Having started motorcycle production in late 1945 with a 98cc two-stroke, Count Agusta’s Meccanica Verghera (MV) introduced its first production four-stroke road bikes, a pair of 175 models, at the 1952 Milan Show. Meanwhile, MV had been busy racing and the firm achieved its first major international success when Cecil Sandford won the 1952 125cc World Championship – MV’s first. For the following season, MV made a single-cam, customer version of Sandford’s works DOHC racer, the Sport Competizione, which quickly became popular with 125-class privateers. In 1955 a second over-the-counter racer was added to the range: the 175 CSS. This was intended primarily for Italian Formula racing, but it quickly dominated the 200cc class in the UK and elsewhere, despite being pricier than a Manx Norton! It was one of these 175s, bored to 196cc, that provided Mike Hailwood with his first ever race win at Oulton Park in 1957.
Based on the single-overhead-cam 175, the machine offered here is an ex-works example of the much rarer twin-cam Bialbero version, built only during 1954 and 1955. It’s thought that just ten were made in total, and this is one of just five built with magnesium crankcases. With special features including a 5-speed gearbox, an aluminium clutch with straight-cut primary gears and removable upper frame tubes to facilitate access to the twin-cam head, the engine produced a claimed 18bhp (3bhp more than the single-cam) and so the 125 Bialbero was good for a heady 90mph.
MV 175 Bialberos were raced for three seasons, but MV test and works rider Fortunato Libanori campaigned this particular machine in the 1956 125cc Italian Championship. The factory then sold it to the French MV importer who used it for promotional purposes there. It returned to Italy in the 1990s and became part of the Bisoglio collection for 10 years. This machine comes with an Italian Motorcycle Federation (FMI) certification of conformity. Single-cylinder MV Agustas do not come any rarer or more desirable than this beautiful Squalo (Shark) Bialbero.