Tell me about moto guzzi's

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by elementalg20, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. elementalg20

    elementalg20 Been here awhile

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    I can't and won't be buying another bike for some time, but just the same it seems I think about one of these things every day at least twice. I can't say I've ever seen any make or model of one other than a passing glance at one going the opposite direction down a 4 lane....


    What year(s) would a guy be smart to consider, I'm not interested in the really old ones, perhaps late 90's on up, EFI huge plus. Not really into the small black bikes either, sorta ruled out a quota or a norge(too much like what I have...sorta).

    I've never owned a cruiser, so those interest me, especially if I'm ever able to have one along with my trophy. No idea what differences there are between them. I don't know how comfortable they are but the V11's are sexy, a breva 11/12 would be neat, the sport breva's are for my .02 cents one of the best looking bikes out there. Griso's look great too, but look like they'd have wonky ergo's. If I do get one some day, it'd likely be one that would lend it's self to being not overly sporty and comfy(basically probably not a V11, maybe a breva sport?)

    In reality, even down that road I'm probably looking at ones that could be snapped up for 6k or so but hell who knows.

    Also have a friend who is considering a newer bike, he's not into big bikes thus far, spotted an 04' Breva 750 that I think would make him a sweet ride as well. It's got some add-ons, 32k miles or so for $3100 seems like a steal to me. Opinions very welcome on that as well.

    I'm the type to do all of my own work I possibly can if it's not crazy difficult/technical. I have an irrational fear of carb's, at least when there are more than 1ish involved.

    Are guzzi's reliable, what are the known issues to look for? Do they leak oil and soak clutch plates, final drive issues....yeah I've sworn off bmw and these are striking me as a sexy Italian alternative that I hope to one day attain only without a stiletto to the groin....
    #1
  2. Scott of the Sahara

    Scott of the Sahara Been here awhile

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    I have the 08 Norge 1200. It is like the Breva 1100 but with fairing and 100cc's more power. I bought mine as a new bike in 010. In two and a half years and 16,500 miles I have not had many problems. After the first service, I have done everything myself. I will take it in to get the fuel filter changed, but the valves are a snap to adjust and the oil/ filter is easy to do.
    I was looking for a bike that had enough power to ride 2 up but still be fun solo. I had tried a few cruiser types but I could not get past the feet forward riding position. I wanted a twin with good low end power. I needed a bike with a decent seat height. Especially when riding 2 up you have to control the bike at a stop sign.
    When I rode my friend's Breva 1100 I was hooked. The only thing I needed was more wind protection.
    In Seattle we have one of the best Moto Guzzi dealers in the country. Parts and service are no problem at all.
    Here I am getting ready for a 1200 mile ride
    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Scott, the fuel filter change is not a big deal. The hardest part was getting the quick disconnect fuel lines apart as it's a bit fiddly, but comes apart nicely once you figure out the technique.

    I"ve owned three Guzzis. A '98 V11EV, the '03 Cali Titanium, and an '08 Norge just like Scott's. My only real complaint with the EV was the seat. The ECM on this version of the Cali is located directly under the seat and as a consequence, the seat pan has a bit of a "crown" in the center. It's not very comfortable after an hour or so. There is a way to relocate the ECM and use a different seat. These bikes also have wire wheels which accept tubeless tires.
    '98 V11EV
    [​IMG]

    The '03 Cali uses a different ECM in a different location, so it doesn't have the seat problem. It also has hydraulic lifters, so no more valve adjustments. But if you buy one of the "hydros" ('03-'05), make sure they have had the recalls done. They originally had cam problems and the lower triple tree is likely to crack. There are recalls for both and Guzzi will still honor them. These wheels do use tubes.
    '03 California Titanium (BTW, it's for sale.)
    [​IMG]

    The Californias are terrific cruisers. Lots of torque down low, but the engine also likes to rev. They run great and are one of the best handling cruisers ever built. Their frame is the same as used on their GP bikes years ago when Guzzi was still racing. And they were winning too. One thing that's unusual is they do have a linked brake system. Since I got used to it, I like it, but it is different. It can be de-linked pretty easily. Instruments are a weak spot.

