Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Mark I




Make Model

Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Mark I




Four stroke, 90° V twin, longitudinally mounted, OHV pushrod, 2 valves per cylinder


844 cc / 51.5 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 83 x 78 mm
Cooling System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Lubrication Gear driven oil pump with replaceable full flow oil filter


2x 36mm Dell'Orto carburetors


Battery with double contact breakers and coils
Starting Electric

Max Power

80 hp / 59.7 kW @ 7300 rpm

Max Torque

79 Nm / 57.5 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm


5 Speed 
Final Drive Shaft
Frame Duplex cradle

Front Suspension

Telescopic forks

Rear Suspension

Swinging arm, 5-WAY adjustable coil springs preload

Front Brakes

2x 300mm discs

Rear Brakes

Single 242mm disc

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre


Wheelbase 1470 mm / 57.9 in
Seat Height 775 mm / 30.5 in
Ground Clearance 184 mm / 7.2 in

Dry Weight

198 kg  / 435 lbs
Wet Weight 232 kg / 512 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

22.5 Litres / 5.9 US gal

Consumption Average

39.6 mpg

Top Speed

126 mph

In the late 1960s, Moto-Guzzi launched their V7 range, with 90 degree V-twin engines mounted in the frame with the crankshaft running along the longitudinal axis of the bike. As this layout was utilized, it was quite easy to build the bikes with shaft drive, and indeed because of this feature they became very popular indeed, especially with the Italian army and police forces. The most attractive variation on the V7 theme was the S3 Sports which was fitted with low-set bars, a sports saddle and rear-set pegs. With a top speed of over 120mph from its 750cc engine, the S3 proved to be very popular and it was soon heralded as one of the best looking bikes available.


The Le Mans was launched in 1975 and built on the same lines as its predecessor, albeit suitably modified. The heart of the bike is an 844cc engine which, breathing through twin 36 mm carburettors produces a very healthy 81 bhp at 7600 rpm. That figure is impressive enough, but it doesn't really convey exactly what the engine is like. As the crank is longitudinally mounted a blip of the throttle at standstill will tip the bike slightly to the right just

like a BMW, but the Guzzi motor feels and sounds a lot more brutal than that of the German machine, The pushrod engine uses a 10-2:1 compression ratio which enhances the impression of power, and one is left thinking that this machine is certainly a no-compromise sportster. Power is fed through a dry-twin-plate clutch to a five-speed gearbox and thence to a shaft drive. The gearchange of the Le Mans is quite easy with a very light action and, although extra care has to be taken when changing down to lower gears, the problem is not quite as acute as on other shaft-final-drive bikes.

The engine and transmission sit in a large duplex frame with the sump hanging down between the bottom tubes giving the bike a low centre of gravity; in fact the whole bike is built low and is probably the smallest of all the superbikes, with a seat height of just over 30ins. Suspension is conventional, but the braking is taken care of by the patented Moto-Guzzi Integral system. The bar mounted lever actuates a single front disc, while the fight-foot pedal distributes 75 per cent of braking effort to the other front disc and 25 per cent to the rear unit. In fact, so efficient is the linked system that once the rider gets used to using the right foot for most situations (something that is not usually recommended on an ordinary bike), the brake lever becomes almost redundant. To quote the factory literature, the other disc is for 'emergencies and "sports riding'".


The Le Mans has what is almost a Café-racer-type riding position and one leans forward some way to the bars, the riding position then dictating that a pillion rider will be sitting upright and square to the airstream. The bike's engine starts first time always and rumbles away noisily until it warms up. For the first-time Guzzi rider, the brakes take a lot of getting used to and, until one is really familiar with the system, the brakes will probably be used as on any other bike. Whatever way, they are failsafe and there is never difficulty in stopping the 4311b machine in the wet or dry.


Top speed of the bike is an impressive 125mph, while acceleration over a standing start quarter mile is hampered somewhat by the high gearing, the quarter mile post flashing by in just under 14 seconds. This high gearing enhances fuel consumption, however, with the figure always hovering around the 35-40mpg mark and sometimes rising some way above.


The original Le Mans was replaced by the Le Mans II which featured a larger nose fairing, revised instruments and some extra bodywork around the bulbous and protruding cylinders. The revised looks could not disguise the brutal nature of a very capable and thoroughbred machine, however.