Tough as Nails
If you see the man in real-life, it is quite easy to feel intimidated by his sheer size in both length and width. The long hairy beard adds to the tough-guy-factor as well. But honestly, the reality couldn’t be more different. Nick Keen is the exact opposite of that! Goldsmith and jeweler by day, Nick is probably one of the friendliest and kindest persons we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He owns a very special Harley-Davidson UH80, but has a weak spot for Moto Guzzi, and so he wanted to create something extraordinary.
A different kind of Bobber
Being a tinkerer, Nick has had his fair share of wrenching. In the past he had restored a Triumph T140 Bonneville, which he considers to be his first “real” motorcycle. Some of his fondest memories are of that Bonneville. Fast forward to the present, and we can see that all of the hard work has paid off. We present to you, the Gentleman’s Rat bike. The idea was initially to build a Moto Guzzi Bobber. There aren’t that many Guzzi Bobber’s riding around, especially with a hard-tail. But having seen the “Peter F.” bike by Mandello Cycles in Bremervörde, Nick got some inspiration for his own build.
The Gentleman’s Rat first started its life as a 1982 Moto Guzzi 1000SP. A completely different machine than what we see here today. Some interesting and cool features on this Moto Guzzi are for instance the fuel tank, that originally left the factory on a CZ, and was left with the original patina-rust on it for authenticity. Or the tubeless wheels and oversize Brembo brakes, that came off a Moto Guzzi California EV1100. The most notable piece of equipment on this Guzzi has to be the Girder fork. Nick told us that it wasn’t an easy job to get the fork to fit correctly, since it was originally intended for a Boom Trike. For those of you that don’t know what that is, a Boom Trike is a German built trike that uses Volkswagen and Ford engines.
More comfortable than a cafe racer
There are more interesting features on this build. The handlebar for instance, is a tall unit that, in combination with the yellow headlight, is supposed to be a nod to the 1940’s. The engine itself was kept as standard with the exception of a pair of pod air-filters. For the sake of simplicity, the original contact breaker with ignition points was maintained. A new battery box underneath the unidentifiable seat was fabricated by a fellow Guzzista. If that went by too quickly, the seat was bought off the internet and came off an unknown motorcycle. Looks comfy though! All other electrics are housed in that box as well. The subframe of the Guzzi was cut, bent, and welded to align with the new struts, turning the 1000SP into a hard-tail. Nick did mention to us that the Guzzi rides more comfortable than his Moto Guzzi Le Mans 3 Café Racer. To finish the look off, the exhaust headers received a wrapping treatment, while the mufflers were replaced with a pair of open pipe exhausts, making this one loud bobber.
According to the goldsmith from Emmen, the Netherlands, this project is a never-ending story and he intends to keep it that way. At the moment of writing, he has already changed out the handlebar and fuel tank to try a new look. We have to admit that this Guzzi looks exceptionally beautiful, in its own unique and raw way. It is hard to believe that this bike is a genuine shed-built bike. We would love to see more of this kind of builds if it was up to us!
Photo Credits: Gert de Weerd