Just the “next thing” at the time, Moto Guzzi’s 850 LeMans turned out to be a dynastic European sportbike, with legs that ran until the 2006 V11 version. RSBFS reader Scott’s example is a first-year model with just 1,825 miles on the clock !
Based on the ’71 V7 Sport, itself a little sportier than BMW’s of the day, the LeMans expanded the longitudinal V-twin to 844 cc’s with 10.2:1 compression and 81 hp. A robust backbone frame cradled the engine and 5-speed trans, with an automotive-style clutch and shaft drive. Beside being healthily-sized at 300mm front / 242 mm rear, the brakes were innovative with the rear brake pedal also actuating the right front disk, claiming a dramatically shorter stopping distance from 62 mph. Lowish seat and clip-ons accommodated may riders and the now-classic bikini fairing at least kept the wind and rain out of the Veglia instruments.
Scott’s LeMans was basically a barn find, having been in a Tulsa dealership’s warehouse from 1976 to 2007. Though Scott had to go through the fuel system and replace several rubber items, the years in storage were kind to his LeMans, with not so much as a scrape to show for it. Since then it’s been a once-a-year affair, wry comment on the New Hampshire riding season. Scott’s comments from the eBay auction:
You are looking at one of my favorite bikes in my collection. It’s a 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Lemans with less than 2,000 original miles. I purchased the bike from Atlas Cycles in Tulsa Oklahoma in 2007 with roughly 1,000 miles on it. I was told Atlas sold it new in 1976 to a customer who then traded it back in six months later claiming it was too much motorcycle for him.
The owner of Atlas really liked the bike so put it in storage at the dealership. He was selling the dealership in 2007 and I was able to acquire it. It needed a good cleaning, some rubber parts replaced, new tires, carbs cleaned, and fluids changed. Since then she’s been in my collection, started once a year, ridden occasionally hence the 2000 miles. I just had her serviced, new battery, carbs cleaned, and fluids changed so she’s ready to go.
As the tires are thirteen years old, I would put a new set on if you plan to ride the bike. Other than this all that is needed is a good cleaning/detailing. Because the original seat is very fragile and hard to come by, I stored it when purchased and bought a Corbin, it comes with both. The bike is a blast to ride, smooth, lots of low end grunt, great brakes and entertaining. It’s pretty amazing for a forty four year old bike.
In pre-Covid times this Guzzi would’ve been at a Bonhams or Mecum stadium auction, but Scott welcomes your best offer on the eBay auction – here – and offers this walkaround video –
The LeMans put Moto Guzzi firmly in the superbike sweepstakes, at least for a while. It reviewed as going well, stopping pretty well, and the dual crossover exhaust is like music. Weight at 435 lbs. dry isn’t out of line for an almost-liter of the era. Mk. 1 LeMans, aren’t getting any easier to find, and after tires, Scott’s could be a rider. At least for one day a year, before re-joining your collection.