Moto Guzzi Custom V65 Cafe Racer – ‘Lil Guz’

18 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Moto Guzzi Custom V65 Cafe Racer – ‘Lil Guz’
Moto Guzzi V65 Custom

My name is Jon. I live in Australia. I have owned many motorcycle s over the years – from Harley’s to Jap stuff. But the bike I loved most was a Moto Guzzi Mk1 850 LeMans. In all the years that have passed since it’s departure, it’s always had a place in my heart.

I can be contacted at

I was looking at the photograph below, on Google images, of a small block Moto Guzzi Cafe Racer – the ‘Opal’’ – built by a creative genius called Arno Overweel. Arno hangs out in the Netherlands and is an artist in the creation of re-imagined motorcycles. The ‘Opal’ however, is very special.

This perfectly proportioned, exquisitely detailed and breathtakingly beautiful motorcycle, has – with it’s creator – entered the world of the legends of motorcycle design.

The rakish stance of the Opal is, in my opinion, a breakthrough design concept – and it was a Guzzi.

I had to have one.

For more pictures and information on the ‘Opal’ go to

March 2013

And so the adventure begins.

Small block Guzzi’s had never been high on my radar, but Arno’s bike made perfect sense.

Light – petite in fact – the small block engine is the perfect centre piece for a project of this type.

But the question was what small block donor Guzzi should I buy?

I wanted to build on Arno’s vision, so the wheel style and brakes were a given and in choosing the engine, I wanted to be at the grunt end of the small block range. A 1982 V65 ticked all the donor part boxes, so the hunt was on.

Australia has never been partial to small block Guzzi’s, so 30 years on, V65 Guzzi’s are almost non-existant in my neck of the woods. My search moved to overseas and eventually ended in Cape Town, South Africa, where I found my donor bike. Owner, Charles, kindly agreed to go through all the export hassle, so a big thank you Charles.

June 2013

While the bike was on the water, I had had time to think more about the project. As beautiful as the ‘Opal’ was, I hankered for a more traditional Cafe Racer look with a modern approach and with historical references to the Moto Guzzi racers of the past, while still retaining the minimalist look that Arno had so successfully achieved and the core proportions that make Arno’s bike such a standout design. As the bike was to be riden on public roads, I also had to figure out how to fit mudguards, mufflers, tail/stop light, indicators and a rear number plate.

Brian Cowan of the UK had Axel Budde of Kaffeemaschine in Germany build the custom Le Mans in the picture below. To my eyes, the paint scheme on this bike, with it’s white knee panels, is the quintessential cafe racer look. I decided that I would blend a similar paint scheme with the the Opal’s proportions.

The more I delved into the history of racing Guzzi’s, the more some key design features became apparent for my project. The rear mudguard with the number plate was a standout feature on the historic’s (and as seen on the latest V7 Clubman), as was the saddle seat.

See historic racing Moto Guzzi’s plus three modern interpretations below.

1947 500 Biclindrica and 1949 Gambalungino

1955 500 V8 and 1957 500 V8

2010 V7 Clubman Racer

Marco Carbon Concept and 2004 V8 Marabese Design Concept

Moto Guzzi V65 Custom
Moto Guzzi V65 Custom


My design concept includes the necessary streetable parts, historic design cues, a nod to the Kaffeemaschine paint theme, and the Opal’s rakish proportions.

August 2013

The donor bike arrived in Melbourne at the beginning of August. Once unpacked, fuel was added, the key was turned and presto, she was ticking over like a baby. A quick ride confirmed the motor was as good as gold.

September 2013

In preparation for the build, my son Dean (who will be involved in the project ongoing) and I, have designed and built a jig table to aid in the construction process. The table top is an 8mm sheet of mild steel 2200 x 500 and has a 100mm grid laser etched into the surface with 8mm holes at every grid intersection. The table stands 600mm high and rolls easily on large caster wheels.

A shelf (not installed in the photos) under the table top completes the job. The 8mm holes allow us to bolt on small 120 x 120mm square plates that we can then weld our jigs to. This makes it easy to strip down the bench for other uses and then re-set-up to continue the job.

This table allows for the accurate and symmetrical fabrication of a tube frame chassis.

October 2013

With spring approaching, I have decided to pospone the build for a while and ride the bike for a few months and enjoy the weather.

In the meantime I have been playing with a new design for the Guzzi rev counter face. I will not be using the donor speedo and I will mount the tacho centrally.

Using the existing tacho (above), I will rotate it in the mount so that 8000rpm is at the top and replace the standard face with the face below. The small numbers on the left – 60, 80, 100 – indicate the speed when the bike is in top gear.

to be continued.

Moto Guzzi V65 Custom
Moto Guzzi V65 Custom
Moto Guzzi V65 Custom
Moto Guzzi V65 Custom

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