Custom Moto Guzzi Café Racer

First class flyer

| March/April 2011

Custom Moto Guzzi Café Racer
940cc OHV air-cooled 90-degree V-twin, 87.5 x 78mm bore and stroke, 10:1 compression ratio, 80hp @ 8,000rpm (dyno, rear wheel)
Top speed:135mph (est.)
Carburetion: Two 40mm Dell’Orto
Transmission: 5-speed, shaft final drive
Electrics: 12v, Sachse electronic ignition
Frame/wheelbase: 1975 Moto Guzzi 850T frame with bottom rails removed/58in (1,473mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front, dual YSS shocks w/adjustable preload and damping rear
Brakes: Dual 11.8in (300mm) discs front, single 9.5in (240mm) disc rear
Tires: 110/80 x 18in front, 130/70 x 18in rear
Weight (wet): 425lb (193kg)
Seat height: 30in (762mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.5gal (17ltr)/35-40mpg

It’s often said that street motorcycling is like flying, but in two axes instead of three. Someone who should know is George Dockray, builder of this classic custom Moto Guzzi café racer. A former aircraft mechanic, George is now a commercial pilot, flying seaplanes along Canada’s British Columbia coast.

Yet it was while surfing the Internet and not the airways that George discovered the vintage motorcycle racing scene at Cartagena, Spain, a discovery that set George in the direction of creating his custom café Guzzi. The vintage classes in these races were and are pretty much open, allowing all pre-1979 bikes as long as they stuck to carburetors, twin shocks and two-pot brakes. And Guzzis were not only running: they were placing and winning.

“They were winning against bikes you wouldn’t have thought they stood a prayer [to beat],” says George, referring to the super-fast Ducatis, Kawasakis and the like that compete at Cartagena in Spain’s DECCLA vintage race series. “That led me to the guy who was doing most of the winning, Manel Segarra. I decided to go see what was up for myself.”

Gaining inspiration

A trip to Spain ensued, including a visit to Segarra’s shop, Team Guzzi Motobox, and vintage racing at Cartagena, which includes classic endurance racing, an increasingly popular category in European vintage racing. This kindled the idea of producing something that was “a cross between what I’d seen at Cartagena” and bikes from the early years of European endurance racing of the type seen in the great Montjuich Park and Bol d’Or races from the late 1960s through the 1970s. “It was an interesting time for motorcycles, because pretty much anything went for a while there,” George says.

Yet while Moto Guzzi had a strong tradition in racing, they were mostly absent from endurance racing, at least in an official capacity. “They tried it for a year, 1969 I think, then backed out,” George says, “so I decided to build a Segarra Replica. It was a classic case of ‘what happens when you heat the garage.’ The idea was to create a bike that was a combination of those two things. Manel’s work is a kind of a template for what [a 1970s Guzzi endurance racer] might look like.”

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