Let’s try something completely different!
THIS IS LIKELY TO BE THE INITIAL THOUGHT of any builder when they start work on a new project.
However, in this case it is our editorial team who suggested we take a different approach ourselves for this post.
Not quite awake yet after a heavy night of partying during the 2019 edition of Wheels and Waves in Biarritz (France), we literally stumbled across a Moto Guzzi that was parked prominently in the middle of the road.
It was the brainchild of Dutch master builder Roy Holtman that was screaming for attention.
To start up our day properly we decided on a strong cup of coffee with Roy and the owner of the bike who had decided to join the builder for the annual beach bash as well.
Once the caffeine kicked in and anecdotes were flying, we suggested they both put their words on paper themselves. Following is the story told from both ends, the owner and the builder.
Moto Guzzi California 3 – The owner’s story
“A few years ago after having ridden a lot of bikes, I ran into a very ugly California 3. It had all the parts I never had. A big windscreen, two separate enormous seats, King and Queen seat
they told me later. It had enormous trunks on either side, like; drive a bike and bring your complete wardrobe with you!
I think I made my point, it wasn’t love at first sight. A nice big girl, but with the weight not exactly where you’d want it.”
Then sparks flew
“Unexpectedly something magical happened when I turned the key and pushed the starter button. The thing came to live shaking from side to side and then it hit me; “that’s why people ride a Guzzi!”
I decided to buy the Guzzi for the sound of the 2 cylinder and the way it handled all roads from straight highways to little curvy ones. But definitely not for the looks!
I rode it for a few years, had a number lovely holidays with it, but after the clutch broke down it became a shed project. I took it apart to repair it, but lack of time and other interests caused it to never happen. It became the ‘3 euro pallet project’, named after the number of pallets it took to carry all the separate parts.”
Pick up the pieces
“The pallets were just laying there for a few years until I met Roy and asked him to repair the bike, make it road worthy again with the intention to sell it. The idea was born to buy an old Harley and rebuild that into something sexy.
Luckily Roy convinced me stay loyal to the Guzzi and turn the big girl into an attractive model. “Harleys galore all over the planet” he said. “But Guzzis are nice and interesting bikes to work with”.
Showing me a Guzzi he had just finished I became excited. This was the start of what is now the ‘Outback Express II’ project.
We took our time. Between setting out to repair a clutch and going all the way to a complete re-design was quite the ride. We had a lot of discussions about the how, what and why. It bounced up and down from cafe racer to maybe a scrambler and all variations in between.
It was glad that Roy was around to guide me through the process and advising me on all important decisions.
With a result like this I decided to travel to Biarritz in style. I prepared my Renault 4F4 to be a little camper but also to act as towing car for the Outback Express II.
So what has the builder to add to all this?
“Indeed it landed on my workshop floor as a jig saw puzzle on pallets.” Roy laughs.
“When it did I decided to convince the owner to turn it into something really special. He needed to digest that thought at first, but many espressos later he did agree to my point of view. We both feel that this bike has more cultural sex appeal (as most Guzzi’s do)
then a Harley’s do. After all they are warm blooded Italians by birth.”
“No offence to Harley lovers intended!” he quickly adds with a wide grin.
So what was your idea or vision?
“The name of this build is the ‘Outback Express’.
It is a running concept at RH Motorcycles. We regularly build rugged looking bikes based on a Moto Guzzi California III. Each time with minor changes and personal touches compliant to the persona of the specific owner.
I strive to give every bike its own uniqueness, tailored to its owner, but still with a signature appearance instantly recognizable to those who are familiar with my work.”
“Most of the inspiration for this bike originate from the persona of its owner. As he had no specific wishes it gave me the opportunity to mould the Outback Express concept to him as a character.
This client has a rugged, adventurous vibe to him. Staying young seems to come natural. Even at a slightly advanced age he is still curious and is constantly seeking to experience new things. He loves to road tripping, surfing and live life to the brim!
So we needed to get him a bike to fit him like a glove.”
Any interesting challenges?
“The most interesting fact about this bike is probably the lack of major changes to the rolling
chassis. Most parts are fabricated to fit the OEM frame and some are even reshaped from
original parts. So no, not really.’
So what DID you change?
“A complete technical rebuilding of the chassis. Engine overhaul was quite necessary too. The transmission, clutch and cylinder heads were rebuilt. A custom fitted gas tank originally from a Suzuki GS750 from the 70’s was reshaped and customized where necessary.
Custom made seat pan, and seat and tank strap. Custom fabricated side panels, reshaped
fenders, off road tires, stainless steel exhaust, Hella (spot) and a lot of other smaller modifications.
What do you like the most?
The colour scheme of silver, grey and black with the red sparkplug (signature ARE-AGE)
Anything in particular you want to share about the project?
Immediately after delivery the client decided to join us on our trip to Wheels and Waves 2019. There the bike you stumbled over was officially released.
He took about two weeks to get there, enjoying his classic Renault 4 trailering the bike and taking it off occasionally to enjoy the countryside, ocean view roads and other parts of France he particularly liked.
After the bike was done he offered the idea to hand paint our branding on his daily ride, the classic Renault R4F4 just for fun! HOW GOLDEN IS THAT!!”
Famous last words: how does it ride?
Less lazy than on OEM specs! It’s not a (cafe)racer but a bike that is enjoyed by cruising around the country side, or city with an unpaved road now and then.
As a custom motorcycle studio most work is done in house. Al the stuff that really requires a specialist’s hand was outsourced within our trusted network.
Examples: all our upholstery is done by Miller Kustom Upholstery, and powder coating by
Custom Coatings Hellvoirt.