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Posts by tag: Le Mans

Moto Guzzi June 5, 2018 posted by

Muscular Classic: 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

These days, Moto Guzzi "sportbikes" really need the quotation marks I've included here. Ducati managed to develop their signature 90° v-twin format and stay competitive among the current crop of tech-heavy rockets, but it's unlikely that, even given a pretty large budget to attempt something like that, Guzzi could have stayed true to their longitudinal twin and shaft drive and expected to remain relevant. And even if they'd been allowed to produce the much more radical 72°, liquid-cooled and overhead-cammed, chain final-drive package they'd been working on, a purchase by Piaggio permanently locked Guzzi into the retro-roadster limbo where they've languished ever since. I'm glad they've managed to survive into the modern era, but it's sad that that they only do so as a bit of a self-parody, since they were fully capable of building legitimate racebikes like their impressive, but unsuccessful V8 Grand Prix entry and versatile sportbikes like today's 850 Le Mans.

Often referred to as a "Mark I" Le Mans, that's obviously a name that was coined after the fact to differentiate it from the bikes that followed. An evolution of the earlier V7 Sport and 750S, the new 850 Le Mans sportbike even continued with Lino Tonti's excellent frame, wrapped around a bored-out engine with chrome-lined cylinders, high compression pistons, and a set of 36mm Dell'Orto carburetors. The result was 71 rear-wheel horsepower and a top speed of 130mph. To make sure the rider could safely slow the machine from those heady speeds, the bike used triple disc brakes and a rudimentary but very effective linked-brake system.

It's easy to dismiss the Guzzi for being a "tractor" and the chunky, slightly angular style, massive-looking engine, shaft drive, and simple, pushrod v-twin do lend themselves to agricultural comparisons. But although the spec sheet doesn't seem cutting edge now and really wasn't even when the bike was new, it's the overall package that impressed then, as well as the brute motive force supplied by the 850cc engine. The noticeable torque-reaction caused by the longitudinal crankshaft aside, handling was excellent, and the engine was revvier than you might expect. Much more rev-happy, in fact, than the contemporary Ducati bevel-drive v-twin. But it wasn't a high-strung machine and had a nice blend of exotic looks, torquey power, and practicality that saw Guzzi eventually shift from sportbike to sport-touring as they were unable to compete with the relentless pace of cutting-edge motorcycle development in the 80s and 90s.

From the original eBay listing: 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

Bike restored in 2016 and only 1600 miles added since... A true beauty with only natural flaws, this is a bike to be ridden.

Bike was completely gone through in 2016 by the team at world famous CYCLE GARDEN in Huntington Beach over $20k spent on restoration , tank was left with original paint . Bike looks exactly as an original 1976 should . There is not a better one to be found anywhere, this is a rare opportunity to own a true piece of motorcycle history.

"Now acknowledged as one of the great sporting motorcycles of the 1970’s, the Le Mans was a Masterpiece ” -Ian Fallon

 

A very nice video of the bike by Cycle Garden is included that shows the bike in motion and goes over some aspects of the restoration. An old Triumph or bevel-drive Ducati might have more vintage looks, if you're into chrome or polished metal, but the same qualities that have characterized Guzzis from the beginning are present here, and the first-generation Le Mans is about as good as it gets for a practical classic sportbike: it's got stable handling and the flexible motor can even keep up with more modern bikes without much trouble. The powertrain is reliable and the whole bike is pretty easy to get parts for, considering the mere 6,000 or so that were built between 1976 and 1978. Unfortunately, these are no longer the bargains they once were, and the seller's $24,979 Buy It Now price gives a pretty clear indication of where things are headed.

-tad

Muscular Classic: 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale
Moto Guzzi May 20, 2018 posted by

In White Satin – 1983 Moto Guzzi Le Mans III with 3,364 miles !

In remembrance of the Bal d'Or from 1971, when a Moto Guzzi 850 made a podium finish after 24 hours, came the Le Mans 850.  This Mark 3 has all the good stuff, revised heads with bigger valves, air-charged suspension, full-featured dash, and still wears its early 1980's emissions and noise regulation gear.  Complete as only a refurbished barn find can be.

1983 Moto Guzzi Le Mans III with 3,364 miles for sale on eBay

More often seen in the factory's favorite orangey red, this Le Mans is white with clean aluminum castings and black rubber, and original decals.  It has the newer "square" heads ( with tip-over protectors ) and the crankcase has its stiffeners on the outside.  Guzzi norms like shaft drive and linked braking system were an inside job.  Air suspension was new for the III but reviewed as too stiffly sprung.  God help you if you keep the turn signals on with the size of the reminders on that dash.

