Tagged: Le Mans

Mark One: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans L Side

Moto Guzzi’s follow up to their successful V7 Sport was this, the 850 Le Mans, often known these days as the “Mark I Le Mans.” It used a hot-rod version of their earlier longitudinally-mounted v-twin engine, with bigger, high-compression pistons, bigger valves, high performance carburetors, cast-aluminum wheels, and a more modern, very chunky look that would set the tone for Guzzis through the 1980s. The style is really hard to pin down to a particular era, with the jutting cylinders and minimal style looking like something very 60s or 70s while the angular bodywork has more of a 1980s style.

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans L Side Front

The hot-rod engine put out 71hp at the rear wheel and made for a genuine 130mph, which wasn’t top-of-the-class but very competitive during the period. But unlike the equally fast but fiddly-to-maintain Ducati 900SS or the wobbly-handling and under-braked Kawasaki Z900, the Le Mans offered up Guzzi’s classic recipe of durable shaft-drive, stable handling, and midrange grunt. And Guzzi was forward-thinking in terms of safety as well: the Le Mans featured their simple but effective linked braking system that was used up until the 1990s. The front brake lever operated one front caliper, while the foot pedal used a proportioning valve to distribute power between the second front and the rear caliper. The Le Mans is definitely an acquired taste, with the noticeable shaft-drive effect, but is a very rewarding bike to own.

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

I have had the pleasure of owning this bike for the past 15 years.
Upgrades:
  • Lafranconi competizione mufflers
  • Koni rear shocks
  • Progressive front springs
  • Gaman seat
  • Torozzi rear sets
  • Harpers outsider kit with deep sump
  • Braided brake lines
  • gaskets, bushings and rubber
  • K&N filters
  • Frame up paint in 2003 – held up well
  • documentation of work done
This bike runs and looks great! It handles likes it on rails, brakes with the best of them and has tremendous acceleration and power. Time for someone new to enjoy this fine machine.

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans L Side Engine

Bidding is up to $10,000 which, frankly, seems to be on the low side for these. I can remember when, just a few years ago, they were selling for about half that… Happily, the bike even features the European-style bikini fairing with the flush-mount headlamp. American units had an ugly, jutting unit that projected out beyond the curve of the fairing, looking more like a train headlight than something that belongs on a sleek sportbike. If you’ve never noticed how ugly the American version is, I apologize in advance: its’ one of things that, once seen, can never be unseen… This may not be the original part, however, since most I’ve seen feature a bright orange vertical “safety stripe” for improved visibility. Not sure how effective it is, but it does look cool. The stepped seat is also a non-standard item, which is no surprise since the closed-cell foam originals rarely survive.

-tad

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans R Side

 

Italian Muscle: 1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans I for Sale

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans R Front

The second Moto Guzzi of the week is this very nice, very original 850 Le Mans. These are often referred to as “Mark I” Le Mans, although that’s obviously a description retroactively applied to differentiate them from later bikes. Released in 1976, it was a logical progression from the V7 Sport in terms of styling and mechanicals. It featured the same basic frame and engine, but bored out to 850cc’s with bigger valves, carbs, and higher-compression, along with new, much more angular bodywork that still displays clear stylistic links to the earlier bike.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans L Rear Detail

These changes gave 71hp at the wheel and a top speed of 130. It wasn’t the fastest bike of the period, but it was on par with the competition and included extremely stable handling in the mix. Sure it was quirky, and you can definitely feel the longitudinal crank’s torque-reaction in turns, but it’s easy to compensate for, once you acclimate, and has no negative effect on performance. And with that easily maintained engine and shaft drive, it was weirdly practical for an exotic Italian sportbike.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Clocks

Many Guzzis of the period used a mechanically simple, but highly functional linked-braking system. A squeeze of the brake lever operates one front caliper. The foot pedal operates the other front caliper and the rear as well, with lockup prevented by a proportioning valve. Surprisingly effective, although many have been converted to more conventional setups.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans R Rear Detail

The listing doesn’t include much detail about this bike, and the photos are a bit washed out so it’s hard to get a good idea about the paint, other than that it has paint. But the mileage is extremely low for a Guzzi and it looks very complete and well cared-for.

From the original eBay listing: 1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans I for Sale

Original paint.

Owners manual and tools, service records, clear title some minor scuffs and wear but too nice to restore.

They are only original once.

