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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.