BMW Motorrad Spezial

Moto Guzzi café racer

Moto Guzzi café racer
Italian Motor Magazine is carving a name for itself as a chronicler of very classy vintage and custom machinery. This Moto Guzzi is the star of issue #2, which has just been released.

The owner is mysteriously referred to only as ‘John W’. “I got my first Guzzi, a twin front disc V7 Sport in the early 90s,” John says. “And all of the Guzzis I’ve owned since, plus a couple of boxer BMWs, have been in a café racer style. When I decided to build one more a couple of years ago, I wanted to do it right—a more finished feel with some subtle touches, and I feel I’ve achieved that.”

Moto Guzzi café racer
The aluminum tank and seat are made by John Williams, and the frame is a Mk 2 Le Mans—with the rear rails removed and a seat support put in place. “The swinging arm has a small scallop (but not really big enough) to allow for a wider rear tyre,” says John, “and the wheels are anodised black 2.50 and 3.50 x 18 inch rims with black powdercoated hubs. The disc/bearing carriers were made to accept the later smaller discs.” The 41mm Paioli forks and yokes are from a Zane Laverda, as is the rear brake setup. “Steve at Bike Revival advised me and supplied a set of multi-adjustable YSS shocks. The stainless steel mudguard stays and headlamp brackets were specially fabricated. I’ve retained the linked brakes, as I really like them, but I have moved the splitter to under the seat to help keep the lines of the frame clean. (What a pain to bleed that was!). All of the electrics are hidden under the tank: coils, mini relays, fuse box, Dyna ignition and horn.”

Moto Guzzi café racer
“The engine is a fairly standard Le Mans V/1000S unit with lighter ringgear, alloy timing gears and re-angled, nearly straight carb inlet manifolds—it was one of those ‘phew!’ moments, as I wouldn’t have got the battery in otherwise! I rounded off the fins of the barrels slightly, and painted the whole lot black with spraycan engine enamel paint. It seems to work and last quite well, as my other two bikes are done with the same stuff.”

Moto Guzzi café racer
“The alloy clip-ons are Spondon. I worked out the throttle cable length and got Venhill to make them up—1 into 2, but using a twin pull alloy throttle housing that I happened to have. The downpipes are lengthened big bore Keihan items with a slight kick-up on them, and the silencers are cheap chrome shorty reverse cones. I did have to repack them as they were very loud… in fact, I can’t say they are quiet now but it did take a few decibels out of them.”

Italian Motor rode John’s Guzzi, and loved it. “It’s light, handles like no other Guzzi we’ve ridden, and is plain stunning. People stare at it because it has presence—it’s loud, handsome and embodies the finest ideals of cafe racer spirit and practice. John may be reticent about his skills but you need many of them, and a certain vision to create such a motorcycle.”

[Photography by Adam at Italian Motor Magazine. Check out their website for more vintage two-wheeled goodness. Or better still, subscribe.]

  • Lovely!

  • Jefferson

    I am pretty sure that this magazine is written and published by Guy of Greasy Kulture’s brother. Take different roads and end up at the same place. Outstanding.

    • Jefferson, you’re right: Adam Bolton edits Italian Motor and Guy Bolton edits Greasy Kulture.

  • Terdwilicker

    The front tire is on backwards. Why would they do that?

  • Gus Porterhouse

    Pardon my ignorance, but I’ve never actually ridden a Guzzi. I try to hard to appreciate them aesthetically, but that whole engine layout just seems awkward and constraining to me. What’s the fascination with them?

  • McPain

    Terdwilicker: I can’t tell if you are joking or not because of your username but the front wheel is on correctly. Check any bike photo, front tread looks like /\ , back like V

  • Sportster Cafe

    You know what they say, if you have to ask the question, you wouldn’t understand the answer!

  • Mark

    That thing looks fantastic. Great overall lines. Doesn’t try too hard to be a British bike, but still looks like a cafe racer through and through – I love it!

  • joe momma

    …gus…..for some of us it is the fallen notion that guzzis were copies of the indian 841…..a big bore 841 could’ve saved the old indian company….it is v twin with excellant cooling capacity, legendary smoothness and wide enough cylinder angle to accomodate largess that 45 and 42 degree twins cannot….i say fallen notion because i have since learned that bsa made transverse v twin back in the thirties….i’ve forgotten what it is called but i know you could track it down….sorry dude, but a solid v twin will blow my skirt up every time….

  • Lew

    I love it…except

    -Speedo is ugly, sits up too high
    -Why exhaust wrap? Is it just me or wouldn’t the lovely color of stainless steel headers be nicer than these bandages?

  • Mule

    Very clean bike! I agree with Lew. The “bandages” on the pipe fad drives me nuts! Where did that come from anyway? It needs to be a thing of the past sooner than later. Stainless that has been scotch-brited looks a billion times better than this as does flat black paint. The “wrap” has to be purchased extra and it adds to the bidget of a cheap build, so its not for cost cutting. It’s purely a stupid fad. Stop it already!

    Now I feel better. This bike sits nice and appears to be well assembled. On the tire thing, if its a rear tire, you reverse the direction as the torque on the cord wrap is applied in reverse by the brakes as opposed to engine torque when installed on the rear. Looks like a rear pattern tire to me.

  • I dont know why its but I keep finding myself drawn to Guzzi’s lately. especially cafe’d Guzzi’s. This one looks great, exhaust wrap and all!!
    would be happy to have that in my garage, Its got some real character about it and it looks kind of mean. I really like it.

  • skip

    Love it, even if the speedo is a little high, and the front tyre is on the wrong way round! (It’s pretty hard to get a tyre on the wrong way round, as there are directional rotation arrows on most tyre brands. Mind you, I did once have a dick-head fit a tyre to my spoked-wheel flat-tracker without an inner tube!)
    While we’re at it, I really dig exhaust-wrap. To the un-innitialted, it does actually serve a purpose – it helps retain heat in exhaust gas and thus improves gas-flow. Funny how things that serve a true purpose often look really cool.
    And lastly, the only problem I have with Guzzis is that if your bike gets knocked over as much as my old gixxer does when it’s parked, I can’t help feeling you’d end up with a cracked head (or two).
    That aside, this is a beautiful piece of kit. Really wish it was in my shed.
    Well done to all concerned.

  • I shot the bike and the front tyre IS definitely on the right way round! Space in the middle of the frame is deliberate – done ‘cos he could do it…shows off the frame triangles.

  • Bald Shaun

    I love this! A big ass Guzzi tractor engine in a svelte frame has an industrial beauty that nothing else can match. The speedo does stick out, but if that’s were it gives the rider the best view in the preferred riding position, then that’s exactly were it belongs. (If not, please lower it. Thank you.) And I for one, love header wrap. It’s a big stiff middle finger to conventional aesthetics and practicality. FTW!

  • RD400cr

    I have a set of those tires on my RD400, they’re Avon Roadrider AM26. The front is rotating the correct way, it’s just got a very agressive pattern. And it works.

  • mack-o-matic

    lllookathaaat! What a nice bum John Williams worked out, a real beauty! wow…