Moto Guzzi Sport 1100
It helps in the garage, and it’s good reading, too.
Probably the biggest improvement to make is to get the EPA-mandated carburation right. As it is, the bike has a huge flat spot around 5000 rpm which can be fixed with a bit of effort. First, check the float level and make sure there are actually the same things inside both carburators.
My first bike came with two different throttle slides!
To begin with, I changed the the main jets to 255, idle jets to 165, the atomizer to 265AB, the needles to K18, and the slides to 50/3. This is a bit rich with the stock airbox, and you still get the flat spot. While killing about 15 km/h off the top end, this setup results in a lot more low-down grunt.
As a second step, I removed the airbox cover, ram-air ducts, and the standard air filter element. The latter was replaced with a KN filter which sits on top of the airbox and is held in place with a thin bead of silicone. The carb ventilation tubes must be attached to the lower part of the airbox rather than the cover, which I left off.
This change nicely fills the hole, brings the carburation to almost spot-on at near sea level, and makes the bike sound real nice with a deep throaty intake roar.
I also changed the exhaust, but that’s not really for performance reasons as much as it is for looks. A thing worth noting is the role the colostomy bag under the gearbox plays. This part looks awful, touches down rather easily, and is a royal pain when the time comes for an oil change.
However, this box does wonders for low-end grunt, giving the exhaust gases a place to expand rapidly and easily.
People like to replace it with X-shaped crossovers on sale by Mistral and others. I can only advise to stay away from these. Most are poorly manufactured and will not hold up well under the stresses the thumping engine subjects them to. I gave up after having the crossover welded twice and it came apart again.
Check out the cosmetics section for a look at my current exhaust setup.
After you got the carburation right, you’ll want to put on a good pair of sport shoes and watch her run. You’re in luck because not many good tires are made in the old-time 160/60 ZR 18 format you need for the rear wheel. The choice is easy.
If you’re looking for a good allround touring tire with decent wet weather grip, acceptable mileage, and nimble handling, try the Bridgestone BT54 or the newer BT57.
If you want real sport shoes, The Metzeler ME Z1 are for you. Excellent grip in the dry, nice stable handling, no mileage at all (4500 km), and wet grip like a roller blade on a heap of dog shit. Excellent for your sunday morning warmup lap, nothing you’d want to cross a pass in the rain with.
The OEM tires, Michelin TX11/23, are so-so. Decent wear, good wet grip. But bad handling up to the front rim hitting the ground in rough corners due to the tire’s side wall collapsing.
I’ll try the TX 15 in combination with the TX 23 next (the TX 25 isn’t available in 18) and post results here.
That’s it for the good tires. Everything else is bad. Specifically, don’t try to match a BT50 front with the BT54 rear; the bike becomes completely unpredictable in corners. No fun.
I also urge you to stay away from the Metzeler Z2, which are advertised as the toury variants of the Z1. These tires are complete crap, with next to nil dry grip, and downright lethal in wet conditions. Steer way clear of these!
Update: It’s been a while since new tires that are worthy of the name sports tires came out in that arkane size, but hey – here we are! Metzeler Roadtec Z6 to the rescue. I put the first set on in 2005 and haven’t looked back since. These tires are actually way better than the Z1s – good stick, excellent stability, and nimble without being nervous. I herewith declare the Z6 the new standard, all-round best tire for this bike.
Well done, Metzeler!
Rear Drive Leaks
A somewhat common occurance with the carb Sport at least are rear drive leaks. Some occur due to high-speed operation in high altitudes, when the inside pressure of the non-vented box pops the big seal on the inside (towards the rear wheel). This can be prevented by installing a vent, preferably in the oil fill screw on top, with a length of hose leading to a catch bottle under the seat.
On my bike, I suspected this and tried to take the rear drive apart. The factory *glues* the cover on, making it nearly impossible to get it off without removing the drive and diassembling it from the front. -(
In the end, it turned out that the two topmost screws, which are allen screws and thus not secured by metal tabs like the other 8, had worked loose. They allowed minute amounts of spray oil to escape. It’s hard to believe what a mess even a tiny bit of oil can make.
After retightening them repeatedly, only to have them work loose again, I locktighted them in place. So, if you’ve got a leak, check these first.
Definitely *the* book to get for any Guzzi rider/wrench/lover is David Richardson’s Guzziology . It’s huge, full of the best technical info, insights, and tips you’ll ever find, and it’s a lot more correct than the shop manuals or any of the other books around. It’s available from Moto International, Seattle, WA. as are all kinds of other goodies for Guzzis. Dave himself is extremely helpful and one of the most knowledgable Guzzisti around.
The shop manual can be useful, but be aware that it’s not a how-to type book but a manual for the skilled mechanic. It’s available from Guzzi themselves, and there are different language versions.
Another useful piece of paper is the replacement parts list, available either from Guzzi or from aftermarket outfits like Stein Dinse or Moto Spezial. Indispensable if you got it wrong and broke something. It also handily lists the parts differences between the US/UK/Aussie and world version of the bikes, not the least noticeable of which is the butt-ugly headlight of the non-world bikes.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s a wealth of information available from Guzzi owners clubs, like the MGNOC. and the dedicated mailing lists like the Guzzi or Euro Moto lists.
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