1998 Moto Guzzi 1100i Sport
After a succession of boxer BMW projects and a couple of Harley Sportster’s we were looking for a new ‘shop project and a new direction. The Guzzi’s had always been appealing with their charismatic ‘aero’ style engine that, like the BMW’s is a gradual development of a really old school machine.
Not being Guzzi-istas, we bought the 1100i Sport from a couple of photos and assumed that under it’s extensive panel work would be some form of lattice frame as on the Le Mans, lending itself to a café racer update. Once in the shop, we realized that it’s a different beast altogether and quite some beast at that!
Pretty much everything hangs from a single box section with the headstock at one end and the swing arm at the other. The more we removed from the frame, the better it looked. The simplicity of the structure gives a ‘blank canvas’ for new designs, but there lay a problem, after a couple of mock ups, we found ourselves doing styling concepts for what might be a new generation of production Guzzi’s, which wasn’t what we wanted.
Grumpy fuel injection and mega wiring looms are not really café racer attributes so the whole lot was pulled off. It just kept getting better and better! A discussion with an old buddy Richard Oakes of Blackjack Cars seeded the idea of a single twin-choke Weber carb, but our 44 IDF is ‘down draught’, straddling the main frame (well it’s got to go somewhere!). Carb balancing was eliminated, but a big hole in the fuel tank was needed. The pipe work for the inlet and the desire to run the exhaust over the ‘heads, started to give the look we were after and The Pipeline’ was christened. There was only one way forward – mega industrial.
From the simple Guzzi frame hangs some pretty cool components, WP53mm USD forks and hefty twin disc Brembos are standard and give the bike a pretty full on attitude. The asymmetric swing arm was sprung by a WP remote reservoir shock, but to keep the clean line of the back end, we’ve replaced it with a Hagon unit. The seating position is per the original bike, as we wanted it to be really rideable and the foot control hangers are one of the main chassis components, so they were staying although removed of all the subframe mounts. Returning the bike to its stock 70 series rear tyre courtesy of Avon, helped with both the stance and look of the bike. Hel, did our new brake lines, complete with their Harley front line splitter, mounted under the bottom yoke.
Bare stainless tank, inlet duct, 2 inch exhaust with heat shields and high level end box and inlet manifolds are all fabricated and finished in house. As you can imagine, our stainless TIG skills have come on leaps and bounds. Stainless is great stuff to weld, but hell does it move about a lot!
The headlight cowl houses a Silent Hectic ignition, a Ducati SS headlamp, the keyless ignition and a Daytona digital/analogue speedo, which is driven electronically from the gearbox.
Right from the outset we wanted to keep the back end of the bike clean looking and the seat to seem like it’s supported by the ‘Pipeline’ exhaust. In there’s actually a narrow monocoque sub-frame buried between the twin pipes, which holds the seat and also carries the power to the hand made tail light.
We’ve recently discovered Moto Gadget, the German manufacturer of electrical components for motorcycles. It’s really tasteful stuff and beautifully engineered. After using their bar end indicators on a couple of projects, we decided that The Pipeline deserved ‘the full system’ and so, M-Switches (handle bar switches), M-Unit (main electronic controls/relays etc), M-Blaze (bar end indicators), M-Button (signal transmitter)and M-Lock (it had to have keyless ignition!) are all linked together with Moto Gadgets micro wiring system. Not a task for the ‘chubby fingered’ mechanic.
As usual with our builds, it’s been stripped back to basics, all blasted and powder coated, the engine’s had a top end rebuild and all bearings and bushes replaced.
The process was pretty straight forward. Si did a couple of scribbles on the back of an envelope and sat back, then Tom spent several hundred hours getting very, very hot and swearing a lot, easy eh!
This one’s not for the feint hearted, but the seating position is original and the bar positions are comfortable. It first turned a wheel for the Distinguished Gent’s Ride in London and is great to ride. The throttle’s smooth and responsive with ‘bags’ of grunt. The end cans are decorative, so even though the exhaust’s been ‘choked’ to get the right back-pressure, it barks like a very big dog.
We thought it’d be a Marmite bike, but so far it seems like most people like Marmite!
The bike is for sale, so for further information, contact Simon or Tom on +44 (0) 1243 532 888 or email@example.com