Italian for Beginners by Ed Milich

  There’s a kind of Bizarro eloquence to Italian motorcycle shop manuals. Between the busted-up English and the out of place verbiage lies a sincere attempt to communicate the passion of motorcycle ownership to the reader. The resulting linguistic bouillabaisse only adds to the mystique of Italian motorcycles.

   For example, the Moto Guzzi CX100 manual spends 90% of its allotted introduction space rambling on about accelerator pumps.


Due to its exceptionally high feature, this motorcycle can be  considered as in the racing machine class and as such has to be ridden in a sportsmanlike way. For instance, for fuel feed this model is fitted with caburettors with pumps and if the twist grip is not used correctly in accordance with engine revolutions, there might be an excess of fuel which is ejected by the carburettors, similarly as occurs on sporting cars that fit same type carburettors. It is obvious that if in such conditions the engine backfires, the risk of a fire is quite considerable. When travelling at low speed or in other words at low revs, it is necessary for the throttle grip to be used with care since the immission of a greater quantity of fuel might not be fully absorbed by the engine. At high speed, also in case of abrupt accelerations, the fuel is entirely absorbed and used by the engine, thus eliminating the risk and conferring to this model the brilliant "kicking up" qualities that make it one of its outstanding features
                                         [From Moto Guzzi LeMans ll/CX100 Owner's manual. Contributed by Mike Acebo.]

   Then there’s the typical faux pas of the Moto Guzzi California Jackal manual:

The oil level check should be carried out after the engine has run for a few minutes:  the dipstick plug should be screwed up completely."
                                     [From Moto Guzzi Jackal Owner’s Manual. Contributed by Bob Smulkowski.]

   Though not a direct responsibility of the Italian motorcycle marques, the numerous online translation databases are always good for distorting the percepts of the Italian visionaries.  Take any text from an Italian manufacturer’s website, cram it into a translator and here’s what you get…

After the many voices that we had collected in the slid months, here finally the first images of the new motor that the Guzzi is developing for a long time for its products of tip of near future. Draft of one bicylindrical one to V of 75  degrees that will come mounted tilted in ahead of 10 degrees. Enormously more compact and light of current bicylindrical the Guzzi, it will have the distribution to double camshaft in head with four valves for cylinder and mixed commando: to the center of the V between i cylinders in fact a controrotante auxiliary tree regarding the motor tree will be arranged and with a gear that will act as also from volanica mass it will distribute the motion to the two  chains that move the camshafts. The cooling naturally will be to liquid. The change, cross-sectional to six marce,  with the two overlapped trees, will be arranged endured behind the block cylinders and will be of the estraibile type. The clutch (fastened on the head physician of the change) will be dry multidisc to in the models more sportswomen  and oil bath in those of exasperated extraction less. In order to contain it blocks it the base will be of the type to dry Carter. Various solutions, to second of I use, also for the feeding to indirect injection electronic: they will come prepared versions to or more injectors for cylinder to second of the use cu will be destined. The covered bands of piston displacement from the motors of this new family will go in fact from the 850 to i 1100 cc. For all the final transmission will be to chain. In ossequio to the current tendencies, the base in light alloy will be realized in block with the cylinders, with canes in aluminum alloy brought back in humid with superficial bringing back in Nikasil. The starter will be posizionato in the inferior part of the motor. "
                                                      [From the Moto Guzzi website. Contributed by Jerry Riedel.]

   Here’s a similarly clunky and self-appreciatory piece from the Ducati side of things:

The frame is trestle shaped, made of Chromium-Molybdenum tubes, very sturdy in its structure as a consequence of our great know-how on the matter."
                                                      [From the Ducati F1 manual. Contributed by Steve Frew]

   Ducati also warns:

never attempt to start the engine when cold."
                                                       [From the Paso Manual. Contributed by Phil Hitchcock]

   Then there’s the crown jewel of the bunch- an introductory statement that tries so hard, yet says so little:

We remind that this model, due to its exceptional peculiarities, is almost a racing bike requiring a sport riding. For this reason it meets so much fans’ favor but, as for racing bikes, the technique of its use must be adequate.”
                                                       [From the Moto Guzzi Lemans 1000 Workshop Manual Preface]

   After years of working on Italian machinery, all of these important instructions will begin to make sense to you. You will be able to perform metric-to-english conversions in your head. You will come to appreciate the broken prose of your Guzzi or Moto Morini shop manual. Finally, you will come to realize that passion is yet another universal language.