Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

This is the ninth in a series of posts about the Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport. The previous posting is here.

Nine Days, 1080 miles

After nine days and more than 1000 miles, I possess a really good idea of what it’s like to live with the Breva 1200 Sport.  I’ve previously given reasons for why someone might want to purchase it, but I’d also like to give my observations with respect to what worked for me and how my riding style altered as I reeled in the miles.

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you're going to get some bugs!

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you

Not a “lean off” bike

On my Ducati ST2, I practice “lean off” turns from time to time as I ride it through some of the more aggressive stretches of roads in my area.  I know these roads well and remember their eccentricities to the point that I can work on my technique.  The big ST2 seat allows for movement of the rider around the bike. 

The Breva’s seat locked me in place.  Lean-offs were complex, and I found that I didn’t like the way that I upset the bike’s stance as I employed this technique.  For me, I made much quicker time by adopting a more “Hailwood” approach, keeping my body smooth and silent through the twisties.

The Breva “wants” to be ridden in it’s own way.  It’s good to know “how” a bike rides to decide if your “personalities” fit. I enjoy the diversity and investigation of different riding styles, so I don’t really have a dog in this hunt — but if you enjoy more focused techniques, I hope this helps you decide if the Breva 1200 Sport is for you.

Brakes and suspension tweaks really make it better

It makes a difference to adjust the brake/clutch levers to your style and hand size. Tweaking the suspension to your style/weight and road conditions makes the Breva a joy to ride.  Spending time reading the manual will make your ride happier.  

I found the brakes to be incredibly powerful yet “wooden” or “binary” until I had set the adjustments on the levers to fit my hands and riding style.  Once adjusted and tested in a parking lot, I was able to control it with my fingertips; the corresponding sensation was that of the Breva losing 200 pounds.  It’s no dirt bike by any stretch of the imagination; this is a big, naked, torque-monster.  Once the levers were adjusted however, it had the docility of an MSF bike at low speeds. In the “happy zone”,  well-adjusted levers give the rider confidence so they can think about riding the bike, not operating it.

The suspension has enough adjustment to engage all but the most demanding track rider.  When I picked the big Guzzi up, a previous rider had set it up either for someone weighing three hundred pounds or riding on a billiard-smooth surface in a straight line.  On the surfaces of Southern California’s road system, I feared that I was going to lose a tooth. Within a couple of days I found some very comfortable settings for my 6’1″, 240 lb. frame; confidence in the bike further increased.

Those big, wide bars

The singular feature that sticks out on the Breva 1200 Sport are the big wide bars. I had heard about ’em before I got on it for the first time, but they are quite a prominent feature.  Think Cyrano’s nose here.  

How did I like them?  Well, the Ducati dealer in Santa Barbara has a conversion that will allow for big bars like that on my ST2, and as soon as I get my Duc back on the road I’ll be headed over to see how much they want for it.  Frankly, for me, the slightly forward  riding position coupled with the wider-than-anticipated separation of my hands on the bars allowed for very fine-grained control over my lean angles.

Oh yeah.  The Breva 1200 Sport REALLY LIKES TO LEAN OVER.  I drug my toes on both sides in decreasing radius turns, and was pleasantly suprised at the lean angles that could be achieved with such a large bike.

And it’s economical!

My worst observed mileage was 40mpg, best observed was 43.  I think I could stretch it a little further on longer trips, but it’s really fun to twist the throttle and feel all that damned torque go to work under your butt.  The big tank helps here, since it has more than 5 gallons.  

The fuel gauge is no more or less accurate than any automobile — it comes off “full” slowly, and the last 1/4 tank goes pretty fast.  The reserve light comes on before the gauge shows empty, and it is progressive enough to give the rider confidence that they won’t be left on the side of the road somewhere.

Gauges and instruments

The Breva Cluster is really nice.  A glance gives the rider all the information they need.  The white dials are even better in person than they are in the pictures. Only complaint is the “blipping” red light as the RPM’s approach red line.  It’s a great idea, but it’s not prominent enough to catch the rider’s eye — I mean, think about it — a lot of stuff’s usually going on when riding a bike around the red line, and a little red light “hinting” that you’re close is a joke.  My older eyes need a little more input on this.

 The trip odometer and computer have a really neat feature that shows the amount of time that the bike was run for the distance travelled.  I covered my 1080 miles in 21 hours, 28 minutes, for a little over 50mph  average speed.  Fun that…

Gear?

I tried different types of gear to evaluate how the wind on this big, mostly-naked bike reacted. The big bars stick your hands out in the breeze, so glove choice on hot or cold days will be noticed.  My Shoei RF1000 was VERY noisy on this bike, but no discernible buffeting was apparent on any helmet that I tried (AGV X-Vent was by far the best for me here).  Boots with softer soles also rewarded the rider with more feel.  My Alpinestars’ boots with the harder soles were less comfortable than my softer-soled cheapie Nitros which I preferred on this bike.  

