Moto Guzzi Le Mans café racer by ‘John W’

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.]