Moto Guzzi 850 T3 Hemmings Motor News

18 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Moto Guzzi 850 T3 Hemmings Motor News
Moto Guzzi 850 California

Moto Guzzi 850 T3

Feature Article from Hemmings Motor News

They say there’s a butt for every saddle, but Moto Guzzi truly made a saddle for every butt with the 850 T-3. What’s your poison? Long distance tourer? Check. Stripped-down standard? Check. All out superbike? Check. The 850 T-3 had a little something for everyone.

Originally introduced as the Moto Guzzi 850 T, the T-3 came on line in 1975. The T in the name stood for Turismo, which hinted at its long-distance capabilities. The 3 indicated the major improvement for 1975: the cast-iron, triple-disc braking system from Brembo. Though many motorcyclists derided it, Moto Guzzi was proud of the T-3’s linked brakes.

Step on the rear brake pedal and the right front caliper would squeeze the pads lightly on the right front disc. The rider wouldn’t experience full braking power on the disc, but it was noticeable enough. To achieve full braking, the rider had to apply the front brake lever.

This braking system was one of the first in motorcycling, and it came directly from the Moto Guzzi Convert from 1974. The Convert was essentially the same bike as the T-3, but it featured an automatic transmission, which meant that just about everybody stayed away from it in droves. The 850 T-3 was a much better seller, and the triple-disc system was perfect for it.

Aside from that, the 1975 850 T-3 was essentially the same motorcycle as the 850 T that arrived in 1971, which would replace the company’s long-standing loop frame models that spawned the V7, the Eldorado and the Ambassador. Moto Guzzi Chief Engineer Lino Tonti not only reworked the frame (the triangular gusset, flat profile tubular steel cradle that would carry his name for the next 20 years), but he also re-engineered Moto Guzzi’s tried and true V-twin engine from a heavy touring mill to an 844cc sporting machine.

While the attention went to the sportier derivatives like the 850 Le Mans, the T and the T-3 were the big sellers. Lino Tonti developed a chassis that simply worked for all types of motorcycling. Moving the alternator to a position in the front of the engine, Tonti was able to keep the rider low on the bike, dropping the center of gravity significantly.

Unlike most motorcycles of the era that cradled the engine in a loop chassis, the engine became a stressed member of the chassis and added to its legendary rigidity.

Moto Guzzi 850 California

Moto Guzzi 850 T-3s were huge sellers in the United States, especially, a country of riders who appreciated long-legged touring bikes. Prior to the successful Kawasaki KZ900 and KZ1000 Police specials (made famous in the 1970s on the TV show ChiPs ), the California Highway Patrol was astride Moto Guzzi 850 T-3s, which indicated their reliability as touring motorcycles.

Today, 850 T-3s are among the most affordable Italian bikes in the vintage motorcycle market. For decades, Moto Guzzi has kept a considerable stock of parts for these motorcycles, so finding the odd Nikasil-plated cylinder is a simple phone call away.

Don’t be fooled by their cheap initial price, though. Restoring a motorcycle like this, especially with a weak dollar, can be an expensive proposition. The parts you’ll buy will be priced in euros, and the current exchange rate is definitely in Italy’s favor.

A good, rideable T-3 can be purchased for anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000 (the author once paid $900 for one that needed a valve cover), with fully restored examples selling for between $6,000 and $8,000 depending upon the model and level of equipment. Ricky Lynn Lyda restored the example shown here, a 1975 T-3, after purchasing it a year ago. Ricky tore the engine down to the crank and rebuilt it with low-mileage cylinders and pistons.

The heads were rebuilt with new guides and valves by Dr. Todd Visant of Colorado.

This article originally appeared in the August, 2008 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

Moto Guzzi 850 California
Moto Guzzi 850 California
Moto Guzzi 850 California
Moto Guzzi 850 California
Moto Guzzi 850 California

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