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Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans

Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans

Wedged between the iconic 850 Le Mans and the best selling 850 Le Mans III, Guzzi’s second-series ‘Lemon’ remains somewhat the odd man out.

The fifth in a long line of V7 Sport-derived models, the exclusion is well understood considering the glowing reviews and instant charm generated by its predecessors. But dig deeper, below the label of misplaced fashion and the plot begins to make sense. For in all ways pertaining to over-the-road performance, rideability and function, the Le Mans 850 II was Guzzi’s best effort to date.

Underneath, the 850 and 850 II are virtually identical. Mechanically, the II’s 844cc high-output twin retained the original’s twin Dell’Orto PHF 36 carburetors, larger (in comparison to the V7S) 44/37mm inlet and exhaust valves, 10.2 domed pistons and twin-crossover exhaust. The five-speed/dry clutch transmission, which debuted on the 850 Eldorado tourer also was unchanged, with shaft final drive. Realistically rated at 71 crankshaft horsepower, the engine was capable of pushing the 238 kg (dry) Roman to 125mph. The chassis was also unchanged, using the same frame, brakes (now located on the slider’s trailing edge) wheels and overall dimensions, save for a wider (195 mm) triple tree which fell in line with the remainder of the range. The top yoke was shared with every other Guzzi big twin; it’s unused handlebar bosses covered by a pebble-grain, four-pod dash. For 1983, the Guzzi lineup includes the Le Mans 850; the California II (G5), with a 949cc angular-fin engine; and the SP model, with its round-cylinder 949cc boomer. All three machines meet tightening worldwide emission standards. European countries have standards too. One mandates 83 dB[A] noise levels, and this explains the new intake silencer/air filter and new exhaust system on this year's Mark III.

Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans

The Le Mans III camshaft, chain-driven from the crank's nose, uses more radical timing than that of the old CX100, yet the numbers are mild by sport-bike standards. Duration for both intake and exhaust is 252 degrees, and overlap is 40 degrees. The 36mm Dell'Orto pumper carburetors are six millimeters larger than the 1000's units, which belonged to the low-performance square-slide Dell'Orto series. A conventional diaphragm-type pump squirts fuel from a nozzle into the airstream; this differs from the CX100's spring-and-plunger affair, which dribbled a few drops through the carb's main nozzle at the venturi's floor. The "real" 36mm pumpers atomize fuel more effectively. They appeared on the first Le Mans in the U.S. in the late 1970s, but emission standards forced their replacement with square-slide carbs, holdovers from the 1960s.

General characteristics

Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Mark III

Engine: Air cooled, four stroke, V twin, longitudinally mounted,, OHV, 2 valve per cylinder

Capacity: 844

Bore x Stroke: 83 x 78 mm

Compression Ratio: 9.8:1

Induction: 2x 36mm Dell'Orto VHB

Ignition / Starting: - / electric

Max Power: 81 hp 59 kW @ 7600 rpm

Max Torque: 7.6 kgf-m @ 6200 rpm

Transmission / Drive: 5 Speed / shaft

Front Suspension: 35mm Telescopic air assisted forks, 140mm wheel travel

Rear Suspension: Dual charged shocks, spring preload adjustable. 94mm wheel travel

Front Brakes: 2x 300mm discs 2 piston calipers

Rear Brakes: single 242mm disc 2 piston caliper

Front Tyre: 100/90 V18

Rear Tyre: 110/90 V18

Dry-Weight: 206 kg

Fuel Capacity: 25 Litres

Consumption average: 43.5 mp/g

Standing ¼ Mile: 12.6 sec / 106.3 mp/h

Top Speed: 132 mp/h

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