Moto Guzzis, and those who love them, are weird. This dumps several friends into a bucket they might feel is unjustly damning, but anyone willingly spending disposable income on a motorcycle on the fringe is not normal. Actually, they are most likely proud of the fact they are aficionados of an Italian motorcycle sporting a longitudinally mounted V-twin and shaft drive. They would smile at the notion. I get it; Moto Guzzis are soulful machines for sure. However Guzzis have never scratched that performance itch for me.
Then I met Todd Eagan.
Todd’s a bit of weirdo, too, but in a good way. He is the founder of GT MotoCycles and has been building Moto Guzzis that go fast and handle well for nearly two decades as the purveyor of GuzziTech. GT MotoCycles is the expression of the pinnacle of his knowledge, a new operation that focuses on built-to-order machines that look like art but go like stink. Recently he rolled his latest model, the GTM-01, into the Cycle World studio.
And then he thumbed the start button, firing up the fully built 1,380cc V-twin. A single raucous snap and rap of the throttle had me grabbing my gear and hitting the road. Beauty shots be damned.
Eagan claims 140-plus hp and 115-plus pound-feet of torque from the 90-degree, eight-valve V-twin that began its life as a 1,151cc Griso powerplant. Custom cam profiles and ECU tuning add nearly 65 hp and 40 pound-feet of torque over the stock unit as the entire system breathes and exhales through a short Y-pipe intake and GTM X-Fire exhaust system. Beautiful and functional.
This hearty powerplant hangs in a custom hybrid chassis using a low-center-of-gravity Tonti big-block frame mated to a fully adjustable Matris M46R Shadow shock and single-sided swingarm. Old and new fused. A 50mm Marzocchi Works Mono nitride-coated fork adds more high tech and performance. Marchesini forged aluminum wheels complete the rolling stock of the GTM-01. Front Brembo .484 calipers squeeze Brembo Groove full-floating rotors up front with a radial Brembo RCS master cylinder applying the pressure.
While Eagan insists the GTM-01 is not meant to be art and is to be ridden hard, there is no denying the gray and black shape of the tank and small seat is worthy of display in a gallery or living room. Form often follows function, and when stars align it leads to a looker such as the GTM-01. The turn signals and brake lights are integrated into the rear subframe, and every bit of the bike is expertly crafted well beyond the standards of most custom builds. This motorcycle looks production in execution—high praise for a built-to-order piece, $45,000 or not.
On the road, the GTM-01 is an a experience that is so much like a hi-fi stereo system fed melodies by a turntable. It’s decidedly uncomplicated, but rich in every note and tone. Although it has a keyless ignition and fuel injection, the rider aids use an analog processor—the rider. Is it better without ABS and traction control? In outright performance, probably not, but Eagan has created a motorcycle that communicates well and gives plenty of warning as you bump up against the limits of traction.
Moving through the uptight streets of the master-planned city of Irvine garnered looks of annoyance to abject terror when the sound from the artfully crafted X-Fire exhaust reached sensitive metropolitan eardrums. Loud pipes don’t save lives, but they can make some weaker ones feel like they are coming to an end. It’s enough to wonder if quieter is better. Then at the next light the dude in the side-piped Shelby Daytona Coupe continuation model looked over, smiled, and motioned with a nod for another crack on the throttle. Okay, it’s just right.
Blasting away from the light, the grabby racing clutch adds to the burly personality but requires your patience. Revolutions build with authority, as does speed. Not at a modern superbike level for sure, but quick enough for tunnel vision. Torque can be only described as copious and, once at speed, shifting is optional on most mountain roads as long as the straights aren’t too long.
And on those mountain roads the GTM-01 is a stunner. At first I was not sure how a frame that saw duty in multiple Guzzi models from the ’70s through the ’90s would handle the power from the monster engine and chassis loads created by the grippy Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ tires. Each corner the GTM-01 asked for more until I was absolutely smashing through radiuses and clipping apexes at a pace that made me wish I was at a racetrack. The ride was rhythmic: Bark out of the corner, yank on the Brembos, tip in, trail off the brakes, and a split second later—back on the throttle. Every note hit perfect on Eagan’s hi-fi. Then and there, I became a weirdo.