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Raven Motorcycles – Moto Guzzi


Posted on December 27th, by Scott in Café Racer, Classic. 43 comments

Moto artist Jeff Gundlach has designed many magazine covers for publications like Cycle Magazine and Cycle News over the years, but he recently finished designing and building his biggest project yet – the first Raven Motorcycle. To say it’s been a long time in the making is an understatement. “About 15 years ago I thought of the possibility of designing a bike using the Moto Guzzi engine and the Norton transmission” says Jeff. “Sketches were made and it went to the back burner”. Fast forward to 2 years ago and Jeff decided he had the skills and tools to proceed with the design he scribbled all those years ago.  “I wanted to build something unique, powerful, light, functional, and a classic look. Choppers, bobbers and sportbikes are very cool but, I did not want to build from an existing engine/trans/frame package.” This is how Jeff describes how the Raven came to life.

“The design went through quite a few changes before I settled on this. I first did scale drawings with a 25 degree stem and a 58″ wheelbase. I wanted the motor mounted high for ground clearance and quick handling and as light as I could make it. I also didn’t want to ruin the casings of the parts I used so I could use parts off the shelf. The wheels, swingarm, brakes, forks and steering stem are from a 1968 Honda 350. I used these because of the quality and the look- plus they are easy to find. And the sprocket is on the left and takes a 530 chain.”

“I began the project by building everything out of wood… much easier to change wood than steel. The engine is used as a stress member, being fastened by the top and bottom. The motor is a ’71 750cc Ambassador with a very light (3lb) flywheel. Now that I am almost finished all I have to do is the electrical system. I am using a Lucas alt. to make power and a digital regulator. When it’s complete I will take it to the N.C. Dept of motor vech to get my Vin numbers. I will then be able to tag it and ride. In North Carolina I can build up to 5 units per year without having manufacturing status. Believe me that will keep me mighty busy. I will ride it to Indy this year to MotoGp. It has been track tested back in Feb. I took it to Robling Road racetrack and I’m very satisfied with it’s performance. It’s a good bike.”

This bike is the first of many Raven Motorcycles to roll off the production line – when we say production line, we mean Jeffs garage. He is planning to hand build these bikes to order, with a maximum of 5 being built in one year. The buyer has the option of a 750, 850 or 1000cc Italian V-twin powerplant. The pictured 750cc prototype is for sale on ebay at the moment for the price of $25,000 – not cheap, but considering most of the bike was handbuilt, it’s definitely better value than some ‘bolt on’ customs being sold out there. We can only hope to see it featured in one of the many motorcycle magazines Jeff has helped design – who knows, it might even get the cover.

Photographs by Frank J. Bott.







  • HBR

    Just read about this in Classic Bike Guide. Great looking bike, props for being a true custom!

  • guest

    Weird & Cool.

  • dutchie

    that tank has probably got the worst welds i have ever seen. Cool!

  • Philip B

    Those brakes can’t be very good…

  • Mrs O.

    Bad Ass! Now I need to hear it. Thanks again Pipeburn!

  • Den

    I have loved this bike since I saw it a few days ago, although I like shaft drive and cleaned up welds it is still very cool!

  • guest

    Shooting this bike with a black background was a terrible decision. Could be cool if you could make out anything other than the “big picture”

  • Mpress

    nice lines-(what i can see of it)
    front brake is a buzz kill.(what is the point of a weedy drum set-up?) kinda gives the whole thing a WTF aura.
    an easy “fix” though.

  • Stephen Bacon

    That thing is uber cool. +1 million for not lowering the suspension!

  • revdub

    Awesome custom. Overall, a very cool bike. With that said, a couple of things I would expect for the price: Some nickel plating on parts that are unclean (ex. those dirty carbs), tidier welds, and maybe a nice custom battery box. Also, I have to agree on the front break situation.

  • Mwmellner

    Now that is a sexy bike.  Looks a lot like a brough superior.

