‘75 Moto Guzzi 850T – Olympia Motorcycles
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.