Ghezzi & Brian Guzzi
Think of it as an Italian Buell?
As it turns out, Giuseppe doesn't have to ride far for a shakedown. The factory is located next to a typical northern lakes mountain road, and within thirty seconds I'm attacking its first bends. Even with the huge piece of lead that is a Guzzi twin engine, the Sport Twin feels pretty light. A quick glance at the data sheet helps to explain: 1405mm wheelbase mated to 23-degrees rake with 51-percent of the bike's weight on the front tire are up-to-date sport bike figures. Well, it's no 600 in the twisties, but on the other hand the high front wheel load does give exceptional feedback at the bars.
Gaining more and more confidence on the Sport Twin I can't help but notice how the lazy Guzzi engine drives me out of turns without much caring which gear it's in. Trying to milk horses in the upper rev range is pretty useless. Although the red line is marked at 8000 rpm, the 1064 pushrod twin gives it best in the mid-range, with a totally flat torque curve from 3000 to 7000 rpm. Revving the engine hard also induces a known big-twin problem; downshifting at high revs unsettles the bike unless revs and road speed are in total harmony. Best to leave the engine in third and enjoy the bends with that excellent race-bred frame.
On slow to medium-speed mountain roads, the Sport Twin is light years away from any other Guzzi, and feels well put-together, mature, and like somebody really did his homework in setting it up. Suspension is nicely dialed-in--sporty firm yet plush--and even the thinly padded seat is quite comforting. My only reservations concern braking issues. The novelty of the brakes soon wears off and I find them lacking in bite and power. Also while braking, my too-long legs tend to kiss the rear edges of the fairing. Blame my 6'4" frame if you want.
With such a track record, I am curious to see what she'll do at a faster pace. The Lecco-Milan highway has some nice high-speed sweepers, and the Italian police total lack of interest in issuing speeding tickets make it a fine testing ground. Pressing on the Sport Twin has the needle showing 220 KPH (about 130MPH) on the clock, with the rev- counter showing only 6500 rpm, hinting at too high a top gear. (As Giuseppe later explains to me, the gearbox supplied at the moment has Moto-Guzzi California model gearing with overdrive 5th gear.)
Anyway, the 80 or so horses at the rear wheel allow maintaining a relaxed high cruising speed and when the time comes for those 100-plus-mph sweepers the Sport Twin supplies high stability and plenty of lean without a hint of shake or wave. Tucking behind the low screen gets me into a speedy mood, but another 20 horses would be nice--something your local Guzzi tuner should happily oblige.
An old 500cc Fiat that pulls into my path changes my opinion on the brakes: At higher speed, the outboard discs supply a much stronger anchoring force and better feel. By the end of the day, my fear that this home-brewed thing will show plenty of nagging problems is dispelled. A few years ago, a ride on a poorly performing Bimota YB6 test bike left me wondering what the fuss was all about. Ghezzi & Brian's creation, on the other hand, feels really sorted.
Many will ponder the point of an 1100 twin with just 80 hp. But think about those loyal, happy-as-clams Ducati 900SS owners and you'll reach the conclusion that power does not equal happiness, at least for some. And in hardcore Guzzi countries like Germany, Switzerland and France, the Sport Twin is enjoying discreet success, at least by a tiny manufacturer's standard. And Guzzi owners are strange fellows. The slow and heavy pumping of those across-the-frame cylinders gets them into a trance state; the marriage of that immortal engine to a race-bred frame is enough to bring tears to their eyes. Ghezzi & Brian don't plan to break any sales records. They're satisfied to produce the ultimate Guzzi fantasy for the loyal few. It's definitely not a road burner, but as an amazing combination of a thirty-year-old engine and a totally up-to-date frame with road manners to match, it's hard to beat.
Engine Type: V-twin, 4-stroke, air/oil cooled, Nikasil cylinder lining, 2 valves per cylinder. Displacement: 1064 cc Bore and Stroke: 92 x 80mm Compression Ratio: 9.5:1, Max Output: 94 hp @ 8000 rpm, max torque 72 lb ft at 6000 rpm. Fuel Delivery: Weber Marelli digital electronic injection system, Fuel Tank: 16 lt (4.2 gal) Electrical system: battery 12V - 12Ah, alternator 25A Clutch: double disc, dry type. Gearbox: 5 speeds. Ratios: 1.81 - 1.25 - 1.00 - 0.83 - 0.73 Rear drive gear box: helical tooth gears, ratio 1.35 (17/23) final drive by shaft with two separate cardan joints and floating crown wheel and pinion box, ratio 4.12 (8/33). Frame: steel single beam, rectangular section with the engine as a stressed part; TIG welded Suspension: Front: Paioli upside-down hydraulic telescopic fork adjustable in compression, rebound and spring pre-load 4.7 in. travel Rear: progressive working steel swingarm; hydraulic Bitubo monoshock adjustable in rebound and spring pre-load, wheel travel 4.7 in. Wheels: 3 hollow spoke wheels Front: 3.5"x17, Rear: 4.5"x17; Tires: Front: 120/60 x 17; Rear: 160/60 x17 Brakes: Front: dual perimeter 420 mm stainless steel discs, 4 piston calipers; Rear: single drilled 240 mm, 4 piston caliper. Dimensions and weight: Length: 2030 mm (79.9") Width: 700 mm (27.5") Wheelbase: 1405 mm (55.3") Height: 1090 mm (42.9") Seat Height: 790 mm (31.1") Weight: (wet) 194 kg(426.8 pounds)