1984 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans III – Italy Responds to Japan’s Euro Sportbikes

Up for sale in Sacramento, CA is this rare 1984 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mark III. Comes in Royal White & Gold with strategic Orange to promote reflectivity and visibility. Originally distributed by Benelli North America, this was Moto Guzzi’s response to Japan’s proliferating production of European-style sports bikes (i.e Honda Interceptor, Suzuki GS750ES, Kawasaki GPz750).

Italians love Italy. The food is delicious. The people & culture are beautiful. The architecture and lifestyle are breathtaking. Why would anyone leave  paradise? Well if you do, Moto Guzzi has captured that same unique essence in this bike. The essence to do something else nobody else has done & look really really good at the same time.

The Le Mans III had multiple changes/updates from the Le Mans II. At first glance, visible bodywork changes are: the fairing, angular cooling fins, outside crankcase, & instrument panels. The instrument cluster is now dominated by a large, white face Veglia tachometer. Then speedometer, voltmeter, turn signal indicators, & main function lights (generator charging condition, oil pressure, neutral gear position, brake fluid level, parking light, & high beam. Moto Guzzi prides their wind tunnels to discover optimal aerodynamics to create an envelope of still air to enclose the rider, thus the fairing. 

From Left to Right: Le Mans I, Le Mans III, Le Mans II

The engine features a 4-stroke, 90* V-twin, longitudinally mounted, OHV pushrod, 2 valve per cylinder. 81hp & 73Nm torque get this beast to 132mph Top Speed. The conventional diaphragm-type pump squirts fuel from nozzle into airstream. Different than CX100’s spring-and-plunger affair. This atomizes fuel more affectively. It actually appears on Le Mans in late 70s but didn’t meet emission standards, so they settled for square-slide carbs from the 60s. With a fuel capacity of 6-gallons you’ll be tempted to tour, but it isn’t the most comfortable bike. Increased power and torque improved machining tolerances, revised carbonation & exhaust. Making it the perfect combination of power and agility. 

Moto Guzzi had to meet worldwide emission standards & noise levels. Which explains the new intake silencer/air filter & new exhaust system. Intake valves, exhaust, and 2x36mm Dell’Orto carbs (with acceleration pump) have larger diameters and more smoothy finished. The crankcase & cylinder head fumes vent through the top main tube before entering burns both cleaner & quieter. 

They also showcased new technologies like Nigusil & their Integral Braking System. Nigusil is a cylinder lining created of Nickel Silicon (Nickel + Guzzi + Silicon = NiGuSil) to improve wear resistance over old chrome bores & reduce oil consumption. This served a s a hard surface bore treatment. The Integral Braking System allowed a connected system to stop the bike quickly & controllably, giving credit to the excellent Brembo calipers & discs. 2x300mm discs & calipers in the front & a single 242mm disc with 2-piston caliper in the rear. Driveshaft-operated, the Le Mans III has 35mm telescopic air assisted forks in the front & adjustable, spring-preload, dual-charged suspension in the rear. 

The Mark III is stocked with Pirelli tires, OEM 100/90 MT29 in the front & 4.10 MT28 in the rear. The MT29 has a smaller cross-section, ribbed thread pattern but it wears out quickly (twice as fast as the M28). M28 can be placed in the front for a stable, nailed-down security. On the flip side, MT29 has lighter steering and easier lean into quick corners. So consider swapping the front tire out if you are prefer safety and stability over agility and lightweight. 

As we mentioned, the Italians have a preference to do things their own way. So if you can’t adapt, this may not be the bike for you. The damping cannot be varied so it may feel too stiff. You could lower air-suspension but the road bumps will shoot up your spine. Shifting can be clunky as you’ll need an exaggerated shift from 2nd to 3rd. Its the only way to avoid a false negative and lock the rear wheel. Which is known to be common among Moto Guzzi. 

Advertisement from the 80s

In regards to seating comfort, the seating throws all your weight into the handlebars, straining your arms & wrists. The cylinder heads intrude your knee space. This style of seating can be very tough for first-timers, especially Japanese riders. Gear shifting is LONG, panel switches are confusing, steering feels awkward, & torque reaction of longitudinally mounted engine feels wrong. 

If you’re an adventurous person willing to grab the bull by the horns, this is the bike for you. Owner claims only 2451 miles & everything is OEM. Newer Ikon shocks with heavier springs have been placed in the front and rear. Likely to prevent feeling the road bumps from lowering the suspension air pressure. Paint is okay and could use some work. It appears that the calipers are very warn out or oxidized and will need replacing. Owner is asking $6300 but we need to know more from the buyer to determine whether the price is right. 

Quick Summary


Moto Guzzi


850 Le Mans III






Sacramento, CA




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