The Le Mans

It’s a long time now since 1976, when the Le Mans was released, but time has barely diminished the thrill of unleashing this uniquely charismatic machine. Perhaps the only sensation missing now is the heady excitement, uppermost in a Le Mans rider’s mind all those years ago, of being aboard one of the very fastest bikes on the road.
The first Le Mans was indisputably one of the great Seventies superbikes. Along with its Italian contemporaries, Ducati’s 900SS and Laverda’s Jota, the Guzzi took on the Japanese multis with its own brand of speed and style. Of the trio the Jota was the most powerful and the SS the most single-minded. But the Le Mans was perhaps the most handsome. And with its engine’s performance backed-up by near-flawless high-speed stability – in marked contrast to numerous rivals – the glamorous Guzzi was every bit as fast as it looked.
Its heart was the aircooled, 90-degree V-twin motor whose pushrod-operated, two-valves-per-cylinder layout would remain Guzzi’s preference for high performance for years to come. The shaft-drive transverse twin owed its origins to a motor built for a WWII armoured car, but in this hotted-up form its output was sufficient to satisfy even the most fanatical two-wheeled enthusiast.