- 80

- Anima

- Amore Nero

- Bobber

- Blu11

- Diamante

- Furia

- Bennet's Special

- Bellerofonte

- V11 LM Corda

- Daytona Fabio

- Daytona Paolo

- Le Mans Fange

- 1000 SP Mauro

- Jackal Giampy

- PupaĻ


- Special varie

- V11 Albi

- Zero

- 1200 Sport Rossopuro



A Tale about Guzzi and passion.  

Di Ray Bennet

That's the way we like it!...

Qualche mese fa ricevemmo una email dall'Inghilterra. Ce la mandava un certo Ray Bennet. Allegata all'email la foto di una sua Special, costruita partendo da un S3. La moto- che vedete qui sopra e di cui state per leggere la storia - era splendida. Chiedemmo subito a Ray di mandarci altro materiale, e tempo due settimane ecco quello che ci ha mandò. Quella che state per leggere è una storia che trasuda passione Guzzista da tutti i pori. È inoltre, il primo racconto non in Italiano ad apparire su Anima Guzzista: tempo permettendo, lo pubblicheremo anche in Italiano. Ma non contateci, eh. Per adesso, tenete il dizionario a portata di mano e gustatevelo così che davvero ne vale la pena.

When I was 11-12 years old I used to play with bicycles, adapting them with different gears, seats, brakes etc. I learnt how to use tools, spanners, screwdrivers etc while doing this. My father was not very mechanically minded so I pick it up by trial and error (making mistakes!).
A friend at school had a motor bike and I became interested when I visited his home one day and his father showed me his collection of old British bikes that he had renovated. My first view of a Moto Guzzi came shortly after when his father bought a brand new LeMans 2, which at the time was a very rare sight in England (see photo 1). It was the most amazing bike I’d seen. Long, low and very beautiful in bright red paint, it sounded as good as it looked.

It was the most amazing bike I’d seen...


I found a nearly new Guzzi Monza.

I learnt to ride on my friends Suzuki RL 250, an off road trials bike. The gearing was so low it was impossible to stall! I was bitten by the bug and sold everything that a boy of 14 owned and bought my first motorcycle. It was a Honda SL125 in need of much love and care. It was 1978, I haven’t been without at least one bike since.
When I left school and got my first job they promptly sent me back to college. I used to ride the 25 miles to college every day through central London. One of my friends at college bought a Morini 3 _ sport, a red one with a red frame. I had a go on it but being a right hand gear change kept changing gear with the brake, central London is not the place to make mistakes so I gave it back.
I was jealous of his new bike. I was riding a Yamaha 350LC at the time and decided to look around at the local bike dealers. In one I found a nearly new Guzzi Monza. I asked for a test ride and was told to take it out for a long ride, I was told to do at least 30 miles so I could get used to it. Being 18 and stupid I took it out to my favourite bends and decided to test the legendary handling of an Italian bike. Approach bend too fast, hit the brakes hard and at the last second change down another gear while entering the bend and not matching the engine revs to the new gear. The back wheel locked solid and the damn thing nearly spat me off. I was, however, hooked on the unusual ‘feel’ of the bike. Fantastic, easy, secure handling, excellent brakes, great vibes and sound. The only problem was that after the Yamaha it was down on power. Never the less, I bought it (see photo 2).

I owned the bike for about 18 months and suffered from all sorts of problems I wasn’t expecting. The carb rubbers split, the engine constantly cut out (ignition switch), it burnt out ignition points, the original Paoli rear shocks leaked etc etc. I loved owning it though as you got involved with the bike, developing a relationship.
I sold the bike when I needed more power as I was riding with a passenger more frequently. I went back to a Japanese bike but missed the soul of an Italian marque. I came to my senses a couple of years later when a new Laverda RGS was offered to me at a very low price. I was back in the saddle with an Italian!
About this time I heard of a Guzzi for sale that needed a lot of work to get back on the road, the asking price was very cheap!