A recent restoration from Alabama, this Le Mans looks very close to NOS, but it's almost all original.  From the eBay auction:

I have recently changed all fluids- brake fluid, engine oil, transmission oil, final drive oil and replaced all rubber parts as well as all operating cables. The foot peg covers and bar grips had deteriorated with age. New Pirelli Sport Demons are installed as well as new brake pads that replaced the original pads. The valve lash has been set on all valves and the head torques checked. The carbs have been cleaned and tuned with mercury stix. Everything looks great and it runs like a dream.

All numbers are matching and it does not appear to have ever suffered any notable wreck damage. It has the stock air box intact as well as the totally stock exhaust system.

Still marching to their own drummer, Moto Guzzi has pinpointed the motorcyclist in many of us.  Fans of the brand are individualistic and self-reliant, and as the model reviewed - fast and stable.  This one is offered on a serious buy-it-now without the "make offer" button - independent perhaps to a fault...

-donn

In White Satin – 1983 Moto Guzzi Le Mans III with 3,364 miles !
Featured Listing March 10, 2018 posted by

Featured Listing: 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

Update 4.15.2018: Now listed on eBay for $18,500. Good luck to buyers and seller! -dc

These days, Moto Guzzi is pigeonholed as the Piaggio Group's resident bearer of the sporty retro banner, building the Italian equivalent of Triumph's classic Thruxton, Speed Twin, and Bobber. Which is a damn shame, given Guzzi's history of legitimately competitive racing machines in a wide variety of classes. Of course, they almost always seemed to have that classic "speed through comfort" thing going on, even with their single-cylinder racebikes. But with very nice, but unintimidating fare like the current V7 and brutish retro-crusiers like the Griso and El Dorado, it's easy to forget that the original Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans was, at the time, a very serious sportbike.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans for sale on eBay

With distinctive styling that looks a bit like some sort of sleek, antediluvian racing tractor, the Le Mans was an update of the earlier V7 Sport and 750S, and used the same Lino Tonti frame and longitudinal v-twin, here punched out to 844cc and fitted with high-compression pistons in chrome bores, along with a hot cam, bigger valves, and larger carburetors. The resulting 71 rear-wheel-horses were corralled by a five-speed transmission and routed to the ground via Guzzi's now familiar shaft drive. Stopping was managed by a trio of disc brakes, and the Le Mans used a simple linked-braking system that sometimes causes sportbiking purists to turn up their noses, but is very effective in practice.

Obviously, "two-valve," "pushrod" and "shaft-drive" aren't words generally found in the description of a sportbike, but the Le Mans most definitely was one. It wouldn't likely impress anyone used to modern performance bikes, but in 1976, a top speed of 130mph meant the Le Mans was a legitimate player in the high-performance world, and a direct comparison to the contemporary Ducati 900SS suggests the simpler, pushrod Guzzi motor is actually revvier and the Le Mans handles just as well.

In spite of the fact that Lino Tonti's frame made for a very effective sport and street motorcycle for an impossibly long time, motorcycle frame design and suspension geometry have come a long way since the early 1970s and although the Le Mans is famously stable, it does, according to at lease one magazine article, "turn like a plank in a swimming pool." But who cares about agility when you're running tires this skinny and looking this good? Tonti-framed bikes are especially beloved of the cafe crowd due to their naturally low overall height, due to the jutting cylinders: even before you start modifying one, it's already impossibly low and lean. The downside of the Le Mans' widely-used frame and desirability is that they're pretty easy to fake, with most of the unique parts pretty easy to source, so verifying that you're looking at the real article is key before you make a purchase.

Moto Borgotaro did a pretty good job describing the bike themselves, as you can see below... The seat isn't the original part, but that's not really all that surprising, considering the originals used a newfangled closed-cell foam in their construction... that promptly disintegrated in many cases. This one looks like the earlier 750S style, so it certainly has the right character and seems a popular replacement part for Le Mans that have suffered catastrophic seat failures. Other than the modern, folding bar-end mirrors that some might not like, this thing is in pretty immaculate shape, down to the US-spec protruding headlight that is accurate, but something I'd personally try and swap out for the European version.

From the Seller: 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

THIS MOTORCYCLE'S STORY

— By Peter Boggia and Tim Parker

Tonti, essentially a “frame man” made a plan to meet De Stefani’s goal of “200 kilometers per hour, 200 kilograms, and five speeds.”

