As the oldest European manufacturer currently still producing motorcycles, Moto Guzzi has a storied racing history steeped in innovation that has anchored the turbulent Italian motorcycle industry throughout its history. And just as with other legendary European manufacturers such as BMW and Ducati, Moto Guzzi has always been associated with a particular engine configuration: in this case, the transverse, air-cooled, 90-degree V-twin with shaft drive. Although this engine was developed relatively late in the company's history (the first V-twin appeared in 1967, yet Moto Guzzi was created in 1921), it has become the motoring icon for the venerated Italian marque.
The Breva Sport 1200 is the latest iteration of the company's answer to the naked-bike craze. Utilizing the 1151cc engine first introduced on the Norge 1200 sport-tourer last year (basically a bored/stroked version of the original Breva 1100's 1064cc mill), the Breva Sport's powerplant sports revised intake tracts and fuel/ignition mapping to sharpen response, although peak power and torque figures are the same. Other additions include a bikini fairing surrounding the dual-bulb headlight, a removable solo tail cowling, 320mm Braking petal-style discs, and a titanium nitride coating on the 45mm tubes of the Marzocchi conventional fork.
Although the Breva Sport 1200 has a fairly low 31.5-inch seat height and decent legroom, the reach to the conventional handlebar is overly long for anyone who isn't at least six feet tall. The handlebar is actually rotated forward a bit, so we figured that repositioning it backward would provide a much more comfortable riding position. Unfortunately, it turns out the real reason for the bar positioning is that pulling it any closer to the rider results in the switch gear on the left side coming in contact with the nicely painted fuel-tank cover at full lock.
With a claimed power output of 95 horsepower at 7800 rpm and a claimed torque reading of 74.8 ft-lb at 6000 rpm, you're not going to be giving any BMW R1200S owners a scare (much less any multicylinder sporting machine), especially with the Moto Guzzi's porky measured wet weight of 560 pounds. Of course the Breva Sport isn't intended to be a cutting-edge sportbike but more of a sporting naked-style machine from a traditionalist point of view.
A set of 320mm Braking petal-style...
A set of 320mm Braking petal-style discs with Brembo four-pot calipers does a great job of slowing the Guzzi's 560-pound weight from speed.
The V-twin engine's heavy flywheel helps ensure a smooth, flat torque curve, but it also means some care must be exercised during the first/second gear upshift; otherwise a jerky gear change results. Surprisingly, there isn't a ton of bottom-end torque available, with serious steam not coming online until you're past 3000 rpm, and first gear is rather tall; accelerating smartly from a stop requires a bit more revs than expected.
Once into the Breva Sport's broad sweet spot between 3000 and 7500 rpm, everything comes into focus. The V-twin's long, loping gait means that shifting becomes more an option than a necessity, and-as long as you're not expecting arm-stretching acceleration-power output is strong and linear, although still lazy by modern standards. The rev limiter cuts the party at 8000 rpm, so you must pay attention to the traditionally styled analog tachometer.
The Breva Sport's adjustable (spring preload and rebound damping on both ends) suspension does an admirable job of keeping everything under control while providing good compliance, and the stock Metzeler Sportec M3 tires offer decent grip. Still, it doesn't take much for the Moto Guzzi's excessive heft to overpower the suspension, which quickly signals that the limit has been reached by wallowing and/or grinding undercarriage parts. Overall steering characteristics are lighter than you'd expect for a 560-pound motorcycle with a 25-degree rake angle and 58.5-inch wheelbase, although some of that could be attributed to the wide handlebar's leverage. You definitely won't be flicking the bike into corners like you would an Aprilia Tuono-or even a Suzuki B-King, for that matter.
The 320mm Braking petal-type rotors and Brembo four-pot calipers are thankfully up to the task of slowing all that mass from speed and offer good power with decent feel and modulation. Even the 282mm rear disc with two-pot sliding caliper works well, with nice power and feel.
With an MSRP of $13,590 the Moto Guzzi Breva Sport 1200 is an acquired taste that probably won't be very palatable to the average naked-bike customer. But for the Guzzi faithful, the Breva Sport represents a significant step forward, and that's all that's probably necessary at this point. -K.K.