My name is Jon Crooke. I live in Australia. My son Dean and I run the company that builds the Hyper Racer, fast, safer, affordable and sustainable racing cars.
I have owned many motorcycles over the years - from Harley's to Jap stuff. But the bike that gave me the most joy, 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.
“Oh my god - that is stunning.”
Having promised myself many years ago that my bike days were over, I had satisfied my bike cravings over the following years by trawling the internet for, and reading about, bike builds.
And then it happened.
I discovered the photograph (right), 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 Arno's website at www.rnocycles.nl/06_opal_gb.html
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 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.
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 As beautiful as the 'Opal' was, I hankered for a more traditional Cafe Racer look with a modern approach and with historical references to the Moto Guzzi racers of the past, while still retaining the minimalist look that Arno had so successfully achieved and the core proportions that make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 without spoiling the stripped down look of Arno's bike.
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 V7 Clubman - right), as was the saddle seat. The orange faring panel on the Mk1 LeMans was another iconic feature.
In 1982, Tony Foale built this Guzzi spine chassis (right bottom). I decided to go down this path as it would help expose the motor adding to the aesthetic of the bike. Go here for more on this spine chassis.
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.
1983 V65 Moto Guzzi
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.
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 7000rpm 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.
Colour, colour , colour.
The hardest question every bike builder faces is
"What colour will I paint my bike."
At this early stage, my feelings are that I will go for a bright red with an orange (aka Mk1 LeMans) nose faring band - see the colours in the photo on right.
I also intend to include the Guzzi eagle (sans his forward facing wing) on the tank and black colour bands on the mudguards and tank.
The tank will comprise of 2 parts. The inner fuel cell will be made in carbonfibre and exposed at the rear, while the outer forward cover will be Red with the Eagle logo
AND SO IT BEGINS.
The strip down begins.