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Old 04-24-2014, 09:17 PM   #1
sakurama OP
on an endless build
 
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Metamorphosis: Ugly Goose into Eagle of Zeus

Right out of college and making a princely $13K a year I knew it was finally time for my own motorcycle. Friends had me narrowed down to an older airhead or a GPZ550 but one day in my errant wanderings to various Fort Collins motorcycle shops I stumbled onto a Moto Guzzi LeMans IV that was an ex race bike put back on the street. It was outrageously beyond my budget at $2500 but that was besides the point. I didn't have my license so I couldn't take it for a ride but I asked to start it up. When the beast fired I almost wet myself. It was loud, angry, visceral and would surely kill me. Without a doubt this motorcycle would kill me.

I wanted it so bad.

But, knowing that it would kill me I made the sensible choice and bought an old R90S which I have to this very day 25 years later. But throughout my motorcycle adventures the Guzzi was always the one that got away. To drive home the fact they would constantly cross my paths in a teasing sort of way but would always elude ownership. One of my best friends had an outrageously charismatic Guzzi cafe racer that I adored and when I crashed my boxer it was his bike that was the model for it's eventual resurrection. It was fitting that Classic Bike featured our bikes together:











Which brings us to today. Or perhaps about 6 or 7 months ago. Like I always do I was searching for things I needed and didn't need, looking for a good deal on something for the shop or perhaps a bike. Our house we bought a year ago has drained me financially and cost me three nice motorcycles so I tend to think of replacing them. And so, like I have for years and years, I searched for "Moto Guzzi" with a $4000 limit. Nothing. Expand the search 100 miles; nothing. Expand again, nothing. Again, adding a few hundred to my limit. Finally, at the outer limits of my search a Guzzi appeared. A Lemans IV that had beaten with the ugly stick so vigorously it was almost unrecognizable.



My plan for a Guzzi was always to build another cafe in the spirit of my boxer but as the years pass (my boxer is 15 years old now) I have found things I would change and things I would push harder. I wanted to build another bike and I want it to be beyond my boxer. My boxer was the first "cool" old BMW cafe bike. There were faster boxers but none more thoughtful or elegant. Designers for both Ducati and BMW have used it as inspiration which flatters me to no end and there are more than a few copies running around. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

So all along I'd wanted to find an ugly bike with a strong engine. I hate engine work. It's expensive, it's thankless, it's time consuming and it's expensive. I'm a visual artist (photographer) and my favorite thing is to take something and make it beautiful. To uncover a hidden perfection. If you look at my signature you'll see that I'm doing that with our house, I do it with bicycles, with watches, with anything. But my favorite thing is motorcycles. And my favorite motorcycle might just be a Moto Guzzi. So maybe it was time.

Okay, that's enough to get started.

Gregor

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Old 04-24-2014, 11:04 PM   #2
nickguzzi
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I remember watching your BMW evolve after finding the articles through the Chassis List. A very lovely machine, and sad to hear of its demise.
I've had various Guzzis since the early eighties, and one in particular all through that time.
Unfortunately the ex thought she could make better use use of it for the last 11 years, so it has sat in a leaky barn and is now in a pretty bad state. Surprisingly there was still air in the tyres, so we were able to push it the 1/4 mile to my new place.
As time is pressing somewhat with other projects and the new house and garden needs so much work, I have occasionally cast around for some one to at least get stuff started, one place I come back to is Dynotec in Germany. I lived there for a while and my big sis still does so the time/space thing would not be a problem for me.
I was thinking they may have some ideas you could check out and ruminate on, rather than doing the work, as you have shown in your other projects, you can do/learn how to do or find those that already can do all by yourself.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:12 AM   #3
sakurama OP
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Hi Nick,

Thanks. Yes, I've spent quite a bit of time on the Dynotec site. I really liked their wider rear wheel conversions and their bikes have great stance.

______________________ . . . _______________________


So with the idea that whatever Guzzi I ended up with it would be fairly heavily modified into my idea of what I was looking for I thought this Guzzi sounded like it had potential. I emailed the seller to see what were the "many performance mods" since the cosmetic mods left something to be desired.

