WHEN LE MANS LOVES LE WOMAN. Paolo Danese’s ‘MILF’ Moto Guzzi Le Mans MKII
Written by Marlon Slack
Every year the Italians put on one of greatest motorcycle shows in the world. Dubbed the MBE, or Motor Bike Expo, the four-day event tackles every aspect of the motorcycle spectrum you can imagine. There’s enduro nuts, sports bike fans and cruiser riders all rubbing shoulders on the huge showroom floor. But the thing that really caught our eye was the incredible array of custom rides on display. And none were better than this – the award-winning Moto Guzzi Le Mans MkII racer dubbed the ‘MILF’ – a bike we’d love to swing a leg over.
It’s all the result of one motivated madman, Paolo Danese, a 51-year-old motorcycle nut who lives in Verona in Northern Italy. While an obsessive for all things two-wheeled he has a particular soft spot for Moto Guzzis. And while he does incredible work it’s all a side project for him.‘So many people ask me where I have my workshop or my store,’ he says, ‘but that doesn’t exist. I just have a garage and that’s it’.
And from that tight little space he’s managed to turn out this beautiful endurance-racer inspired Moto Guzzi, which was collected in bits over a number of years. ‘The bike started life as a frame from a 1978 Le Mans MKII I purchased from a friend ten years ago,’ Paolo explains. ‘But the engine, also from a Le Mans, I purchased online’. But his plans for the engine would have to wait until he’d finished with the Tonti frame.
‘I wanted to lighten it and make it more rigid,’ Paolo says. The first step was easy – everything was trimmed and shaved down and detabbed. But the work didn’t end there. The rear end was lopped off and a new single shock system was mounted to a heavily braced box section alloy swingarm. While up front, the suspension is similarly gorgeous.
The racing MILF runs twin Magnesium Ceriani forks, right side down, mated to cast iron discs which get squeezed by Brembo calipers from a Ducati 851. Underneath all that the MILF sits on Campagnolo rims, and an Öhlins steering damper helps keep all the madness in check. And while there’s plenty more happening inside those forks and rear shocks, we’ll have to leave it for the moment. But take it from Paolo – ‘Believe me, there’s so much more I could list that you can’t see’, he says.
What you also can’t see is the incredible amount of time and effort that has gone into the Le Mans’ engine block. ‘I had it extensively modified by a friend of mine, Lino Zenari’, Paolo says. Lino’s work took the 844cc transverse v-twin to just on 1000cc’s – but displacement is only part of the story. Hidden underneath those blasted engine cases are high-compression pistons, larger valves, rocker arms, strengthened valve springs, a whole bunch of CNC work, a clever oil cooler system, lightened flywheel, new 40mm carburetors, close ratio gearbox, new ignition system and 8/33 gearing at the back.
Phew. It’s all carefully considered, high quality work. Just take the exhaust system for example. Paolo and local exhaust guru Pietro Fasoli from La Marmitta spent no small amount of time testing and fitting different muffler setups for the best results on the dyno. But they also had to look damn good. ‘We wanted something aesthetically pleasing and of a clever design but it had to also be functional,’ Paolo says. ‘After several attempts we managed to get the volumes and resonances correct which gave us excellent results’.
The MILF is, without doubt, one of the most bangin’ Guzzi’s we’ve seen in a while. The combination of high quality components, the perfect blend of rideability and insanity and a no-expense-spared approach to the engine has us frothing. Hell, we’d like to see more 70’s mashup endurance racers being produced. Paolo agrees. ‘It’s the style I prefer the most,’ he says, ‘racing and especially endurance racing combines the highest performance with lightest weight materials’. Who can’t love that?
This lightweight MILF’s beauty hasn’t gone unacknowledged, with the MILF drawing plenty of accolades from its time on the floor at the Motor Bike Expo. The racing Guzzi even took home a few gongs, with Winston Yeh from Rough Crafts in Taiwan awarding it his own personal ‘best in show’. It’s high praise indeed for a home builder who doesn’t even have a dedicated shop – or even a website. Goddamn wish he did though. We need more MILFs here on Pipeburn.
[ Thanks to Ferro Magazine | Photos by Mattia Negrini ]