Sometimes it’s the building a custom bike that’s the most enjoyable part of the process, not just riding the finished article. Paul Buxton from Poole exhibited a gorgeous Laverda orange Guzzi Le Mans at Bike Shed London 2017 but prior to the paint having chance to dry he’d already begun the hunt for another project. A 1000SP seemed the donor of choice as the plan was to build a café racer suitable for two-up riding with wife Debbie. The internet had other ideas though, yielding an additional money and time black hole. A 1976 Le Mans that’d been given the Zagato treatment by a chap across the water in Holland who’d been inspired by the continent crushing, race track weapon of Sideburn Magazine’s original art director Ben Part (Google him for pics and stories). Convincing Debbie that a third bike was needed didn’t take much negotiation as this donor had a large amount of the time consuming work done already, her caveat… “If you can get it for the right money and I can go on the back then yes”. Paul stuck in a cheeky bid and a few weeks later the bike was delivered.
The Guzzi had already been converted from twin to monoshock and the transmission was newly rebuilt but the rest of the bike wasn’t up to Paul’s high standards, with many parts long overdue an overhaul. Elsewhere corrosion and grime meant a full strip down would be required if this old pony was to be show worthy. But not before a quick tidy up and summer’s riding to evaluate what needed changing. The aluminium tail wasn’t perfect but seemed too good to replace so Paul fabricated a steel support hoop for the pillion pad to bolt to. He then made a one-piece seat base for upholstery guru Glen Moger to cover with suede and leather. With Debbie placated that Paul was indeed adhering to his end of the bargain the rest of the rebuild could take place.
The previous owner struggled with the riding position and had dropped the forks in the yokes and fitted clipons above, spoiling the handling. Paul reset the ride height and upgraded to a lovely pair of Tarozzi clipons, mounted in the correct position. Rearsets with pillion pegs also by Tarozzi are now new, in place of the tired originals.
Despite the inherent reliability of the Guzzi’s round barrel motor Paul pulled it out for a strip-down and inspection. Before being refitted a lightweight flywheel and RAM clutch were installed along with a Silent Hektik ignition and G&G deep sump. Mirror polished rocker covers and short bell-mouth filters compliment the already gorgeous powerplant. Every single nut, bolt and fastener has been renewed with high grade stainless.
The bike arrived sporting a pair of Lanfranconi exhausts which are notched to clear the original twin shocks. Paul wanted shorter alternatives and spent an age trying to source decent quality ones in a sea of cheap eBay knock-offs. It looks like the wait was worth it as these reverse megas look great. The polished stainless headers were made by a local pipe bending firm to Paul’s design.
Zagato stick-on tank badges had to go as they spoiled the overall look of the hand-beaten curves. There was a plan to cover the imperfections with paint but thankfully Paul couldn’t bring himself to commit such a crime and opted for polishing instead. One badge remains, fixed to the laser cut battery plate. The actual battery now lives in the tail.
A Daytona electric speedo electric speedo and Rizoma indicators were the last parts to bolt on before the first ride. “Last Saturday, albeit rather cold, the sun was out and it was such a beautiful day so I got Debbie on the back of the bike to make sure the steel support hoop under the seat unit was up to the job. I’m pleased to say it all work great, nothing dropped off, including Debbie, in fact she loved it and even managed on the rather small seat. It was it’s first proper shake-down run, we didn’t go far, just some bumpy, twisting country roads and dual carriageways down to Poole and Wareham Quays. Parked-up in the sun, the Guzzi looked amazing and the reaction from the public was fantastic. The sound from the near enough straight through pipes is fantastic, while riding I have never seen so many other drivers and riders with rubber necks!”
“I am so impressed with this bike, the way it handles, sounds, looks and performs. With the extra knowledge and contacts I have made since building the orange bike and finishing this one I’m already searching out another donor for the next Café Racer, and it has to be a Guzzi again.”
See Paul’s Guzzi Zagato and chat to him at Bike Shed London 2018 on May 25-27th at Tobacco Dock.