If you’ve read our previous reports dedicated to Wheels & Waves 2017, the one dedicated to sharing about the spirit and the ambience of this extraordinary event and the one dedicated to the uphill races at Punk’s Peak, you know that we have encountered several fascinating customised Moto Guzzi bikes, besides the ones on display at our official Guzzi stand, of course. Whenever we had a chance, we left our business cards and invited the owners of these unique creations to come visit us at the stand and tell us about their passion for bikes.
Here are those stories.
Victor Rocha of Rua Machines: when machines have a soul.
Victor Rocha is from Portugal, he’s about 40 years old and always wears a pair of elegantly framed sunglasses. He works as a sales manager for a company in the agricultural sector, but bikes have always been his real passion. And, as he tells us, he’s a Moto Guzzi enthusiast.
His passion, which was fed by powerful childhood memories, wasn’t limited to the world of dreams: together with 2 friends with experience in fashion design and marketing, as well as mechanics of course, Victor created Rua Machines (literally “street machines”), which has become an important boutique for customised bikes and creates tailor made bikes along with an entire world of coordinated accessories. The idea is that every bike is a universe to itself that blends engineering and style into a single experience and is constantly aware of evolving trends. This vision birthed a new idea that has become the central focus of the work done by Victor and his associates: the “new retro”.
Victor came to Wheels & Waves on a splendid bike: a 1996 Moto Guzzi Nevada converted, with ingenious intuition and meticulous care, into a vintage sport bike. An unusual choice, he explains, and not everyone agreed. But to create a great vintage sport bike, Victor continued, you need a “bike with personality”. A Moto Guzzi, therefore.
The story of how the bike came to the Rua Machines workshop is fascinating all by itself. The Nevada once belonged to an acquaintance of Victor’s who lived in Angola, in Africa. But, due to legal and financial reasons, having the bike brought to Angola proved to be extremely difficult, to the point that the owner was forced to give up his Moto Guzzi. It was at that point that he entrusted it to Victor: a wise choice, given that this Nevada is now one of the most admired custom bikes in the world.
We would love to know all the secrets behind the customisation, but Victor, understandably, would rather preserve some of the mystery! What he does reveal is that converting the Nevada into the vintage sport bike “Street Machine N.8” (that’s what they named the bike), took 6 months of hard work. We notice several details: the foot plates have been inverted, the saddle was tailor made by hand with precious leather, the rear suspensions have been pushed back. On the other hand, the suspensions themselves, the rims and the discs haven’t been changed, neither has the ignition, though it has been moved to the right side, between the seat and the fuel tank.
The result? Victor sums it up in two words: “a masterpiece”, “a rocket”. We agree and, with Victor, we take the Street Machine N.8 to Milady beach for a personalised photocall, just as any true star deserves. As we walk the final metres along the path to the beach, those who see the bike instinctively comment: “Que bonita!”
We greet Victor after the photocall and ask what he’s working on now. Once again, his answer is as vague as it is revealing: “My mind is buzzing with ideas!”
The “Captain” and his sidecar
Rather than revealing his name, he points to the label on his leather jacket: “The Captain“. The Captain is a tall German from Detmold, a real biker and a man of few words. His bike is his lifestyle, and always has been, his hands are black from years of working first hand on the bikes he’s taken around the world.
The Captain’s bike is a Moto Guzzi V7 converted into an imposing military-green sidecar with some intriguing details, starting with the dragon on the front mudguard. It’s the bike we had noticed as we walked up to Punk’s Peak, and we’re glad to meet the owner. We learn that he’s only had this bike for 6 weeks and this is the first long trip he’s taken with it. In the past, though, the Captain has travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres. He travels alone, all the time, using the sidecar to carry his baggage. On his last trip, he tells us, the destination was very different than Biarritz in June: he went from Germany all the way to Norway, in winter, with temperatures as low as -20 °C.
When we ask how old his Guzzi is, he says he’s not certain, but it seems it was first registered all the way back in 1964. The Captain bought it from its previous owner, another German from Duinsburg who was also the man behind the conversion into a sidecar and the customisation. The dragon was the previous owner’s idea. What does the Captain think of it? “The dragon? It’s ok.”
Coast to coast, with Simone Zani
Simone Zani is from Rimini and came to Biarritz on his 1981 black and red Le Mans: a real coast to coast, 1,400 kilometres in two days!
The Le Mans Moto Guzzi, produced from 1976 to 1984, was (and obviously still is) an unusual bike, one that proved to be ahead of its time not just compared to other Italian bikes but also compared to the foreign bikes produced in those years: a fast bike, athletic and at the same time reliable and comfortable for long trips.
Why did Simone choose it? “Because it’s an Italian bike, with a great engine“, with a distinctive sound, you could pick it out from a thousand just for the sound, plus it gets people’s attention when you accelerate.
After buying the bike, Simone worked with the Opificio Bike Store in Rimini to have it customised: they modified the frame, improved the engine and the electrical system, created a new custom-fit saddle, and opted for open exhaust pipes. The braking system, on the other hand, was unchanged.
The outcome is a bike that Simone uses on a daily basis, a historic Guzzi to be experienced fully. As far as the changes go, Simone refers to his work on the Le Mans “a work in progress”, of course, but… “I feel I’ve arrived close to perfection.”