Motorcycles

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

Moto Guzzi V8 replica: Can hip...
The Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8 is a retro homage to one of the most audacious bikes ever built
The Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8 is a retro homage to one of the most audacious bikes ever built
View 20 Images
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: visor-style headlight cutout
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: visor-style headlight cutout
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: dustbin fairings were never known for their cornering abilities
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: dustbin fairings were never known for their cornering abilities
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: crinkle cut Firestone tires and devastatingly cool model
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: crinkle cut Firestone tires and devastatingly cool model
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a V8 in name only, but a very stylish retro set of wheels
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a V8 in name only, but a very stylish retro set of wheels
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: this man is far too cool to look back at his parked motorcycle, like an action hero walking away from an explosion
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: this man is far too cool to look back at his parked motorcycle, like an action hero walking away from an explosion
The Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8 is a retro homage to one of the most audacious bikes ever built
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The Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8 is a retro homage to one of the most audacious bikes ever built
Oh god, there's grinder sparks.
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Oh god, there's grinder sparks.
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a large hidden frame supports the dustbin front end
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a large hidden frame supports the dustbin front end
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: they had to weld some of it
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: they had to weld some of it
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: fitting the iconic dustbin fairing
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: fitting the iconic dustbin fairing
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a 1400cc California Eldorado cruiser was the donor bike
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a 1400cc California Eldorado cruiser was the donor bike
Working on the Vanguard Clothing V8
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Working on the Vanguard Clothing V8
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: fitting the cafe racer style seat unit
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: fitting the cafe racer style seat unit
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a curious presence on the road
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: a curious presence on the road
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: design by Ulfert Janssen at Gannet Design
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: design by Ulfert Janssen at Gannet Design
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: built from a Moto Guzzi California Eldorado 1400cc v-twin cruiser
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: built from a Moto Guzzi California Eldorado 1400cc v-twin cruiser
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: that dustbin fairing
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: that dustbin fairing
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: Firestone's vintage tires were the only choice
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: Firestone's vintage tires were the only choice
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: artisanal welding is a critical feature
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: artisanal welding is a critical feature
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: design
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Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: design

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.

Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: this man is far too cool to look back at his parked motorcycle, like an action hero walking away from an explosion
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: this man is far too cool to look back at his parked motorcycle, like an action hero walking away from an explosion

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.

Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: design by Ulfert Janssen at Gannet Design
Vanguard Moto Guzzi V8: design by Ulfert Janssen at Gannet Design

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.

Oh god, there's grinder sparks.
Oh god, there's grinder sparks.

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.

Source: Vanguard Clothing

VANGUARD V8 JEANS | CUSTOM BUILD MOTORCYCLE - THE DRIVE

5 comments
ripshin
Loz - Just gotta say, love your bike reviews! You're awesome. Keep it up brah! rip
RubberJesus
Here in "regular" "normal" bike riding world we seldom pay much attention to the fancies of hipsters. I really do not understand how industry has missed that most obvious point when it comes to production of items they wish to some how break out of "curiosity and cute" mode.
NeilHarris
It's not a V8 Replica it's a Cali 1400 with a butt ugly dustbin fairing bolted on it. I'm sure the hipsters will wet their £500 retro jeans over it.
Peter Andrews
Hey Loz, now that is one nice sound from a Guzzi. I know of a few suburban roads that a 3am blast would shake the garage doors. I am old enough to remember dustbin faring. Rode a Norton C with one through Heffier Creek outside Gatton QLD in the very early 60's. Not much traffic then. sigh. But the tyre tech was crap then. And you spent the weekend before and after a country blast fixing the Brit bikes
thk
Marketing a blobfish fairing as cool is a big project. You need big Hollywood names or a Forbes.