I love cafe racers or custom bikes in whole that not only enhance the visual appeal of an old motorcycle, but also make it technically better. When you think about the Moto Guzzi Mille GT, you might not have too many interesting things to say about it. The Mille GT was Mandello del Lario’s sort of laid back effort at dragging the ageing V-twin onto yet another motorcycle and hope that things work. The Mille GT was Guzzi’s effort to slot a motorcycle between the California and the T5, and the bike in stock form shows its mediocre setup to full effect. The Mille GT in most ways was the not-so-best-of-all-worlds kind of motorcycle which was often discussed for its pokey, yet nothing exciting power (67bhp), decent but nothing ground breaking handling and good but nothing awe-worthy design.
João Barranca of Redonda Motors realised these problems when he got his hand on a old Moto Guzzi Mille GT with all intentions of working upon and addressing the three un-impressive aspects of the 80s Italian machine.
Taking matters in his own hand, João set about stripping down the Guzzi to its bare minimals so that he can start the re-build ground-up according to his own vision. To fix the sluggish performance, João went ahead and lightened the flywheel and upgraded the distribution system to something a bit modern, thus reliable. A lighter flywheel would mean a better and quicker-spinning engine that would respond with more urgency than before. Working further on the performance, he installed a new set of Keihin carburettors and prepared a custom-made exhaust that would address performance while delivering a heart-warming rumble.
To address the reliability issues that old motorcycles face, João upgraded the clutch to a Hydraulic unit while re-wiring the entire motorcycle to modern standards. This meant that there now is a new Motogadget m-Unit, Dyna III ignition system, lithium-ion batteries, new coils and a new alternator and rectifier.
To address the lofty handling of the old Guzzi, João completely replaced the suspensions, installing a new Showa and Öhlins setup front and back respectively. He also upgraded the braking system on the bike while installing modern, grippy rubber that would stick better to the ground.
But my favourite part about this particular custom Moto Guzzi build is the way João has taken up the design elements. While the motorcycle’s design basics have changed from its original grand tourer setup to more of a cafe racer, its absolutely unique from every angle of view. João keeps the original tank while changing almost everything else about the body.
His inspiration comes from old endurance racers, something that is quite evident from the twin fuel filler caps on the tank, the bikini fairing at the front and the flat plain on which the tank and the custom made rear end align. All these new design elements of the Moto Guzzi Mille GT are now draped beautifully in a unique two-tone paint scheme that while not exactly flash, looks elegant in the way it presents itself.
Photography by Bernardo Lúcio