Only 6000 or so first-gen bikes were made from 1976 through 1978, but most that show up for sale have been well-maintained, and they’re pretty fundamentally rugged bikes. The starting bid is $14,999.00 with no takers as yet. That’s in the ballpark as far as Le Mans pricing goes, and I’d assume we’ll see some activity as we get closer to the auction close. Certainly there are prettier examples out there, but this one’s combination of low miles and completely original condition should make it pretty desirable to Guzzi fans.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Fairing

The only real cosmetic downside is the American market front headlamp that has a projecting ring around it to meet US safety regulations. The Euro part had a much better-looking, flush-mount design. One of those things you’d probably never notice, until someone helpfully pointed it out to you. Then it’s impossible to un-see. Your mind pokes at it, like a piece of food in your teeth you can’t stop prodding with your tongue…

You’re welcome.

While the price is certainly not chump change, it’s hard to argue that the Le Mans isn’t still a bit of a bargain in the collector bike world, especially considering that it’s a bike you can ride anywhere and still get parts for, a reliable vintage Italian exotic.

-tad

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans L Side

Low-Mileage Italian: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans R Front Fairing

Designed as a follow up to Moto Guzzi’s V7 Sport, the 850 Le Mans was much more evolutionary than a brand-new machine. It still used the famous Lino Tonti frame, as would many Guzzis up into the modern era. The engine too used simple changes to net more performance, including bigger slugs with higher compression, larger valves, and a set of 36mm Dell’Orto carbs. These changes gave 71hp at the wheel and a top speed of 130.

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans R Side Engine

Interestingly, comparison tests pitting the Ducati 900SS against the Le Mans suggest that the Guzzi actually had the revvier engine of the two, in spite of the pushrod architecture and generally low-tech design.

To slow things down, the bike used triple disc brakes that included Guzzi’s linked braking system: the foot lever operated the rear and one of the front brake calipers, with a proportioning valve to prevent premature lock up of one or the other, and the bar lever operated the other front disc. The system was simple, but worked surprisingly well, although many Guzzi owners have removed the system and replaced it with a more conventional set up.

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Dash

Today’s bike is a very original, low-mileage example of the first-generation Le Mans. These early bikes are often referred to as “Mark I” bikes, but this is a later edition to the name since, at the time, Guzzi obviously didn’t know they’d be making a Mark II version!

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans L Rear Suspension

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

This is a completely original and unmolested 1977 Moto Guzzi Lemans 1. This bike has only 10,206 miles on the clock. There have been no modifications to this bike and all parts on this bike are as it was delivered to the dealer in 1977. Every part and piece is as delivered from Italy, right down to the footpeg rubbers.

The turn signals have been removed and are still with the bike and will be provided to the new owner. This bike was owned by an ex Guzzi dealer who rode the bike for a few years and then stored it early in its life as he moved on to other bikes throughout his time as a Guzzi / Ducati dealer in Texas. He was very active in the Moto Guzzi club and treated and maintained all his bikes very well.

This is a rare chance to own an original, unmolested Lemans 1 with such low miles. I would doubt there are but a small handful of Lemans 1’s with 10k miles out there as most of these bikes accumulated serious mileage on them as they were and are a very robust motor.

This bike will make a fine rider as is, or a great bike for a full restoration. Paint is in decent shape for its age.

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans R Side Rear

The original listing indicates that the bike, while in excellent running condition, hasn’t been used much and will require basic maintenance to the brakes to make sure they’re up to snuff. The seller also mentions that the clutch does drag a bit, and a new clutch will be included, along with a set of stainless brake lines.

The seat foam, a notoriously short-lived material, is original and in decent, although not perfect condition. What you see on these bikes is not a vinyl cover over padding, but a molded material meant to simplify production. Unfortunately, the foam quickly developed splits and very few bikes survive with their original seats intact…

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Front Wheel

Overall, this a solid, unrestored example of the classic Le Mans and has the lowest mileage I can remember seeing on a bike that wasn’t a display piece. These bikes were extremely durable, long-legged sportbikes and many have accumulated the mileage you’d expect from such a useable machine, so this is a rare opportunity, if low-mileage is your thing. Bidding is up north of $10,000 with the reserve not met and several days left on the auction.

-tad

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans R Side

Italian Thunder: 1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans for Sale

1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans R Side

The Le Mans, Moto Guzzi’s famous 1970’s superbike, was an evolution of their earlier V7 Sport, with restyled bodywork and a bigger engine. Introduced in 1976 to keep pace with competition heating up between Europe and Japan, the Le Mans featured the same Lino Tonti designed frame, but saw the engine punched out to 850cc’s. Chrome-lined cylinders, high-compression pistons and other standard hot-rod tricks gave 71hp at the rear wheel and a top speed of 130. While not the fastest bike of the period, it was rock-solid and stable, and could keep that speed up all day long.

