airhead vs guzzi t3

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by JonnyCash, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. JonnyCash

    JonnyCash turd polisher

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    For 20 years, I've been riding a /5 with an R100S motor and front end. When I first got the thing, it was in pieces and I had to figure it all out without the internet, or any friends who knew the bikes. On a parts run to Blue Moon Cycles in GA, I saw the shop guys roll out a MK1 Guzzi Le Mans and take it for a test run. That made a real impression on me, and while I was thrilled with my BMW, I knew that I would someday need to get one of those Guzzis.

    This summer, I found a T3 project bike that had all the necessary attributes, and I went and got it. So now, I'm spending all my evenings out there in the shop working on it, figuring out what's good and what's not. Though I promised myself I'd just bang it together, ride it, and see what it needs before stripping it, it is now completely dismantled. Ooops! I knew it would be that way, but I guess I just couldn't admit it.

    So how's it going to be riding it? It had always been my impression that they were similar in concept, but a bit smoother and slicker. Less agricultural. Maybe more rev-happy.Now that I've read and learned more about them, as you do once you've jumped in with both feet, I don't know if my hunches were correct. I'm not doubting that I'll like it, I'm just curious how those of you with experience in both bikes would compare the two.

    Power delivery characteristics?
    handling?
    clunky shifting?
    speed?
    smoothness?

    I was going to put up pictures now, but just realized that I havent put my pictures of it on a host site, maybe tomorrow.

    Thanks in advance for your input.
    #1
  2. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer

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    Alot of personal experience with both of these machines.
    Personal thoughts of course, but here's mine,,,
    The Guzzi engine has way more character, it's more 'alive', eggs you on to want to go faster, yet, at speed, the guzzi engine is much more 'lopy', much more relaxed feeling, less busy.
    Handling,,,the Tonti framed Guzzi will leave the BMW for dead in the twisties, no doubt, no question.
    Shifting,,,the Moto Guzzi 5 speed gearbox is clearly the weak point of the entire motorcycle,,,well maybe next to the electrics/switchgear. A slow shifting, deliberate foot application of each gear is needed to prevent false neutrals.
    Smoothness,,,the 850 engine takes advantage of a big flywheel to smooth things out,,I'd say it's a draw on this one, depending on what kind of handlebars you've got.

    I sold my last Guzzi because my knees could not handle the tightness of the sitting position,,miss the darn thing. The engines are uber kewl!!!
    #2
  3. JonnyCash

    JonnyCash turd polisher

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    Thanks for your reply. I'm delighted to hear everything you said, except about the transmission. I had always considered the BMW's transmission to be clunky and slow shifting. Maybe soon, I'll have a new appreciation for the BMW's trans. I'm just so enthused about this bike though, just can't wait to ride it!
    #3
  4. LonerDave

    LonerDave Been here awhile

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    You will love riding it.

    Similar technology, but very different personalities.

    Power - Both motors (in my case 850-T and 90/6) have a sweet spot around 4000 RPM, but the Guzzi seems to love revving a bit higher, while the BMW seems to only tolerate it. I feel the need to downshift if either of them is running below 3500 or so, so I guess they have similar low-end characteristics.

    Handling - Guzzi handles noticably better. The BMW is considerably taller than the Guzzi. That might affect handling (or at least the perception of it). I don't know enough about engineering to say what it is about the BMW frame that makes it feel so much looser than the Guzzi, but have read that the Tonti frame is very stiff and well-designed. You can really feel it in the "plantedness" during turns.

    Shifting - Clunky on both. I can't say which of mine has a smoother shifter. A wash in this department.

    Speed - Comparable, too. Both are happy at freeway speeds and seem to get there in about the same time. Interesting considering the Guzzi is about a hundred pounds heavier.

    Smoothness - I suppose the boxer is a bit smoother, but the vibrations that the MG puts out are not objectiobale at all. In fact, they feel great. The BMW feels more refined (gentlemanly, sedate, understated?) while the Guzzi roars and throbs. Not crude, but more raw.

    I've been riding mine back-to-back the past few weeks and it's difficult to describe the differences, but they are pronounced. The BMW feels more "long-legged" and the Guzzi more powerful. A long-distance runner vs a football fullback. A gentleman vs a hooligan.

    Be prepared to fall in love with the Guzzi. That special spot in your heart that is now occupied by your airhead will be under attack by the boisterous new Italian.
    #4
  5. Rathlindri

    Rathlindri Guinness fan

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    I'd pretty much agree with all the comments so far re handling , transmission etc. etc. Two things not mentioned yet, the Guzzi's linked brake system is just excellent once you get used to it, and the SOUND of a vee twin is just so much nicer than a boxer....be prepared to love the Guzzi!
    #5
  6. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    I had an opportunity to swap my R100RT for a short ride on a friend's T3 based cafe racer.

