Imagine you’ve built the bike that sits before you, pouring your heart and soul into the creation of a classic custom ordered by a meticulous client who collects vintage Porsches. Such is your attention to detail that each machine upon completion is stripped, every bolt re-torqued and over a thousand parts double checked. Then, just as you are ready to deliver your masterpiece, a single clutch plate sticks. Unwavering in his commitment to perfection Axel Budde of Hamburg’s Kaffee Maschine doesn’t try an easy fix with a few heavy dumps of the clutch. Once again he does a full tear down of the machine and you start to appreciate the genius and devotion that emerges in the form of his latest build, ‘KM21’, a classic cafe racer from a 1981 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II.
Axel is clearly a fastidious builder, everything has to be right, triple checked and tested until he’s totally satisfied. His dedication can be tiring and he tell us he’s off on a holiday soon that will be spent “on my Kaffee Maschine cafe racer with friends in the French Alps” But it’s clear from KM21 that the blood, sweat and tears he invests into his customer’s builds is more than worth the effort. The donor bike for this project was picked up in nearby Bremen but it was a long way from being anything that could earn the right to wear the Kaffee Maschine logo. For the first of three times the stock Le Mans II was pulled down to disassemble every last component.
The frame has been smoothed out, de-tabbed and ready for the parts that Axel had already determined and designed in his mind. The tank of the Le Mans is not one of its finest features so instead our man in Hamburg hand formed an alloy tank from scratch. It takes the shape of a previous build, KM8, which had initially attracted the client’s eye. The lines are simple, yet stunning, creating a classic feel that far exceeds anything offered by Moto Guzzi then or now. “The client has several vintage Porsches, so I chose a Porsche green for the main colour. He gave a lot of input into the paint design and the choice of the main parts surfaces.”
To match Axel crafted custom fenders front and rear that wear the same Porsche colour, the front perfectly suspended by two hand-formed aluminium struts. To set off the green, the seat is a gorgeous leather in a natural hue that could have very easily served as the interior of any ’70s 911. Now rid of the horrific factory bodywork and with Axel’s own in place the gloss black steel duplex cradle frame is allowed to finally get the attention it deserves. To finish out the look a simple chrome ringed headlight illuminates the way with a vintage tail light out back, small subtle touches that mean the class of this machine is allowed to shine through.
Of course there is no doubt the drivetrain looks incredible too, the full glory of the distinct Guzzi V-Twin exposed and finished to perfection. But this lump is more than just a looker and Axel had 2 Valve specialist Bernd help him unleash some real thunder. The bike now packs 1000cc, with the balanced crank now swinging new rods and pistons. Given Bernd’s racing background he slotted in one of his specially ground cams for the application and the heads have been modified to handle the extra air flow. They’ve also been machined to accept twin plugs and finished off with brilliant Kaffee Maschine engraving and head guards.
The cafe’s short block was disassembled so it could be painstakingly cleaned and detailed; it is quite literally flawless! While the supporting hardware is no less impressive, there is a new generator hidden behind a custom KM cover. A painstakingly pieced together wiring loom helps fire the all-new electronic ignition. With thumping twin Dell’Orto carbs feeding the fuel into the thirsty twin and Axel spent an enormous amount of time making sure they were tuned and balanced to perfection. Finally a set of KM’s own headers and rear pipes were fabricated for the build and brilliantly follow the lines of the Guzzi, eliciting the most incredible bark.
The client wanted a powerful package and the two builders of the engine couldn’t be happier with the result of working together as Axel explains of Bernd, “I got to know him and his bikes when I was racing myself. It´s running absolutely smooth with a mighty and beautiful sound, always roaring for more revs.” But with that racer blood there was not a chance Axel would leave the handling or braking to second chance. Up front the factory forks have been totally overhauled and rebuilt with a FACS damper set. A new set of tubes has everything looking brand new and a steering damper takes care of any tank slappers.
At the rear end the extra weight of the shaft drive and hub means factory shocks would never pass muster and in their place are a set of progressively sprung items from Ikon. The cafe racer’s braking system hasn’t been forgotten either, staying at the rear Axel fitted up one of his companies own KM adjustable brake torque supports. While new master cylinders provide extra power front and rear and send the fluid down stainless braided lines. Finally the wheels go lightweight with rims from Morad laced with stainless spokes and are all wrapped up in Metzeler Sportec Klassik rubber that Axel finds work a treat on a Guzzi.
Right across the build are drilled billet filler caps for oil, trans and hub fluids, as well as their associated level check and drain ports. To match the look a set of Moto Italia rearsets are added to custom drilled brackets and the small weight saving modification gives a distinctly classic racer feel. The Guzzi’s bars on the other hand had to serve two purposes, the owner wanted to keep the racer look going but be comfortable on a long ride. So to reduce the amount of weight on the wrists Axel fabricated a custom set of clip-ons especially for the task. Wearing seat matching leather grips the rest of the controls are old school and on a needs only basis.
[superquote]“For Axel it’s the perfect combination of power and rideability with an understated, classic look.”[/superquote]
The final touch is the beautiful vintage instrument gauge that is 90% tacho with just a small digital display for the other seemingly pointless information. It’s all part of a machine that has a true mechanical sensibility, one you ride with the senses, with no computer controlled inputs to get in the way. For Axel it’s the perfect “combination of power and rideability with an understated, classic look.” But it is hard not to think about the lucky owner who walks out to his garage, gazes at his classic Porsches and then strolls past them on the way to climbing aboard the real motor vehicle masterpiece in his possession, the Moto Guzzi KM21.