Moto Guzzi Updates
  • White face tachometer Veglia
  • Aftermarket steering stabilizer.
  • Barnet quarter turn throttle.
  • 2 into 1 EPA exhaust pipe. (European Performance Accessories, based on Dr. John exhaust).
  • 3 piece alloy timing gears.
  • 992 cc nikasil cylinders with 90mm pistons. (stock is 949cc)
  • Lemans III (3) heads with larger valves (best flow characteristics).
  • Raceco cylinder head porting.
  • Raceco Valves, Springs, and Valve Guides.
  • Norris RR3 camshaft.
  • Dyna III (3) Electronic Ignition.
  • Dyna Coils.
  • Transkontinental 7.5 lb flywheel/ring gear/clutch assembly swiss made.
  • Transmission straight cut close ratio gear set.
  • Rearset Footpegs.
  • Rear frame loop was removed making bike a single seater machine. Can easily extend frame again if passenger capability is desired.
  • Aluminum Gas Tank dent on right side (bummer).
  • Aftermarket Tail Section mounted using Dzus quarter turn fasteners for easy removal.
  • Symbol shocks, Marzocci.
  • No turn signals on bike, wiring still exists for turn signals.
  • Integral Braking system. Foot brake activates one front disc and rear disc. This is stock setup.

I sent the list to my Guzzi friends and they all responded that it was all the "right" mods and that it would cost many thousands to replicate. Excellent - just what I was looking for. Finally I called the seller in the middle of one of my shoots and we discussed price. He agreed to $3500 and would accept a partial downpayment and the balance over the next couple of months which worked perfectly for my cash strapped self.

Done. I own a Guzzi. Finally.

Several months later the bike was delivered from Boise and as I'd already bought it sight unseen it was with mixed emotions that I survey'd what was unloaded. I was excited to finally own a Guzzi and I was sad that this cobbled and forlorn bike was it. Ugly is an understatement.

I took it for a quick ride after the (former) owner explained the complicated series of backwards switches, and fiddling that were required to get her to run. But run she did and the title was signed and she took her place outside under an awning to wait until spring or until I had more time. But not before I took some initial photos. "Before" is going to important here.











In psychology terminology this would be described as "savior behavior" or in motorcycling terms a "project".

Project sounds more hopeful.

Gregor
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Old 04-25-2014, 09:34 AM   #4
nickguzzi
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A mate with a LM2, fitted some alloy timing gears he bought from Agostini in Mandello. They shed into the oil like a terrier. Investigating the silver oil and the gears were nuked. Maybe something to check.
Every big Guzzi I have stripped - a few - had evidence of follower/cam wear. As Dynotec mention on their site, there is a cam geometry problem.
Be interesting to know if the Norris article has taken into account to poor valve train geometry Guzzi supply.

There are, I think, two Raceco, one there in the US and one here in UK. Amadeo (the UK guy) has moved on to tuning cars now. He did good work prepping race bikes but the financial burden got to him when there were wife and kids to feed. He twin plugged my heads. and supplied quite a few bits over the years. I presume the Raceco kit on your bike is local?

The split braking can take some people a while to "get", but it does the job really well. But then that applies to Guzzi's all over.
I noticed you still have the 16" front wheel.... never popular over here, usually the first thing to get dumped - that or the airbox.
I have Marzzochi forks with the 18" wheel. The forks have been raised about an inch and the rear shocks are by Maxton and quite a lot different, so its a bit nose down, but feels more "me".
Dynotec alter the head angle, which is something I was considering but never got round to. A bit of synchronicity?

I guess you will peel back the layers of the onion and reveal your plans when the time is opportune. Or is it all finished and you're just teasing?

Looking forwards, expecting I 'll be so envious, as I was with the other couple of your builds I have followed.


