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‘75 Moto Guzzi 850T – Olympia Motorcycles

Posted on August 25, 2014 by Scott in Classic, Racer. 23 comments


Written by Martin Hodgson.

Building a custom motorcycle that does one thing well is an achievement in of itself, building a custom motorcycle that is capable of being three different bikes is exceptional, from a first time builder it is a Herculean effort. This Guzzi is an automotive piece of sculpture, built for breaking records on the salt flats and registered for the road, it’s three bikes in one and it completes each task with flawless perfection.


The bike is the creation of Los Angeles artist David Miezal who took his inspiration from German speed merchant  Ernst Jakob Henne and the speed trial bikes from days of old. Simple, defined and  minimalistic with the purpose of going absolutely flat out across the salt. David started with a 1975 Moto Guzzi 850T, the Italian sports tourer that was arguably the makes best bike of the 70’s. With a strong motor and drivetrain the decision was made to simply give it a freshen up, new seals and gaskets and a carby clean means the bike will run all day long. While modern wiring, new Dyna coils and an updated regulator make the electrics just as reliable.


As an artist with a certain vision in mind David stripped the bike bare revealing a blank canvas with which to work. The frame and forks were all de-tabbed, all the unrequired cosmetic clutter was disposed of and anything that doesn’t serve an essential purpose destined for the scrap bin. Both the handlebars and the exhaust were meticulously handcrafted from stainless steel, while the custom under seat electrics box is finished with welds that match the original beads laid down in the factory. Wanting to maintain a certain patina the engine, transmission casing and wheels were all carefully cleaned by hand with David not wanting to remove any of the staining.


Increasing the visual impact of the bike is the distressed leather used to cover the custom created seat, tank and fender pads. The scars matching well with the hand sculpted and lightly stained body reminding all that this bike really lives. The switch blocks, lights and indicators are long gone, with just GT grips to hang onto, custom rearsets and polished levers to keep control and a single tacho being all that David requires.


With ambitions of top speed salt flat passes and the ability to ride on the street the suspension and tyres of 40 years ago were never going to do the job. The smoothed out front forks now sport Wirth progressive springs and FAC dampers while the rear is controlled by vintage Bitubo shocks. All of which keeps the new Avon racing rubber firmly pressed into the chosen surface of the day.


Nicknamed Heracles, both the Italian custom creation and the Greek God exhibit a defined masculinity, strength, courage and ingenuity that will maintain their legend status forever more. And when it’s not doing the ton on the salt or cruising the streets, just like its name sake , this Guzzi would be equally at home in a museum, where even static it can be admired.



  • Michael Kork.

    Kinda looks like a couch with all that leather..

  • Love the tank, love the pipe, and some serious looks, this is an art. Vote for this bike!

  • Guest

    Takes a corner like a cruise ship.

    • dead_elvis

      And not part of its intent. Ever been to the salt flats? No corners.

    • Klaus

      Takes it exactly the same way as a standard 850;)

  • John in Pollock


  • Cruising the streets with such an extreme angle on the handlebars is like taking an 1199 Panigale R for commuting…

  • That’s horrible! What the hell is wrong with people that they would do this?

    • TJ Martin

      A little harsher than I would of said it perhaps …. but errr … its not like I’m disagreeing or anything mind you

  • paco

    This thing is great, even though the tank looks like a koala’s face!

  • TJ Martin

    Ahhhh … errrr …. hmmmn … It er …. kind of looks a bit too agricultural for my tastes ..

  • Blake Proudfoot

    Normally I like bikes with straight lines but this leaves me cold. Perhaps it looks better in person, but the rear half is so bloody long and straight it pushes the whole bike out of proportion and draws ones’ eyes away from a front half that is indeed very attractive. Unfortunate.

  • Colin Leipelt

    I just rebuilt a pretty nice stock one of these for a customer. I’m usually all for customs, and I generally think they look better (often much better) than stock. This one is an exception.

  • spyra78

    Well.. Doesnt work for me.

  • Highlander

    This is just pure class. It looks perfect.

    • Less is More

      i can only agree with you;) straight lines, simple geometrics and angles, reduced to the max^^

  • Elle

    Simply beautiful!

  • Beldrueger

    Old Guzzis have such great proportions that it takes a lot of work to get the proportions wrong, but this builder succeeded. I can see that they were going for something different here, but it just does not work. The lines draw your eyes to all the wrong places. It’s a mess. That is completely the wrong tank for the frame, and why is there a leather pillow on the gas tank?

    • Klaus

      And whoever set any standards to making things? Are there guidelines for using certain tanks on specific bikes? Oh, my! If we were to follow the dogmas most people live with, this world would get nowhere in creativity. This is brilliant! Someones self expression, that’s all.

  • Barry

    Some curious comments. The length of this bike, the lines, the choice of tank, the padding, etc. all should be taken in the context of its intended purpose: “built for breaking records on the salt flats”. It’s not meant to be an alternative for a stock road bike, nor a cafe-racer Guzzi, is it?

    I love (most) Guzzi customs, and – seen as a straight road bike – this one wouldn’t immediately be my favourite, but as a salt flats, straight-line, record-breaking machine? Then, it’s a lovely job, and I can see how those long lines, the ‘Rollie Free’ leg rests, the ‘pillows’ on the tank, the Brough-esque tank and those down-swept bars all come together to meet the brief. Love the ‘keep the patina’ approach, too.

    Standard 850T motor, though? Is that enough to get the times that the class requires? Not too hard to breathe on these motors to get just that bit more, without losing ‘originality’, I think. But then I’m no engineer! Nice job.

  • Great – perfect for a vintage speed run. I dig those extreme foot pegs on the rear fender support. Very well executed. Speed trial bikes don’t have to be beautiful – they just have to be fast.

  • dead_elvis

    While the aesthetics are subjective, I bet this thing works very well for its intended purpose. And that makes it unarguably beautiful.

  • Klaus

    ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ – Albert Einstein