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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.