Moto Guzzi LeMans 850

If the V7-Sport is where the legend of big, fast, rock-steady Tonti-frame Moto Guzzi V-twins began, the bikini-clad 850 Le Mans is the genre’s ultimate culmination.

Moto-Guzzi-Lemans-850-martin-squires-illustration

This bike earned its name back in 1971 at the Bol d’Or 24-hour race in Le Mans, France. The Guzzi factory team fielded a bored-out V7-Sport racing with a half-fairing that led convincingly for the first 10 hours before crashing out. The performance was inspired enough for the nickname to stick.

Compared to the T-3, the standard 850cc model offered in 1976, the Le Mans got higher-compression pistons, bigger valves, and throaty 36mm round-slide Dellorto carbs with accelerator pumps that snarled sweetly when the Tomaselli throttle was cracked open.

The slightly larger displacement yielded about the same top speed as the 130mph 750s, but reviewers agreed the bumped-up motor lent the bike a better overall balance, and it sold some 6,000 units in three years of production. Guzzi would go on to make four more iterations of the LeMans, each bigger and more rectangular than the last—but the original Mark I 850 remains the favorite of many Guzzisti.

Moto Guzzi 850 Lemans
 

Start Here: Intro 70s Italian Superbikes

The Ducati Story
Ducati 350 Mark 3-D (1968-1972)
Ducati 350 Desmo (1971-1972)
Ducati 750S (1972-1974)
Ducati 750SS (1973-1974)
Ducati 900SS (1975-1982)
Ducati Darmah (1977-1982)
Ducati MHR (1979-1984) 

The Laverda Story
Laverda 750S (1969-1970)
Laverda SF (1970-1976)
Laverda SFC (1971-1976)
Laverda Jota (1976-1983)
Laverda Montjuic (1979-1981)

The Moto Guzzi Story
Moto Guzzi V7 Telaio Rosso (1971)
Moto Guzzi V7 Sport (1971-1974)
Moto Guzzi 750S (1974-1975)
Moto Guzzi Lemans 850 (1976-1978)

The MV Agusta Story
MV Agusta 750S (1971-1974)
MV Agusta 750 America (1975-1977)
MV Agusta Magni 861

BonusThe Benelli 750 Sei
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Illustrations: Martin Squires
Studio photography: David Genat
Bike owner: Peter Boggia, Moto Borgotaro