Bon Route!.

ps not a fan of the tail.
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Old 04-25-2014, 02:11 PM   #5
DustyRags
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I know balls-all about Guzzis, but this project is my kinda stupid. In for the follow!
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Old 04-25-2014, 05:55 PM   #6
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Sweet. I was at bike night last night and there was a lemans with 190,000 miles, no engine work. It was cool.
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Old 04-25-2014, 07:08 PM   #7
sakurama OP
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I'm looking for an 18" front wheel to get me through the summer. Anyone know of one? Have one?

I'll post up a bit more later but it's hardly done - in fact it's not even running or registered yet but I'm hoping to ride it this Monday if all goes well. I have some big plans for it but they'll wait until winter. I'm going to get her rideable for the summer and spend time just fettling the issues.

Gregor
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Old 04-25-2014, 09:24 PM   #8
sakurama OP
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So the past few weeks here have been beautiful, sunny and warm and those first days of spring are like crack to a motorcyclist but I don't really have a bike to ride. My boxer is running, more or less, but it's a demanding bike to ride and not that comfortable. Part of this project is to make the bike as unique as my boxer but to retain all the comfort and practicality that I lost with the boxer.

So with the weather turning I rolled the Goose into the garage after it had sat under an awning (not the way I like to store a bike) and decided to see how much charge was still in the battery. To my surprise she fired on the first stab of the button. Nice. Now since I have a bad habit of expanding the scope of a project I am having to restrain myself greatly here but the goal right now is to address some of the ugly so it's not an embarrassment to ride and then sort the various small issues so that it's a reliable motorcycle that I can ride for the summer. When the rains start again in the fall I will know the bike well enough to make educated decisions and then the bike will truly be torn apart and remade into something special.

For now the first thing to do is to get rid of that wretched extended headlight and awful seat.





Ah, better already.

While it was a LM IV that originally lit my loins on fire I don't consider it an attractive motorcycle. No, to my mind the prettiest one is the Lemans 1 and so, while I have no intention of making a LM 1 tribute I have long thought that fairing was to die for. But, for now, I am not ordering the fairing because this is all about getting it on the road. Hence I found some ears on ebay.



They were for 39-41mm forks and since mine are 40 I thought, "perfect!" but no, it was either one and not the range. So, I went with the ghetto solution of an electrical tape shim which actually works great.



Next I wanted to keep the bolts flush and trim so I decided to make some washers. I'm always on the look out for stock as when I was part of Spannerland Chris had a massive collection of metal stock in all shapes, materials and sizes. You could always find what you need. The last thing you want, when inspiration strikes, is to have to go online to order metal and then wait for 3-4 days. So this was a bicycle stem in a closeout bin for a dollar. Should work perfect.





If I were to run a single headlight I'd want to find an 8-9" one but this is 7" from a Yamaha XT evidently and it will be fine for now.

The wiring is a rats nest but since it's working, more or less, I don't want to get into it right now.





Yes, those are individual fuse holders all zip tied together. I suppose I should be happy there are fuses.



Wiring isn't my strong suit. I'm visual and electricity is invisible so we don't get along. Despite that I can "see" this is a cluster fuck. For now I want to try to under stand it and map it out. There are so many loose wires, dead end junctions and taped connections that I think there's really only about 5-6 wires running the bike since it has no signals, no dash and no instruments. I just need to figure out which those are and get rid of the rest. Or more correctly make a new harness from scratch.

But not now.

Gregor
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Old 04-25-2014, 11:21 PM   #9
DustyRags
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Since you're a photographer, this stands to reason but dude, your photos are gorgeous.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:03 AM   #10
nickguzzi
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I worked - briefly - for an auto electrical place. It was a long time ago and ready made looms just weren't available. The real sparkies would get me to strip the loom out of the vehicle. They would then nail it to a big sheet of ply and label all the ends. Then it is simple to lay over the new cabling (leaving plenty of slack). A bit of loom wrap - J D.
Even an electrical dudz like me could sort of see where everything should go.
Mods can be built in too at this stage. Redundant old shit can be dumped too. I guess in theory you could actually connect everything up and see if it works.

