Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 – Cycle Torque Magazine

13 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 – Cycle Torque Magazine

Return of the Italian Tourer

Test by Tim Sanford. Pics by Keith Muir

Moto Guzzi’s new 1100 Breva is aimed at the relaxed touring market and it suits that and more – it’s an easy to live with big bike which would be excellent for summer rides of any length. The bike is available in two guises: there is the basic naked version in either red or black at $19,990 plus on road costs or the ST which comes with panniers, adjustable screen, rear carrier rack and carrier bag for an extra two grand; the example we tested came fitted with the optional carrier rack. An anti-lock brake equipped version should also be available later in 2005, too.

Under Aprilia’s ownership, modern Guzzis are no longer the agriculturally over-engineered beasts they once were. great fun most of the time, but quite unsopoisticated. These days bikes like the Breva still have much of the charms of the old bikes, without the hassles that went with them and almost sent this proud company to the wall.

The mechanicals

Moto Guzzi has relied on the longditudinal (the final driveshaft is basically an extension of the crankshaft) V-twin engine layout forever and that hasn’t changed – in concept at least. Internally it’s a different story however and the engineers have been very diligent with the use of conventional performance-enhancing practices to extract more power and torque from the 1100cc.

The engine has been redesigned with new crankcases, and thanks to the relocation of the alternator (instead of being in-line with the crank, it is now situated between the cylinders) the engine is 4cm shorter than previously and also now sits further forward and higher than before. Attention has been paid to the reciprocating masses and reductions of 10 per cent for significant components like con-rods have been achieved.

The combustion process benefits from twin-spark ignition, the injectors are located very close to the inlet valves and there is a stepper motor system in the EFI which ensures fuss-free starting and warm-up. It all adds up to a very user-friendly engine which enhances the riding and touring experience.

Gearboxes by Guzzi used to be magnificently robust but dreadful to operate; they now work like any other ’box – smooth, faultless changes every time and there is no reason to suspect the reliability will be any less than before. The dry clutch is a delight to operate and is especially light – if you’ve got strong hands you can actually pull it in with one finger; like all dry clutches it’s a bit noisy but I think you’ll like that. The chassis is a combination of a steel tube frame and the power unit which acts as a stressed member.

Front suspension is by telescopic forks adjustable for preload and the rear suspension is a progressive linkage adjustable for rebound and preload with a very easily operated hand ring. The swingarm houses the driveshaft and Guzzi has used an innovative system called Compact Reactive Shaft Drive.

The system works extremely well, with no trace of the old torque reaction from the shaft but thanks to the original Italian name (’Cardano Reattivo Compatto’) it goes by the hilarious acronym of CARC. Make what you like of that!

Brakes used are Brembo calipers all round, twin 320mm disc up front with four-piston calipers and a 282mm single disc at the rear with a twin-piston caliper. Braided stainless steel lines carry the hydraulic fluid for the brakes and also for the clutch. The Brembos provide all the power and control you’ll need, even when thrashing the bike and they are very light to use.


The instrument panel combines interesting styling reminiscent of late ’50s Cadillacs with a very modern digital and analogue information interface. Speedo, tacho and fuel gauge are analogue and there is digital readout for odometer, clock, temperature and so on.

The trip meters merit special comment: instead of that tedious fiddling with tiny buttons to set trip meters, the Breva has the control module on the left handgrip where the headlight switch used to be before permanent lights-on legislation came in. The sliding switch gives you access to Trip 1, Trip 2 and a ‘chrono’ (clock) feature. The trip meter panel gives instant information from the bike’s computer: distance travelled, average speed, duration of trip, average fuel consumption, instantaneous fuel consumption (both in litres/100km) and maximum speed.

A very useful feature of the instrument display is it remembers where it was when you switched off so there is no messing about at start-up trying to get to the scree n you want. In addition to the fuel gauge there is a reserve warning light and the trip meter switches to distance travelled on reserve. I didn’t run out of fuel on the Breva but no doubt I could, being both talented and experienced in that tragic activity.

Moto Guzzi Breva 1100

The bike went for more than 300km before the reserve light glowed – and that’s a good touring range in this country. We didn’t get to try the panniers but by the look of the mounting system they should be easy to get on and off and be secure once locked on. Under the seat there is a storage area which is big enough for spare gloves and perhaps tightly rolled wet-weather gear.

On the road

Relaxed touring is the bike’s market and it does the job extremely well. The big V-twin engine has heaps of low and mid-range torque and with its high gearing it rolls along quite lazily. Vibration is there, but only at very low revs; in the normal rev range you’d expect to use, the engine is very smooth.

It can be ridden in relaxed mode but if you want to cover twisty ground with a big grin, dial up more than 5,000 revs and enjoy. The big Breva hauls!

The seats – rider and pillion – are spacious and there is plenty for the passenger to hang on to. I found the seat extremely comfortable, so much so that long periods in the saddle were looked forward to. The riding position is well laid out and my only criticism is that for long legs, the left cylinder head is a little too close for comfort in hot weather; if you always wear leathers it won’t worry you but if it’s a hot day and you’re in jeans, the left knee will be unhappy.

I found the ride quality to be very good at standard suspension settings; adjustment of the preload at the rear is a simple matter of twisting the adjuster knob while up front you need either a socket or a tube spanner to get a grip on the hex nut and there’s an appropriate tube spanner in the tool roll. Over less than brilliant roads the rear suspension could be better damped but it was no big issue.

Of more concern was the ground clearance – the Breva is fitted with a centre stand (the reason for this is a mystery, there being no chain to adjust) and it’s the first thing to scrape at lean angles which are hardly sportsbike territory. The bike is fitted with Metzeler Roadtec tyres which provide excellent grip and confidence so it is too easy to scrape; the centrestand is solid and removal is the obvious option for more lean angle but then the front of the muffler will drag. If you want to use the Breva as a tourer but also fancy a bit of a thrash every now and then, you’ll n eed to jack up the rear preload to give some extra clearance – it’s by no means the best solution but it’ll work.

The last word

If a Euro Tourer is on your mind, the Moto Guzzi Breva is an excellent choice. It offers features which are competitive with other Continental brands and it is very well priced in either naked or ST guise. Riding and touring are relaxed and the bike, unlike so many Guzzis before it, is easy to live with.

Moto Guzzi Breva 1100
Moto Guzzi Breva 1100
Moto Guzzi Breva 1100

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