  • Jrosati3

    I dig it. May want to have a chat with your blind welder … but otherwise it’s quite cool.

  • Jesseshepherd

    Amazing ! Not as amazing as the number of negative posts. I doubt any of them even HAVE M/Cs, let alone haver ever built one !…great work !
     

  • tolemo

    Quite an engineering feat. But in my opinion they could have achieved the same effect with a Briggs and Stratton v-twin engine out of an industrial machine. 

  • Gp92510

    …love the exhaust…but…off the shelf?…

  • Mach-X

    I really like the u.n.r.e.t.o.u.c.h.e.d. and non-pretty-fied fuel tank welds.  That’s what an outside corner weld done on 3 inch aluminum tubing (pipe?) looks like folks.   Screw ‘em … keep the genuine look of everything.  The brakes match the power output of the machine just great.  If they’re not enough then slow down a give yourself more room.  We rode bikes with brakes like this for decades without any whining.  And I seriously doubt that a Generac Twin (aka “lawn mower engine”) would be anythging like this (some people’s children … I wonder if that comment would have been said to the builder’s face?).

    This is one genuine effort.  It doesn’t seem influenced by current fads or forum manipulations.  It doesn’t seem like it was designed to appease the forum know-it-alls, it seems as though it was designed to please it’s builder.  Good on ya.  Bikes and builders that ignore the court of public opinion, the almighty twitter, and the ever self important e-experts are what flick my thrillswitch.  Consider it officially flicked!  At least your time was spent building a nice bike rather than sitting on your ass in front of a computer offering up precious critiques .. right?  Having an opinion is one thing, spewing it from one’s anus to fortify one’s internet persona is something quite different.  (whatever happened to a bit of adult decorum?  Suddenly it’s ~hip~ to act like Beavis and Butthead .. I mean I know they’ve come back into vogue .. or is that vague? .. but really now.).

    An unlowered original custom .. go figure. 

    How dare you!  ;)

    • Tim19457

      Excellent! Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Tragert/1666036587 Chris Tragert

    Nice bike! I’ve been running that same front brake on CB750s’ for years [it’s a bolt-on mod]. Let the nay-sayers have their say. It works fine, looks great, and hopefully will remain cheap and plentiful.

  • Davidabl2

    If you want more braking power out of  drums there’s a guy to talk to in California..
    From what I hear he’s the go-to guy the AHRMA guys go to.

    Michael Morse in Sonora, CA

    http://www.vintagebrake.com/

  • DindarTheGrey

    Great innovation but as a Moto Guzzi owner my first thought is…the engine is no longer easily servicable.

  • Mpress

    thanks to Mach-X for setting us all straight.your check is in the mail.
    i’d stop commenting but all i have on the keyboard are drum brakes…

  • http://germanmedeot.com/ Germán Medeot

    Now, this is a nice bike, a future custom classic

  • Xeropave

    OK you’ve got me… Where’s the gear box?  I can see that the clutch was relocated and connected via a “primary chain” which seems to be reducing the RPMs to the rear wheel.
    Also, since the stock electric starter is gone from the flywheel housing, how do you start the beast?
    Nice “twist” on the Guzzi mill though.  Very original.

    • Stephen Bacon

      Top picture, just behind the rear pipe, in front of the rear-set. It’s an AMC (Norton) gearbox. It’s kickstart-only from what I can see. The bottom pic shows a Commando clutch – that’s connected via a shaft to the gearbox. What you can’t see is that the rear chain goes from the gearbox output, not the back of the clutch (although it may look that way)

  • Question

    Is that now rear cylinder going to get enough air for cooling?

  • Davidabl2

    I’d not be surprised if some of his customers were to want the rest of their bikes tobe  as Brough-like as that tank is. I’m thinking headlight and instrument panel in particular.

    That said,I’d love to see one of these in person.

