There will be many, many beautiful machines at this weekend’s Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Texas. But I’m prepared to bet that one of the stars will be this Moto Guzzi V50 from local heroes Revival Cycles.
There’s an elegant, unforced style to the bike, which builder Alan Stulberg describes as having ‘good Karma.’ It was one of those projects where everything fell neatly into place—although I’m sure Revival’s renowned craft skills helped.
The V50 originally belonged to a friend of Stulberg’s, who used it on several cross-country adventures before deciding it was time for a new owner to enjoy it.
Then Revival had a call from a client looking for a vintage, lightweight and small displacement bike that handled well. “The V50 fit the bill perfectly,” says Stulberg. “It does all of that, with the bonus of a fantastic Italian twin-exhaust growl.”
Despite the budget being tight, the build looks a million dollars. “It’s not one of our bespoke machines. It’s more of a tasteful combination of off-the-shelf parts that were modified to fit together, as if they were intended to be that way from the beginning.”
Stulberg and crew started with a cylinder head rebuild and electrical overhaul, and then turned their attention to the fuel tank. “The factory one is bulbous, and frankly not that flattering for a small motorcycle. We chose a Yamaha RD400 tank.” In fact, Stulberg chose two RD400 tanks: the second one was reworked into the seat cowl. “The lines of the tanks seem to fit with the squareness of the engine and chassis perfectly.”
Hidden under the ‘proper’ fuel tank is a tiny lithium-ion battery weighing just 1½ pounds, plus all the electrics—which were previously hidden behind plastic side covers. “As with all of our Guzzi projects, we prefer the visual ‘lightening’ that occurs when we open up that area behind the carbs. It isn’t always as simple as it seems, but it’s worth it.”
To maximize electrical reliability, Revival hooked up a Motogadget m-Unit control box. “It means we can hide all the switchgear in the handlebars, using tiny signal wires instead of heavy gauge full-load wires,” says Stulberg. “Not having to run full-load wires all over the bike is such an advantage to a custom builder.”
After fabricating rearsets and pegs to suit the new owner, Revival moved onto the exhaust. “We chose to build a complete system from head to tail in stainless, and we kept the angular style—tight and close to the frame.”
Rebuilt forks and a brace machined out of aluminum keep the front end solid, and contribute to the effortless handling of the little V50. The headlight was more complicated: “We chose a Honda Dream headlight, but didn’t want the headlight shell and bezel it came with. So we fabbed a new shell and a polished alloy bezel.” In the top of the shell is a cup that holds a Motogadget instrument. It allows the rider to keep up with the charging system, the speed, the time, and the distance. It even auto dims depending on the surrounding light.
It’s a supremely classy build, with bare metal finishes that will age well and eventually gain patina. “I plan to ask the owner to never wash it, but send us photos as he starts to put the miles on it,” says Stulberg.
To see this beautiful machine before it gets dirty, you’ll need to head over to the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin this weekend, coinciding with the MotoGP.
Sponsored by Moto Guzzi, the event will showcase over 100 custom motorcycles—from the likes of Shinya Kimura, Roland Sands, Deus Ex Machina and Walt Siegl.