Yes, and not having to even think about chain maintenance for more than a week.  Bonus!

Final thoughts

What a great time.  I had never ridden a bike with these concepts before — I wonder IF there is another bike like it — maybe the big Ducati Monster?  KTM Duke?  Dunno, haven’t ridden the KTM and I’ve only been on the smaller Monster. It’s a naked with it’s own personality that goes it’s own way, and often rewards the rider with a “hmm, I never thought about that before but it makes sense” moment, more often than expected.

The 1200 Sport truly may be for the “Most Interesting Person in the World”, if that person is on a continuous journey of self-discovery.  The Breva is the bike for a sporting rider that wants something different without looking like a poseur.  

Choose this bike to satisfy secret torque needs.  If one rides in the dirt quite a bit and is thinking about a sporting street mount, think about the Breva with its wide bars and comfortable yet familiar seating position.  Choose a Guzzi for the reliability.  Choose a Guzzi for all the nice people that own Guzzis, too.

I hope that my time and experiences with the Breva 1200 Sport has given you, the reader, an objective-enough of an idea as to what this wonderful bike is all about.  I can’t tell anyone that a Breva is for them no more than I would choose someone’s religion or political party.  I have my “favorites” like anyone else, and the Guzzi Brand is most definitely one of my favorites.

 In the end, I think it’s important to consider buying a Moto Guzzi. Give the Marque equal stature with any motorcycle manufacturer.  Guzzi is most definitely a peer brand, worthy of consideration, especially for “more interesting” people.

My “job” gets harder.  I’m trading the Breva 1200 Sport in for the California Vintage! A week long test of the big cruiser begins.

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14 thoughts on “Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

  1. Hey Danilo,
    Great series on the Sport 1200. Last year I sold my ’78 Guzzi SP1000 back to the orginal owner from whom I bought it in ’94. about 6 months later I bought a Sport 1200. I currently own a ’03 BMW R1150RT and the Breva Sport 1200. I really like the 1200 Sport and ride it more than the Beemer. I have the red one and put the red Breva 1100 bags on it and the Breva 1100 windshield. Also a small Givi tail case. It makes a great sport tourer. I put a set of Roxspeedfx barbacks on it (with an adapter plate I had made) and the position suits me fine. I agree with everything you said about the Sport 1200. It has the most “grin factor” of anything I have ridden in a long time. thanks again for a great series on this great bike!
    Regards,
    Clark

  2. Posted a couple applicable comments and asked a couple questions on the Brevia 1200 Sport, California Vintage, and the Griso 1100, came back today and looked under the vintage blog and the brevia blog and saw they were gone and no response. Thought my points were very valid and the questions on which bike out of the three was the best value was a good question. I’ve always admired Guzzi and have owned two Honda Guzzi clones, two CX500’s. Loved them but still they were not Guzzi’s Im now in my fifties and decided I should seriously look at getting one but the points I raised about whether Guzzi will survive to support what amounts to a very expensive purchase to me or will they die on the vine. Or do I go back to a basically bullet proof Japanese bike that while it doesnt have the history and mystic of Guzzi, they will not let me down. These are issues that have to be discussed, we cant take a head in the sand view of Guzzi’s survival.

  3. Well, there’s an old saying:

    Moto Guzzi — Going out of business since 1921.

    I don’t think they’re going to die on the vine anytime soon. They just revamped their factory in Mandello. They just took on Pierre Terblance. They just launched new models and new engines. Guzzi has survived some pretty crappy management, and I think they are headed for a new era of good fortune. It’s a shame that DeTomaso Squandered the goodwill that Guzzi had built up in the US in favor of Benelli (he actually wanted to put the Sei motors in Guzzi at one point until Tonti talked him out of it). After that were some seriously scary years with all kinds of crazy management.

    PIaggio’s a big player, and I can’t see them buying Guzzi to close it down, and it’s obvious to anyone that they wouldn’t be buying it for the technology. Guzzi has a name, a reputation and an extremely loyal following. I’m betting on some good years ahead.

    Guzzis are damned bullet-proof — I’d put them up against Japanese hardware anytime.

  4. What’s your take on an 07 1100 Griso, is that a bike worth considering and worthy of the Guzzi name or is a pretender? My one dealer has a 07 left, did note in the specs however its fuel capacity is slightly on the weak side for long distance touring.

  5. A dealer told me that for the past two years he’s been having a hard time obtaining touch up paints for Guzzi. A small concern but an aggravating one no less.

  6. Well, if you think about it, not really. The way that paint is applied at a factory is not the same as it is done in a body shop or in your garage. The paints are different. So the paint that you would use as a touch up paint is going to be different from the paint that the factory would use.