  • Frederick

    i like everything except the motor…it just seems wrong looking especially the left side.
    a more period look could be achieved with an ironhead motor like I did here: http://legacymotorsport.com/motorcycles/a-modern-day-board-track-racer-–-the-psyclone/the sportster silhouette is easily disguised, it’s a compact unit and parts are cheap.

    $25k is a stretch, but maybe with the components sorted out and if a brough look alike
    is desired, more closely emulated? anyway…my .02 and worth exactly that.

    • Frederick

      sorry, link broke…go to http://legacymotorsport.com/ and search “modern day board track racer – the psyclone” or just “psyclone”

      • revdub

        Fred. That bike is thoroughly awesome. Fully deserving of all those awards it has accumulated!

  • http://top-sunglasses.org/ Oakleys

    TDI29HHY2TFJ I like it very much!

  • Dashpot

    You did not tell us the most important thing: what does it weigh? If it’s light it’s beautiful, brakes fine, etc, Otherwise we’re just palavering about how it looks.. Ugh. Might as well let your girlfriend tell you what’s a good bike and what’s not.

  • Jeff Gundlach

    Right Dashpot,

    The bikes weight is 400 lbs. It handles like a 250.

    Jeff Gundlach, Builder

    • Dashpot

      Thanks! That’s VASTLY lighter than my old ElDorado. Great work, and unsurpassably beautiful, same league as an HRD, or 1935 Husqvarna 500 v-twin, or Koehler-Escoffier, Honestly I’d rather own yours, so I could ride it as motorcycles were meant to be ridden,

  • Trent Reker

    dang. hate it when i find something cool a year too late. great job, pipeburn. i agree that it’s worth 25k considering “the market” for customs of this sort. beautiful bike, too.

  • jerry

    Not a very good electrical job, no offense for the people getting this guys back but for 25 big ones there needs to be a decent battery box, decent electrical connectors (not from the local auto store) and hide the wires a little better. If you want to spend that much money on something like this and be proud of owning it then go ahead. Go ahead and see what people think also, now here come the people that don’t care what people think…….SHUT UP!!!!! If this is only a prototype (whatever that means), then theres some things that need to be worked out. But I would try to make it a little more appealing if I was having nice pictures made and honestly it looks like this is it. The bike on the site looks just like this. So this is his product that people go to look at in the rough. VERY ROUGH. Also, for those of you that wish to have the awsome looking welds, more power to you and I am sure he will clean up the welds (One would hope). 25…………really?

  • Jeff Gundlach

    Jerry,

    The electrical system is rough but it works great. This will change as with all the other rough parts.
    This bike is a work in progress and it does work well. This bike is unique..it’s the first and every part had to be designed and fit. It is a total hand build. Pretty comes later. For now it is still progressing. First thing is it has to work properly then clean it up. I felt I have enough of a machine to put it out there..so I did.
    I’m very happy with the machine and I do plan to sell them. The finished product may not appeal to all.
    That’s really OK with me. I’m very thankful for all the comments and I hope that you all can see a Raven
    up close sometime. I’d like to tell you about it. Thanks for the input. It is my only bike now and it is my daily rider.

    Jeff

  • Mpress

    i think the point is if someone, anyone offers a bike for sale then it is assumed-(i iknow…),that it is “done.” and ready for consumption and when that price is “up there” as this one is then perhaps a higher state of
    finish is in order.i do think that everyone here want it to be a success.hang in there.cough cough disc brake cough cough ;)

  • Gotopcat

    I like it man. Keep up the good work.

  • Jeff Gundlach

    Thank you all for taking note and spending time commenting. It’s great.

    Jeff

  • Greg

    like the bike….bad typography on the tank.

    • Nash

      just like all the “bad typography” on any number of turn-of-the-century motorcycle tanks…dead on i’d say.

    • http://www.pipeburn.com Andrew@Pipeburn

      Bad typography? Ummm…

  • Nash

    holy shit. now THIS is interesting. more crazy builds like this in 2012 please! i wanna ride this thing so bad.