    The Norge was a great sport tourer. My age has gotten me to the point that I couldn't take the ergos for 500 miles/day several days in a row any more, or I'd still own mine. I put about 17k miles on mine in a couple of years with no problems. It was a sweet handling, mile eating, joy to ride. The big Breva is basically a stripped version of the same bike. Again, the instrument cluster can be a weak spot on these bikes and is expensive to replace. But I never had a problem with mine, and most people don't.
    [​IMG]

    Overall, Guzzis are strong, reliable, good handling motorcycles. They can have their share of quirks, but once sorted out they are outstanding motorcycles.
    #3
  4. M3-SRT8

    M3-SRT8 Been here awhile

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    One of my good buddies is trying to talk me into one of these:

    [​IMG]

    I gotta say I'm tempted. As far as Cruisers go, it's pretty damn sexy.
    #4
  5. elementalg20

    elementalg20 Been here awhile

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    Indeed that cali 1400 custom is a good looking bike. If I was dreaming of that kind of a budget it'd be on the list I'd suspect. Then again at 15k or so a lot of bikes would be on my list lol.


    That 03' Cali Titanium is imo a great looking cruiser as well. Dave, as I'd said there is no practical way for me to be buying for quite some time, but I'd be interested to know more about it and the asking price just to give me an idea on the market on those. There are basically none of them to be found in my area(hardly any guzzi's period let alone specific ones).

    Hyd valves is nice, but not a huge deal especially on one of these. Tube tires kinda sucks but for me not a deal breaker. Lower triple recall is kinda scary, good info to have and be aware of.

    Thanks for the info so far guys, glad to have it!
    #5
  6. doggrell3000

    doggrell3000 Been here awhile

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    in my humble opinion the new mg cal custom at $15000 is a great deal . and it is a beautiful cruiser .


    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Street Hawk

    Street Hawk Been here awhile

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    I'm on my second Guzzi now and since buying my first just 3 years ago I can say my garage will never be without one. I like a variety of bikes for different reasons, but my Guzzi's are the only ones that i really seem to enjoy more everytime i ride em. And I don't know why that is, so I call it 'character'.
    #7
  8. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    Three Guzzis in my garage. Have owned a total of six over the years.

    [​IMG]

    Every model and year will have different issues and idiosyncracies. Not usually that big a deal, but it's hard to make blanket statements about Guzzi.

    If you're looking for a cruiser/standard type bike, then you have one choice on the big block side of things: California.

    Californias have evolved over the past twenty years, but the basic bike is the same. If you're looking for EFI, then start with the California EV of 1998.

    There are several variants of the California since 1998, all with detail differences.

    California EV. 1998-2002. Revamped California 1100i.
    California Bassa. 1999-2000. Cosmetic makeover of the EV.
    California Jackal. 2000-2001. Stipped down basic version of the EV.
    California Special. 2001. Same as Bassa.
    California Stone. 2002-2003. Same as Jackal, but with hydraulic lifters.
    California Special Sport. 2002-2003. Same as Special, but with hydraulic lifters in 2003.
    California EV Touring. 2003-2005. Hydraulic lifters and touring screen. H+B luggage.
    California Aluminum. 2003-2004. Cosmetic variant of the Bassa/Special. Hydraulic lifters.
    California Titanium. 2003-2004. Cosmetic variant of the Bassa/Special. Hydraulic lifters.
    California Vintage. 2006-2011. Retro styling. Based on EV, but engine internals from the Breva 1100.
    California 90. 2012. Cosmetic variant of the Cal Vintage.

    Then, you have the small block bikes. The Nevada 750, Breva 750, and V7 Classic.

    Do some looking. Narrow your choices, and I'm sure we can chime in with more detail.

