This is the seventh in a series of posts about life with the Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport. The previous post is here.
Rattle, Rattle, Rattle…
When I received the Breva, it was obvious that a previous rider had really clamped down the suspension and then proceeded to wring it out. The bike takes a big lean and really digs into turns much deeper than you think possible. Just keep on pushing on the bars, and the bike comes down — add throttle, lean, and you can really go deep and fast, much further than my limits.
I do a lot of riding on Los Angeles’ freeways, and as such, the concrete slabs and joints had my teeth rattling to a point that I finally started to dig in and see what I could do about softening up the ride, and making the big, irregular surfaced sweepers much more manageable.
The first thing I went after was the rear suspension; it has a big dial that says SOFTER/HARDER and shows a direction to turn for such. I turned it one click softer and rode, but it didn’t help much. Finally dialed in two clicks and it became much more manageable.
After a few more hours of riding, I decided to get a little deeper into the front. The covers for the front fork adjusters are held in place through interference and O-rings, so I just popped them off using the knurled tops.
Once off, there are two slotted screws that adjust the compression and rebound. I knocked two clicks off the rebound and two off the compression and rode.
Paradise. The bike retained its responsive characteristics, but allowed for a much smoother ride. The handling on the real world streets improved dramatically since there was actually some suspension travel to soak up the irregular surfaces.
I’ve always taken issue with setting up a street machine, be it a bike or a car, for “ultimate” race car handling. Save it for the track. Streets are full of bumps, dips, potholes, curbs, idiots and animals that you’ll never encounter on a track. When you pull up to a well-travelled intersection, you’ll often see the pavement completely waffled from cars stopping and starting, leaving ridges from the inertia and friction of the cars and tires, and grooves from the weight of the vehicles all stopping and starting in the same direction.
Coming up to a stop on these well, worn, smooth surfaces with any kind of violence causes a serious pucker-factor increase. Add a little water and oil, and if it’s downright harrowing. A super-tight suspension just bounces all over these surfaces and is useless.
Engineers designing bikes and cars are all about the “real world”. You’re going to encounter all of these conditions, and it’s important to realize that for the most part, they have tremendous amounts of money to develop and test their theories to make sure that the transportation you choose does what you want it to do. It should deliver the experience you’re expecting without having to make unreal compromises when the surfaces you encounter are less than ideal.
The Breva 1200 Sport is a one-year model. It’s the last of the Brevas, as I have been told, and I believe that the chassis and engine combination is a real-world test for some of the Stelvio components, and possibly some of the other systems that Guzzi was interested in deploying (a different, non-cush-drive system, wide bars, different gearbox tolerances???). When you don’t have a General Motors-sized test facility or budget, the single year, special models can give you a lot of feedback about your systems and your customers’ reactions to them. At least that’s my theory.
I would plead with Guzzi to now start giving the Forest Service some free Stelvios, and pick a couple of Police Departments and let them rock on some Norge and California Vintage models for awhile. Great feedback and great advertising. Just ask all the owners of the Loop Frame Guzzis from ’67 to 74. There’s a ton of them around, and the following is rabid.
So I’ve been with the Breva for a week. I still love the bike, still find few faults and have many praises. One thing I can say for sure is that I just never get a “meh”, when I get on it. Nearly 800 miles and I still get excited when I throw a leg over, even if I’m going to ride the same old route to work or not. Tomorrow, I think I’ll take the long way home. Oh God I wish it had some bags as standard equipment!