Eurotunnel 2012

478cc (69 x 64.2mm), 72-degree V-Twin, OHV 2 Valves/cyl, 11.2:1 compression ratio
2x 26mm Dell'Orto carbs, 5 Gears
43 bhp @ 7,500 rpm , 46 bhp (Sei-V Sport)
167kg (dry) / 184kg (wet)


The 500 was an obvious early manifestation of the Morini modular concept, using a larger bore and stroke to up the capacity of the original 344cc engine to 478ccs, producing more power and a relaxed ride. The longer wheelbase (the result of an elongated swing arm) gave a stable ride, and the longer seat suited two up riding.

The machine was first shown in prototype form at Milan in November 1975, started production in 1977 and was imported in to the UK from 1978. Originally the machine was produced with a 5 speed gearbox, allegedly due to concerns over the original box being unable to cope with the extra power. However, from 1981 a six speed cluster was fitted, resulting in the ''Sei-V'' model, which also saw the introduction of a plastic chain guard, painted mud guards and mechanical rev counter, all designed to reduce production costs. Prior to this a Sport version had been offered which, unlike the 3½ was produced purely through changes to handlebars and footrests plus the appropriate badge!

The 500 was an excellent machine for the longer distance rider (journalist Dave Minton rode one from Alaska to Mexico down the Trans-American Highway in the 1980s) but lacked some of the rider appeal of the 350s. The engine continued to be developed, and the later 501 motor (actually 507cc) was arguably the best of the ''air-cooled'' twins, revving freely and used in later off road machines together with the custom bikes that saw out Morini production at the old factory in the early 1990s following the take-over by Cagiva.

MRC Moto Morini 500


1980 500 Sport (Paul Compton)


500 Sei-V @

500 Sei-V (reverse) @

500 Maestro @

500 @

500 @


1983 500 Sei-V / 350 Comparison @

Bike magazine tested a pre-production 500 in 1978 against of all things a Honda CX500 as they were both considered "sports tourers" and the Guzzi V50 was "too expensive to import"... They enjoyed the road holding and "satisfying swoops" through bends offered by the "beautifully crafted" frame and Marzocchi suspension. Despite the brake pedal being on what was considered the 'wrong' side, they were very impressed by the "ferocious" front brakes and equally effective rear. They came away liking the 500 very much, yet felt it did not merit the £405 premium over the 350 Sport.

Brian Crichton tested a Maestro with clip-ons for Motorcycle Mechanics in 1981 and felt it had "the sound and feel of a true sportster," the lack of chrome giving a "moody intensity." Seven paragraphs were dedicated to the 'moody intensity' of the electric starter... Whilst he found the torquey long-stroke engine had a "long-legged easy feel" he also felt it at higher revs somewhat "tame" and prone to vibration.

Neil Millen of Motor Cycling magazine had been a Morini fan ever since seeing a 3½ parked illegally outside a police station and hoped that the 500 Sport would be twice as good as a recently much acclaimed 250. His tested bike was a Mallory Park marshal's bike with a raided Harglo accessory catalogue including two-into-one exhaust, fairing and rear sets. The bike had impressive handling, fuel consumption, "easy" starting, and "immense amounts of low-down power waiting to be unleashed." However a reluctance to rev like the smaller v-twins demanded a modified riding style in order to maintain progress.

Superbike tested a 500 Maestro in 1980 and loved the "firm chassis and excellent brakes" and dextrous agility but disappointingly felt it "lacks speed." This was a relative criticism really, and possibly influenced by its price premium over higher revving Japanese rivals, as when ridden in isolation it was a "demanding and satisfying machine to ride", particularly in wet weather. Two years later they were "enamoured" by the 6-speed 479cc model on the Isle of Man, which they considered to be much the same but with a much nicer gearbox. By this time, technological progress was beginning to show up the (by then) rudimentary suspension, yet the handling was still "a high point of modern sports motorcycling." They did not feel the ergonomics of the bike suited a 6-foot plus frame but "the bike is so absorbing that you don't notice your discomfort until you stop."

Matt Oxley tested a 6-speed 479cc Sport for The Biker in 1982. The new gearbox had "perfectly spaced ratios" with "smooth changes" that helped to rev the torquey engine through the gears. The chassis was "impressive" and along with the engine and gearbox gave "an immensely satisfying ride."

Read the magazine road tests in full in the Library section of the Members Area: Click here

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