This post started out of curiosity. Is it possible to find and compare multiple custom builds based on such an iconic and rare donor bike? There is always a choice to make when You own some unique and exotic motorcycle. Whether – to leave it stock, and just restore it, or to modify it?
The following builds prove that there is a growing trend of modifying these particular old machines into Cafe Racers (among other). This is not an easy task since to make some significant improvement regarding the presence of the Le Mans – You need to invent something unique that will work with the Italian styling. Tonti frame is great looking – it’s a backbone of almost every MotoGuzzi even today – 50 years after it was introduced. Making the donor bike is already a proper “racer” even when factory stock.
Usually, with this type of blog post, I start with some background on the donor bike. This time there is no need – a full story was released just a few days ago – here. So let’s go to the builds directly. I tried to find and choose builds that while all being very close to Cafe Racer looks or spirit – are completely different from each other.
MotoGuzzi Le Mans by FCR
This build is quite retro looking. Meaning the colour reminds me of old Royal Enfields, they left the fat fender in the back. At first glance, it seems like not much has changed. Obviously, there is no fairing left… But FCR did some fine work on rebuilding this thing. The tank and seat are hand-made with fibreglass. Handlebars come from Tomaselli. The carburettors are high-performance Mikuni flat slides and the exhaust comes from Lafranconi.
What I don’t like is the photoshoot location. Le Mans is a grand touring Italian machine. I think it would feel better somewhere on a twisty road or in some renaissance background of the Italian city, rather than on dirt in an old hangar. But… the machine itself looks brilliant. Discrete improvements, but with a significant part left old-fashioned or stock.
MotoGuzzi Le Mans “Socro” Cafe Racer by Urban Motor
The build is based on the Mark III Le Mans from 1984. The changes include front forks from BMW K100 with progressive springs. The rear twins are piggyback Ohlins shocks. Exhaust again is a Lafranconi Competizione. Beautiful spoked wheels are Acront. Electrics are modified to use Motogadget’s M-Unit.
The general effect is absolutely perfect. This one is a proper restomod in my favourite style. No paint – all metal 🙂 And everything unnecessary was removed.
MotoGuzzi Le Mans Mk II “Airforce” by Death Machines of London
Actually, this thing was already featured on this blog in a little different context: as an art bike. This brushed aluminium, aviation-inspired madness was based on an Mk II Le Mans version. There is not much left from the original bike – even the Tonti frame was heavily modified that it’s hardly visible anymore. But it simply looks amazing. It’s a full-on hand-made, inspired by aviation custom motorcycle – as a tribute to the founder of MotoGuzzi.
They say convenient is the enemy of right. Mr Giovanni Ravell, a co-founder of MotoGuzzi, was not a man to take the convenient path. WW1 fighter pilot, aviator and motorcycle racer, he was so fast he became known as “The Italian Devil”. We hope he would have appreciated the fact that our MotoGuzzi Airforce, built in his memory and released on his birthday, was the most inconveneint thing we have aver made.
It’s definitely not a Cafe Racer (despite the looks that suggest it is). It’s a totally different thing. But definitely, nothing that we’ve seen before.
MotoGuzzi 1100 Racer “Corsa #9” by Classic Co.
This one was built purely for performance and racing. It was based on 1981 Moto Guzzi Le Mans II. The declared parameters are quite mind-blowing. The engine got a full performance upgrade and produces 106 hp. Changes include 1064cc displacement (B/S 92×80), Asso pistons, SS nitride valves (47 in/41 ex), Porsche valve springs, SS camshaft, ClassWorks superlight clutch. Dyna Digital ignition and Dyna coils, custom wiring.
Remembering that the donor bike is quite a long and old machine – built for endurance racing – the weight they achieved with Corsa #9 is amazing – declared 166kg.
Special frame and swingarm. Lectron 44mm carburetors. Magnesium wheels. Here is our latest Moto Guzzi “round head” racer. Frame is our own special CroMoly type with the front engine bolt modification allowing to save many Kg’s over the original Tonti frame downtubes. Headstock has 27º rake angle (28º stock). CroMoly swingarm (2 cm longer than stock) with bigger and stronger tubing allowing to fit up to 160mm wide tires.
Wheels are 18″ EPM magnesium, fully adjustable rear shocks and front forks are brand new 41,7 mm Marzocchi M1R. Special stainless steel Lafranconi Competizione racing exhaust.
Fairing, tank and seat are our own design fiberglass parts.
All the above contribute to weight saving. And the result is stunning. Unfortunately – this thing doesn’t have any turn signals, stop or headlight and mirrors. It’s a pure performance machine that is not road legal.
MotoGuzzi 850 Le Mans Cafe Racer by Nic Millan
This is an example of an ultimately minimalistic build. Cafe Racer 1983 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans III conversion based on a stock tank, engine and frame.
From the builder:
I’m not reinventing the wheel here, and I don’t believe in customizing just for the sake of customizing. After all, this is not a Game of Thrones theme chopper that shoots dragon fire out of the headlight when I press the horn button, or some perplexity that leaves people wondering how the suspension works. I’m not interested in building something nobody has ever seen before.
For the paint, I took it to my friend and car builder Chris Darland of Chris’s Hot Rodz in Medford OR. I told him that I wanted it redder than a Ferrari. As it turns out, a Dodge Viper is redder than a Ferrari. I get a lot of questions about the color, it’s much brighter than the original Guzzi red.
So basically it was stripped down from badges, a new tail section was put on the original frame (leaving even the original seat hinges), fairing comes from Airtech. Other minor changes – Dynatec ignition and K&N filters.
It seems like this build is on a completely opposite tip of the scale vs the “Airforce” mentioned before. Form vs function.
I didn’t build this bike as a hip art gallery showpiece or even an internet blog feature bike. I built this bike to ride, and I do ride it.
Source: Nic Millan on bikebound.com