Tagged: LeMans III

Munch Miles in Style: 1984 Moto Guzzi Lemans III

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III R Side

Guzzi’s LeMans III was the first Italian bike I fell in love with, a fake LeMans I someone made out of a III with the fairings stripped off and a simple, round headlight fitted. The square cylinder heads would be obvious to me now, but I still wouldn’t care: the low stance allowed by the Tonti frame makes it one of the coolest café-styled bikes out there, without compromising useability. It’s fast, reliable, tuneable, and makes an amazing noise.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III L Engine Detail

Produced between 1981 and 1984, the LeMans III was a more thorough overhaul of the bike than the CX100 and featured a restyled cylinder head design and revised internals, along with the distinctive angular styling. In typical 1980’s era emissions-reducing form, compression was reduced, but vastly improved quality control at the factory actually improved performance, and the lower-compression engine made more torque than the older version.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Dash

And I always have to point out: see that little button underneath the row of idiot lights? That’s actually the key: it looks like a normal flat key in your pocket,but it folds as you see in the picture so you can slot it into the dash, and then you twist. Cool right? Just make sure you don’t loose it, since I’m not sure replacements are available…

From the original eBay listing: 1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III for Sale

I’ve owned this bike for 15 years.  It is solid and requires minimal attention.  It’s a GUZZI!  And a very, very good one.  I would not hesitate to head across the continent on this machine.  It has had all the right upgrades and runs EXTREMELY well.  Bike has no “issues” and is not a refurb.  This bike has always been on the road and excellently maintained.

Dyna electronic ignition, Dyna coils
Dellorto 40MM pumper carbs, Delran manifolds, Heads have been flowed
Bub head pipes, Lafranconi Competizione Wizzer mufflers
Heavy valve springs, Chrome Moly push rods (Raceco), Augustini cam
Lightened flywheel, Harpers outsider oil filter kit, Steel braided brake lines
Marzochi 38MM fork assembly, Tarozzi adjustable clip-ons, Fork brace, Koni adjustable shocks
Gaman seat, Euro Motoelectrics starter,  U-joints replaced, Front brake rotors and calipers replaced with new.
Lots of original parts included.

Note: Lemans III chin fairing is included.  I have it off the bike because I think it looks better without.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Front

Like so many Guzzis, this one isn’t strictly stock, but the modifications are thoughtful, subtle, and should improve the overall package. Also: the noise those cannon-like Lafronconi pipes make should be pretty epic. Mileage is at 55,000 although Guzzis are built to go the distance and this appears to have been very well maintained. The III is definitely not the most desirable of the LeMans bikes, but prices are on the rise: there are just two days left on the auction and bidding is at about $5,000 with the reserve not yet met.

-tad

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III L Side

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

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III for Sale

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Red R Side

I happen to be a big fan of the 70’s and 80’s Moto Guzzi LeMans series of bikes. While the shaft-drive, pushrods, and longitudinally-mounted engine may not read like the best recipe for a true sport bike, it could handle with the best bikes of the time, made competitive power, and made an ideal roadbike.

The different versions of the LeMans were not radical redesigns, but rather gradual styling and technological evolutions of an existing platform: the famous Lino Tonti-designed frame was used on Guzzis from the early 1970’s up until just a few years ago! Unfortunately this, along with the relative availability of parts, means that it’s pretty easy to fake various LeMans models, so be careful and do your homework before buying. There’s nothing wrong with a fake in theory, unless you’ve paid for the genuine article.

Twenty years from now, I wonder if the III’s won’t be rarer than the earlier versions, since they’ve been cheap for so long and are popular choices for Mark I-style conversions and hot-rod customs. They have all the higher-spec bits and have been really undervalued until very recently.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Red L Engine

The LeMans III was produced between 1981 and 1984, so this is the final year for this style. It represented a much more significant change to the platform, compared to the LeMans II/CX100 and featured the square cylinder head style seen on Guzzis of today. And while compression was decreased slightly to meet ever-growing emissions requirements, the LeMans III actually made more torque and horsepower due to improved manufacturing tolerances careful tuning that maximized available performance.