    Colorrite carries Moto Guzzi touch up paints.: http://www.colorrite.com/

    Just go there and search on “Guzzi” and you’ll find all of them. All the major manufacturers contract with firms like Colorrite to make their touch up paints and then package them in their own branded bottles/cans.

    With Guzzi selling only a few thousand motorcycles world wide — I’m just thrilled that they’ve finally gotten much better parts availability in the US.

  7. Thank you for the lead, I was looking at one that would need touch up and was worried I wouldnt be able to locate any paint to make any minor finish repairs.

  8. Zdravo Danilo,

    Great blog! I was glued to the chair last two hours 🙂

    I have few questions and hopefully you can enlighten me and help my decision making process.

    I had BMW F650 CS ABS version. This was sweet city bike. However it lucked two up power and it was not really confortable or stable on the freeway. There was also lots of radiant heat around the tighs especually when stopped.

    When I sold it I was looking at R1200 R or RT as an replacement. Now I am also looking at Breva 1100 and Norge. What is your opinion? This will be primarilly weekend, joy ride bike.

    Pozdrav,

    Victor

  9. Breva and Norge share platforms, so that is a question answered by wanting to ride fully faired or not. Depending upon whether you ‘fit’ it, the Griso might be a better choice… I have a short inseam and think that the Griso fits me better. The Breva is taller, so if you have long legs, that’s your bike. As far as BMW goes, my dealer sells most of his first time customers’ bikes when they change over from BMWs and their high repair bills. I think Guzzi is just more fun…

  10. Hi Danilo

    I noticed there hasn’t been much comment developments for a while now. But that doesn’t make you blog any less relevant. I’m a happy Guzzista for the last 2 months. Got an ’07 Breva v1100 at 5000km only. In the last 2 months, I put 2000kms on it. Your account was a pleasure to read. Thank you! I really appreciate your insight!

    I too found that parts (if one knows what one needs), is easy and fast to get with internet shopping. The community is rich with knowledge. I get to learn a bit of Italian and Spanish along the way too!

    FYI, There’s a maximum of 5 Guzzis sole/year in Singapore. Yes, you heard it right! The dealership isn’t committed to the marque. They have Triumph and Yamaha and Honda to keep them busy. So the owners tend to support each other.

    Cheers from Singapore
    theodore

  11. Hi Danilo,
    I´m a 54 year old guy from Germany and since 2012 January I drive a Moto Guzzi 850-T5 with sidecar. At the moment where I touched the seat I felt the good vibrations and enjoyed the sound of the Guzzi. Over the last year my wife and me (and our little dog) had a lot of rides with the Guzzi. So I decided to sell my Kawasaki VN 1700CT and buy another Guzzi for solo driving only. Since I got the Guzzi the Kawasaki was driven only 1200 Km over the year. But when I read your blog I was very sure that I made the right decision. So last Saturday I took place on a 1200 Sport which fits perfect. Even when I find the Griso so beautiful, it is to small for me as well as the Bellagio.
    So the 1200 Sport will be mine as far as I´ll sell the Kawasaki. Thank you for all the information and impression in your blog. It was very helpful for me.

    Many greets from Germany and always have the Guzzi-Grin in your face!

    Klaus

  12. I just bought a 2008 Breva 1200 Sport yesterday. I traded in my 2008 XL1200 R Sportster at Legends Cycles in Waco, Texas and got a very good deal. I owned a Guzzi many years ago, I think it was one of the black with chrome sided tank models. Was not very impressed as it was slow and clunky. However, the Breva 1200 Sport is a completely different ride. I liked it from the moment I pulled away on a test ride. It’s odd, but, it reminds me of the Buell X-1 I had years ago and also a bit of the XR1200 Sportsters I’ve ridden. There was nothing wrong with my XL 1200 Roadster, it was reliable and I put about 13K miles on it. But, in the end, I just never could fit in with the Harley culture. I’ve owned about 60+ motorcycles since I began riding when I was in the Army back in 1968 and I have had good and bad experiences with just about all brands. So far I’m having a great first day experience and have put about 150 miles on the bike.

    In closing, I would like to say “Thank You” for this well done article. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very interesting and informative.

    Best regards,
    RHC

  13. Hi Danilo,
    Looking at purchasing a 08 1200 sports at the moment and your in depth experience with this model is a great help. I also have a couple of Ducati ST2s and would appreciate any further advices on modifications with the Guzzi style handlebars that you mentioned in your last post.
    Is there a kit available and is it any good for the ST2? I am based in Australia and would be appreciative of any details.
    Hopefully I can add the Guzzi to my collection very soon.

    Mike

  14. 1200 is still one of my faves. I think if I had to do it all over again, I’d probably go with a Griso as I found that as I get older I prefer a lower bike (right now I have an Aprilia Shiver and it’s quite tall). I rode the new 1400 about 6 months ago, and was impressed. I would love to have a comparo between the old 1100 Cali and the new one…

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