V10 Centauro: Born To Cruise In Fast Lane – Orlando Sentinel

6 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on V10 Centauro: Born To Cruise In Fast Lane – Orlando Sentinel
Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro

V10 Centauro: Born To Cruise In Fast Lane

2-wheel test-ride

They lost Ravelli to the war, but Parodi and Guzzi went on to build a four-valve, overhead cam, single-cylinder motorcycle in 1920. Althogh it was quite advanced for the time, they went back to a two-valve machine for production. Their motorcycles were known for excellent design, quality construction and high performance.

In the 1920s, these features were what made Moto Guzzi one of Italy’s biggest manufacturers.

In the late ’60s, Moto Guzzi developed a 90-degree V-twin, carried horizontally in the frame. This engine has been the mainstay of the company ever since. The shaft-driven bike was intended for police and military use, but the public loves a speed machine that handles well, so a tourer and sportbike were developed.

The mid-’80s saw Guzzi’s market share decreasing rapidly, probably due to the inexpensive, faster Japanese motorcycles that were flooding the market and a downward spiral in the motorcycle market in general. The company hit a low point of 3,000 vehicles in 1993.

A lot has been done to get the Guzzi flying again. The motor is part of the frame. The engine designers have gone to a four-valve, overhead cam (which is where Guzzi started, you’ll recall) and an electronic fuel injection and ignition system.

Officials at the revitalized company hope to produce 20,000 bikes by 2001.

The V10 Centauro is essentially a stripped version of the Daytona RS, a sportbike. Our Centauro’s body looks like it was born ready to cruise. The molding and paint job have a Miami Beach Deco look.

The tank and body flow to the rear tail light with all the curves of a retro-50s style. The chrome dash, instrument cups and headlight finish the look. Don’t let the illusion fool you though: The inverted forks and full-floating disk brakes let you know this machine is made to handle.

Starting the Guzzi cold required a slight nudge on the throttle. That nudge won’t flood the Guzzi, as it would with most fuel-injected engines. That’s because of injection lag with an air-cooled motor, the Guzzi mechanic told me.

The bike will start right up when warmed.

One Guzzi idiosyncrasy is obvious immediately: The motor will try to roll the bike to the right with every rev of the throttle. It’s not much and you get used to it fast, but it’s one of those unique things that some will love and others won’t. It’s caused by the horizontal rotation of the motor in the frame. For instance, if you watch the motor rev in a car, you’ll notice it trying to roll over against the mounts.

Once you’re moving, this effect isn’t noticeable.

Shifting up through the gears gives you a satisfying yank with each tap up. Occasionally, a missed shift occurred to spoil my fun. When asked about this problem, the dealer said the bike needs to be broken in.

Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro
Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro

Very big notches on the gears make a slight clock sound when shifting, and it’s these notches that haven’t seated just right yet. The mechanic said that after about 10,000 miles, those notches should offer no more shifting surprises.

This bike’s not going to break through the stratosphere with speed, but when you get up around the red line, you get a real kick in the pants. Unfortunately, by this time you’re risking engine damage. There’s a fine line between fun and disaster.

Tread that line, and you’ll love this machine.

After a mix of city and highway riding, the fuel warning light started to flicker on at the 105 mile mark, giving me about 38 mpg from the 4.8 gallon tank.

Bringing the Guzzi in for a pit stop, my first question was: What’s with this kickstand?

You can’t put it down while sitting on the bike because it’s so far forward. You have to get off, and risk dumping the bike, to set it. Then when you right the machine, it’s spring-loaded to pop back up.

The worst sidestand design ever.

Oh, well, get on the bike and ride it hard. Push the bike into a turn, power out by yanking that throttle back, and enjoy the long pull of a good, hard torque-inspired motor. This is starting to sound like a beer commercial, but it just doesn’t get much better than this.

Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro
Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro
Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro
Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro

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