Motorcycle racing resumed in the early fifties. MV Agusta became a racing legend thanks to outstanding progress in performance and technology. The publicity generated by its competitive success brought Cascina Costa increased sales of its range of versatile, economical bikes that responded perfectly to market demand. Moreover, racing generated offshoots such as the sumptuous 4-cylinder 4-stroke 500 Turismo and the sporty 125 Motore Lungo, named so because of the lengthened crankcases covering its ignition magnet.
While the latter went on to become the most popular sports bike of its day, the former proved to be costly and never got past prototyping. The year 1953 was something of an industrial milestone, with MV Agusta producing 20,000 bikes for the first time thanks to its comprehensive range and the introduction of the unique 125 Pullman model. Moreover, the first plant licensed to produce motorbikes for export was opened in Spain.
In the meantime, on the racing front, the Motorcycling Federation decided to reintroduce competitions for mass-produced motorcycles. For this new championship MV Agusta industrialised production of the MV Agusta 124 Monoalbero (single-shaft), a bike derived from Cascina Costa’s legendary racing machines. The following year, 1954, saw the debut of the 175 CSS, which became famous as “the flying saucer” because of the disk-like shape of its fuel tank. This model, in addition to offering aesthetic appeal, allowed MV’s riders to win in the Sport classes too. In the late fifties the motorcycle market was still booming, though there were already signs of the crisis that would later force many manufacturers to cut investment in racing and applied research.
But MV went decidedly against the trend here, purchasing Bell helicopter manufacturing licences which put new technologies at its disposal for application on motorcycles. The many innovations dating from this period include a number of progressive hydraulic gear prototypes, two-stroke fuel injection engines, plus research-focused bikes such as the six-cylinder 500 four-stroke.
MV also stood out from the other motorcycle manufacturers when it came to the more economical bikes. Instead of adapting its engine displacements to the standards set by racing, it preferred to adopt an “optimal compromise” research philosophy aimed at its general clientele. In accordance with this policy, in 1956 the company presented the “83”, capable of carrying two people comfortably at reasonable speeds with limited fuel consumption. In 1959 it started producing a new lubrication system that permitted MV Agusta engines to achieve hitherto unknown standards of reliability, so much so that the warranty on MV engines was extended to 100,000 km. The generation of bikes built with this new engine was soon nicknamed the “hundred thousand”.