James Hammarhead needs no introduction here. One of the USA’s most thoughtful bike builders, he’s the creator of the Jack Pine—one of the most sought-after and usable custom bikes of recent years. This custom Moto Guzzi V7, nicknamed ‘Wayward,’ is Hammarhead’s latest creation: A one-off built with the official sanction of Moto Guzzi USA.
Although this bike is a 2010-model V7 Café Classic, its genesis can be traced back to the summer of 1975. “Late one evening, a friend of my father’s arrived riding a black Moto Guzzi V7 Sport,” says Hammarhead. “He’d flown in from England, bought the Guzzi in New York City and was headed west. Armed with only a map and a small tank bag, he was beginning a three-month odyssey that became legend in our house.”
As Hammarhead grew up and pursued the road himself, he steadily traded up for bigger and bigger adventure touring bikes. “But with each successively more modern motorcycle, the experience seemed slightly diminished. Then on a trip to Southeast Asia, I rode a beat up Honda XL185 for a few weeks. Traveling light with only a daypack and not much of a plan, I found myself back in the game. I began thinking about a Hammarhead bike that could excel at the urban commute—and also break free for fast and light travel.”
The ‘new’ Moto Guzzi V7 seemed ideal as a donor: A simple air-cooled V-twin, with modern electronic fuel injection and niceties such as an electric start. The challenge was to create a minimal motorcycle that remained at home on the long road. “We began the V7 Wayward project by stripping away layers of the bike to reveal the essential form. The bodywork was simplified, and as a result, the chassis could be freed from excess brackets and mounting tabs.”
Hammarhead replaced the large stock fenders with alloy units and the ancillary components were cleanly repackaged—with a simple black battery mounted low in the frame. The engine has not been internally modified, but performance benefits from high-flow K&N air filters, a free breathing custom exhaust and remapped fuel injection. Performance fork springs and rear shocks were fitted, and the bike rolls on Avon tires.
Up front, the stock headlight and instrument cluster have been swapped out for a classic 7-inch teardrop shell that carries a 48 mm MMB speedometer. The OEM cluster’s circuit board was retained and modified to output a remote low fuel warning light. To achieve a relaxed yet aggressive riding position, CR low bend bars, a Joker Machine bar end mirror and wide foot pegs were fitted. Hammarhead also cut and modified the rear sub-frame to integrate the rear turn signals and support a compact seat.
The tank on this prototype is from a 2012 V7 Classic and finished in bare steel, sealed with wax but otherwise natural. For real world durability, a small run of production bikes will get tanks with a phosphate wash and shot with PPG Flex N’ Flat clear coat. (Production Versions are likely to use 2013-and-up V7 Stone models as a base, and should be available for $15,500.)
The final element is a pair of waxed cotton panniers. Drawing on the design of the HHI Daypack, they’re made from Martinex Wax Army Duck, with a leather-reinforced bottom. “The shape and scale was inspired by the bags of the 1950s,” says Hammarhead. “An L-shaped internal aluminum frame supports the cargo and is hard mounted to the motorcycle at three points.” With a combined capacity of 16 liters, the bags are small by modern standards—but they’ll swallow a laptop, rain suit and workout gear for the weekday hustle. Or the essentials required for a long weekend of travel.
Or add a small tank bag, and never look back.