    :deal
    #8
  9. conchscooter

    conchscooter Long timer

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    I think that is the most complete logical and clear summary of all the myriad California variants. I'm printing it and stashing it...just in case!
    #9
  10. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    If you like the V11's look, I can tell you that it's a very competent motorcycle. My 2004 Nero Corsa has over 40,000 miles on it. Great bike!

    [​IMG]

    The V11s are all EFI bikes. 1064 cc and 6-speed. The biggest difference between the Sport and Lemans is the 1/2 fairing of the Lemans. Lots of detail changes through the model run, but here's the basic list:

    V11 Sport. 1999-2004. The basic V11. Short frame/swingarm from '99-'02. Long LeMans frame/swingarm '03/'04.
    V11 Rosso Mandello. 2002. Numbered, limited Edition red paint.
    V11 Scura. 2002. Flat black paint. Ohlins suspension.
    V11 Sport TT. 2003. Basic V11 Sport with mix and match bodywork color. Creation of the USA importer. Only a few exist. Green or Maroon tanks with silver bodywork.
    V11 Sport Carbon. 2003. Creation of the USA importer. Silver tanks with carbon accessories.
    V11 Ballabio. 2003-2004. Pro-Taper handlebars and bikini fairing on basic V11 Sport.
    V11 Cafe Sport. 2003-2004. Pro-Taper handlebars. Ohlins suspension. Champange paint.
    V11 Coppa Italia. Pro-Taper handlebars. Ohlins Suspension. Tricolore paint.

    V11 LeMans. 2002-2004.
    V11 LeMans Tenni. 2002. Numbered, limited edition. Green paint. TiN coated Marzocchi forks.
    V11 LeMans Rosso Corsa. 2003. Special Paint. Ohlins suspension.
    V11 LeMans Nero Corsa. 2004. Special Paint. Ohlins suspension.

    There was a 2005 V11 Sport Scura R available in limited numbers in Europe.
    #10
  11. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    I have considered the V7 Stone, as well as the Triumph Bonneville. I don't really consider either one of them cruisers, more like standards. Triumph quality is a given, but I keep hearing all sorts of things about Moto Guzzi. Their reliable, their not reliable, they used to be reliable but aren't any more, you can't get parts, I don't know what to think. I have no firsthand experience with the brand, but love the looks of a couple of them, especially the engine, and I like the shaft drive (unless it explodes, like I keep hearing about BMW final drives)
    #11
  12. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    The V7 line has a 35-year lineage. The platform is proven and reliable.

    A great standard motorcycle. I put several thousand miles on this one last summer:

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. IKIGAI

    IKIGAI Been here awhile

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    Ok I've chopped out stuff to keep small-ish, but,...I've highlighted stuff I want to clarify;

    Are you saying the V11 series -- Le Mans especially-- had two different lengths of swingarms?
    What kind of difference are we talking about here - how many mm's?

    And the Pro-taper bar is a one-piece tube or were they all just clip-on's with different heights?

    I always thought the LSL conversions were the only way to fit a one-piece tube bar to the V11 series, no?

    Thanks for your response.
    #13
  14. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    Yes. There is a difference. I don't recall the dimension difference off the top of my head.

    Sport 99-02 introduced a shorter frame (length difference at the steering head) from the preceeding Sport 1100/Daytona RS.

    Some people didn't like it, so a longer frame and wider swingarm were introduced on the 02 Lemans, followed with the 03 Sports, which returned the bikes to the same geometry of the Sport 1100/Daytona.

    99-02 Sports run a 4.25 rear wheel. The 02 LeMans and 03 Sports run a 5.50 rear wheel.


    Pro Taper is known for thier dirtbike handlebars. They're tubular handlebars that are fat at the clamp and taper to 7/8 at the controls.

    Ballabio, Cafe Sport, and Coppa Italia had the tubular Pro Taper bars. You can buy the top triple clamp from Guzzi already drilled, and use the bar clamp of your choice, or you can drill your own top clamp. The top clamp on most, if not all, V11s has the bosses for this molded into the bottom of the top clamp.