When I did mine, I used heat shrink unshrunk for the most part as it slides easier than PVC sleeve. Once heated, it can get a bit stiff, and if the wires aren't laid flat enough, then you got to fiddle n' cus.
There are loads of serious connectors available now. I found the factory bunching didn't always work well for me. So I separated wires into functional groups, rather than "lets shove all these wires into a jb here, Luigi."
The mk2 had the dash with clock and stuff, playing with that ended with a lot of stuff hanging on wires you couldn't easily disconnect.

My old guzzi had the kids toy switches which started to get a bit fidgety, so I replaced them with much neater, more positive, robust and waterproof ones from an early 80's honda or yamaha which looked suitably muted for my taste.
It was a bit hellish doing this as they switched the live feed or the earth (can't remember, but opposite to guzzis' version) and as you say, you can't see where its going, or not going.
It was my only transport at the time and work beckoned every morning, so it had to functional by 7am....

A couple of the 90mm Hella? I think they do a projector version so you could splice in a HID.
A few bikes had bigger bowls - 8", like the Laverda Jota and Mirage. Crap beam though. Some Suzukis too?
If you are going to make your own fairing, then I guess that part will not matter.
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:15 AM   #11
Stephen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sakurama View Post
... Yes, those are individual fuse holders all zip tied together. I suppose I should be happy there are fuses...
Yes, you should!

Well just when I thought I'd escape the ADVrider vortex, Gregor, you start up another one. I had a LeMans for awhile, a 77, one of the best motos I've ever owned but I sold it because it, uh, lacked adequate pillion accommodations. The Tonti bikes are mechanically marvelous. The thing was reliable as a rock. Better than any beemers, even better than my Ducati 750 GT. Guzzis are just excellent machines. And gorgeous. Well, some of them are gorgeous. This'll be good.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:41 PM   #12
sakurama OP
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Dusty - thanks. I enjoy my craft and I strive to do it well.

Nick - that idea of nailing the harness to a wall is genius! I was going to try to trace it all but your idea is far simpler and appeals to my visual nature. I love it.

I've built a harness or two before but am always learning and one of my favorite things is to distill something down to the very essence. I like a bike without signals, brackets or visual detractions. As a child I marveled at the wonder of artists' concept drawings and always wondered why the actual cars were such disappointments. More often than not it was the government requirements for reflectors, mirrors, emissions etc. that all drag down a design from the initial brilliance. Sometimes though the marketing people demand things to satisfy a perceived trend or worst of all the design is "focus grouped" to mediocrity.

I want to work backwards to the beginning, to look at something and try to peel back the onion and distill it down to what I imagine to be the pure spirit of it. Turn signals are great but they don't give a bike a soul. If they're included they shouldn't detract from the design but if possible they should be omitted. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

With that in mind it's time to address that horrid seat (which is up on ebay right now!)



I actually had this (style) seat on my boxer when I had my big crash. I don't have a problem stealing bits from other bikes provided they harmonize and Ducati nailed it with this bump seat. Something, incidentally, that the british never, ever did. I think this works. I got this one from India off ebay. It was cheap and available unlike an Evan Wilcox seat or a Tank Shop tank. Some day I'm going to learn to beat panels and this might be the bike I learn on. Not right now though.



To me the appeal of the Guzzi is it's brutishness. It's a beautiful combination of sleekness and brawn. By keeping the seat short I let the rear wheel define the back of the bike and that makes it seem more "motor and wheels" which is what we love about bikes.



This is the view that makes me stop every time I pass the bike in the garage. I can't tell you how much I love the way the tank and jugs work together. Only my MV Brutale had a prettier top view.



Here she is with her stablemate. The boxer looks a bit lighter (it is) and more nimble (it is) but also has a bit more air about it. More flow. I'm not going to attempt to turn the Guzzi into the boxer but instead find it's own voice that will compliment it. My end goal is to have four unique cafe bikes in my garage: the boxer, the guzzi, my Rickman Triumph and at some point another Ducati. After that I might include a Japanese bike but those four are touchstones.

And now that we're about caught up to today I can show you the eventual front end for this bike - a front end that will tell you how serious I am about this bike.



