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Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
We’ve been covering the modern custom scene for eight years now, extending feelers into nearly every country in the world, from Andorra to Vietnam. But there are a few builders who have inexplicably slipped through the net—and one of the most renowned must be Craig Rodsmith.

An Australian based in Illinois, USA, Craig has been building bikes since the late 1970s. And when it comes to shaping metalwork, his experience shows. The hand-formed aluminum on this turbocharged Moto Guzzi ‘dustbin racer’ is so exquisite, the bike was sold as soon as it went public at the Handbuilt show.

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
The looks are pedigree, but this Guzzi is really a ‘bitsa’ based on a 1969 Ambassador loop frame that Craig has heavily modified. He’s cut it down by 3½ inches, and the rear section has been completely reshaped with an elegant little upkick.

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
It’s the engine where the real action is happening, though—courtesy of a turbo blowing through a pair of sealed, pressurized 36 mm Dell’Ortos. “I usually build my own engines, but this one was taken care of by Joe Walano at The Guzzi Doctor,” says Craig. “It’s based on an 850 Eldorado, but with 88 mm cylinders and a late model 78mm crank taking it out to 950cc.”

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
Joe’s balanced the engine for smoothness and longevity, and it’s also been converted to a front alternator, to make room on top for the custom exhaust. There’s no word on power output, but you can bet it’s ample. It feeds through a 4-speed box, hooked up to a lightened flywheel for snappier throttle response.

Once the mighty V-twin was back on his bench, Craig designed the Garrett-style turbo system. He’s run a handmade stainless steel exhaust system over the top of the engine so it can spin up the turbo, and also fashioned the intake plenum himself. “I almost always try to make as many parts as I can, or use old or original components that I modify to suit,” says Craig, “rather than use modern or ‘retro’ parts.”

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
There’s a small low-pressure fuel pump under the tank, which is regulated to maintain about one pound over boost pressure. And the whole installation is so discreet, with a passing glance you could easily miss it.

The vintage vibe continues with the late 60s forks, and if you take off the dustbin-style fairing, you’ll see a twin leading shoe hub. It’s a stylish match for the 18” Borrani wheels, which are refurbished originals and shod with Avon AM 26 Roadrider tires. A custom set of Super Shox suspends the rear.

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
Craig is famous for his metal shaping skills, and it’s easy to see why: There’s no CNC work or laser-cutting going on here. “I’ve wanted to build my take on a dustbin racer for over twenty years,” he says, “and it had to be in my usual style—hand made and bare metal.

“The tank, seat, dash and fairing are all hand formed using traditional methods, using a hammer, dolly, English wheel and so on. I also electro nickel plated most of the fittings myself.”

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
The little details are just as impressive as the big picture—from the stainless trellised rear sets to the handmade gauges, which hide modified Veglia internals.

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
A good builder always knows his weaknesses as well as his strengths, though, and in Craig’s case, it’s leatherwork. “I usually do every aspect of a build myself, to keep it true to my vision,” he says. “But I suck at upholstery, so my friend Joe at JBseatz takes care of that for me.”

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
Craig only stopped working on the Guzzi the day before the Handbuilt show. “I got it dialed in almost perfectly, but was unable to ride it much.” At the show the renowned collector Bobby Haas spotted it, and snapped it up immediately for his incredible Haas Motorcycle Gallery in Dallas—which holds almost 40 vintage and custom motorcycles dating back to 1901.

“If you’re ever in Dallas you really need to see HMG, it’s the most incredible and diverse collection of custom and historical bikes. So to be included is quite flattering and humbling!”

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi
So what can we expect to see next from Rodsmith Motorycles? “I intend to build a similar naked version of the dustbin,” Craig reveals. “As much as I’m proud of the fairing, I love the revealed mechanical complexity.”

That’s probably a good move. The thought of dropping a bike with handmade bodywork this beautiful is frankly terrifying—and there aren’t many people left with the traditional skills to recreate it.

Rodsmith Motorcycles | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Chris Corona of Revival Cycles

Show Stopper: Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi