“Flying Scotsman”: Moto Guzzi V65 by JM Customs

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Inspired by the world’s most famous steam locomotive…

The Flying Scotsman, built in 1923, earned its name hauling the extremely long and heavy London-to-Edinburgh passenger train. The three-cylinder, 96-ton, 70-foot engine was the first steam locomotive clocked at 100 mph and went on to set the longest nonstop record for a steam engine at 422 miles…in 1989, 66 years after it was built! It’s regarded as the world’s most famous locomotive and, after extensive restoration, continues to haul mainline specials in the UK.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Enter JM Customs of Perth, Scotland, whose Kawasaki Z1000 “Flatliner” and BMW R80 street scrambler we previously featured. Says founder James Moir:

“We bust our ass every day to do what we love, to build bespoke motorcycles that you can ride hard every day! No ornaments in our shop.”

Recently, the team welcomed a very special project into the shop. Client and racer Iliyas Campbell — owner of Scotland’s motorcycle magazine, 56’N Bikes — brought in a 1986 Moto Guzzi V65 Florida that had been his father’s:

“We listened to Iliyas talk of his father, of the sacrifices that he made to ensure his family were taken care of, how as a boy he recalled his father working tirelessly as a welder in the oil industry. And now he wanted to give something back to his father.”

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Iliyas and his father had originally planned to rebuild the bike together, which was in about six boxes, but, as is often the case, life got in the way and now Iliyas wanted to surprise his father with a truly special gift — his old motorcycle, rebuilt into a scrambler with clean lines, minimalist wiring, and a seamless blend of old and modern components.

Flying Scotsman train
The original Flying Scotsman.

Given that Iliyas and his family are the Scottish islands of the Hebrides, the team wanted to incorporate some Scottish heritage into the build. Recently, James had been reading up on the Flying Scotsman locomotive, so he allowed the great steam train to inspired the colors and the fixtures of the build. Then he designed some side satchels made from Harris tweed — a major industry in the Outer Hebrides. Viking Motorcycle Seats in Kent brought the satchels and seat to life. Says James:

“The team there went above and beyond with these beautifully crafted pieces. They even drove seven hours to ensure that we had these parts in time, which is bloody marvelous service! Top lads.”

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Overall, we absolutely love not only the design and execution of this build, but the heritage and family behind it. Says James:

“If I had to choose one thing in particular that I am proud of, it’s that we created something truly meaningful for Iliyas and his father.”

Below, we get the full details on the build from James Moir of JM Customs himself!

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

A wee bit about us…

We are JM Customs, based in Perth, Scotland. We are a grassroots custom shop that houses two workshops: a fully-equipped service and repair centre, as well as a paint booth and custom design and fabrication workshop. Whilst keeping the local motorcycle community rolling, we also design and build all manners of custom Motorcycles, from café racers to choppers.

I, James Moir, owner and lead designer, along with my team, create these beautiful machines. We bust our ass everyday to do what we love, to build bespoke motorcycles that you can ride hard every day! No ornaments in our shop haha. Although for an independent like us the struggle is real at times, we are growing from strength to strength and most importantly having a blast doing it!

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Now for the bike…

The bike in question is a 1986 Moto Guzzi V65 Florida. It arrived with us at JMC in six boxes of old rusty parts. But it wasn’t the build that initially drew our attention, it was the story that came along with it. Our client Iliyas had brought his father’s bike to us. They had previously attempted to work on the motorcycle together, but life took over and like many projects, it fell to the wayside.

We listened to Iliyas talk of his father, of the sacrifices that he made to ensure his family were taken care of, how as a boy he recalled his father working tirelessly as a welder in the oil industry. And now he wanted to give something back to his father. This kind of gift from a son to a father is something truly special. And we wanted to make sure it was the very best surprise. We were very honoured that he wanted us to be a part of this.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Design Concept…

We discussed the basic design, which was to be a scrambler with clean lines, minimalist wiring, and a seamless blend of old and modern components. And so, it began. Once we built up a rolling chassis, we could see more clearly what we were working with. We had to raise the rear frame in order to create a more parallel look. I had recently been reading about the locomotive, the Flying Scotsman. I was intrigued by the history, and more importantly the design — the colours and the fixtures. I wanted to also tip my hat, so to speak, to the great steam train. Being that Iliyas and his family are from The Hebrides, we also wanted to incorporate something into the design which tied to the bike to their heritage.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Work carried out…

Engine/ Drive train
We carried out a top end rebuild of the motor, replacing the clutch assembly at the same time. Then we fully detailed the engine, giving it a fresh new look with matte black and polished accents. The engine has been fully serviced too. And runs fantastic!