Very, very serious.

Gregor
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Old 04-26-2014, 05:52 PM   #13
16VGTIDave
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No doubt about how serious you are. That is a beautiful looking bike! Just be sure to tighten up that bolt on your muffler before you loose it. You are a visual artist, and I'm a retired aircraft mechanic. I see things like that as if they had a spot light on them...
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Old 04-26-2014, 09:18 PM   #14
sakurama OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16VGTIDave View Post
No doubt about how serious you are. That is a beautiful looking bike! Just be sure to tighten up that bolt on your muffler before you loose it. You are a visual artist, and I'm a retired aircraft mechanic. I see things like that as if they had a spot light on them...
Good catch - I'm in the middle of replacing the fasteners that are broken and I left that one out as a reminder that the rest are all loose. My visual reminder after checking the packing. I also write on the tank with messages like "fill with oil", "install brake pads" and "row 1, lane 4" haha. Right now I'm just trying to get the thing running and tie up the loose wires, ends, bolts etc. My goal is to get it plated and on the road for Monday night's MotoGP party but that's a tall order so the boxer is on the tender waiting in the wings. Things like the seat are welded but only with enough tacks to hold the summer.

This past week I made a score on some shop tools that included a nice slip roll so I'm planning on making my own megaphone and wanted to just take at look at what what on it. It's a sorry looking pipe so I'll be making a new one for it in stainless but most likely stealing the headers dimensions since it's a Dr. John's copy.

Regardless, it's a tall order to build a stand out Guzzi as there's been sooooooo many nice ones (as opposed to boxers) but I'm looking forward to trying some new things and seeing where it takes me. Bikes are my passion and the Guzzi is the one that got away so it's more than a little special to me.

Gregor
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Old 04-26-2014, 11:34 PM   #15
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OOOOHHHH so lovely!
Much of the time spent working on my old Guzzi was trying to remove harshness from the suspension. Looks like your half way there. Looking forwards to the rear end reveal.

Although my Guzzi was used as a DD, I always thought of it as my holiday bike. For the first couple of years I spent a LOT of time playing with the riding position. What was acceptable on a 20 mile commute became a pain in the knee/back/neck/bum/wrist on a 5000 mile European jaunt two up. Everything got changed, bars, pegs, seat and all several times. If it worked for me, then the pillion couldn't take it, then vice versa. You just can't move those carbs much.
I'm only a short arse, so this may not be an issue for you, but investing lots of time, effort and cash to the point you think it's finished, only to find its unridable. Sucks big time. It is possible, just lots of fine tuning.

During one of my poverty phases, the ends rotted out of the original exhausts. First expedient was just to make a big washer and weld it on the end. Looked really bad. I then welded little stubby tubs over the outlets. This worked really well - the engine properly "twittered" on the overrun, lovely!
Eventually they rotted out somewhere else. In the mean time, I had bought some headers in stainless. Good solid stuff. Except they weren't bent quite right at the lower end. The lower run just didn't sit parallel to the frame rail - ugly ugly. So out with the dry sand and acetylene torch. I was surprised how easily they bent into shape.
Later a friend gave me his old Lanfranconi's - he was "upgrading" to the 40mm big bore ones. Unfortunately they had rotted ends too. And the rear upsweep was such that I couldn't fit any panniers (remember those 5000 mile tours? I needed more than a toothbrush and I had no credit card). So I had to cut and weld up - I was thinking 60's MV - but somewhat cruder. I also had to address the rusty end. I liked the swirly end thing in the originals, so tried to reproduce that. The actual silencer had fallen out, so the perforated tube I made (with swirly thing) was going to be the only noise abatement system I had. It ended up a bit ghetto, but I was doing it in my lunchbreak, and needed to be home at night.
If you kept the throttle closed it was ok round town. If you gave it some welly, then all the car alarms went off. Canyons and tunnels were fun. And no one ever pulled out on me and always moved over when I was overtaking. Safety First. Win Win.
Ok antisocial, but I'm an old time greaser.
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