    Early V11 Sports had clipons mounted below the top triple clamp. Starting in '02 with the LeMans, the clipons were moved to the top of the triple clamp. Sports got them at this time, too.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    #14
  15. wannaklr

    wannaklr Long timer

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    Coppa Italia's have been going up in price. I've been watching the few that pop up on ebay.

    I may have to look for a Cafe Sport and some Krylon. :lol3
    #15
  16. GT-Rx

    GT-Rx Guzzi freak

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    Happy to answer any more technical questions (and most of this well covered) at GuzziTech.com.
    In short Mike/Rocker covered the highlights. E.F.I. Guzzi's started in '93 with the California and 1000 Daytona, which lasted up through the '98 EV (all use the automotive based P8 ECU w/EPROM- which is a little finicky). In the States in '99 (grey year as they didn't technically import any models), the MM1.5 ECU was used (and still is on the California Vintage). The MM1.5 is stone reliable. When Aprilia bought Guzzi, they ventured into hydraulic lifters, and even though that technology is decades old, they somehow managed to screw it up. Three iterations/recalls later, and they got it sorted, and in '06/07 the Cal Vin went back to solid lifters. Californias are indeed Tonti race bikes which were rooted in the V7 Sport from the early 70's.
    V11 Sports are fun, but a bit twitchy IMO. They only have one known issue, and that's the shift return spring breaks. Cheap and easy to fix thanks to the side trap door transmission. All of the newer models have been super solid outside of a few fiddly recalls (in tank fuel pump lines), and camshaft recalls on a few of the Stelvio and Griso 8V motors. All long behind us now.
    If you think you like them, ride one, and you'll never be without one.
    All of them will leak a rear main seal in time (usually around 60-70k miles), and it's a job to do (and usually just smart to replace the clutch then too), but it doesn't keep me from owning a fleet of them.

    The swing-arm was revised in '02 for the wider back wheel. Otherwise they are the same. The only difference between the '00-01 Sport and the '02+ models was they added roughly ~1" to the frame at the head-stock to help with stability. First used on the Le Mans and Scura of that year ('02), it remained the only platform through the '05 variants.
    #16
  17. elementalg20

    elementalg20 Been here awhile

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    Ok, so the newer Cal Vintage has breva internals, is this win/lose/or draw?

    I'm so intrigued by the mark I really can't seem to pick just one to lust after lol. As I said, I'm quite a ways off buying anything anyhow, and what bike I want will depend some on how things go with my trophy. If I decide she's a keeper it'd seem silly to buy a norge.

    I have a few friends with cruisers, and my father in law is considering one, not that I have to be on a similar looking bike or anything stupid but a California seems tempting for that and shorter rides with my wife. On the other hand, I like the sportier variants, v11/breva sports as long as it's got a tubular handle bar so I can sit fairly up right. I've barely ridden any cruisers though, change of pace may not be a bad thing, especially if the cali's handle as well as everyone says.

    AWESOME info here guys, I knew there were little changers here and there but not at all what they were, any more info out there keep it coming!
    #17
  18. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    Thanks for jumping in, Todd! :thumb
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  19. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    The Breva 1100 internals in the Cal Vin is a good thing. Todd can chime in, but the Cal Vin engine responds well to using the V11 ECU. Really wakes the bike up.

    The only downside to the Cal Vin for me is the tube-type wheels. However, it is possible to swap earlier Cal EV tubeless spoked wheels onto the bike, if that's an issue for you. There are two versions. Aluminum used from '98-'01, and chromed used from '02-'05. Thier design is similar to the BMW wheels.

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. GT-Rx

    GT-Rx Guzzi freak

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    Again check in on my Forum linked in my signature below, tons of info there.

    The fueling and timing is too aggressive for the Cal Vin motor. The Air/Fuel data supports this. I offer a re-flash service for the Cal Vin that is proven.
    The Cal Vin certainly is the last of the great California 2V Tonti frames.
    #20