As the custom scene morphs through ever-changing trends and styles custom workshops come and go, but it’s seems that some of the more traditional outfits are weathering the storm. As it becomes easier for the hobbyist to either bolt-on their dream design thanks to the eBay and a growing array of specialist retailers or walk into a dealership and ride home on a really decent custom-ish motorcycle, it’s now harder than ever to pay the bills by building bikes.
Foundry Motorcycle down near Chichester, West Sussex have been ticking along nicely for a few years now underpinned by a solid knowledge of time-honoured skills and proper old fashioned craftsmanship. Tom and Alex work out of a meagre unit on an unassuming industrial estate behind a school yet produce bikes to a standard suggestive of a much grander facility. There’s a small coffee counter, a stock of gear and parts, place to hangout, a welding and grinding room, a dark place where the grubby stuff happens and an actual workshop no bigger than a double garage. And yes, there is an actual foundry on site. Albeit a very small one but the guys melt down old engine cases to cast their own triple clamps. Motogadget RFID meets the Bronze Age.
This latest Foundry Motorcycle started out as a one of the most ugly bikes ever to grace a showroom, the utterly gipping retinal assault that was the Moto Guzzi V65 Florida. But as Guzzi fans know there are gems hiding beneath all that ugly. This 1989 example was stripped naked to reveal the first, a perfectly simple Tonti frame. More on that in a minute.
Originally this was supposed to be a quick (but hugely painstaking and lovingly crafted of course) project for Foundry’s founder’s foundation, Tom’s wife. As with most of his projects it got completely out of hand and what was a standard but dilapidated machine soon ended up as an Airfix kit and parts list a yard long.
Now, one of my bug bears with custom bikes is the huge amount of attention paid to aesthetics in favour of even the briefest inspection of the mechanicals. Not something you get at Foundry. In this instance full rebuild means exactly that, not just a top-end fettle. The engine, gearbox and final drive are reduced to their empty cases before every single bearing, washer and gasket is replaced. Although perfectly capable of carrying out such task Tom prefers to use specialists for certain motors. The 650cc twin warranted the expertise of locals Moto Euro. And while a Guzzi is apart you may as well drop in a new clutch so the V65 has a fresh friction plate and bearing. Cylinder heads have been ported and polished internally and blasted externally, along with the rest of the cases prior to a coating of gunmetal high-temp paint, accented by mirror finished rocker and timing covers.
Dynatec ignition coils hide beneath the fuel tank and Electronik Sashe electronic ignition supersedes the old points system. Rebuilt and re-jetted carbs are fed by a single K&N pod filter via a polished stainless steel inlet manifold – a Foundry specialty. A nice touch is the tiny bracket supporting the filter that prevents it vibrating loose or splitting at the neck. At the other end handmade stainless exhaust headers flow down and beneath the transmission where they collect into an underslung silencer and bark out of a brace of short fishtails.
None of the Guzzi’s wiring was to be trusted, a full Motogadget M-unit based loom is installed, powered by a lithium battery mounted in the electrical box beneath the seat. Motone buttons and internally routed wires make for a super neat look and a simple MMB speedo matches the polished theme. Keyless ignition, also from Motogadget, streamline the cockpit perfectly. Biltwell Tracker bars, a Whiskey Throttle and Kung Fu grips with barend indicators finish the job, seamlessly amalgamating old and new.
The stock fork on this era of Guzzi’s has a lovely classical look and usually requires little more than polishing and a refresh internally. The Florida’s faux chopper look meant gangly stanchions so these have been turned-down and the springs shortened for a more aggressive stance. The yokes were modified to accept the Bates style headlamp before an obligatory polishing. Adjustable YSS shocks look the part and prop-up the rear.
And a sweet little rear it is too. About the only part of a Tonti frame that requires attention is the rear mudguard mounts. Slightly lazy pressed tubing on the stock frame is replaced by a kicked-up loop with frenched-in LED stoplight. A thin Brat-style seat upholstered in black leather with contrasting dark blue stitching feels comfortable (yes, I have tried it for size) and looks the part. Relocated Tarrozzi rear sets feel perfectly positioned and the rear brake actuating rod on the right hand side is particularly neat, overcoming Moto Guzzi’s rather awkward rear master cylinder placement. Stock cast wheels wear Heidenau K60 tyres for a suggestion of street scramblerishness, although it’d be a brave person to get this bike muddy.
Seeing as the power plant is a semi-stressed member there isn’t a whole lot of frame tubing on display, a shame, so this has been accentuated by painting it the same colour as the fuel tank. A custom blend from a modern automotive dark blue. The side stand is also painted blue, apart from the rod that you’d try and find with your foot to kick it out, that’s silver to make it easier to find when looking down. A simple touch but another indication of the thought that goes into a Foundry Motorcycle.
And the fuel tank quiz… I got it wrong, well, I got the Kawasaki part correct but not the model. It’s from a KH250, now sporting a Monza cap and more of that lustrous blue paint.
Better than that, we actually have the bike staying with us at Bike Shed Shoreditch as it’s up for sale. Come and see us EC1V 9LT or check the advert here.
Photos by Chris Lanaway and shot at 81 Artisan near Chichester. If you were at the Malle Mile you’d have guzzled plenty of their Godspeed beer and a few barrels were supplied for the Foundry Summer BBQ so it seemed a fitting place to shoot, amongst all that polished stainless.