We stripped, cleaned, and rebuilt the carbs, installing modified choke plungers so as to avoid a thumb choke. We installed DNA Performance filters in place of the old (enormous) air box. We stripped and rebuilt the bevel box, installing new bearings and seals.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Electrical
We built a custom wiring loom for this bike. Upgrading the charging system with an SK502 system from Electrex World meant we could lose some of the older components and run a modern regulator/rectifier. We also replaced the old motoplaat igniter boxes for two modern alternatives from Carmo Electronics in Holland.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

The Cockpit
The switch gear is by CRK — these are beautifully simplistic in design, with billet casing that allows for internal bar wiring. They look stunning and minimalist. Bar end indicators, aftermarket levers, and Domino race throttle. The speedo is a Velona by Daytona. Also, the instrument light bar is Daytona.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

We installed some fat riser bars which really lend themselves to the scrambler style. All of the wiring runs through the steering stem, keeping everything clean and simple.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

The Front End
The USD forks and lower yoke are from a K7 GSX-R750. The top yoke is a custom piece so we can install risers and fat bars. The headlight is a retro scrambler unit with a nice tinted lens, which I really thought matched the colour of the lights on the Flying Scotsman locomotive.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

The front mudguard and mounts were hand-crafted in house. We used the original wheels, but while installing the new forks and radial calipers, we designed and CNC-ed custom wheel spacers and disc carriers. This allowed for correct function of the brakes. We installed twin KTM Duke discs up front and brake lines from HEL Performance. We also designed and turned a custom front axle and spacers.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Frame
We chopped off the tail section of the subframe and welded on a loop and seat mounts. We also welded an additional plate to the suspension mounts to hold indicators. We fabricated an aluminium battery box and mounts, covered by a neat leather cover. Again, we ran all the wiring internally so that no unnecessary cables/wire were on display. We also took the gear shifter and rear brake lever and modified those, repositioning them to the rear of the lower frame rails for a cleaner look and more functional position.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Rear End
We installed some new YSS rear shocks to tie in the modern suspension up front and to raise the frame line to sit in a parallel position. We installed some retro indicators and the rear mudguard, tail light bracket, and plate mount were hand-made in house at JMC. The original rear brake system was reconditioned and powdercoated, and we installed an HEL Performance brake line.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Upholstery
We fabricated a seat base and designed some side satchels. We wanted Harris tweed and leather — the Harris tweed would be the element that really tied this bike to Iliyas and his father’s heritage, being that they come from The Hebrides.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Our designs were brought to life by Viking Motorcycle Seats in Kent — the team there went above and beyond with these beautifully crafted pieces. They even drove 7 hours to ensure that we had these parts in time, which is bloody marvelous service! Top lads.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

The Tank
The tank deserves its own wee section haha. We couldn’t use the old tear drop tank for obvious reasons — it would not fit in with the design. Ghastly looking things. So, the search was on to find a tank that would fit the bill. We used a tank from a 1981 Suzuki GS850, but we dished the sides to really transform the shape of the large tank — it gives the bike a waistline. And, well it just looks awesome haha. We had to fabricate new mounts for the tank, a blank for the sender unit, and we installed a new petcock and filler cap.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Exhausts
We used the original headers and fabricated new pieces to extend them. We installed some stainless megaphones and finished the exhausts in titanium heat wrap. We also fabricated custom exhaust hangers.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Paint and Art
Our friends at JW Autobody took care of the paint, laying out the most beautiful metallic British Racing Green. It looks like an emerald in the sunlight. Once we got it back, our in-house airbrush artist Aaron De La Haye created what I feel is the real highlight of the bike: a super realistic tank badge that appears to be riveted in place, emblazoned in the traditional font of “The Flying Scotsman.”

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

He also airbrushed the filler cap from stock chrome, to look like it too was old and handcrafted. The blend of colours and textures, from the paint to the Harris tweed and leather is something really lovely. A real touch of class.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Tyres
Front: Mitas Rock Rider
Rear: Bridgestone Trail Wing

What are we proud of…
We are particularly proud of the detail work on this bike. The blend of modern and old components that doesn’t detract from the overall vintage design. With all of the subtle handcrafted items there’s something new to find every time you look at the bike. It is a real joy to ride, responsive and comfortable. In our opinion it’s our very best work to date. We are very passionate about what we do. If I had to choose one thing in particular that I am proud of, it’s that we created something truly meaningful for Iliyas and his father.

Moto Guzzi V65 Scrambler

Follow the Builder

Facebook: @jmcustomsperth
Instagram: @jm_customs
Photo credits: Oliver Young
Owner of the motorcycle:
Iliyas Campbell Company: 56’N Bikes

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