    I was very impressed. The easy, loping pace was very impressive, and this somewhat souped up Guzzi could leave my R100 for dead in a roll-on, or an all-out drag race.
    #6
  7. JonnyCash

    JonnyCash turd polisher

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    Thanks everybody. I'm just so damned excited to get this thing together. Right now, I'm building one engine out of two, and a friend is going to soda blast all of my castings sometime next week. Then I can start putting things back together. Once I get that all buttoned up, I'm going to break into the transmission, for seals at least. I've got a lot of work ahead of me, but also a long winter to do in which to do it.
    #7
  8. LonerDave

    LonerDave Been here awhile

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    Jonny,

    Does yours have the chrome cylinders? If so, did you address them during the rebuild?

    Dave
    #8
  9. Rathlindri

    Rathlindri Guinness fan

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    have fun,....and you will, both in rebuilding and riding!
    #9
  10. JonnyCash

    JonnyCash turd polisher

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    Yes, it does have the chrome bores. The bike came with several sets of jugs. One set of blistered chrome bores, one set of 88mm iron bores in decent shape, which are available to anyone who might want them, and one set of chrome bores which aren't blistered. The unblistered set looked to me and the seller of the bike to be a good usable set, but looking at them under bright light with magnification, I found a tiny place where the chrome is missing. It's just a little speck, like a flake of ground pepper. It seems that I really ought to bite the bullet and get a set of the Gillardonis and know that all is well. I had hoped not to spend more than $1000 in addition to the purchase price to have this thing up and running, Oh well. Thankfully, this seems like a bike I'll never want to let go of, so what the hell.


    #10
  11. Fishnuts2

    Fishnuts2 n00b

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    I had a T3 and a R75/6 as a pair for about 5 years. I loved both of them but for different reasons. R75 advantages were smoothness, electrics, and refinement all around. The Guzzi has better power, handling and brakes, plus anytime I ride a Guzzi I'm reminded of the fun factor in these bikes.
    I tell friends that a Guzzi is like a Beemer on steroids!
    You are lucky to have both.
    #11
  12. MZRider

    MZRider Neo-Luddite

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    You could always have the chrome-bore cylinders replated with Nikasil.
    #12
  13. LonerDave

    LonerDave Been here awhile

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    I'm in the same position. I believe the cylinders on my T are original (which means chrome) and have considered the Gilardonis. $750 for a set of new jugs and pistons seems like a great deal and it looks like they're plug and play, but I struggle with putting that much money into a bike that didn't cost much to start with. Like you said, I expect to keep it a long time, and the peace of mind would be welcome, but deep down I'm one cheap SOB.

    Do you have a build thread going for the T-3?
    #13
  14. JonnyCash

    JonnyCash turd polisher

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    No, but I intend to start one, perhaps a bit late. Its funny, I avoided getting a Guzzi for some time, because I'd heard that parts prices were horrible. While they certainly aren't cheap, compared to my BMW they're pretty reasonable. It's been a long time ago now, but I think I paid about $350 apiece for just the pistons in my R100 engine. Aside from laziness, one of the things that has kept me from starting a build thread is that I am pretty tight with the money. On another forum, I got totally pig-piled for my cheap (in my mind clever) methods. It didn't make me want to change my way of working, just made me want to keep it to myself. I'll get something started before too long here. I do feel like the Old's Cool crowd here is a bit more open minded to "innovative" methods.
    #14
  15. mark1305

    mark1305 Old Enough To Know Better

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    While I haven't owned a Guzzi, but have ridden one, I have been held hostage by a couple of Ducs for a few years. And even though I love my airhead, the sound of an Italian built 90 degree V-twin is like sex on wheels. It has been said you don't start one up, you bring it to life. I agree with that.

    It's also been said that Guzzi motors are like Ducati 2-valve motors, but mounted the correct way. :D

    You'll love it.
    #15
  16. LonerDave

    LonerDave Been here awhile

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    There's a lot to be said for "frugal" wrenching, IMHO. I practice it myself. It appeals to the Zen student in me as it encourages a deeper understanding of the machine. [​IMG]
    #16
  17. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    That stinks. I wish we could all have enough money to "do it right", but we don't. Improvisation and work-arounds are the only way many of us could get our projects done.
    And the guys with money to "do it right", would be dead in the water if they run into a problem they can't buy their way out of!

    Go ahead and start your build thread, I'll be first in line to defend your methods is some snob gets pissed off because you didn't want to spend the money to "do it right".
    #17
  18. Roach Carver

    Roach Carver Been here awhile

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    I just went through this procees with my Ambo. I bought the new nikasil/ nigusil cylinders/pistons etc. It was not too bad of a job and the first time I have done something like that solo. I would highly recommend doing a relpacement. Those pseudo good cylinders are going to start flaking after a few heat cycles and you risk trashing the motor. My two cents. Good luck with it. these things are a different animal and a ton of fun to ride.
    #18
  19. blackcat

    blackcat Adventurer

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    I would suggest having Charlie Cole shim the transmission for better shifting and to make sure you don't have any other problems.

    http://www.zydecoracing.com/services.html
    #19