Thirty years ago, a young James Hilton went out for a bike ride with his uncle. The experience was unforgettable, and so was the caution from his father that quickly followed: “Motorcycles are death machines, son.”
It’s our duty to report that James hasn’t just ignored his father’s advice. He’s turned it on its head, and launched Death Machines Of London. This drop-dead gorgeous Moto Guzzi Le Mans is DMOL’s first build.
It’s a remarkable success for a first effort, but the clue lies in Hilton’s background: he co-founded AKQA, a multi-disciplinary agency that works on the Mortal Kombat video game one minute and Rolls-Royce’s website the next.
Even setting aside our brazen love for old Moto Guzzis, DMOL have worked magic on this 1981 Le Mans Mark 2. The classy paint scheme and curious tail section caught our eye first, but the team’s gone a lot deeper than that.
Death Machine co-conspirators Ray Petty and Max Vanoni kicked off with a complete nuts-n-bolts teardown. Every part of the engine, gearbox and frame was vapor blasted, before being subjected to what James calls a “forensic inspection.”
The motor was punched out to 950cc, complete with a polished, lightened and balanced crankshaft, gas flowed heads (done in-house) and all new valves.
To bring the Le Mans’ suspension up-to-date, new internals and air cartridges have been installed in the stock front forks. The rear shocks were dumped for a new set of Hagons, and a set of Pirelli Sport Demons fitted to the original, refurbished wheels.
Tucked behind the fiberglass fairing are the original clocks. They’ve been refurbished and remounted on a bespoke dash, which also incorporates aviation warning lights and main switch from a 1940 Merlin Spitfire fighter. Yes, really.
A pair of adjustable Tommaselli clip-ons rounds out the cockpit, with Domino grips and minimal switches. Keeping everything tidy meant making a new wiring loom—complete with a Motogadget m-Unit controller and a Silent Hektik electronic ignition.
And that peculiar ‘airtail’? “It was an idea proposed by the client,” explains James, “to provide a refined minimalism, ensuring all electrical components are hidden from view.”
The tubed structure terminates neatly in a custom-made LED taillight, encased in the glass from a Land Rover Defender. The rest of the frame’s been de-lugged and cleaned up, and also houses a small electronics tray under the seat.
We’d love this Moto Guzzi in any color, but the livery is truly inspired.
If you’d kill for a bike like this, give Death Machines of London a call.