That’s 125mph, 440lb and 5-speeds in American. His plan was the V7 Sport first seen in 1971. Sure it met the goal but it was also a looker, and the frame was masterful, low, stiff and with good ground clearance, and tight to the engine – but with the lower frame rails removable. Watchword: balance.

“While the specially prepared Guzzi 750s were roaring round and round the Monza speed bowl in October 1969, breaking the records Moto Guzzi had set in June, Chief Engineer Lino Tonti, Managing Director Romolo De Stefani, and President Dore Letto were discussing how Moto Guzzi could follow up the new records.”

"Beautifully restored paint, original brakes, upgraded suspension, all original switch gear... this is a three owner Le Mans"

MOTO GUZZI 850 LE MANS 1 DETAILS:

  • VIN VE 070505
  • 19,781 miles
  • First year 850 Le Mans, not designated as the first series until the advent of the second series.
  • Repainted by current owner at 18k mi
  • Lafranconi exhaust 
  • FAC front fork upgrade
  • Velocity stacks
  • Excellent rims and newer tires 
  • Serviced 
  • Newer seat
  • All original switchgear in perfect working order 
  • Ikon shocks

www.motoborgotaro.com

Piaggio at least seems invested in Moto Guzzi's success, but dreams of a modern sportbike like the one that was rumored in the 90s will have to remain on hold for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, bikes like the Le Mans are still around to rally the faithful and keep the dream of "what could have been" alive. Sadly, the Le Mans is no longer an affordable classic, although it still is a very practical classic, with the speed to comfortably keep up with modern traffic and parts available to keep one running. It's a comment on Guzzi's famous reliability that this 20,000 mile example could probably be considered "low mileage." The crew at Moto Borgotaro aren't the usual bike-flippers, or a modern dealer looking to liquidate an estate-sale collection: classic sportbikes are their stock in trade, and this Guzzi appears to have the expected quality.

-tad

Featured Listing: 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale
Moto Guzzi March 4, 2018 posted by

Grey Goose – 1984 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk. III

Rare as an air-cooled Moto Guzzi Le Mans is these days, a square-head Mark III is not often among them.  And you wouldn't be faulted for expecting orangey-red or black, but this example was re-done in a very BMW-ish grey metallic.  The overall condition, trim Mk.III fairings and black wheels mask the age of this well cared-for Guzzi.

1984 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk. III for sale on eBay

The Le Mans has had such a long run that every example can be a history lesson.  The Mk.III was a substantial revision, angular from cylinder heads to fairings, with slight changes to engine and chassis geometry.  What weren't changed were the Le Mans paradigms - shaft drive, linked brakes, clip-ons, stable handling, and generous torque.  Gas rear shocks and coupled air forks were a notable addition, as were 18-inch wheels  front and rear.

Owned by a BMW wrench and evident mega-fan, this 850 Le Mans was treated to many performance enhancements and charcoal urban camouflage - looking very good for 30, thank you.  Original parts to ( gasp ! ) return it to stock are also included.  From the eBay auction:

It has been treated lovingly, always stored in a heated dry environment. It has been owned by a BMW Motorrad Master Technician (myself) since 1989. It was ridden briefly a few days ago to take the photos you are viewing. It definitely needs to get out and stretch its legs a bit but it has been registered as non-op here in California (it is fully insured however) and it needs tires as the Metzelers mounted on it are vintage as well.

It has been treated to the best, most desirable upgrades in the time I have owned it. Almost all of the upgrades were carried out in 1990 and 1991. The upgrades include RaceCo (Brooklyn, NY, RIP)  helical cut gear-driven camshaft, Ohlins piggyback shock absorbers, TeleFix adjustable handlebars (NLA), Agostini alloy rearset footrests (NLA), de-linked brakes with custom Kosman brake lines, K & N individual air filters, brand new Dyna ignition (with good used spare), new Lucas coils, and TeleFix fork brace. It includes one Albert sport bar end mirror that is shown in the photos. It also received new rings, a full de-carb and valve guide seals a few years back. I am including all of the original stock parts that I hung onto including the airbox, Marzocchi shocks, footrests, coils, cam sprockets, handlebars, etc. See photos for details. The photos are part of the description and I do not state that everything is included to return it to stock trim. If you don't see it, it is not included.

