If you live in New York and love vintage European machinery, we have a name for you: Peter Boggia. He’s the man behind Moto Borgotaro, a Brooklyn-based shop that handles everything from regular maintenance to full restorations and Moto Guzzi cafe racer builds.
Boggia is one of those guys who can take a factory bike and elevate it to a whole new level. His latest build is this 1979 Moto Guzzi LeMans, and it’s absolutely faultless. It’s been torn down to the crank, media blasted, and then hand-polished with oil, #0000 grade steel wool and hours of elbow grease.
Let’s start with the dash, because it says a lot.
The custom faceplate on this single Motogadget gauge echoes the functional style of industrial designers like Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs. Even the Bauhaus font used for the two solitary reference numbers reinforces that ethos, with a mark at 4000 rpm denoting the start of the power band, and another marking the end.
Most of what makes this Moto Guzzi special is hard to see straight away. The essential lines and knuckle-like motor shape have the same distinctive look as the original LeMans. And although there are no turn signals, the bulky taillight remains.
This was a very conscious decision, as Boggia explains.
“It’s all about how the LeMans tank runs into the seat, and into that particular taillight,” he says. “That’s what the original designer spent so much care in creating. This isn’t a reinvention. There’s no chopping and rearranging, because the lines were right on these bikes to start out with.”
But underneath that classic iconic silhouette, this bike is anything but a stock restoration. The lower rails of the frame have been eliminated entirely. Extra trusses have been added to the rest of the frame, and the headstock is reinforced.
Cradled in this over-built nest of girded steel is a 1,000cc motor that’s been tweaked, ported and primed. Even the timing chain has been upgraded—the function taken over by precision aluminum gears. Like Swiss watchmaking, on steroids.
Add it all up and the Guzzi exudes pure power, even while at rest. Roll back the Tommaselli throttle and you’ll feel the heavyweight slides moving up and down inside the Dell’Orto carburetors.
Give it gas and the hand-made repro factory race exhaust responds with an angry roar. (Around the shop, the bike was nicknamed ‘Hellsgate’ for how it sounds.)
High performance ceramic bearings have been installed in the powder-coated original LeMans wheels, as well as in the U-Joint inside the driveshaft. But the real secret in this bike’s performance lies is its transmission—a critical ingredient in the overall recipe.
“The LeMans factory racing close-ratio gearbox has straight-cut gears,” says Boggia, “and it delivers maximum power when you really want it—on the meaty part of the power band.”
Upgraded suspension keeps the power glued to the road—with YSS shocks and a period-correct Ducati M1R front end with progressively wound springs.
And it stops as good as it goes, thanks to twin 300-millimeter floating rotors, four-piston calipers and a massive radial master cylinder—all by Brembo.
Look closely, and you’ll spot cheesy red dice valve caps. “With all this high-minded design talk, we can’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Boggia. “At the end of the day, these are still just motorcycles.”
If you like Moto Borgotaro’s style, there’s good news: Boggia plans to make five more Moto Guzzi cafe racers to the exact same spec as this one.
With thanks to Chris Lesser of Union Garage NYC.