The launch of the V85 TT has boosted interest in dual-sport Moto Guzzis lately. And it’s about time: the competent Stelvio was killed off around three Years Ago, due to low sales and the cost of meeting Euro 4 emissions.
If the new V85 TT is a little beyond your budget, one option is to find a Tutto Terreno or Nuova Tipo Cross (NTX) from the 80s. And if you’re handy with the spanners, do a little work on it, as Filippo Barbacane of Officine Rossopuro has done here—including a major engine swap.
“It’s been a long time since I made an off-road Bike just for myself,” says Filippo. “Finding time for personal projects is very difficult.”
He’s called the Guzzi Levante, which means ‘rising’—as in the sun rising at the start of an exciting day, which perhaps involves a journey …
The story of this bike started many years ago, when Filippo bought an old mid-80s, military-spec NTX 350 that had been supplied to the Italian police. “It had been laid up for a while, but about three years ago I decided to work on it in my spare time,” he says.
“The base was good, but I wanted a bike with a little more horsepower—and with longer gears.” That’s understandable, because the 350 version of the NTX produced around 35 hp. And although the bike only weighed around 400 pounds wet, it was no ball of fire.
Filippo wanted to be able to use his NTX off-road, but also travel long distances to reach beautiful landscapes. “Often the off-road specials are excellent when doing enduro, but they have poor riding comfort—or engine displacements that are too small.”
Buying a second-hand enduro bike would have been the simplest solution, but Filippo doesn’t like simple things. “And it wouldn’t be a Guzzi, and that’s a big problem for me. I love all the bikes in the world, but when it comes to putting my buttocks on one, it must be a Moto Guzzi!”
Filippo wanted a style that was a cross between a 1970s enduro and a regolarità bike, which meant building everything from scratch. He’s fitted new, lightweight aluminum bodywork to the NTX, and built two fuel tanks: the one shown in these images, and a bigger one for long journeys. It can be mounted in a few seconds using the leather bands and two quick connections on the petrol taps.
The biggest change is the drivetrain. Although the NTX came with a 650 engine option, Filippo has shoehorned in a 750 small block engine—as used in the current fuel injected Guzzis.
To maximize reliability he’s eliminated all the electronics, and mounted carburetors, a simplified electronic injection system, and other improvements such as an upgraded alternator and a regulator that works well with a lithium battery.
“The gearbox is derived from the 750 too, with longer gears than the 350,” he says. ”I then built exhaust headers designed to sit as close as possible to the engine, passing inside the chassis on the right.”
The material is stainless steel: “Titanium would have weighed less, but welding it in an emergency would have been difficult.” The muffler was custom-made by MASS Moto, and is EU approved. The airbox, the oil vapor recovery tank and many other subtle details have been reproduced in aluminum and improved.
“The engine runs perfectly, with torque coming in very low, and is beautiful for off-road excursions. But it’s also good for long on-road sections of up to 300 km without problems, with very low fuel consumption.”
The chassis of the NTX is sound: it’s basically the same as most small-block Guzzi frames, but set higher for off-road use. Filippo has reinforced it in some areas and lightened it in others, to allow a weight saving without compromising reliability.
The original forks have been refurbished and upgraded with new cartridges, and adjustable Bitubo shocks installed at the back. The stock 21” front wheel has been swapped out for a 19” spoked aluminum rim, and Filippo has fitted a new Brembo brake system with a 320 mm Gold Series disc. The tires are Continental TKC80.
The lighting sums up the ethos of this machine: it’s conventional rather than LED. “I didn’t want to use LED lights because, in my opinion, they’re out of place on such an old bike,” he explains. “And they’re not repairable or easily replaceable like a light bulb.”
The NTX might be no-frills, but it’s comfortable and practical. There’s a plush custom saddle—easily removable to reveal a storage compartment—and tough custom hand guards. And Filippo’s also fitted a Legend bag from SW Motech, “just to be able to take the minimum with me on long and solitary journeys.”
Filippo is very well acquainted with the new V85 TT, and he’s a fan. But he’s using the NTX more than any other bike in his stable right now. “Its versatility is incredible,” he enthuses. “The weight of a motorcycle is becoming the most important thing for me, more than horsepower—which often cannot be exploited on the road.”
The next step is to take the NTX on long distance journeys, and Filippo has Morocco and Iceland in mind.
We have a feeling this is one of those bikes where there’s not a lot to go wrong…but a helluva lot to go right.
Officine Rossopuro | Facebook | Instagram
This post first appeared on Cafe Racer, Scrambler And Custom Motorcycles | Bike EXIF, please read the originial post: here