1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Engine

Built around an unlikely powertrain that included shaft drive and a longitudinally mounted v-twin, Guzzi’s sportbikes still performed well and are famous for their durability: the two-valve, pushrod engines are easy to work on if you’re so inclined, but are oil-tight and very robust.

1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

6800 miles! All original except electronic ignition and Corbin seat, have original seat, still in pretty good shape. See pic. Paint is mostly good with small nicks and chips from 30plus years of life. Small scrape on front ferring. See pic.  I bought another ferring that was supposed to be “excellent”. Isn’t even fair. Will go with bike if you want it. I put on new throttle cables and foot rubbers a couple of years ago. Changed oil over winter. Runs and rides like it should. Might need a battery, its about 3 yrs old and sounds a little week. Your welcome to come see before you bid.

1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Rear

As you can see, there’s a small amount of surface rust on the front rotors, a few dings here and there, and that comfortable, if not original Corbin seat. Note that the seller does have the original seat. Interestingly, these seats are made of a closed-cell foam that did not hold up well to hard use, and few have survived from new. The bike also includes that ugly, but unfortunately original, US headlight ring that projects beyond the surface of the bikini fairing. It’d be my first order of business to fit a replica Euro-styled piece if this were mine.

Bidding is very active and the reserve has been met. It seems like, just a few years ago, these were selling regularly for $6,000 or so. This one is headed north of $10,000 with several days to go. Aside from a few minor cosmetic flaws, this looks to be a solid example of an iconic and very practical Italian sportbike.

-tad

1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans L Side

1977 Moto Guzzi T3 V7/LeMans Clone for Sale

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Clone L Front

Well, here’s another Moto Guzzi T3 someone’s converted into a V7/LeMans clone. For the uninitiated: Guzzi’s famous v-twin started out powering a very strange Italian military tractor and that durable, slightly clunky durability translated strangely well into its new role as a sporty motorcycle powerplant. And stuffed into a lower, lighter frame, it made a pretty good motivator for a few genuine sportbikes as well.

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Clone L Rear

As I’ve stated and restated ad nauseam, Guzzi’s vanilla-looking and relatively common 850T used the same basic engine and Lino Tonti-designed frame as the very sporting and practical V7 Sport and LeMans. All of the stuff to create one of these is available online, from V7 and LeMans pattern tanks and side panels, clip on bars, rearsets, and exhausts. And there are plenty of engine builders who can build you a fire-breathing Guzzi motor that will make that bum-stop saddle earn its keep.

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Clone Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Moto Guzzi T3 V7/LeMans Clone for Sale

BASED ON A 1977 MOTO GUZZI 850 T3 THIS 850 SPORT/LEMANS CLONE. IS SUPER FUN BIKE TO RIDE. PULLS LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN GREAT EARLY PRODUCTION MATCHING #s 103002

  A  COSMETIC MAKE OVER STOCK ENGINE

  • CORBIN SEAT  (ugly came that way $170 to change the  cover they said)  
  • TANK FENDERS & SIDE COVERS ALL HAVE FRESH PAINT
  • FRAME PAINT IN A MATTE BLACK
  • REBUILT DELLORTO 30MM VHB
  • REBUILT TRANSMISSION (CHARLIE COLE)
  • NEWER TIRES
  • ALLOY  BORRANI WHEELS 
  • STAINLESS SPOKES
  • LOW MILES
  • NEW BATTERY
  • REBUILT FRONT 850 LEMANS 1 FORKS
  • NEW PROGRESSIVE SHOCKS
  • SCOTTS STEERING DAMPNER
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE LAFRANCONIA EXHAUST SYSTEM
  • TAROZZI REARS SETS  right  side  has  a  small  bend
  • TAROZZI CLIP-ONS
  • POLISHED V7 SPORT TREES
  • REBUILT BREMBO BRAKE SYSTEM
  • STAINLESS STEEL BRAKE LINES (UNLINKED)

 

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Clone R Rear

This one is also done pretty nicely and features an upswept LaFranconi exhaust system that should give a bit more cornering-clearance than the classic “shark gill” mufflers from the V7, and the wire wheels are a great look.

There may be little too much red on this bike, though: I think maybe that rear-fender/taillight assembly could be easily be blacked-out or revised/removed. And the large red panels on the seat are not my taste. Black maybe with red stitching might be better and would be something easily fixed by the buyer, as mentioned in the listing. And those reflectors, while aiding safety, are also pretty clunky-looking. I think I’d probably add some mirrors and remove the reflectors creating a sort of “net safety wash…” Aside from the [probably very comfortable] Corbin seat and the aforementioned bits, I really like this bike.

