I just bought another Guzzi - this one started out as a '75 850T, but it became something much more. It was sitting in a garage in Pasadena for the past two years, after its owner took a spill on it while blasting around the canyons.
This owner was a first time Guzzi rider. He bought the bike from a Guzzi enthusiast who built it up and then had to leave the country suddenly. After dumping the bike, the last owner simply put it in a corner of the garage and forgot about it. I saw the classified ad and stopped by the owner's place to take a look. Aside from the $8000 stack of receipts from Raceco (U.S.) that the owner presented to me, the bike was wearing Marzocchi Strada forks, Bitubo shocks, widened rear (140/70/18" tire) and front (110/70/18" tire) Guzzi snowflake wheels, 40mm Dellortos, an aluminum tank, floating cast iron rotors, and Brembo 4-piston calipers. It looked as if this thing was quite the hotrod at one time. Parts of it were damaged, though the forks were covered in caked-on oil, it was filthy, the tank was dented, the handlebars were bent, the tires were flat, and the battery was long dead. Without even hearing the bike run, or even seeing it in the light of day, I made an offer on it and dragged it home on the trailer.
Digging into a used Guzzi for the first time is akin to opening a Pharaoh's tomb - you usually either find treasure or trouble. Sometimes what you find on a used bike is downright scary. For example, a friend once found .001" shims under the connecting rod big end bearings of a bike that he just bought.
Finding SAE fasteners in any quantity is usually an indication that a hack mechanic has previously laid hands on the bike. Finding a dipstick at the bottom of an oil pan is not too uncommon. On past bikes, I've found valve clearances set to over .100"! In this case, I found the 90mm slipper pistons, stroked 82mm crank and Carillo connecting rods that were specified in the Raceco receipts. Fancy stuff! Hopefully, they were all still in workable condition! I didn't see any funny stuff in the bottom of the oil pan, which was a relief.
In true Guzzi wacko style, the previous owner spent $10,000 on the engine and chassis work, and about $13 on the electrical wiring. Stray wires streamed in every direction from the battery area. That, plus the alternator rectifier was mounted on the side of the steering stem, and visible from the riding position.
The plastic "LeMans" logos on the tank (from the Pontiac product of the same name) were another tip off that a previous owner was not right in the head. For some unknown reason, this bike also had "900" plastic emblems on the side covers from the Saab product.
So...after 8 hours of installing new fluids, filters, and a new battery and performing a complete service, I got to the "moment of truth" and started the bike up. Although it still needed a lot of fine tuning, it fired right up. No
funny noises from the top or bottom end, so it should be a good runner.
There's a distinct feeling of satisfaction that comes from putting a neglected hotrod like this one back on the road. Since it's only an 850T and doesn't have the LeMans pedigree that the bike hoarders drool over, it has very little collector value. The high dollar engine and chassis parts give it a high functional value, though. Bikes like this were built to be ridden! This one will be performing canyon-carving duty over the next few months.
Gerard Llaurens, if you're reading this, please contact me, as I have your old hotrod back on the road.