The historic German port city of Hamburg is one of the most interesting and beautiful destinations in all of Europe and features two entire areas that have been designated by UNESCO for their importance to world heritage. But on my next visit to Deutschland, which sits literally on the other side of the globe from me, is simply to one place I have to go. It is a 330square metre warehouse in the canal-crossed quarter of Wilhelmsburg, and it is undoubtedly the global utopia for custom Moto Guzzi Motorcycles. It is here that master builder Axel Budde from Kaffeemaschine plies his trade and his numbered series of full custom builds are pure perfection. Meet number 42, an Alfa Romeo Blue finished 1984 Le Mans III that takes you straight to Nirvana on your very first sighting.
For over a decade, our inbox has been taking emails from Axel, filled with one incredible Moto Guzzi after another. And yet somehow each new bike seems even more perfect than the last and it’s no wonder that each build is received with a standing ovation. So, looking across the internet, it was love at first sight for the Norwegian owner of this Le Mans III, when he saw just what Axel could do with a Guzzi. A few calls back and forth and owner and builder were on the same page, planning the perfect way to take the ’80s sport tourer from a good machine into a simply beautiful beast. But before we examine the build, Mr Budde spoke to us about the philosophy that guides his work.
“Our bikes speak straight to the soul and to the core, a captivating dialogue with a mechanical machine that makes every kilometre special and communicates through all the senses. The legendary Italian engine and frame, enhanced by our work and perfectly staged, results for me in the essentials of motorcycling. The technology is understandable and repairable – a durable, loyal product for generations, to which one builds a bond. We give the original classic a second life and a much more impressive appearance and start. A passionate form of sustainability and the fulfilment of personal dreams – mine and yours.”
In his glorious warehouse, there is a central mezzanine sporting a host of donor Guzzis waiting their turn, there are shelves of engines and frames, a line-up of stunning old lathes and mills, a vintage Italian coffee machine, and yet just a few simple hoists. This is not a place that builds a huge number of bikes at lightning speed, it’s more like a master painter sitting down at his easel. So, up onto one of those few tables went the ’84 from Norway, which was quickly stripped back until all that remained was the glorious Tonti frame. This has been blasted clean of four decades of grime, smoothed out and detabbed, and then finished in a flat silver.
To begin the visual transformation a Le Mans II tank was sat over the frame and from here Axel could begin to imagine how things should unfold. To ensure that there was a balance between seat length and metal mass, the back was cut off the tank so it could be lengthened. The stretched piece is completely reworked, the shoulders are now more muscular, the bottom hugs closely to the engine and the knee dents generous enough to allow even the biggest of riders to feel right at home. The front fairing, like all parts on the bike, is a Kaffeemaschine carbon fibre piece, and the alloy fenders are the perfect mix of form and function.
Over these body parts the Alfa Romeo Blue has been beautifully flowed, with an exceptional finish that is set off with simple black and white graphics and the company’s own decals. The wheels form a vital part of the appearance of any bike and for most of Axel’s builds he’s opted for spoked rims. But on this bike, the refurbished factory offerings have come up a treat, finished in frame matching silver and wrapped in Avon rubber.
To ensure the Guzzi handles better than ever, a set of custom built Ikon shocks are fitted to the rear and the 35mm front forks have been rebuilt with FACS dampers on the inside. The braking is drilled discs all around, with a Kaffeemaschine rear bracket and a host of Brembo products and braided lines employed for maximum stopping power.
All of which our Norwegian friend is going to need, as Axel has built him one hell of a torque monster motor. The stock 850cc v-twin is now pumped out to a litre, with a fully balanced bottom end and a custom Kaffeemaschine camshaft opening the valves. It looks brilliant on the outside too, with highly polished rocker covers, beautifully machined velocity stacks and KM’s own full stainless exhaust system which has been chromed to match the polished parts. But to ensure long-term reliability, the ignition system is now all 21st century, with a 410W generator and tuneable electronic ignition to deliver a stout 84bhp and stump-pulling torque.
The rest of the wiring loom is KM’s own construction, used on all of their builds, to provide an uber-clean finish. Axel is a big fan of Motogadget parts and raided their catalogue for one of their control units, instruments and a host of lighting, all of which is attached with in-house machined parts. With those old tools spinning, a full set of custom rearsets was also turned out for the job and the front engine cover is just another glorious handbuilt part.
To finish everything off and keep the weight down, the seat base is hand-laid carbon fibre, which is topped with foam and wrapped in expensive black Aniline leather. The final numbers for 42, are 1000cc, 84bhp and 184kg, but facts only tell half of the story when the finished product is so beautiful it tugs firmly on the heartstrings.
[ Kaffeemaschine ]