I’m still not convinced about the styling of that fairing from the front, but it was designed in a wind tunnel, and allows that huge dash to mount that white-faced tach. And we all should know by now how I feel about big Veglia tachs… The rest of the angular design has grown on me over the past couple of years and the LeMans III’s have been increasing in value of late.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Red Dash

This one isn’t in perfect shape, but looks good and should be easy to put right any details that aren’t.

From the original eBay listing: 1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III for Sale

 This bike sat in a barn for 15 years. Aprox. 39000 miles. I acquired it and got it running and clean up a bit. I am not a Guzzi guy so I have no interest in doing a full restoration even though it is the perfect candidate. What I have done to the bike,(Rebuilt the carbs with all new internals jets floats…, new air pods because thats what it had when I got it, throttle cables, ignition switch, glass wind shield, fuel valves/lines, spark plugs/caps/wires, new used instrument light strip, and new battery. The bike shows great and you could enjoy it as it sits or do a detailed restoration. Runs great, starts right up in freezing cold. I have horns with it but they are not hooked up. I do not know if they are original. Also have a box of parts with some type of plastic deflector, vacuum hose and starter cover. The bike seems to be all original except for the air pods but I am not an expert.

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Red Tank

Ooh look: videos! http://youtu.be/tYG_ILgtmL0  ,http://youtu.be/bR4RaFwiTKY

All-in-all this is what looks like a very solid example. I actually prefer the LM III in white, but you certainly can’t go wrong with a classic red Italian sportbike.

Vintage Guzzi sportbikes really are great classic bikes. They can do big miles, handle as well as anything from the period, sound amazing, require minimal maintenance, and are a breeze to work on. With those heads sticking out in the breeze, even serious top-end work is simple, and shaft drive means you won’t need to worry about keeping a chain lubed up during nasty weather.

-tad

1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Red L Side

1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III for Sale

1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Tank  1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III L Side

The LeMans III was the second reworking of Guzzi’s big-bore café racer, and featured more than mere cosmetic updates to the now long-in-the-tooth machine.  This was the first generation to feature revised squared-off cylinder heads, improved breathing, and much closer production tolerances that resulted in slightly increased power, in spite of a reduced compression ratio.

The style was 80’s-angular, with a wind-tunnel designed fairing that supposedly produced actual aerodynamic effect and a huge, rubber dash to bounce your chin off of in the unfortunate event of a crash.  This machine has had that retro-cool, wind-cheating feature removed and now sports a simple, round light in front of that instrument cluster.

1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Headlight1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Dash

The original eBay listing has a ton of clearly written information about the bike and its history, which is always hugely appreciated and clearly indicates the character of both bike and owner.  He’s a little gruff, but knows what he’s talking about and this is the kind of guy I’d want to buy from.

1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III for Sale

He’s also got a ton of cool bits and pieces, enough to build a second bike, it sounds like.  LeMans III’s aren’t really hitting their stride yet, in terms of collectability, so the starting bid seems like it might be a little ambitious. I happen to like this bike very much, but I think he might be aiming a bit high: it’s well cared-for, but also well-used and not in original condition, although many of the mechanical mods seem very practical and are very much in character with the bike.

One of my favorite bits from the original ad describes the very unusual wheels:

“The wheels are modified by Kosman Engineering. Kosman TIG welded two “split rim” style wheels after narrowing the original rim center. The new wheels are flawlessly built, as straight as can be <within .002″ TIR, better than factory>, and by choice, as wide a possible. In addition to being designed to accept “tubeless tires”, I fitted the rims to the maximum available space between the swingarm on the rear, which is effectively a WM5 fitment, 4.312″ wide.  The front wheel is of identical construction, but is a WM4, chosen to mount 130/70-18 and 120/80-18 tires, respectively.  If you know the name “Kosman Engineering” you know it’s a very high quality product.”

1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III Wheel1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III R Pegs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He clearly knows his stuff, and makes a point of showing clear shots of the welded-up rims.  Very cool bike, with some one-of-a-kind bits and pieces.  I’d put the original square headlight and fairing back on and hit the road.

-tad