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Clone Seat

While the T bikes are still pretty affordable, they’re starting to get rarer and prices are increasing… I really should scoop one up sooner rather than later I guess, before all the good ones are V7-ed or LeMans-ed…

Not much time left on this one, and with a starting bid of $5,900 it seems appropriately priced. Someone jump on it quick!

-tad

1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans Clone L Side

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 T3 Le Mans Replica for Sale

1977 Moto Guzzi T3 Le Mans R Front

Oh look! A shiny Moto Guzzi Le…  Hmmmm…  What’s this?  It’s really a T3?  Moto Guzzi’s line of Lino Tonti-framed sports motorcycle stretches back to the original V7 Sport and includes the iconic LeMans models.  Less well-remembered are the T-models, with their slightly bland looks and very 70’s color palette.  But these bread-and-butter bikes, aside from their cheaper suspension components and slightly detuned engines, are basically built on the bones of their more exciting brothers.

1977 Moto Guzzi T3 Le Mans L Rear

I’ve mentioned before the interchangeability of parts for these bikes, how easy it is to recreate one of the more collectible Guzzis from a more pedestrian model, if one were so inclined and felt like hunting down the requisite parts. Replica fuel tanks, side panels, exhaust systems: everything is easily found online and relatively affordable.  A big-bore kit and a good mechanical freshening and you could have yourself a very authentic looking and performing classic without the “numbers matching” expense.

1977 Moto Guzzi T3 Le Mans Dash

I’ve been planning to do this myself, have the T3 all picked out and everything, and this one looks pretty much like what I’d…  Wow.  $8,000 Buy It Now?  That’s pretty steep.

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 T3 Le Mans for Sale

BASED ON A 1977 MOTO GUZZI 850  T3 THIS  850 SPORT/LEMANS CLONE .IS SUPER FUN BIKE TO  RIDE.  PULLS LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN GREAT EARLY PRODUCTION MATCHING #s 103002

  • CORBIN SEAT
  • TANK FENDERS & SIDE COVERS  ALL HAVE  FRESH PAINT
  • FRAME PAINT IN A MATTE BLACK
  • REBUILT  DELLORTO 30MM VHB
  • REBUILT TRANSMISSION (CHARLIE COLE)
  • NEWER TIRES
  • ALLOY WHEELS 
  • STAINLESS SPOKES 
  • LOW MILES
  • NEW BATTERY
  • REBUILT FRONT FORKS
  • NEW PROGRESSIVE  SHOCKS 
  • SCOTTS STEERING DAMPNER
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE LAFRANCONIA EXHAUST SYSTEM 
  • TAROZZI REARS SETS
  • TAROZZI CLIP-ONS
  • POLISHED TREES
  • REBUILT BREMBO BRAKE SYSTEM
  • STAINLESS STEEL BRAKE LINES (UNLINKED)
  • READY TO RIDE

1977 Moto Guzzi T3 Le Mans R Rear

I think his buy it now price is pretty optimistic, given the parts involved. It’s a really great-looking bike but I think the seller might have his/her sights set a bit too high. There are some pretty fire-breathing, hot-rod Guzzi’s out there with high-compression, big-valve 1000cc engines. One of those might be worth the nearly $8,000 “Buy It Now” price, but it feels a bit high for a “Le Mans Mock I.” Pricing for nice T’s is on the rise though, so I’ll be interested to see how the bidding goes on this one.

-tad

1977 Moto Guzzi T3 Le Mans L Engine

1979 Moto Guzzi Le Mans 1000/CX100 for Sale

In 1978, Moto Guzzi decided to update the two-year old Le Mans.  Known as the “Le Mans II” in most of the world, the updated machine was called the “CX100” in the United States.

It was largely a cosmetic update that found the spare, café-racer styling of the original Le Mans replaced by a big, angular fairing with built-in turn signals and aerodynamic side panels designed in Guzzi’s own wind tunnel to produce genuine downforce.  Behind the fairing was a huge, rubberized dash [safety feature!] with comprehensive instrumentation, including a clock and voltmeter.

In addition to the plastics and dashboard, there were minor updates to the seat, suspension and other bits, including the a hydraulic steering damper to replace the earlier friction-damper unit.

