The days of easy bargains on the secondhand scene are over, especially if you’re looking for a clean CB750 or old Bonnie to modify. But there are still some good buys out there, and one of them is the Moto Guzzi 1000 SP.
In the States you can pick up a very tidy early 80s example for around $3,000, and you’ll get a machine with bags of character—plus Moto Guzzi’s famous low-maintenance shaft drive.
Customizers specializing in Guzzis are not short of work, and Filippo Barbacane is one of the finest. His Officine Rossopuro workshop is a long way from the Mandello Del Lario factory—a six-hour ride along the Adriatic coastline—but European Guzzi fanatics have been beating a path to his door for twenty years.
This is ‘Quattrotempi,’ the latest build from ORP. It means ‘four stroke’ and it belongs to a customer from Rome. “He wanted a bike to use for the city—and for the hills and country roads outside,” Filippo tells us. “He likes the ‘Brat’ style, but he also wanted a comfortable bike.”
Gentle persuasion came into play. It’s always a delicate moment when a builder and a customer try to find common ground, but Filippo has firm opinions on the matter. “I don’t like Brat-type bikes very much. I get the impression that they’re beautiful to look at, but they’re not really usable. I try to build motorcycles that can travel for many kilometers.”
A compromise was agreed: Quattrotempi would have a long and low style, but without compromising practicality. To get a compact look, Filippo created a low-profile tank with taut lines that run straight into the saddle—which has ample cushioning.
The suspension is better-than-factory, with rebuilt Marzocchi 35mm forks up front and modern, adjustable Bitubo shocks out back. The brake system has been dragged into the 21st century too, with completely new Brembo components. Filippo has installed 300mm dual discs up front and a 280mm disc on the rear wheel, customized with an upside down caliper.
The beautiful wheels are 40-spoke Borranis, shod with fresh Metzeler rubber and treated to a matte finish that matches the completely rebuilt engine and shaft drive system. Other mods include new aluminum bars—finished in red—with a restored 5¾-inch headlight sitting just ahead. It’s hooked up to a completely new wiring loom.
Filippo’s ability to craft new metalwork is peerless. He’s applied his skills to the aluminum fenders and side panels, which look as though they were stamped out of the factory presses.
It’s a true ‘factory style custom,’ a machine that is both unique and practical. That’s a rare combination these days, but it’s the only way Signore Barbacane will build a bike. “The first thing for me is that a motorcycle has to be reliable,” he says.
“You can have the most beautiful bike in the world, but if it’s always in the garage, it will never be a ‘real’ motorcycle.”
Strong words. But there’s an element of truth in there, wouldn’t you say?