Modes of transport with an engine on display are infinitely more appealing than those locking away their inner beauty, one of the reasons why motorcycles have such kerb appeal. Cars look way better when at least some part of their inner workings made visible through a chink in the bonnet or through a scoop, or better, completely exposed. Moto Guzzi has been knocking out bikes for nearly a century and for half of that their air cooled V-twin engine has powered some of the most iconic and lusted after motorcycles in history. It’s as if designer Giulio Cesare Carcano looked at a radial aeroplane engine and chopped a couple of cylinders out. When mounted in a Tonti frame is there are more visceral blend of mechanicals in a bike?
The talented guys behind Auto Fabrica, Bujar and Gaz, have demonstrated time and again that they have not only an eye for exquisite design but the capability to bring that to life in metal. For this build, Type 9, they wanted a more imposing donor than a Norton or BSA but were keen to maintain a classic aesthetic. This Le Mans MK3 cropped up and fitted the bill perfectly.
Bujar explains the design process, “The donor bike came in and we started design work immediately, after spending a few hours analysing the bike, we noticed there was a slight issue in terms of rear tyre clearence between the seat and frame, we initially thought about introducing a frame loop at the rear like our Type 2 but this proved to be unfeasable, with these issues in mind and the need to create something unique and slightly left-field we begun sketching, Photoshopping and rendering the designs.”
“We wanted to create an almost spoiler esque feel with the rear seat, making the bike look as though it’s moving when standing still, we have become quite obsessed with following lines of frames onto bodywork with all of our builds and this boxy Guzzi base made us approach the design in a different way. The ‘floating’ top surface of the seat hump is 2mm aluminium doubled-up, shaped and then welded to the subframe (also made out of aluminium).”
“The rear light needed to be special to reflect the rest of the bike and we opted for a simple rectangle unit but integrated in an interesting way, the louvered sections either side of the light are aluminium and a styling extension of the engine’s cooling fins which gives a fantastic 80s/90s Ferrari Testarossa feel, this is exactly the look we wanted.”
The AF crew are traditionalists, pushing their craft further with each build, keen to learn metal shaping techniques which a generation or two ago would have been commonplace. It’s great to see the guys developing their own style through a mix of ingenuity and old school methods.
Bujar explains “The tank needed to match some of the styling but also integrate curves to avoid a boxy look. We made it from 2.5mm aluminium and shaped it in-house on the English wheel. The petrol cap is a push and twist aluminium unit which gives the top line of the bike a very sleek feel as there are no protruding pieces. Continuing the minimal approach the cockpit was cleared of all clutter, superseded by a Motogadget Motoscope Mini sunk into a recess in the tank. Considered design.”
To make the most of this cleanliness wiring to the tiny push button switches is hidden within the custom stainless clipons. Stock Guzzi levers are a design feature in themselves so were vapour blasted and returned to their new home, low down on the rebuilt forks.
“The frame has been cleaned up and de-lugged, suspension wise we have lowered the front 25mm and raised the rear with 340mm Hagon Shocks, we wanted the stance of the bike to have a bit of an ‘ass up’ feel. The tyres are Avon Roadrunners 18 front and back.”
“The rear brake assembly has been redesigned as the standard caliper and mount protrude and weren’t in keeping with the slick look we were after. Now the caliper is mounted off the swingarm and hidden out of sight. Front brakes are Brembo 4 pots from a Ducati which imporved the braking immensely.”
Despite the slender, lightweight body a few more horses were coaxed from the bulletproof 850cc twin thanks to ported and flowed heads and a re-jetted carbs. The now signature sweeping stainless exhausts (sand filled and bent – no mandrel benders in the AF workshop, yet) look as if the engine is a tube extrusion machine rather than a motor. Small baffles are seamlessly incorporated to take the edge off the exhaust note. We had the Type 9 at Bike shed London for our launch weekend and can confirm it sounds fantastic, loud without being obnoxious.
Sadly The Type 9 was removed from our building last week and delivered to its new owner, but not before a thorough road test by Bujar and Gaz and not us, more’s the pity. Auto Fabrica’s bikes may well be jaw dropping to look at, but they need to perform too. Although this bike is not for sale I dare say another will have been ordered to this spec by now.
“Overall the bike feels and rides superb, performance has been greatly improved and lack of weight has helped immensly in the handling department.”