Moto Guzzi 850T by Moto Motivo

In 2009, the financial crisis hit many people and businesses all over the world. Johann Keyser, emigrated only 4 years earlier from South Africa to the US, was struck as well and had reached the end of the road with his former business. While smart-ass advises and motivating paroles might infuriate many innocent victims of the crisis, Johann got up and decided to turn his favorite pastime into a full time job by founding Moto Motivo, based in Raleigh, NC.


Eventually, after many transformations based on bikes of every make, Johann decided it was time to treat himself to a gift and build a bike for personal use. A 1975 Moto Guzzi 850T was the weapon of choice.

Since Johann started riding bikes on his parent’s ranch in South Africa at the age of seven, he is fond of classic bikes and therefore wanted to build a period-correct Italian Café Racer. The idea was to build it mostly with New-Old-Stock or with self-made parts.


The initial spark was a handmade alloy gas tank Johann ordered in the UK. That tank integrates perfectly into the line of the frame and the engine. The same frame was shortened and cleaned at the rear while Johann fabricated a Billet aluminum plate mounted in the frame just above the gearbox in order to stiffen the chassis.


The battery disappeared under the same gearbox while the air filters as well as the electrics were removed from the center part of the frame to give it the clean “see through” look. Said electrics from a Moto Guzzi are known to be…let’s say ‘capricious’, so they were replaced in wise foresight by a new wiring. As Johann planned to use the bike as a daily ride, he ditched the original drum brake at the rear in order to replace it with a disc originating from a later T3 model. Further and still with liability in mind, the old points and condenser system was replaced with a digital ignition system. Road capability was augmented with a set of handmade fenders at the front as well as the rear.


A custom seat was manufactured and guarantees, in combination with higher handlebars instead of clip on bars, a more relaxed riding position. Johann added some Billet aluminum rear sets, cylinder head guards and instrument brackets into the mix to complete the look.

From the beginning of the project, Johann had a monochromatic look in his mind and so, his friend of the same name and South African origin from Johan’s Motorcycles came up with a combination of black paint on polished aluminum. The custom Moto Motivo tank logo was applied by Rob at Tapeworks.


So, if you think Johann is riding his Guzzi to work every day and lives happily ever after, you’re wrong; the simple elegance of the bike struck a customer’s eye and Johann simply couldn’t refuse the offer.

Johann, try hiding your next personal project under a blanket during business hours!


If you want to see more of Johann’s bikes or get in touch with him, visit Moto Motivo’s WEBSITE, its FACEBOOK or its INSTAGRAM page.

One more thing: you can join Johann Keyser on a motorcycle tour in his native country of South Africa. If you’re keen to see breathtaking landscapes on some of the best motorcycle routes in the world, contact him HERE, via his website. Might turn out to be the road trip of your life….

Oh, and if you happen to have a gap to fill in your garage and don't want to get soaked when it rains, feel free to contact Johann for one of these...   😉

All pictures by Ron Smith (RFOTO)