When I saw the bike I was amazed that a bike that was only 7 years old could be in such poor condition. It was a wreck! I really wish I could find the photos that I took before I started work on it. Working on the theory that I had such fun on the 500 Monza that a 1000 Guzzi must be twice as good, right!! I purchased the bike in April 1987 for £300 and an engine from a 250RS Honda.
It was originally a Black Knight Spada although the state it was in when I got it you wouldn’t have guessed. The condition was very poor, I rolled it into the back of the van on tyre less rims (the previous owner had sold the tyres!!).
It was purchased from a friend of a friend who dabbled in bikes as a hobby. Italian bikes were not his usual fare and he was unable to get it going. Before I spent any money on it I wanted to get it going. The ignition timing was a mile out and the carbs were full of water and corrosion. These problems sorted it just remained to try a start. I was amazed when it started. It ran, just, but long enough to confirm that the crank showed no signs of noise. I spent some money on essential, tyres and tubes for one so that I could get it moving. A short and very slow ride up the road confirmed that the rear drive box and gearbox were OK.
At this stage I decided that the project was viable. I removed the heads and barrels to investigate the cause of a low compression readings and blue smoke from the exhaust. The rings were stuck into the piston grooves. A new set of rings and a manually honed bore to aid bedding in cured the loss of compression.
It was at this time, while working in West London, that I got to know Amedeo "Ammo" Castellani. Ammo is the proprietor of Raceco UK. He was tremendous help with supply of new and second hand parts and invaluable information on the best way to go with rebuild of my wreck.

Let's build an S3 based replica...

cheap mono is sorted..

The first idea that I had was to build an S3 based replica (see photo 3). This Guzzi variant was, to my eyes, the essence of a minimalist sporting motorcycle. The rebuild went ahead with the usual frame painting etc. I had the engine bead blasted as this seemed the easiest way to remove years of neglect (first ensuring that every possible entry to the interior of the engine was completely blanked off). The rebuild was completed easily and the result was OK for the small amount that was spent on the project.
I was very happy with the results but felt that the engine had more to offer than the 30mm carbs would allow. I bought a second hand set of 36mm carbs from a LeMans and bolted them straight on. This was the beginning of an expensive and time consuming engine tuning saga that continued for the next five years.
I approached Ammo to discuss tuning work and he kindly relieved me of enough money to buy a piranha ignition system, SS cam, aluminium timing gears and lightened flywheel. This fitted I tore of into the sunset expecting huge performance. I was to be disappointed. This was my first experience of four stroke engine tuning and the gains to be made are smaller then the huge difference that can be experienced when tuning two strokes like my old 350 LC.
That said the more I rode the Guzzi the more I noticed the improved pick up from the lightened flywheel, the easier starting and smoother running of the electronic ignition and the better top end power offered by the 36mm carbs. I was bitten by the tuning bug.
At this time I began to help Ammo, in a small way, with the preparation of the Raceco/Chris Clarke BOTT race Guzzi that Ian Cobby campaigned so successfully. As the friendship grew so did my interest in tuning my own Guzzi.
Next on the list of modifications was a lead free conversion, with LeMan size valves, ‘Dr John’ valve springs, correctly shimmed and a twin spark plug conversion. The bigger valves improved high speed running and the twin plug conversion noticeably improved the overall smoothness and clean running of the engine.
The front end was changed for forks and brakes from an early Suzuki GSXR 750 and the back end was mono-shocked with a cheap Spaxs unit that actually worked quite well (see photo 4). The battery space was used by the shock so the battery was relocated under the gearbox. The forks were a revelation after the standard Guzzi forks, they were very smooth and made the bike much more comfortable to ride. A thicker aluminium plate replaced the old sheet battery mounting to give a more rigid f mount between the frame and gearbox.
At this stage the cosmetics were also to changed. I was going through a stage of wanting the bike to look as quick as the engine was getting and I am the first to admit that I lost the plot with the bikes looks (see photo 5)!!

Mmm..Lost the plot

in style!

I wanted a floating rear drive box like this one...

Bulding MY OWN frame!

...After a crash and just before...THE crash!

