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Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans from 1976

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MOTORRAD wrote in 1976: "According to old Italian tradition, Moto Guzzi offers the 90 ° V-engine with 850 ccm in a very sporty machine – the 850 Le Mans. We are testing this successor to the 750-S3."

The reprint of the single test of the M.You can see oto Guzzi 850 Le Mans from MOTORRAD issue 24/1976 as a picture in the picture gallery or download it in better quality as a PDF (see e-kiosk above).

Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans from 1976

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The Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans from today’s perspective

Alex schelbert

In terms of design, too, the successful Le Mans I lies somewhere between its predecessor, the 750 S3 …

Affected with the sonorous name that stands for racing tradition, the sporty 850 had to develop into a cult bike.

There was no substitute for displacement with Moto Guzzi either – except for more displacement. The “naked” 750 S3, considered the forerunner of the original Le Mans, already had a lot to offer of the sporty character that enthusiasts appreciate in Le Mans models.


… and the successor model Le Mans II.

But it was only with the little more displacement that came the more thump, with the sporty styling and the red paintwork the right flair and with the name Le Mans the pinch of myth that it takes to become a legend. The Le Mans I managed today to become the most sought-after of the series and even to put the good successors and even the 1000 versions in the shade. The first Le Mans is the most iconic – anyone who ever had one regrets selling it back then.

Michael Pfeiffer’s opinion


Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans.

"For me, Le Mans I was the epitome of the Italian sports machine, and with a cardan as well"

To be honest: I’m still annoyed today that I gave my Le Mans I away. It was one of the first series, with frame number 632 at the end, that I would buy back immediately! Too late! It’s gone, leaving a painful void in my garage. To this day I haven’t bought a Moto Guzzi, maybe to keep the old lady in honor forever as she was. Am I exaggerating? Clear. From today’s point of view, this narrow, dug-out-looking, not very easy to drive and rather uncomfortable machine is totally out. Who wants to get a tendinitis on the right side because the two Dellorto carburettors have extremely hard springs. And the same in the left hand, because the dry clutch offers a lot of resistance. 

Who wants to get used to the integral brake system today, which is mainly operated by the foot pedal and only uses the handbrake in emergencies? Who can still handle a flywheel weighing eight kilograms today, which makes every gear change a complicated matter between a gear change and a kick in the butt? And who wants to keep this comparatively asthmatic V2 happy, which with an estimated 63 hp generates laborious propulsion, but stands in the way of the knees? 

Brakes? Rather gently with the pedal

I! Yeah, I’d love to take it all back on myself. The feeling is inimitable when you have internalized the demanding operation. When the Guzzi and their peculiarities have become second nature to you. Sort the gears in front of the bend, hammer through with pull at medium speeds, grabbing the narrow handlebars like the horns of a bull – awesome. Brakes? Rather gently pedaling the Guzzi. Listen to the rumble from the Lafranconis, enjoy the harsh suction noise from the open carburetors and largely ignore the wriggling Veglia hands. Nose to the wind, knees to the tank, driving like in the 70s. 

The Guzzi was my loyal companion for four years, had almost 70,000 kilometers on the clock, and never broke. Okay, she stopped once because of a blocking brake calliper. Good oil is important, as is the carburetor and ignition settings. The valves are easy to access, the cardan saves a lot of work. With modern tires, it drives by classes more manageable and also more stable. One is amazed. And it has always been at least as fast as the best bevel Ducatis or the BMW R 90 S..

But the best thing about her for me was the sight. A motorcycle can be built so slim, a frame can be bent so perfectly, an engine can be ribbed so beautifully. For me the most beautiful Guzzi of all time!  

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