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If you want something simple, fast, characterful and fun, look no further than a Moto Guzzl Le Mans. They're cheaper than most British twins, faster and easier to work on than Japanese multis. Damn near bulletproof too. That's a lot of reasons to own one but does the reality match the theory? To find out, we headed to Worksop, Notts, to run the CBG rule over Patrick Wall's Mkll.

We've picked a good day. One of the hottest days of the summer. Owner Patrick Wall lives in a built-up area of Worksop - not the best place to appreciate the long-legged qualities of a big Moto Guzzi - but he's more than happy for us to head out of town to see if his affection for the Le Mans rubs off on us.

Even in town, I warm to the big twin instantly. There's plenty of steering lock - at least compared to other Italian sportsters like Ducati's 900SS - and the low seat height and centre of gravity let me nudge the Guzzi around the narrow streets without feeling like I'm going to topple over. What's more, at 6ft, I find the riding position spot-on, with a comfortable stretch to the bars. I can be lazy with braking too, relying on the front/rear combination provided by the foot pedal without resorting to the right hand lever to bring in the other front disc.

However, as we leave town along the dual carriageway bypass, the Le Mans comes into its own. I'm following Patrick's mate Phil on his little Imola and, as usual, I have absolutely no idea where I'm going, but as Phil gives me the slip easing onto a busy roundabout, I note which exit he's taken and bide my time. With the coast ^^^^^ clear, I let the Guzzi have its head and the back end of the Imola looms up with just a twist of the wrist. Once we get out onto quieter, single carriageway roads, the Le Mans just gets better - and better. There's not a huge amount of go below

Main: Handsome and more besides the MKII Le Mans.

use the gearbox, and once I hit 5000rpm, the Guzzi picks up its skirts and goes. Want to nip past a bus? Just open the (slightly heavy) throttle and you're there in less time than it takes to tell. That's what 56lb-ft of torque can do for you.

Swinging round fast sweepers at a decent lick is what the Le Mans is all about - it's certainly putting a smile on my face. What impresses me almost as much though is the sheer practicality of the bike. Without the fairing lowers - on which I remember battering my knees when I rode a Mkll in 1981 - the riding position is very comfortable. Whatever those lowers provide in weather protection or wind resistance, I'd gladly sacrifice for the sake of unmolested patellae. ^This is a machine I could ride all day. Or for a quick blast somewhere out of the way on a Sunday morning, I'd be ^^^^^^ equally pleased to wheel a well-sorted Le Mans out of the fantasy garage. It's a surprisingly quick bike and when I use both brake levers in tandem, the Guzzi pulls up in pretty short order too. Fun with practicality - it doesn't get much better.

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