Next modification was Astralite wheels. These were fitted so that bigger section tyres could be used. I was advised by Ammo that I should use 17” wheels, to my eternal regret I ignored his advice and fitted 18” wheels. This restricted the range of sports type tyres available.
Next on the list was of tuning was a ‘Dr John’ fast road cam, a set of Wiseco 992cc high compression pistons and, for added safety when reving the bike hard, Carillo connecting rods. If the standard connecting rods fail at the small end they will destroy the engine by cutting the crankcases in half, removing the bottoms of the barrels and taking out the cam, I definitely did not want that to happen.
Fitting the pistons was a labour of love. I measured all the possible clearances that are required to get the engine to run to the best performance (valve to valve, valve to piston, squish and compression ratio) all under the ever helpful gaze of Ammo. Compression ended up at 11.3:1 right on the limit for a two valve carb engine on pump petrol. Starting is becoming harder due to the reduction in cranking speed caused by the compression being so high. At this point a pair of new 40mm carbs were fitted to make use of the increased potential and the inlets opened to match the bigger throttle body.
I had a two into one exhaust made to dimensions provided by Ammo to go with the engine modifications. This meant that the battery had to move again. This time I bought a sealed battery that could be laid on it’s side and this then fitted on the strengthening plate where the original battery went.
Once the bike was run in and the heads were torqued down I took it out for the first high speed run. What a difference the engine picked up revs much quicker and on the road it felt much faster too.
As the gearing was standard Spada it would now pull well into the red zone of the rev counter in top. Ammo had a high top gear conversion available so the gearbox was rebuilt with the high fifth gear. Problem solved.
It was at this stage that something needed to be done to improve the chassis further. The monoshock back end suffered very badly from torque reaction effectively jacking up the rear shock until it was ‘topped out’ under acceleration. I approached Ammo for some help and ideas for floating the rear drive box as the Chris Clarke/Raceco BOTT race bike was (see photo 6). His advice was to sell the bike and by one of the new Daytonas. As money would not stretch to that, bearing in mind the money that would be lost in the work already done to my bike I continued to pester him.
A modified twin shock floating drive box swinging arm off Chris Clarkes brothers race bike arrived at the workshop. I had to modify the swinging arm with a sub frame to run a monoshock, make a double UJ drive shaft from two standard UJs and modify the rear drive box with an oil seal housing and torque arm attachment points. The frame was also modified with torque arm attachment point that would give a degree of adjustment to alter the effects of the torque reaction. A Koni shock was also fitted at this time, suitably re-valved by Maxton. The drivebox was stripped and rebuilt at this time. All the bearings were OK so just the clearances needed careful setting.
Around the same time I was lucky enough to obtain a set of 41.7mm Forcella Italia forks from the Chris Clarke/Raceco team. Suitably revalved for road use they looked far better, were stronger and offered adjustment that the Suzuki forks did not.
It took a lot of time and effort and assistance from Ammo but eventually the floating drive box was completed. I gingerly took the bike out for the first test ride and it worked! This arrangement was fitted to the bike for approximately a year until my next bright idea. I was going to build my own frame!

Taking the basic idea from the Daytona with the cross tube above the rear of the gearbox and with two billet aluminium side plates I proceeded to attempted, on paper, to join the engine to the head stock and swing arm pivot points. Easy!!!
I made a jig to accept the engine unit and existing frame and then using heavily braced framework picked up the swing arm pivot points and headstock bearing points. I then removed the existing frame, leaving the engine in the jig. Next followed hours of sitting and looking at the jig, measuring, making trial parts and then throwing them in the bin.
Finally I arrived at a design with which I was reasonably happy. The whole project took about six months and while not the lightest frame it should at least be strong.
The frame was made out of two cross tube, one in a similar position to the Daytona and the other an ‘intermediate’ frame member supported by two box sections spaced apart to give room for the combined shock/engine mount.(see photo 7)
This intermediate tube was necessary to give clearance for the distributor sitting behind the right cylinder. This cross tube is connected to the new headstock by a built up three dimensional box section spine frame that is made of sheet steel. It is internally braced and with pickup points for the front engine support subframe. The internal bulkheads forming sealed compartments for the engine and rear drive box oil breathers. The timing chest was machined to accept a turned cross tube which was welded into position and a sub frame made to connect it with the spine frame.
The entire jig was then taken to a friendly welder who carefully welded the built up spine frame (I can weld but I wouldn’t trust my life to it!).
The rear sub frame to support the seat was made from sheet aluminium and welded. The box formed under the seat contains the electric’s; fusebox, twin lead coils, Piranha ignition module. The combined regulator rectifier is fitted to the frame above the alternator. Once again the battery had to move. This time I cut the fuel tank open and welded a bulkhead in to reduce the fuel compartment. The back half of the tank was the welded back on but without a base. This area now formed a hollow cover that sits over the battery positioned on top of the sub frame. You can just see the battery under the rear of the tank.
Eventually the bike was assembled and test ridden. It all works very well and tips the scales at 187Kgs with a 51% front 49% rear weight bias.

