Speed Read, 20 December 2020

The latest motorcycle news and customs
We’ve found a killer bobber that proves that the unloved Harley-Davidson Street 500 actually has potential. Plus we take a look at the brand new Moto Guzzi V7, a Kawasaki Z from Germany, an ultra-rare MV Agusta 750 S America, and an auction of Robert M. Pirsig’s personal workshop things.

Harley-Davidson Street 500 bobber by Augment Motor Works
Harley-Davidson Street 500 by Augment Motor Works The H-D Street 500 was hardly a smash hit for the Motor Co. It’s an average performer, its styling is all over the place, and it’s notorious for its poor build quality. But Nick Acosta of Augment Motor Works in Canada has proof that there’s potential there.

There’s no wild fabrication on this 2015-model Street 500, and no heavy performance upgrades—but that’s entirely deliberate. “I wanted to show that you don’t need to spend a crazy amount of money to make it look really nice, unique, and have those classic Harley lines,” explains Nick.

Harley-Davidson Street 500 bobber by Augment Motor Works
The work started at the back, where Nick trimmed the Street’s subframe, then added a custom fender and bullet turn signals. He also slammed the rear with shorter shocks, then added a side-mount plate bracket with a Bates-style taillight.

The front features a new headlight, new handlebars and risers, and blue fish scale grips from Lowbrow Customs. The blue’s echoed on the custom seat’s suede upholstery, which in turn has yellow stitching to mimic the paint job. Nick’s friend, Amanda at Black Widow Custom Paint, handled the paint—a stunning gunmetal flake job, with flames.

Harley-Davidson Street 500 bobber by Augment Motor Works
“The seat and paint are a nod to old school choppers and bobbers I would see in original Easyriders magazines,” says Nick, “that would have some funky seating materials and designs, along with old school flames and candy paint. And since I wanted the bike to have that, look I decided to follow that route on this modern machine.”

Complete with a new intake, a Vance & Hines exhaust and a Mexican blanket strapped to the black, it’s a surprisingly charming take on the unloved Street 500. [Augment Motor Works | Images by Mark Luciani]

2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special
The new Moto Guzzi V7 The endearing Moto Guzzi V7 has just been given a light facelift—and a bump in capacity. The visual changes are subtle, but the biggest news here is the V7’s all-new 850 cc motor, which was derived from the V85 TT.

The new mill is up on both power and torque, taking the V7 from 52 hp to 65 hp, and 60 Nm to 73 Nm. That means it finally has the numbers to go head-to-head with the competition; like the 54 hp / 80 Nm Triumph Bonneville T100.

2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special
Visually, most of the V7’s signature touches remain. The new fuel tank appears mostly unchanged, but the seat has a deeper step than before, and the side covers are more sharply angled. The motor takes up a little more space, the final drive has grown, and the rear wheel’s wider now.

Moto Guzzi have also swapped out key details like the exhausts and rear fender, and added new Kayaba shocks.

2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
The V7 will be available in two models: the V7 Stone (above), and V7 Classic (below). The Stone gets more basic matte finishes (with orange or black paint) and redesigned alloy wheels, but it also has an LED headlight with Moto Guzzi’s new ‘eagle’ daytime running light. The Classic has a traditional headlight, dual clocks, spoked wheels and fancier paint options.

2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Special
Moto Guzzi haven’t released a whole bunch of details, but the bottom line is that although this doesn’t feel revolutionary, it’s a long overdue upgrade for the venerable V7. Its looks have always been on point, and the longitudinal V-twin and shaft drive have oodles of character. All that’s been missing is a little boost in power.

As long as it doesn’t weigh too much, or cost too much, it should be a winner. [Moto Guzzi]

1976 MV Agusta 750 S America
1976 MV Agusta 750 S America for sale If you have $125,000 burning a hole in your pocket, give Moto Borgotaro a call. They have an ultra-rare MV Agusta 750 S America with just 6,000 miles on the clock in stock that’ll look fantastic in your garage (or living room).

The 750 S America was a variant of the race-bred 750 S of the time, conceived as a bid to conquer the American market. MV Agusta had big sale figures in mind—but it’s reported that they only ever produced 540 units, and even fewer made it to the USA. Then MV Agusta stopped racing, and models like the 750 S eventually fizzled out.

1976 MV Agusta 750 S America
This 1976 model has been in the current owner’s hands for about 10 years, but little is known of its history before that. It came with a factory fairing, and was upgraded somewhere along the line with 32 mm Dell’Orto carbs and a four-into-four race exhaust. It still has its original paint, including Giacomo Agostini’s signature on the fuel tank.

The sale includes a bunch of extra and original parts too, but doesn’t include the missing fairing decals. But then again, if you’re spending 125K, what’s a few extra dollars for a pair of stickers? [More]

Robert Pirsig's workshop artifacts
Robert Pirsig’s workshop artifacts for sale First published in 1974, the best-selling Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is widely considered a top read for motorcyclists. Written by Robert M. Pirsig, it’s a fictionalized account of a real motorcycle trip that he undertook with his son, that leans heavily on the philosophical.

If you’ve read it, or are a fan of the man himself, you want to check this out. Auction house Mecum are selling off a collection of Pirsig’s things, including some signed copies of his books, and a bunch of stuff from his workshop.

Robert Pirsig's workshop artifacts
The collection includes a rain suit and British-made goggles used on the actual trip, along with a torch set and welders referenced in the book. There’s also a homemade drill press, some grinders, and a Black and Decker heavy saw that Pirsig owned for many years, plus numerous other hand and power tools. And if you’re a true bibliophile, there’s also a set of discarded manuscripts from his follow-up novel, Lila.

The collection only goes on auction in January, so start saving. [View the listing]

Kawasaki Z1000 by Green Island Bikes
1977 Kawasaki Z1000 by Green Island Bikes 1970s Kawasaki Zeds are alluring enough in stock form, but this one’s particularly interesting. It’s a 1977 Z1000 that’s been rebuilt to look like the older Z1, while also receiving a handful of modern upgrades. Think of it as a resto-mod, with a twist.

It’s the work of Green Island Bikes in Germany, led by Oliver Bluhm. And it’s more than just a dress up job—Oliver rebuilt the entire bike from the motor up, with every last bearing, bushing and fastener replaced.

Kawasaki Z1000 by Green Island Bikes
The Z1000 now rolls on 18” wheels, with upside-down forks and double front disc brakes with Tokico calipers. Other upgrades include new triples and a widened swingarm, a full rewire with LED lighting, and an electronic ignition upgrade with Dyna coils. The original carbs were reconditioned, and the exhaust swapped for a chromed four-into-four system.

Kawasaki Z1000 by Green Island Bikes
Some of the upgrades are subtler—like the Green Island Bikes-branded speedo and tacho, and the mini-switches with their internal handlebar wiring.

But the most obvious change is the new bodywork and paint job. Oliver fabricated a Z1 replica seat and tail unit, then painted everything in original Z1 colors. It’s as period correct as they come, right down to the ‘Z900’ badges on the side covers. [Green Island Bikes | Images by Derk Machlitt]

Kawasaki Z1000 by Green Island Bikes