Marco Lambri is manager of the Piaggio Group Styling Center in Pontedera, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Florence and 26 kilometers (16 miles) east of Pisa. He received his first bike, a Malanca 50, when he was just five. He was fortunate to land at Fiat’s design center after graduating in 1998, then advanced through Lancia and Alfa Romeo’s design centers before arriving at the Piaggio Group in 2004. He added Aprilia and Moto Guzzi to his canvas in 2012. His Concept V85 Enduro ADV turned plenty of heads at the 2017 EICMA in Milan.
“For me the garage is one of the most important areas of the home and my choice of a place to live has always hinged on the fact that it had to have a garage at all costs,” Lambri said. “The first thing you’ll see in my garage is total chaos, or rather, I tend to alternate between periods of chaos with periods in which my favorite place gets transformed, is so clean and tidy that it virtually resembles an operating theater (this happens a couple of times a year). In addition to my tools, my garage has to have a stereo sound system because I always have to have my music wherever I happen to be.
“In one corner of the garage there’s an old boxer and an Sì that are still running, as well as my red Vespa GTS and a Moto Guzzi Griso,” he added. “Since I’m not at all averse to donning my leathers now and again and going out for some fun on a series of bends, with or without curbs, for me a sportbike is a must: at the moment it’s an Aprilia Tuono V4. I will obviously have to tidy the place up a bit to make room for the V85 because I didn’t have an enduro in my fleet.”
How It Began
“I forget exactly when it was that I sketched my first Guzzi,” Lambri explained. “Designing cars and bikes was almost like an illness for me and every day I would come up with a new sketch. My first professional foray into the design world dates back to the period when I worked at the Alfa Romeo Styling Center. Aprilia had just acquired Moto Guzzi and was looking for designers. I applied for the job and took along some of my design proposals. Thus, a few years and many sketches later, I landed up working on one of the most interesting and stimulating projects that I have ever put pencil to paper on, the Concept V85.
“My passion for the ‘Eagle’ was only really sparked when I was 16 years old and I went on a school trip to visit the Moto Guzzi plant in Mandello,” Lambri said. “In addition to the production areas, we were also shown the little testing track located behind the plant. It had just stopped raining and the track was still wet. A test rider was out on the track, doing some test laps on a Le Mans III.
“When he came back in after the test ride, he stopped the bike in among us students,” he added. “The heat coming off the tires and evaporating the water on the road surface—and the clicking noises caused by the dilation of the bike’s metal components all over the Le Mans—made for a truly surreal atmosphere. I was totally gobsmacked and I decided there and then that one day I would work at Mandello and design a Guzzi.”
Enter The V85
“The phenomenon of the classics and the return to certain values dating back to the early days of biking have become far more than just a passing fad,” Lambri said. “It’s the expression of a new kind of biker with very different demands: a rider who’s very particular about the look of his bike and wants to be able to express himself through it. But these days, the classic bike sector too often sacrifices practicality in favor of pure image, particularly when it comes to off-road bikes. The V85 instead combines the all the values of riding in style with those of practicality.”
Moto Guzzi boasts a solid off-road tradition; the first proof of this arrived at the Six Days Reliability Trial in 1939, which took place in Austria, where Moto Guzzi participated with the GT 20, winning four gold medals. The true season of reliability continued in 1957, with the Lodola Regolarità, and then with the Stornello Regolarità in 1962. With this tradition, Moto Guzzi took on the Paris-Dakar in 1985 with the V65 Baja and the following year with the V75 Baja, strictly based on the standard models, appreciated for their lightness and the characteristics of their engine, which was robust and reliable.
It was just a matter of time that someone would develop the V85, once the time was right. And it appears that Lambri was the right guy for the job.
“Whatever the case may be, I personally consider the V85 to be a truly modern bike,” he said. “We like to call it a classic because it embodies all those values that we believe are timeless, and therefore also classical, for every biker. The bike is actually very simple in terms of structure, robustness, and ease of use. It has no nonessential bells and whistles whatsoever and it harkens back to the spirit of the earliest enduro bikes of the 1980s, the kind of bikes on which you could go anywhere and do anything, including going to and from work, weekends at the lake, or going on a summer holiday.”
According to Lambri, Moto Guzzi’s off-roading history is full of inspirational examples, from the Lodola Regolarità through to the TT and NTX series. Simple, practical bikes that were the expression of Italian-ness and virtually unstoppable on any terrain. He feels strongly that the V85 has picked up on this legacy and dressed it up with a unique brand of charm that comes down directly from another chapter in Moto Guzzi’s off-roading history, namely that of the legendary Paris-Dakar.
“The prototype unveiled in Milan is clearly intended to be a nod to the Moto Guzzi V65 TT that Claudio Torri rode in the 1985 Paris-Dakar race, particularly in terms of the graphics,” Lambri explained. “We felt that this was a bike with the perfect spirit to introduce the classic enduro concept and also to highlight Moto Guzzi’s off-roading origins.”
A New Take On An Old Trend That’s New Again
“Every new model has its very own story to tell,” he added. “We could tell many stories regarding the evolution of a new bike and the most interesting of these stories are often those relating to the finer details. Once the basic concept and the general styling have been agreed upon, the up-scaling process invariably means that everything—right down to the most apparently insignificant little screw—has to be reconsidered.
“An important factor is the headlight cluster. The bike’s look is largely dependent on its headlights and normally the internal structure of the headlight itself is never really addressed in the initial sketches. These days the headlight clusters are an expression of technology, lighting quality, and also the kind of ‘look’ that the bike will have. This new Guzzi family of bikes had to be original and distinctive, even down to this extremely important component. We finally decided on the illuminated Eagle logo after looking at various highly imaginative ideas, but in the end it was the bike’s inherent spirit that led us to decide on this obvious choice. Obvious, perhaps, but by no means commonplace and, above all, unique.”
Maiden Voyage And Beyond
“I’d like to take the V85 up to the lake for its first ride,” Lambri said. “The old national road No. 36, via Mandello del Lario and on to Dervio before heading off to the Valvarrone; the roads are twisty and the tar is a little rough, ideal for the V85. I’ve ridden the bike and, let me tell you, it rides really well. It’s extremely easy to handle though somewhat unyielding and the engine pulls really well. Then there’s the trip back from the Valsassina.”