Moto Guzzi V8 replica: Can hipsters make the dustbin fairing cool again?

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The Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8 is a retro homage to one of the most audacious bikes ever built(Credit: Vanguard Clothing)

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If those weird vintage fishbowl helmets with the bulbous visors can become cool again thanks to the hipster revolution, why not the dustbin fairing? Vanguard clothing has commissioned an imposing-looking replica of the extraordinary 1956 Moto Guzzi V8 – even if it leaves out the V8 engine that made the original bike such an iconic machine.

1950s-era GP racing brings one thing to mind over everything else: the dustbin fairing. Until it was outlawed in 1957, many race bike designers used these huge, awkward looking fairings to get maximum speed out of their bikes. Of course, they had their problems – they could have treacherous handling issues in a crosswind, for example – but the fact remains, in a straight line these were probably the most aerodynamically efficient GP bikes ever built.

Moto Guzzi's V8 was more than just another dustbinned racer when it came out in 1955. The sheer audacity of making a V8 engine in an era of singles and twins stunned the world upon its release, and with just 78 horsepower (58 kW), it managed a top speed of 172 mph (277 km/h) thanks to its vast, racing green coloured dustbin fairing.

In racing terms, it was a disaster. Pronounced unrideable by the ballsiest racers of the day, it was retired from racing after just two seasons, but it made an indelible mark in the hearts of bike lovers. The crackling roar of its eight megaphone exhausts will raise the hairs on the back of your neck to this day. It is without doubt an iconic bike.

If there's one thing hipster clothing companies love, it's an iconic vintage motorcycle. So, since only two original Guzzi V8s remain, and even a replica is now fetching around US$300,000 at auction, Vanguard Clothing chose to commission a milder custom bike in the style of the V8, without the fabled mechanical complexity.

Design was handled by Gannet Design's Ulfert Janssen, who we've spoken to at length before, and the build was handled by Amsterdam's Numbnut Motorcycles.

The Vanguard bike is a V8 in name only. It's basically a custom Guzzi California Eldorado shaft-drive cruiser, and instead of a finicky 500cc V8, it uses the stock 1,400cc v-twin, with a pair of brutal shorty pipes that sound about as aggressive and racy as I think that engine ever has. Check out the sound in the video at the bottom of this piece.

To effect the racer-style riding position, the stock bike's forward foot controls needed to be moved a huge 31 inches (79 cm) back. Crinkle-cut Firestone tires and a pair of twin YSS shocks round out the look. Vanguard took care to make sure there were grinder sparks in the build photos, which as we all know causes uncontrollable excitement among the skinny trousers and beards-and-beanies set.

However you feel about the idea of a V-Twin V8, the bike itself has got some definite style. The front-heavy proportions, the cafe racer style seat, the barely-there front wheel and even the visor-shaped cutout that lets the headlight shine through… It all works. And if this beastie rolls up to a bike meet, it's going to get plenty of attention no matter what the company.

Check out the bike in the video below.

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