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.
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…
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!
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.