Gas & Oil Bespoke Motorcycles resurrects an Italian police bike…
In 1986, Moto Guzzi introduced the NTX 650, a V-twin adventure bike with a small-block Guzzi engine and Dakar styling. NTX stood for Nuova Tipo Cross, or New Cross Type. “New” because the NTX was built and sold alongside the older V65 TT Tutto Terreno (All Terrain), factory versions of which had been built to race in the Paris Dakar Rally and Baja 1000…and compete on the sales floor with the grandfather of multi-cylinder adventure bikes, the BMW R80G/S.
The NTX boasted a 744cc small-block Guzzi V-twin rated at 52 hp, 42mm Marzocchi forks, unlinked Brembo brakes, and a large 32-liter fuel tank. A year later, the NTX 750 appeared, along with the X PA police version that would remain in production until 2001.
“The NTX…would soon become the darling of the Italian polizia and scourge of Latin motorists. In police guise the NTX 750 was referred to as the X Publicca Amministrazione (X PA).” —OddBike
The civilian version, built until 1995, also gained something of a cult following, though it remained all but unknown here in the States:
“American riders were largely oblivious to the NTX, with as few as 24 examples having been imported…but the sweet character of the flexible little V-twin and decent handling on- and of- road (wobbly suspension aside) won the NTX a few fans over the years, even if it never threatened to unseat the G/S from its perch as king of the quasi-enduros.” —OddBike
Recently we heard from our friend Matej of Prague’s Gas & Oil Bespoke Motorcycles, who took possession of what he believes to be a ’94 NTX 750 some five years ago from a friend — a bike that arrived completely disassembled:
“At that time I was young and looking for challenges like this. So when he arrived at my workshop and started to throw one box after another from his car, I didn’t feel any anger, disappointment, or desperation.”
Those feelings would come later, as Matej dove into this monster of a project. As it turned out, the bike was a veteran of the Italian police service, and in terrible shape. So Matej had to assemble the bike like Frankenstein’s monster, using parts from an assortment of different bikes or fabricating them from scratch:
“From the original bike, I used only part of the frame, front forks, swingarm, carburetors, and the engine…everything else that I didn’t list above is from different bikes or was created.”
He finished the first version of the bike in 2020, originally as a bold experiment in design with a punk-rock vibe. Then, last year, he decided to completely change it up:
“In winter 21-22 I had a new vision and some free time. A few friends offered me help as well, so I went from the alternative punk version to a light enduro with vintage Dakar styling.”
The bike is now running a Yamaha SR tank with a custom electronics box, a bespoke metal tail with a very thick and comfortable seat, a luggage rack, new Excel 21/18″ wheels, foglights from a Volha automobile, and more. Though the project proved exceedingly difficult at times, Matej says the end product works like a dream:
“It’s a light and playful enduro — an Italian tractor, and a good companion on your travels… It’s a fairly light bike with power from low rpms, so off-roading is just joy after joy.”
Below, we talk to Matej for the full story on the build, and share more photos from Jakub Frey (@jakubfreyphotography).
Moto Guzzi NTX Scrambler: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
If I’m not wrong, it’s a Motto Guzzi NTX 750 from 1994, but it arrived to me in boxes a couple years ago, so I’m not 100% positive ????
• Why was this bike built?
Everything started a bit unconventionally. Approximately five years ago, a friend of mine called me, telling me he had a disassembled Guzzi. He got it with good intentions (of course) of fixing it and building a unique scrambler. But he had an argument with his colleague who was supposed to help him build it. So he asked me if I wanted to buy the bike, and he wouldn’t stop till I agreed.
At that time I was young and looking for challenges like this. So when he arrived at my workshop and started to throw one box after another from his car, I didn’t feel any anger, disappointment, or desperation. These feelings came to me after another three years, when I actually started to build it. Originally my intentions were to create a project and sell it to a new customer, but no one liked the idea. So I decided to build it just how I wanted it to be.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Even for this question there’s no easy answer, but I’ll try. This motorcycle has already gone through two design variants. The first one was created in 2020. It was courageous; I allowed myself do some experiments and I only repaired the major issues on the bike. I couldn’t wait to ride it instead of working on it. And most importantly, I have much less time for my personal projects than for my customers’. Anyways in winter 21-22 I had a new vision and some free time. A few friends offered me help as well, so I went from the alternative punk version to a light enduro with vintage Dakar styling.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
From the original bike, I used only part of frame, front forks, swingarm, carburetors, and the engine. Besides the fact that the bike was in boxes when it arrived, it was also originally serving the Italian police. The state of the motorcycle was just terrible. So everything else that I didn’t list above is from different bikes or was created.
The frame was lightened and it has a new gas tank and seat housing. The gas tank is from a Yamaha SR and it has a special box on it for the electronics. The seat base with cowl is made from metal and it’s of course built bespoke for this bike. It’s a comfortable seat and remains comfortable even on longer trips.
I wanted the headers and exhaust pipes to go through the middle of the V-twin engine with a SuperTrapp muffler. The front fender is from a Yamaha XT. Carburetors are DellOrto, with stainless intakes for the foam filters.
There is a rack for luggage on the left side of the rear frame. Wheels are new Excel rims, 21″ in the front and 18″ in the back. It’s also equipped with bigger antislip footrests so the bike is easy to handle off-road. The front mask is the classic Elba by Acerbis. There are also yellow foglights from an old Volha car. On the bottom of the engine I built a durable stainless cover.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Yes, it’s called Symbol because it symbolizes some of the new technologies we are capable of, and the overall styling of old Dakar bikes, which we really like.
• How would you classify this bike?
It’s a light and playful enduro — an Italian tractor, and a good companion on your travels.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
It’s pleasant. The machine has the centre of gravity just where you want it, which allows you to send it into the corners if you are brave. It’s a fairly light bike with power from low rpms, so off-roading is just joy after joy. You feel its advantages especially on narrow back roads.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m just glad I was able to resurrect it from its original shape — a bunch of boxes. If only I’d known how hard this path would be, I probably would’ve chosen something different. I remember moments when I thought I was finally done, but it was running only on one cylinder. After long searching, I found it was an ECU malfunction and was forced to find a new one. But that’s not something you can just buy, so I cooperated with a company that can build you one. And I could go on for the rest of the day with those stories, but I rather ride it. ????
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Photos: Jakub Frey (@jakubfreyphotography)