Custom Cool- Moto Guzzi Le Mans – Kaffee Maschine | Bike Tests | Used Bikes
A German building some of the best café racers in the world? You better believe it. And here’s the latest – the ‘KM21’ Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II
Imagine you’ve built the bike that sits before you, pouring your heart and soul into the creation of a classic custom ordered by a meticulous client who collects vintage Porsches. Such is your attention to detail that each machine upon completion is stripped, every bolt re-torqued, and more than a thousand parts checked time and again. Then, just as you’re ready to deliver your masterpiece, a single clutch plate sticks…
Unwavering in his commitment to perfection, Axel Budde of Hamburg’s Kaffee Maschine doesn’t try an easy fix with a few heavy dumps of the clutch. Once again he does a full tear-down of the machine. At this point you start to appreciate the genius and devotion behind his latest build, ‘KM21’, a classic café racer from a 1981 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II.
Axel is clearly a fastidious builder; everything has to be right, triple-checked and tested until he’s totally satisfied. His dedication can be tiring and he tells us he’s off on a holiday soon that will be spent on his Kaffee Maschine café racer with friends in the French Alps. But it’s clear from KM21 that the blood, sweat and tears he invests into his customers’ builds are worth it.
The donor bike for this project was picked up in nearby Bremen, but it was a long way from being anything that could earn the right to wear the Kaffee Maschine logo. For the first of three times, the stock Le Mans II was pulled down to disassemble every last component.
The frame was smoothed out, ready for the parts Axel had already determined and designed in his mind. The tank of the Le Mans is not one of its finest features, so our man hand-formed an alloy tank from scratch. The lines are simple yet stunning, creating a classic feel that far exceeds anything offered by Moto Guzzi then or now.
“The client has several vintage Porsches, so I chose a Porsche green for the main colour. He gave a lot of input into the paint design and the choice of the main parts surfaces.”
Axel crafted custom fenders front and rear that wear the same Porsche colour, the front perfectly suspended by two hand-formed aluminium struts. To set off the green, the seat is a gorgeous leather in a natural hue that could have easily served as the interior of any 70s 911. The factory bodywork was replaced with Axel’s own, giving the gloss black steel duplex cradle frame the attention it deserves. To finish the look, a simple chrome ringed headlight illuminates the way with a vintage tail-light out back.
The drivetrain looks incredible too, the full glory of the distinct Guzzi V-twin exposed and finished to perfection. But this lump is more than just a looker and unleashes some real thunder. It now measures 1000cc, is fully modified, and finished off with brilliant Kaffee Maschine engraving and head guards.
Just the FACS
The short block is literally flawless! There is a new generator hidden behind a custom KM cover, a painstakingly pieced together wiring loom helps fire the all-new electronic ignition, and thumping twin Dell’Orto carbs feed the fuel. Finally a set of KM’s own headers and rear pipes were fabricated for the build and brilliantly follow the lines of the Guzzi, producing an incredible bark.
Factory front forks have been rebuilt with a FACS damper set. New tubes have everything looking sharp and a steering damper is fitted. At the rear end the extra weight of the shaft drive and hub means factory shocks would never pass muster, and in their place are a set of progressively sprung items from Ikon.
The braking system hasn’t been forgotten either – Axel fitted up one of his company’s own KM adjustable brake torque supports at the rear, while new master cylinders provide extra power front and rear and send the fluid down stainless braided lines.
Finally, the wheels go lightweight with rims from Morad. They’re laced with stainless spokes and are all wrapped up in Metzeler Sportec Klassik rubber.
Right across the build are drilled billet filler caps, for oil, trans and hub fluids, as well as their associated level-check and drain ports. To match the look, a set of Moto Italia rearsets were added to custom drilled brackets; the small weight-saving modification gives a distinctly classic racer feel.
The Guzzi’s ’bars, on the other hand, serve two purposes – the owner wanted to keep the racer look going but be comfortable on a long ride. So, to reduce the amount of weight on the wrists, Axel fabricated a custom set of clip-ons wearing seat-matching leather grips. The rest of the controls are old-school and on a needs-only basis. The final touch is a beautiful vintage instrument gauge that is 90 per cent tacho with just a small digital display for other info.
It’s all part of a machine that has a true mechanical sensibility, with no computer-controlled inputs to get in the way. Axel describes it as a perfect combination of power and rideability with an understated, classic look.
Now the lucky owner walks out to his garage, gazes at his classic Porsches and strolls past them on the way to climbing aboard the real motor masterpiece in his possession.
By MARTIN HODGSON
Photos ALEX BUDDE