Reflections: Oh mamma mia… Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850 — Motorcycle Sport…

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Oh mamma mia. Moto Le Mans 850

Published: 02:55PM Sep 2011

By: Roland Brown; Red bike Oli Tennent, Silver Phil Masters

Moto has produced many great in its 90-year history. But if Guzzi had to choose one model to sum up the marque’s it would probably be the original Le 850. One of the most charismatic of the mid-Seventies, the Le Mans was a V-twin with as much unmistakably style as Sophia Loren.

The Guzzi importer’s advertising was ‘Long legged and easy to with’ accompanied, in typical fashion, by a photo of the Le Mans a female model who was similarly suitably long of leg, and doubtless have proved more high maintenance the glamorous but reasonably undemanding

The Le Mans’ heart was an enlarged, version of the air-cooled, transverse unit from Guzzi’s S3, itself an excellent unfaired The two-valve pushrod unit from higher 10.2:1 ratio, bigger 36mm plus twin exhausts although quite restrained by standards, gave out a healthy Max output was a healthy 80bhp at

Several chassis parts borrowed from the S3, including the steel frame and Guzzi’s own Brakes were by Brembo, via Guzzi’s linked system used the foot pedal to one big drilled front disc, as as the rear. Attractive 18in wheels normally wore Phantom tyres that impossibly narrow now.

Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans

But if some of its components look dated, few bikes have as gracefully as the Le Mans. It’s a of automotive art, from its screen, through the way its petrol is embraced by the raised front of the seat, to the bulging grey of an engine, the slatted sidepanels and upswept black silencers.

And the Le had the performance to match, with a top of 130mph that was more most bikes could in 1976. Equally addictive was the relaxed feel which, in with the flyscreen’s protection, leant-forward riding position and seat, allowed prolonged riding in reasonable comfort.

The Le Mans was not particularly light or but it handled well, its stiff frame and firm suspension overcoming any distracting effect of the final drive. At speeds would have the riders of Japanese superbikes weaving, the remained stable, its rider down at the clip-ons behind neat flyscreen. Guzzi’s brake system was literally ahead of most rival too, especially in the wet.

At £2000 in 1976 the Le Mans was too to be a best seller, but it gained a following, and opened many eyes to Guzzi’s charismatic The Le Mans remained in production the Nineties, through four though Guzzi’s attempts to the aircooled, twin-shock V-twin were doomed to failure.

the Le Mans is concerned, the original was the best.

• Read the article in Motorcycle Sport magazine — October

Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans

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