2007 Air-Cooled Twins Naked Comparo
Airin' It Out!
2007 Moto Guzzi Breva 1100
If we were choosing a bike based on uniqueness and originality, the 2007 Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 would take the cake. We're not sure about how things are where you're from, but even here in Southern California, we just don't see many modern Guzzis on the road. And depending on your tastes, that may make owning a Guzzi all the sweeter.
The transverse-mounted V-Twin is the defining trait that screams Guzzi as soon as one is within sight. Sadly, though, this pushrod, two-valve air-cooled engine is more plant than power. Both horsepower and torque figures resulting from the 92mm x 80mm bore and stroke and 9.8:1 compression ratio fall short in this crowd. The Breva is pretty gutless in the lower rpm ranges, and it shudders and struggles like a smaller-displaced, stock V-Twin when the throttle is slammed open in top gear.
|Vitals at a glance|
I learned to deal with how this bike develops – or rather doesn't develop – power by carrying as much velocity as possible when approaching a turn. Otherwise, rolling off the throttle too early meant it was time to tap dance on the shifter. The engine simply doesn't have the strength to pull itself out of a hole dug by being one or two gears too high. Its gearbox, thankfully, is a low-effort affair.
Alex "Grasshopper" Edge picked up on this other Italian bike's barren supply of steam, noting, "The low-end power of the big V-Twin isn’t very impressive, at least not in this company. Roll onto the throttle at 3000 rpm and the engine feels dead and boggy until 5000 when it starts to wake up and pull more aggressively."
Kevin made a painfully accurate quip we he asked rhetorically, "Would you believe that this [the Multi] is an air-cooled Italian Twin, and that this [the Breva] is an air-cooled Italian Twin?" Great point, Danger.
We all experienced heat in one way or another from these Twins in the breeze, but because of the Guzzi's cylinders proximity to the rider's knees, the heat emanating from this bike seemed exaggerated. Regardless of how riders dealt with the swelter, this transverse Twin suffered at the hands of the Heat Miser. Once hot ambient air met even hotter engine temps, like a pan of crackling hot bacon grease, the tell tale ping ping sound of detonation reared its ugly head. Horsepower certainly suffered as a result. That's the last thing this bike needed.
On the plus side, this powerplant has received a plethora of recent upgrades (like sintered valve seats, lighter pistons and rods, and a healthy 540-watt alternator) that make it a better running and more reliable lump than Guzzis of old.
And this sensation was only exacerbated when going left through a turn whilst trying to modulate the throttle. The combination of driveline lash from the shaft drive and the resultant rotational inertia from the crank pulsing outward made for a wobbly ride anytime we didn't pull a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie on the throttle by setting it and forgetting it. Mid-corner line changes, or anything less than a deft right wrist, weren't readily welcome by the Breva when cornering aggressively.
Alex felt the troubles too, criticizing the bike as having "strange frame geometry in some way – the front end has a weird feel, somewhat floppy, so when you turn the bars slightly off-center, instead of returning to center, they want to fall all the way to full lock."
If you're willing to sacrifice a sporting time in the twists for a generally forgiving freeway ride, then you might actually prefer what Alex called "the softest suspension of any in this group." No doubt that this bike from nearly 90-year-old Moto Guzzi supports touring more so than sport. Spring rates for both front and rear seem too light, as the rear end would sometimes blow through its stroke even with the hydraulic preload adjuster set all the way toward hard. The preload-adjustable-only 45mm fork didn't fare much better. But maybe what you’re looking for is a semi-sporty cruiser that can cruise great distances in comfort, and in this respect the charismatic Guzzi shines.
Moto Guzzi uses its patented CA.R.C. (Cardano Reattivo Compatto/Compact Reactive Drive Shaft system of providing rear suspension via a single-sided swingarm and a shaft drive. It claims to eliminate the jacking effect of most shaft-drive systems, and indeed it did keep this unwanted dynamic from hindering our rides.
The rider environment is where the Breva 1100 shines. With a distinctly shaped and comfortable saddle, pull-back handlebars, and upright riding posture, it welcomes long freeway miles. Taller riders might be cramped by a fairly short seat-to-footpeg distance. Wind blast was reduced significantly by the accessory windshield, making for a fresher rider at day's end.
Looking like a set of magician's magic linking rings, the unconventional instrument cluster is a defining item of the Guzzi's looks. The chrome-rimmed analog tach, speedo and fuel gauge are crowned by a thin strip of inconspicuous idiot lights. But the bizarrely-placed square LCD display overlaps, literally and figuratively, the other gauges. "Eh, ga-ROSS! What's that fly doing in my soup!" The figures displayed on the screen are hard to see during the day, and the whole thing just bungs up the look. Not to mention the level of education required to run the complex combination of data displayed. And, for a bike that retails for $12.5k, we were unimpressed with the low-quality stainless steel used on the header pipes, which allowed the tubing to become terribly oxidized over the bike’s 6500 miles of journalistic abuse.
The Breva redeems itself (at least how we had it equipped) with all the storage it posses. I recently read somewhere on the Interweb what may have been a backhanded comment about the Breva, but it was accurate all the same: "The Breva 1100, a true station wagon."
I loved tooling around town or down the freeway on this bike because I knew that everything I brought on the trip was riding securely behind me. The Givi-designed top box is easy to use, and has the added comfort of a pad for passengers to rest against. But to our dismay, the 29-liter hard panniers were overly complex to remove from the bike. It wasn't until weeks after having had the bike did our diligent and bright photog, Fonzie, figure out how to pull 'em off. Alfonse has dealt with all manner of cases and bags, so you know if it took him a while... Also, you may have seen these bags before on the defunct Aprilia RST1000 Futura, evidenced by the “Aprilia” stamp embossed on their insides.
Perhaps we asked too much from the poor Moto Guzzi Breva, as it is easily outclassed performance-wise in this semi-sporting quartet. It's not a crummy bike, but it certainly is lacking in areas that the others flaunt. It’s an enjoyable ride if you’re not in a hurry. The other bikes in this group work better if you’re trying to keep up with the crotch-rocket crowd while carrying a week’s worth of gear.
But if you simply dial down the pace a bit and place your favorite beau on back, the Guzzi becomes a front-runner, possessing a high level of cool along with class-leading comfort for two. Prefer to drone the freeways with the occasional sweeping country road to connect you to your next destination? Then the comfortable and unusual Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 might be everything you want, even if everybody else doesn't get it.
|The Perfect Bike For…|
|...the motorcyclist with a passenger who couldn't give two hoots about the fastest point from A to B, but wants to arrive at point B fresh and in unique style.|