fbpx
Return of the Cafe Racers - The Nautilus – Moto Guzzi 850 T5

The Nautilus – Moto Guzzi 850 T5

Jules Verne described Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, as “a masterpiece containing masterpieces”. It was a machine unlike any other, decades ahead of its time and awe-inspiring to those who witnessed it.

Lino Tonti had probably hoped for a similar reaction to his Moto Guzzi 850 T when it was revealed to motorcycling public. Unfortunately, that was not the case.


Moto Guzzi 850 T5 cafe racer

Not only did the 850 T appear to be little more than an exercise in mimicking style trends its performance was hampered by bad handling. By the mid-eighties, Guzzi had begun to learn from their mistakes, making improvements to the motorcycle that saw them introduce a revised wheel configuration along with additions to stiffen the front end. The new model, coined the T5, was now a solid performer powered by Guzzi’s tried and tested 850cc longitudinal v-twin. As with anything that’s designed to fit trends though its styling had lost its edge.

Moto Guzzi 850 T5 cafe racer

Italian custom builder Mirko Tovazzi saw potential beneath the Guzzi’s outdated exterior. After acquiring a 1990 model T5 he set out to create the Guzzi he wanted to ride. Rather than looking to other bikes or trends for inspiration though he started with little more than flat sheets of aluminum, hammers and his own two hands.

Moto Guzzi 850 T5 cafe racer

The donor bike was an unmolested example in decent condition so he stripped away the staid bodywork to give himself a clean palette to work with. Opting to skip creating any design sketches he was free to let each piece evolve freely. To challenge his skill set he limited himself to fabricating individual components using single pieces of aluminum and join any separate pieces using rivets as opposed to welding. As each of the new body panels evolved Mirko compared the bike’s appearance to a submarine and had soon christened it after Verne’s fictional vessel.

Moto Guzzi 850 T5 cafe racer

The bodywork that Mirko made for his T5 Nautilus includes the unique front cowl that wraps up and over the handlebars as well as around them. The new side panels and front fender were each beaten from single sheets of alloy and the custom-made alternator cap is stamped with the bikes Nautilus moniker. The tail unit features Mirko’s Tovazzi Battilastra workshop emblem and its seat pan is covered in timeless black suede leather. The svelte fuel tank was also a custom made piece and with its gloss black and gold pinstripe paintwork is the only piece of bodywork that hasn’t been left raw.

Moto Guzzi 850 T5 cafe racer

To allow fitment of his custom front cowl Mirko has fitted a set of Tomaselli adjustable Condor handlebars wearing aftermarket switches to the front end. The front headlight was sourced from a Piaggio Vespa and the rest of the lighting is all aftermarket and is hidden from sight until they illuminate.

Has Mirko created his own Moto Guzzi masterpiece? We certainly think so.

Moto Guzzi 850 T5 cafe racer

 
Moto Guzzi 850 T5 cafe racer

Read more like this

Return of the Cafe Racers - Royal Dozen – Moto Guzzi Le Mans cafe racer

Royal Dozen – Moto Guzzi Le Mans cafe racer

When a customer brought his ’76 Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850 to Czech workshop ‘Gas & Oil Motorcycles’ they were honoured to have the opportunity to work on such an iconic Italian…

Continue Reading
Return of the Cafe Racers - Matteucci Garage V35 SUNRISE

Matteucci Garage V35 SUNRISE

The V35 was never designed to be one of the Moto Guzzi’s top performers. The reason it was built was to qualify for a low-cost license and tax category rather than breaking…

Continue Reading
Return of the Cafe Racers - Ciao Bella – Rua Machines Moto Guzzi Nevada

Ciao Bella – Rua Machines Moto Guzzi Nevada

Published in collaboration with Spanish magazine ‘Revival of the Machine’ From Portugal comes this Moto Guzzi seventies-inspired transformation. Rua Machines is one of the most important builders in our neighboring country. They…

Continue Reading