The European bikes were powered by a virtually unchanged 850cc mill, but the CX100 used a 949cc powerplant found in the more touring-oriented bikes of the Guzzi range.  Despite the difference in displacement, they were endowed with very comperable overall performance: the 850 came in a higher state of tune, the 1000 with greater displacement but smaller valves, so they made very similar power but delivered it in different ways.

The CX’s are beginning to find their value but they have often, as is the case here, been stripped to create Le Mans Mark I replicas.

Royal blue was an option for paint on the CX, so this may be the original color, although it no longer has the original bodywork: the huge, origami fairing has been replaced with the original Le Mans pieces for an un-original, but arguably more pleasing look.

The original eBay listing can be found here:

1979 Moto Guzzi Le Mans 1000/CX100 for Sale

With three days to go as of this writing, the bidding is up to a mere $3,600.00, although the reserve has understandably not been met.  This is a very classy bike you could ride every day, and one I’d gladly spend my own money on.

-tad

1978 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Mk1 For Sale

I’ve always been a fan of big Moto Guzzis: the thudding exhaust note and the long, low styling, the motor’s huge, finned cylinder heads sticking out into the wind.

While we’re on the subject of those glorious jugs: please note that Guzzi’s have a longitudinally mounted v-twin, in spite of the fact that so many major online and print publications refer to them as “transverse.” The crankshaft is oriented along the bike’s main axis, just like a big Chevy V8 or a BMW straight six. A transverse v-twin would have its crankshaft running across the frame. Like in a Honda four cylinder automobile.

Current Guzzis are both modern and retro at the same time and one of the best sounding bikes I’ve ever heard was a Sport 1100i, but the one I’ve really wanted, ever since I ran into one up on Mulholland Highway in California, was the LeMans Mark I. In point of fact that first one I met was actually a “Mock I”, but more on that later.

Some history for those of you new to the “Lemon”:

It’s father was among the first of the superbike breed from the early 1970’s, marrying the big v-twin of the touring-oriented V700 to an all-new, low and lean frame designed by Lino Tonti.

1976, to keep pace with the superbike wars then taking place between the major manufacturers, Moto Guzzi introduced the LeMans, with a bump from 750 to 850cc’s. Chrome-lined cylinders and high-compression pistons set it apart from its more pedestrian stable-mates from Guzzi. The bike made 71hp at the wheel, giving it a top speed of about 130.

Those numbers don’t sound like much today and didn’t exactly set the world on fire in 1976. But the bike offers real world drivability and performance that’s hard to match in a vintage machine, coupled with brutal good looks that earned it a spot in the Guggenheim’s “Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit.

This one from eBay looks like a real peach.

Redone in 1999 as a vintage racing prototype at Raceco US, Brooklyn, New York by the famed race tuner and legendary Moto Guzzi guru Manfred Hecht. Genuine Raceco Le Mans with many special features set up brilliantly. In street trim with working lights, 2 up seating. Speedometer delete. Tach and oil pressure guage only, hi beam and alternator warning lights as well. Runs and rides fantastic, has low miles -only 2.5 tire sets- approx 5k. Never raced on the track, just the backroads! Rare Opportunity.

The bike has an Italiophile’s wish list of go-fast bits and bobs, including:

• Desirable Agostini timing gears to replace the unreliable timing chain that eventually stretches, causing irregular timing.
• Carillo rods and bigger Gilardoni pistons.
• Twin-plug heads.
• Conti pipes.
• Stepped seat to replace the angular, one piece molded-foam seat that tended to fall apart quickly.

And so on.

Hard to tell if this is the original paint: the LM1 had an orange “safety stripe” on the fairing that’s not visible in the photos. Speaking of: this bike appears to have the American headlamp: note the black housing that projects slightly out of the fairing. European versions were almost flush-mounted. I’ve seen several in the US that sport the cleaner, European unit.

There’s also no mention of the linked brakes that came on the LeMans. Originally, the hand lever operated only one of the front calipers. The foot pedal worked the other front caliper along with the rear, separated by a proportioning valve that kept the rear from locking. By all accounts, the system worked very well, but some sport-minded riders change this to a more conventional set-up.

It’s always important to do your homework with these: many of the later, less desirable LeMans have been converted to look like the Mark I and are sometimes referred to as “Mock I” bikes.

A few years back when I was looking at these, the prices for good, original Mark I bikes were hovering around the $5,500.00 mark but have steadily moved upwards.

Pricing is now at $7,500.00, with the “reserve not yet met”, which seems to be at the bottom end of the range for these bikes currently. Not sure what the seller has set as a reserve price, given the work that’s gone into this bike, but it’s a gorgeous, rideable machine.

-TD