Tagged: Mark I

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.


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.


1977 Moto Guzzi LeMans R Side

Extremely Low-Mileage1978 Moto Guzzi LeMans for Sale

1978 Moto Guzzi LeMans Front

I love older Moto Guzzi sportbikes.  Okay, I like pretty much all Guzzis really: cruise-y Eldorados and Ambassadors, jack-of-all-trade-y T3’s, thumpy old, externally flywheel-d Falcones.  But I obviously have a special place in my heart for the sporty V7’s and LeMans bikes.  Big, thumping V-twins, long, low looks, stable handling, and bags of personality.

But unlike many famous and desirable vintage machines, the classic Guzzi’s aren’t fragile: their clunky, tractor-like character means they eat up the miles with gusto, and most have racked up some pretty serious miles, by classic-bike standards.

But not this one.  1978 Moto Guzzi LeMans for Sale

1978 Moto Guzzi LeMans R Side

According to the seller, this machine has less than 2,800 miles on it from new, and it sounds like he knows his Guzzis:

Check this boy out!  I bought this bike from a seller that wanted to refuse delivery after it was paid for because he found out I was putting new tires on it at the dealer that handled the sale for him.  He had owned it since 1992 and put not one mile on it.  Seems he couldn’t believe I would ride this piece of history.  He didn’t.  The milage at my purchase was exactly what it had been at his over 15 years earlier.  I still have the factory tires that I took off with 2300 miles on them (included).  They look new but of course are suited only for display or trash.  This bike is totally original and has never been apart.  The front brake master cylinder was replaced at the dealer correctly, just before I bought it.  I have ownership and service docs from new.  The front fender and cowl were repainted in my custody after an enclosed trailer incident (stupid me) scratched them.  Perfect undetectable match.  Every other bit of finish is factory.  It starts and runs beautifully and everything works as it should.  I have put about 400 miles on it mostly 10-12 at a time except for a Bear Tooth turnaround (~200).  It is quite exceptional as a rider.  Light and much quicker steering than Guzzis are typically credited for.  Great brakes and actually about the best shifting Guzzi trans I have ridden.  That may not be saying much but as tractor like as they often are I think shift quality varies and is a matter of the luck of assembly at the factory that day.  At any rate this one is good (I have had quite a number of Guzzis) and certainly better than any of the BMW airhead rock crushers of the day.  I have misc odds and ends as well as the tires, docs from new, and the original seat.  The seats were one piece of cast rubber with the finish actually in the casting.  This one is cracked across just between the rider and passenger seat. I think this was typical.  The seat on it is genuine leather and quite nice in comfort and appearance.  The boys at MG Cycle have new repops just like the original.   I guess if you are collecting you want to call MG.  If you are riding you will like this one.

1978 Moto Guzzi LeMans Dash

Interestingly, the owner claims the bike has “lighter and much quicker steering than Guzzis are typically credited for.”  You’d think it would, considering the bicycle-skinny tires fitted to this classic superbike!  I’d read an article in Bike magazine once that old Guzzi’s, owing to their relaxed steering geometry and long wheelbase, “turn like a plank in a swimming pool.”  Obviously, these things are relative, and what turns more sharply than a modern 600cc sportbike they were likely using as a benchmark, anyway?

1978 Moto Guzzi LeMans L Side

Bidding’s up over $11,000 with a few days to go.  This one sounds like a great collector, although it’s hard to tell from the pretty limited photos…

I love Guzzis, but I think I’d just find myself a solid T3 and turn it into a V7 replica to ride the wheels off of: this is one for the collectors out there, since it seems a shame to rack up miles on it.