The paintwork was done by the legendary Mike Stolarz at Bavarian Cycle Works in 1990. It is as gorgeous as the day it was completed. It is charcoal metallic and silver metallic with hand painted gold pinstripes. The decals and pinstriping were clear coated with the rest of the paint. It contributed to winning a trophy at the Corona Del Mar bike show despite having been ridden all the way from San Francisco the day before and competing without the benefit of a wash!

Even in the mid-eighties the Guzzi's were idiosyncratic, using their own measures of an exciting ride rather than the yardstick of the stopwatch and race results.  The Mk. III was replaced for a few years by the 948cc CX-100, while the company completed development of noise and emissions-compliant airbox and carburetors.  The early-80's reintroduction was a homecoming for fans of the model, and continued almost for the rest of the decade.  This Mk. III looks to have received the star treatment right from the very beginning...

-donn

Grey Goose – 1984 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk. III
Moto Guzzi September 15, 2017 posted by

Featured Listing: Low-Mileage 1997 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport for Sale

Not too many motorcycles look good in screaming yellow, but I think the Guzzi 1100 Sport is definitely one of them. A two-valve version of the exotic Daytona that was developed by Dr John Wittner from his successful Battle of the Twins racer, the 1100 Sport was a very unconventional motorcycle. By the 1990s, sportbike convention dictated liquid-cooling, four valves per cylinder, six-speed gearboxes, full fairings, and chain final drive. Of course the 1100 Sport had none of these. Would it beat a CBR or GSX-R of the period on a racetrack? Of course not. But the Guzzi has charisma in spades, plenty of torque to punch you out of corners, and it makes up in stability what it lacks in agility.

The half-faired styling means that hulking engine and gearbox are proudly on display, with the two-valve cylinder heads sticking out into the breeze by the rider's knees, here fed by fuel injection, which replaced the Dell'Orto carburetors in 1996. In spite of the relatively low-specification suggested by the air-cooling, pushrods, and two valves per cylinder, the 1064cc engine put out an honest 90hp and 70ft-lbs of torque, with 82 ponies present-and-accounted-for at the rear wheel.

It seems like an odd choice for a powerplant, but the bike's long history goes some way towards explaining it. Some of the Guzzi's "agricultural" reputation comes from that honking big v-twin that rocks the bike to one side when you rev it, due to the longitudinal crankshaft arrangement, and the clunky five-speed gearbox. But it probably doesn't help that the package is often associated with an Italian military tractor that dates back to the 1960s, although even the earliest Guzzi V7 motorcycles apparently shared no mechanical parts whatsoever with that odd machine. Those origins may sound like an unlikely foundation for a fast, agile motorcycle, but Guzzi's V7 Sport and Le Mans were considered very capable sportbikes at the time.

Unfortunately, by the time of the 1100 Sport, the big Guzzi was probably more GT than actual sportbike, but that's just fine, considering that the majority of riders never actually use their bikes on track. And even then, most do so only occasionally. For weekend riding, the triple Brembo brakes can pull you up short to avoid errant deer in the roadway, while quality suspension means stable handling, but passenger accommodations aren't great, as no grab-rail is fitted.  Reviews of the 1100 Sport were generally very positive when the bike was tested in isolation, although the aforementioned gearbox and the bike's 490lb dry weight did come in for some criticism.

Unfortunately, this Goose never really had a chance when compared directly to rivals: the 916 was obviously lighter, more agile, and faster, as well as being the sexiest bike of the era. And Japanese machines were more powerful, cheaper, and user-friendly. But that's hardly the point here, and Guzzis have long been bikes you buy because you like Guzzis, not because they are quantifiably "better" than any other bike. And if you are a Guzzi fan, this particular 1100 Sport is in impeccable condition!

From the Seller: 1997 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport for Sale

For Sale: Rare and Low Mileage 1997 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport in Excellent Condition. I am the 2nd owner and bike came from California. There were only 1,314 of these produced in 1997 and approximately 450 units in Yellow. It has always been stored inside and very well maintained. It also has been stored, when not ridden on a bike stand. All service recently completed including:

* All oil and filters
* Full Tune-up
* Valve adjustment
* New Tires
* New brake pads
* New Battery - Lithium

You will be hard pressed to find one this clean and with low mileage. Bike starts up easily and rides and drives very good. As you will see in the pictures the bike is extremely clean and comes with original manual, repair manual, original brochure, a couple of magazines from1997/1998 featuring this bike, original and spare keys.

Bike comes standard with Brembo Brakes, Marchesini Wheels and all of the expensive Italian upgrades. 

