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Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II – Kevin Rudham


Posted on August 12, 2015 by Andrew in Classic. 13 comments

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Written by Marlon Slack.

While every brand has its share of fanatics, it’s the Italian marques that seem to inspire the most passion. Some people fawn over their race-bred Ducatis, some battle mercurial Laverdas while the remainder squirrel away in their sheds, tinkering at old Moto Guzzis. While not strictly a Guzzi fanatic, Johannesburg-based professional photographer Kevin Rudham will no doubt have Italian fans nodding in appreciation at his re-born 1980 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II. Impressively, he completed nearly all the work himself. ‘It took two years,’ Kevin says, ‘and I outsourced only the powder coating and electroplating, but the rest I did myself, including the paint job with a borrowed compressor and a cheap Chinese touch up gun.’

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Kevin has been riding motorcycles since the age of 16, but stopped riding shortly after buying the Mark II 20 years ago while deep in the throes of a midlife crisis. The bike sat unloved in his garage for years, until in 2012 work began in earnest to restore it to its former glory. And the Le Mans special was truly glorious in its day. Named after the 24 hour motorcycle race of the same name, the Le Mans (or ‘Le-mon’, as it was rudely dubbed) was the flagship bike for Moto Guzzi in the 1970’s, with the 85 horsepower v-twin featuring a typically Guzzi mix of solid handling and guttural power delivery. It found quite a following among The Faithful as a fast, albeit heavy motorcycle with a reliable powerplant.

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Kevin’s Mark II was completely stripped down for the rebuild, with its engine receiving much of the attention. While getting it apart was straightforward enough, putting it back together was a different task entirely. Kevin says ‘I’m fairly handy with a spanner but after the strip down I found myself wondering how it was that, as a professional photographer, I hadn’t taken detailed pictures before taking it all apart to make it easier to get back together.’

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But with the aid of a factory parts list (that included some exploded diagrams) and the always-helpful Guzzi fans that lurk online, everything came together nicely, with a few hidden gems inside. A factory big bore kit was fitted, sucking from 40mm Dellorto pumper carburettors, while a rebuilt and re-shimmed close ratio gearbox and deep spline clutch kit should make the shifting a far less clunky affair than when the bike was new. The whole assembly barks through stainless steel ceramic-coated Brian Wilson pipes with a twist of the Tomaselli throttle.

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Kevin mounted Koni shocks to the rear and progressive springs and factory air-assisted dampers to the front, while Tarozzi rear sets and period-correct handlebars sourced from a scrapyard help keep the bike under control around bends. The electrics, bane of many Italian bike owners, were also refreshed, with a new regulator/rectifier and Dyna miniature coils ensuring reliable spark and feed to the LED headlight and instruments. The bodywork was altered too, with a custom front fender, sidecovers and a retrofitted Mark I fairing mounted, and in a particularly African twist, a black-dyed Gemsbok hide acts as the seat cover.

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Since the Mark II’s rebirth Kevin hasn’t exactly babied the bike, keen to test out exactly how fast his engine work would carry him. ‘I’ve only had the guts to take it to 190km/h (119mph) since the rebuild. The bike was willing to go faster but I wasn’t.’ That’s nothing to be scoffed at, especially considering the Guzzi has to breathe the thin Johannesburg air at 1,750 meters. And as he punches through the gearbox around town Kevin has to have an extra-wide grin on his face, knowing that his tweaked classic bike is all his own creation.

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  • Bultaco Metralla

    Best model they ever made. Done up a treat. Good craft, great lines, lovely, practical motorcycle.

  • Playskool

    85 hp from factory in the 70’s? More like 70 hp maybe 75 to my knowledge… Still a very lovely and purposeful bike. Smart color choice and really neat front fender! Congrats

  • A beautiful bike…well done.

  • Grendel Medlord

    How is it possible that the people at MotoGuzzi put the rear brake reservoir there and said “Yeah that looks ok.”

    • arnold

      To Do List :
      1. Must add interest to side covers.

      Living room quality, very nice redux.

  • very nice and obviously a labour of love, I always thought they had clip on bars but maybe that was just European spec?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b9511e951d1f1d956d0a646fd349be912c1c754ff6c44676c8f35b2da695147a.jpg

  • Kevin Rudham

    Really appreciate the comments guys – as Martin writes I can still
    barely get the grin off my face when riding. It had clip ons and a
    Stucci race fairing when I bought it
    and I installed the upright bars to take pressure off a wrist injury –
    can ride all day now and still feel all my fingers.

    • Marc

      Kevin i really love what you have done with the Guzzi. i have two questions : where did you get the Triple tree to install a Normal handle bar, and what is is that ? looks awesome. I want to install a High riser Bar on my LM1, because i have issues riding it with the clip ons also due to an injury. Thanks Marc

      • Kevin Rudham

        Hi Marc – thanks for the comments. I used the original triple tree which has 4 mounting points on it as the triples are standard across a number of Guzzi models including some which use handle bars – they are used on the leMans to hold the instrument cluster mount. They are sized to take the handle bar clamps which I sourced from a motorcycle breaker yard (non guzzi ) together with the bars. Very easy conversion

        • Marc

          thanks for the info. i have heared that the v65 upper tree might fit on the LM1, that one has the handle bar mounts. one last question, did you use a custom seat on your guzzi ? it really blends in well with everything else. Cheers Marc

          • Kevin Rudham

            Hi Marc – of course my bar conversion was easier than yours because my Guzzi is a II and has the mounting points.

            The seat is custom – I took a mould off the original seat pan/rear fender and fabricated in Glass fibre. Glued on foam in layers – high density on bottom shaped to my butt and then mid density above. Very easy to shape with an angle grinder with sandpaper cup. Covered in leather. Where are you from BTW?

          • Marc

            i am from Frankfurt, Germany. Just found an upper LM3 triple tree with the bar mounts that will fit on ebay. going to try something simillar with the seat.

  • cornishman2

    Lovely. One of my favourite bikes tweaked to suit the owner and daily riding. I could park and look at it for hours or better still ride off into a long sunset.
    As I said, lovely