Rodsmith Moto Guzzi V9 Retro Café Racer Style: Build Update


Rodsmith Moto Guzzi V9 Custom Builder Project


Craig Rodsmith, doing business as Rodsmith Motorcycles, has put his mark and wrenches on a wide variety of custom builds over the years—motorcycles, hot rods, airplanes, you name it. And it all began with modifying a ’57 BSA when he was 12-years old.


Born in Melbourne, Australia, his custom shop operates in Lake County, Ill., and he has been at this custom build biz for more than 25 years. It may be those deep roots in the art of custom motorcycles that influenced his design for his latest build: a retro-styled café racer built on the Moto Guzzi V9 platform.


Rodsmith explains of this Moto Guzzi V9 Custom Builder Project: “When I was first asked to do this build I immediately knew where I wanted to go with it; a traditional "retro" cafe racer on a modern platform. Having grown up road racing, I have a thing for GP/production race bike styling and Italian machinery!”


The Moto Guzzi V9 model comes in two editions: the Roamer is a standard-style roadster and the Bobber is a blacked-out factory custom. The stock V9s powerplant is a 90° transverse air-and oil-cooled 850cc V-twin engine with an old school Moto Guzzi look to it, but with aluminum cylinder heads, cylinders, pistons, and one-piece Marelli electronic fuel injection system. The driveline is a six-speed transmission and shaft final drive.


The Rodsmith café racer version will step it up a bit in the engine performance area with the addition of a turbocharger and bespoke polished stainless exhaust system. That involves some major design challenges.


“Fitting the turbo system in neatly while trying retain all the stock components was probably one of the biggest challenges; I want to keep the abs/traction control etc. I want the bike to retain its reliability and ride-ability,” he explained.


“I also have a thing for raw metal so my usual polished aluminum and minimal color is an obvious choice so I've formed a tank mimicking some of the original V9 lines and a seat/tailpiece that follows the lines. The bike will primarily be polished and brushed aluminum with red anodized accents. Time permitting I intend form/fab up a small bikini fairing, with a red windshield and a belly pan,” he continued.


At this point in the build, all the bodywork, tank, seat, front fender and some side covers to match have been fabricated. The frame has been detabbed and stripped, powder coated red "anodized," and a Marzocchi inverted front fork with radial Brembo calipers has been built. The black powder coat has been stripped from the engine and some of the external engine components such as the valve covers and timing cover have been polished. Rear set footrests, stainless braided brake lines and a custom headlight bracket have been added. 


Still underway is work on the custom wire-spoked wheels which will be like-sized on front and rear. A problem with supply for the originally planned wheels set things back time-wise, but the creation of the wheels is moving ahead. Rodsmith summed up the progress on the build this way: “I probably have the bike 90% completed,” and added, “I now have almost everything hooked up so an initial fire up with the turbo should happen this weekend! Then it's final polish, a little tweaking and hopefully a test ride next week!”