The Guzzi SuperAlce has a number of very unique features. There are dual handlebars for the Pilot and Pillion. There is an adjustable rear suspension spring preload for Monoposto (solo) and Biposto (two-up) riding conditions. There is a partial fender over the spinning flywheel. There is a wonderful, massive air cleaner, just right for keeping out birds and mice and not anything smaller! Perhaps the most intriguing design item was the mechanism for hill climbing. The SuperAlce was delivered with a HILL BRAKE device. In Italian is was called a “CRICCO ANTI INDIETRO” (or anti-reversing jack in English). Look at this photo of an Illinois SuperAlce . Forward of the brake drum is the rare and elusive Hill Brake. If you click to enlarge this photo, you can see the ratchet device engaged into the sprocket teeth, the pull cable attached to the bottom and the spring attached to the top. When the cable is pulled, the mechanism is pulled free from the sprocket and runs silently. When the cable is relaxed, the spring pulls the top of the mechanism forward and the bottom engages to the sprocket teeth. Must have been quite noisy going down the road as the lever bounced on each sprocket tooth, and only used for those rare, mountain climbing circumstances. The Hill Brake is a ratchet device, not unlike the clicking freewheel device on a 3-speed or 10-speed bicycle. It was designed to roll in one direction and lock in the other. When a rider approached a very steep hill climb, he would flip a handlebar lever and engage this hill brake. The device would pivot back from its mount on the brake anchor arm and it would engage against the non-used, forward-facing teeth of the rear wheel sprocket. Up the steep hill we go, clickety-click. If the travel and balance got very precarious, the rider simply had to roll off the throttle and pull in the clutch handle. The Hill Brake would refuse to roll in the opposite direction and the motorbike was perched on the hill face. The rider could regain composure, throttle up, and feather the clutch to resume a gradual climb using both feet on the ground for balance and stability.
The Hill Brake device was a brilliant concept although perhaps an engineering failure. I have seen perhaps 30 SuperAlce worldwide in museums and along the road. I have NEVER seen the Hill Brake device itself. This is the first actual example I have ever seen and only by photo. I have heard of another unit on a machine sitting in Bologna, Italy. The owner of the Bologna machine reports that the device was intended for gentle deployment on a STOPPED motorcycle. If a rider were to attempt a hill, start rolling backwards, and then try to engage the Hill Brake after gaining some reverse momentum, the Hill Brake mechanism would either shatter itself before the inevitable crash or could even peel away a few sprocket teeth. In the SuperAlce, the sprocket and brake drum are an integral unit. Damages here would be costly and time-consuming for field repairs. The army mechanics apparently pulled the Hill Brake off as soon as they could and trashed the parts. Hence the rarity of this unique item.
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