Best of Both Worlds: 1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe L Side

When is a vintage Guzzi not really a vintage Guzzi? When it’s a combination of the old and the new, like this Moto Guzzi LeMans café bike. The relatively slow pace of development among many smaller manufacturers is at times very frustrating, and bikes at the end of a glacially slow production cycle can seem like dinosaurs.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe R Side Rear

But that same slow change can pay dividends down the road: long periods of slow improvement mean that those same dinosaurs are pretty well-developed by the time they’re finally replaced, and many updated components can be retrofitted to earlier machines, allowing a modern builder to take the best of each era and combine classic looks with improved reliability and performance.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe Dash

This is definitely true of the Tonti-framed Guzzis of the 70’s and 80’s, and the builder of this example has combined the classic look of the original LeMans with the updated, square-head motor from the donor LeMans III, here bored out to over 1000cc’s and fitted with twin-plug heads.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe L Side Engine

The word “agricultural” gets thrown around a lot with Guzzis but, in this case, that’s no bad thing: the tractor-like torque this nearly 1100cc motor should put a big smile on your face. And don’t assume that the pushrod valvetrain makes this thing a low-end-only proposition: a number of comparisons I’ve read between the LeMans and the Ducati 900SS comment on the fact that the Guzzi is actually the revvier of the two motors.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe Front Brakes

From the original eBay listing: 1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Café

True cafe racer and not only in looks. This bike was built in California with little expense spared. Based on a 1984 Lemans III, Allegedly over $10k spent on the engine, 1060cc, extensive twin plug head work, reworked gear box with silky smooth shifting, heavy duty starter, Olin shocks, twin floating front discs, single floating rear, Alloy tank from the Tank Shop in Scotland, Lemans I faring and Agostini tail piece, new Mikuni slide carbs w/chokes, wire rims, open exhaust, frame powder coated, battery moved to bottom of bike for better balance. I am selling this for a friend and although I have not ridden it I have ridden with him/it and BEHIND it, which is not  a common position for me and my modified BMW R1100s. It is a very fast bike. And I think for an experienced rider, in my opinion.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe Shock Detail

I’m not the biggest fan of the tail section on this bike, but that could easily be changed by the new owner, and the aluminum tank makes up for it in any case. There is a very minor dent as shown in the photo, but slight imperfections are part of the charm of a part like that.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe Tank Detail

I’d say if this goes for anywhere near the starting price of $6,000 it’s a good deal, considering the development that’s claimed to have gone into it, although at some point I’d want to see more documentation of exactly what went into the engine build.

-tad

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans Cafe L Side Front

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7 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    I’m thinking this has a bit of “Mad Max” vibe. The battery can’t get much lower, its below the frame in front of the rear wheel. I believe this has the Moto-Guzzi factory racing exhaust, if so, its LOUD. Guzzi’s are about as Itallion as you can get,I would rather see Malossi modified 40MM DelOrto pumper carbs than those Rising Sun Mikuni’s.

  2. tad says:

    Yeah, there are a few things I’d change about it, but they’re all basically bolt-on: it’s slightly rough-around-the-edges, but it’s all there. Maybe some LaFranconi reproductions and a two-up seat? Basically, I’m just hypnotized by that beautiful aluminum gas tank… Any idea what advantage the Mikunis might have over the Del Ortos?

  3. Jess says:

    I’m not sure. Maybe more air flow, more accurate metering? But Mikuni carbs should not be on a Guzzi, it just ain’t right! I’m prejudice I guess.

  4. tad says:

    Heh heh. Well then we probably shouldn’t talk about Laverda then: Japanese AND German parts on there!

  5. That engine deserves a better home.

    http://imgur.com/a/id4X1

    Here is a Guzzi special I built. I actually consider THIS to be the ideal engine/frame combo, a Sport 1100 Carb engine in an early Tonti frame. The Sport 1100 is my favorite Guzzi mill by a stretch.

    Mine used the later spine alternator mount to truncate the frame. The engine is a stressed member in this case, with no lower rails. It also has a Dr. John exhaust setup into modern carbon can. I didn’t weigh the final product, but I’d say 100# loss wouldn’t be exaggerating.

    I sold this last year before I was finished… but if I’d continued to work on it, I would have returned it to stock LMI appearance, down to the turn signals. A real sleeper. The Le Mans is one of the pinnacles of 70’s design, and in my opinion is too beautiful to improve on.

  6. tad says:

    Thanks for sharing that Justin! Very cool bike, basically the kind of thing I’d love to put together, although I’m thinking about going more V7 Sport and less LeMans. I love the older Aston Martin silverish-green color and think it might look great on a V7 clone, maybe with a white stripe… If I haven’t mentioned it, I fell in love with Guzzi when I met a guy riding what he called a “LeMans Mock I”, basically a CX100 with LeMans I bodywork.

  7. The CX100 has good bones, but the SP engine they used is a dog. I owned a CX. Small valves, small carbs, conservative cam. Yet they are still fetching $$$ because they look like an LM II (and often are converted to LM I)

    If I built another Guzzi, I’d source an SP or similar undesirable rolling tonti frame (MGC has a warehouse full)… put in a later BIG valve 2V engine. Cal III, Breva, Norge, some of these pedestrian bikes have BIG valves like a Sport 1100 or later Lemans. Bigger than an LM I! They are a hot cam and 40mm PHM away from being among the fastest Guzzis.

    A mock-stock V7 with a hotted up late model engine would be very, very cool… period Lafranconis are the way to go, like you said.