The seller is asking $9,500 for this low-mileage example. Just a few years ago, a decent 1100 Sport could be had for half that, but values have been steadily rising and it's hard to find one with anywhere near this mileage. With solid performance, good reliability, and easy maintenance, this Guzzi can tackle winding back roads, attracts tons of attention wherever you stop, can even do a bit of light sport-touring, and will generally put a big smile on your face. 1100 Sports are odd and quirky and ergonomically-challenged, yet owners often rack up big miles on them, owing to the platform's soundness and the engine's reliability. And clutch-replacements aside, basic maintenance is a snap: the unusual engine configuration may have some ergonomic drawbacks, but this may be the easiest bike you've ever adjusted the valves on, and pushrods mean no rubber cambelts to replace!

-tad

Featured Listing: Low-Mileage 1997 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport for Sale
Moto Guzzi February 20, 2017 posted by

Alternative Transport: 1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III

In the world of big-bore bikes - man sized machines - Moto Guzzi has always stood out with a unique style of individualistic and rugged beauty. The oldest continually operational motorcycle manufacturer in Europe, Guzzi was formed in Italy in 1921 with the intent to build motorcycles after World War I. Comprised of the triumvirate of Giorgio Parodi (the money man), Giovanni Ravelli (the racer and promoter) and Carlo Guzzi (the guy who designed and built the bikes), Moto Guzzi began with a simple partnership agreement between the three. Sadly, Ravelli lost his life in a plane crash immediately following the end of the war, and would not take part in the venture. His spirit lives on, however, as the Guzzi logo incorporates wings meant to honor and commemorate the original, fallen partner.

1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III for sale on eBay

The Le Mans series of machines drew from Moto Guzzi's great racing heritage and paid homage to the famous 24-hour race. These bikes were created during the De Tomaso era of Moto Guzzi (which lasted through the end of the 1990s). The first generation of 850 Le Mans bikes was introduced in 1976, utilizing the now familiar 90 degree V-twin that has been the Guzzi hallmark since the 1960s. Through the decades that were to follow, the Le Mans series was steadily updated, culminating in the 1000cc Le Mans Mark V in the 1990s. This bike, a Mk III edition, is the more spiritual successor to the original Le Mans model than the Mk II bike, which incorporated a larger fairing and other aerodynamic bits. Power from the longitudinally-mounted twin is modest (mid 70 HP range), but a flat torque curve aids the motoring experience. Novel features included shaft drive and an interlinked braking system whereby the rear brake pedal also activates one disk on the front.

From the seller:
Extremely nice 1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III. 27,398 miles. Probably one of the nicest originals you'll find. Starts, runs, rides and stops exactly as it should. Fantastic example of the great bikes from this iconic Italian company. Prices for the LeMans I are out the roof, and the LeMans II have followed. Now the LeMans III has caught on and they are gaining in desirability and value daily. I have no real desire to sell this bike, but an opportunity has come along for which I could use the funds. That said, selling it is not a must so my reserve is firm. I love the bike and am aware of its value, both now and in the future, so have no problem keeping it if it doesn't meet the reserve. Bike needs nothing that I know of so is sold AS IS with no warranty. Clear title in hand.

When introduced, these Guzzi Le Mans models were every bit the performance bike as their Italian contemporaries from Ducati or Laverda. However the performance landscape was rapidly changing thanks to the Far East, and the likes of Guzzi would soon be overwhelmed by Japanese fours. The high-speed, gentlemanly cruiser fell to the crushing blow of high-RPM horsepower, stoplight drags and technical revolutions in GP racing. Today, Moto Guzzi still exists and produces motorcycles... but these are often viewed more as nostalgic novelties than outright competitors in the crowded motorcycle marketplace.

Based on the included description, this seller will be holding out for top dollar on this bike. The asking price of older Guzzis (think V7s and the like) are most definitely on the rise. We have seen a slight dip in the ascension of value lately, but there is no doubt that when it comes to the Le Mans model Gen I (often mistakenly referred to as Mark I) bikes command the highest prices. From there, it is much more the preference of the buyer that determines the value. Mark III machines with the bikini fairing and long, flat seat have the same theme as the original Le Mans, along with a host of upgrades - making them an excellent choice as a riding collector piece. I would expect values to continue to rise. This one is up just over $5k with reserve in place. Check it out here to watch the bidding, and then jump back to our Comments section and share your thoughts. Which generation of these magnificent machines is your favorite?

MI

Alternative Transport: 1983 Moto Guzzi LeMans III