All the above occurred over a space of about 6 years. I moved away from London and out into the countryside to a place called Swindon, half way between London and Wales.
I used the Guzzi on occasions to travel the 80 miles down the motorway to London. Nearing home one evening I was on the motorway at about 90 mph when a sudden vibration and loud bang from the rear of the bike and a partial rear wheel lock up caused me to pull in the clutch and stop as fast as possible on the hard shoulder. When I parked up and looked at the back end I discovered that the drive shaft had gone! The rear UJ at the drive box end had broken and the rest had disappeared. Worse still the mounting brackets for the rear drive torque arm had been pulled out of the frame. The rear wheel had dents around the rim. All in all I was lucky not to crash. I pushed the bike to a nearby Pub and left it against the wall. This prompted a dismantle to make repairs and a cosmetic make over (see photo 8).
With the repairs completed I booked in for a trackday at a great circuit in Lincolnshire called Cadwell Park. To cut a long story short, I crashed. The 2:1 exhaust was written off and the newly finished paintwork ruined (see photo 9). I repaired all the broken fibreglass and used the down time to make some glassfibre side panels. This was done by making wooden masters in the shape that I wanted, taking a mould from these in fibreglass and then using this mould to make the finished side panels. I decided on the red/white/green paint after doing some sketches although I think the green should have been darker on reflection.

 To cut a long story short... I crashed!

 But here it is, better than before

I had a 2:1:2 exhaust made as it looks better and with two carbon cans sounds much nicer. As the swinging arm came of a race bike, running a 180 section tyre, extra room was needed to get the wheel out and leave the drive box located on the swingarm. To make room for the left hand silencer I had to remove the left side of the swinging arm and move it towards the wheel about 50mm. This leaves room very tight and to get the wheel out I have to remove the disc and then the wheel with the drive box and drive shaft still attached! As I don’t have a centre stand this is definitely not a roadside job.
Before I put the bike back on the road I bought some sticky radial tyres so that the grip available was improved. After playing with tyre pressures they made the bike handle a lot better.

The floaring rear drive

Could you stop salivate, please? 

Just after I had finished the rebuild a friend moved into the area and I had his Guzzi based special stored in my garage. I helped him modify the frame and found some Fireblade forks and brakes that would be used for his front end. He also found some magnesium cast wheels that he wanted to put in to complete his chassis.

 Forcella Italia, Brembo...

 ...alluminum side plates...  

the best profile...

This left a spare pair of 40mm Forcella Italia forks, some nearly new Astralite Wheels and some new four piston Brembo callipers with Goldline 300mm floating discs! A deal was struck and I became their new owner. The new wheels and brakes I fitted to my Guzzi (see photo 10 onwards). The Guzzi now wear a 120 X 70-17” front tyre and 160 X 60 –18” rear tyre.


Yes, a Laverda! But with Guzzi wheels and brakes...

The discs, wheels and brakes from my Guzzi, with the 40mm forks went onto my Laverda (see photo 20).
That is basically the story of the development and specification at which you see the bike today.

Ray Bennet

© Anima Guzzista