Moto Guzzi V1000 I-Convert 1975-1984

January 23rd, 20110 Comments »

Moto Guzzi I-Convert police motorcycle V1000In 1975, Moto Guzzi developed an interesting new motorcycle partially aimed towards the police motorcycle market in the USA. It was based on the 850 T3 and T3 California version, but had a larger, 948 cc engine.

The most important new feature of the Guzzi Convert (sometimes referred to as a “Guzzimatic”) was a semi automatic transmission with a torque converter that cleverly eliminated the need to use a clutch while patrolling city streets in stop and go traffic.

The odd name of “Convert” came from the torque converter. Cars had used torque converters for decades by 1975, but it was really quite unusual for a motorcycle to have one, and still is even to this day. The fact that Moto Guzzi did this, and did it quite successfully, is really a tribute to their long history of engineering creativity and daring to think outside the box.

The Convert overhead valve pushrod v-twin engine was rated at 71 hp at 6500 rpm. It had 88 mm bore x 78 mm stroke and a 9.2:1 compression ratio and was fed by two Dell’Orto VHB 30 carburetors.

The Convert transmission had only two speeds, “low” and “drive”.  Low gear was 1.133:1 ratio and Drive gear was 1:1. The final drive was shaft to a ring and pinion at the rear wheel, resulting in an overall drive ratio engine to rear wheel of 1.612 in Low and 1.458 in Drive.

The factory rated speed for the I-Convert was 82 mph (130 km/h) in “Low” gear, and 108 mph (174 km/h) in “Drive” gear, with a solo rider.  During the break-in period of the first 1000 miles (1600 km), the recommended max speed for Low gear was 60 mph (75 km/h) and for Drive was 75 mph (120 km/h).  Fuel consumption was rated at approximately 35 mpg.

The unique 2-speed transmission of the I-Convert included a hydraulic torque converter made by Sachs, but still required the use of a manual clutch for certain tasks.  It had a dry clutch and was lever operated on left handle bar as usual.  The clutch only had to be pulled when starting the engine and when up-shifting or down-shifting, but not when stopped at idle, like for a traffic light or stop sign.

Shifting from Low gear to Drive gear was typically only required when getting up to highway speed, otherwise Low gear was all you needed.  Because the transmission had a torque converter, there was no need to operate the clutch when stopping or when taking off from a stop.  That was the beauty of the Moto Guzzi I-Convert transmission. You could take off in Drive rather than low if you wanted to, but acceleration from a dead stop in Drive would be slower.

An amusing section in the V1000 I-Convert owner’s manual is the “Checking of Accelerating Ability”. It states: “To obtain proper results set the engine at maximum revs with throttle fully opened and brakes fully engaged; release then the brake controls quickly. Do not operate the clutch during this checking.”

The V1000 brakes consisted of dual 300 mm diameter front discs and single 242 mm diameter rear disc. The foot controlled rear brake pedal operated the left front disc and rear together. The right front disc was operated by the front brake lever on the right handlebar. With all three discs, the stopping distance from 60 mph speed was rated at 177 feet with a solo rider.

The most unusual feature regarding the brakes on the I-Convert was that it had a parking brake. Since the torque converter would allow the bike to coast, and there was no “Park” gear position like on a car, the motorcycle was effectively in neutral when parked or stopped. To prevent the bike from rolling while parked, it required a parking brake.

Moto Guzzi cleverly designed the I-Convert parking brake to be automatically actuated when the side stand was down, but the bike had to actually be leaning on the stand for the parking brake to work. The weight of the bike leaning on the side stand pushed against a mechanical lever that actuated the rear brake.

The instruments consisted of a combination speedometer odometer with resettable trip odometer.  The round gauge had a rectangular vertical row of warning lights at the left and at the right of it.  Aside from the usual green turn signal arrows and the usual blue high beam indicator (red on USA models) indicator, there were the following warning lights to get your attention:

  • An orange starter warning light came on while the starter button was being pushed.
  • A red generator warning light came on and went off after “a certain number of revs”.
  • A red oil pressure light came on then went off after oil pressure was achieved.
  • A green parking brake warning light indicated the parking brake was on and began blinking if you turned the ignition key to the run position. The engine could not start when the side stand was down (parking brake on).
  • A red light on USA models indicated the parking light and the low beam headlight were on. This light was green on European models indicating low beam headlight was on.
  • A red brake fluid warning light indicated low brake fluid in the rear brake and left front brake system.
  • A red low fuel light indicated the reserve fuel position.

The lights were operated by a four position switch near the throttle.  The four settings were (1) off, (2) parking lights only, (3) low beam and (4) high beam.  There was a safety switch that had to be operated in order to turn the lights off.

The torque converter required very little maintenance.  There was a fluid reservoir located under the left side cover of the bike for the converter.  The reservoir cap had max and min markings on the attached dip stick.  The fluid level was to be checked after the first 300 miles (500 km) and then every 2000 miles (3000 km).  The recommended fluid for the torque converter was Agip F.1 ATF Dexron.  The torque converter fluid was supposed to be changed approximately every 20,000 miles (30 000 km). Cooling of the fluid in the torque converter was via a Forcellini radiator mounted under the steering head.

  • US List Price $3750 (for 1976 model).
  • Wheelbase: 58 inches (1.47 m)
  • Max Length: 86.5 inches (2.2 m)
  • Max Width: 33 inches (0.85 m)
  • Max Height: 46 inches (1.1 m)
  • Min Ground Clearance: 6 inches (0.15 m)
  • Curb Weight: civilian model 572 lbs (261 kg), police model 600 lbs (272 kg)

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotoGuzziGuide.Com. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding and maintaining his Moto Guzzi California Vintage. John participates in local charity rides and also serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for one of the largest annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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