Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport: Italian sportiness for traditionalists
By Lance Oliver
Maybe you’re a traditionalist.
When you look at a motorcycle, you want to see lines that evoke memories of past classics. You love the feel and cadence and sound of an air-cooled V-twin. Of course you demand shaft drive and.
Oh, sorry. Did you think I was talking about Harley-Davidson?
There are traditionalists who prefer styles born under the red, white and green, rather than the red, white and blue, and for those Italophiles, Moto Guzzi has what could be the company’s best motorcycle yet: the Breva 1200 Sport.
The appeal of the 1200 Sport is that it maintains the traditional Guzzi style (those air-cooled jugs are still out there flying in the breeze in front of your knees) while adding enough modern technology to ease daily life and enable you to get down a winding road more briskly than on your garden-variety Breva. Because even traditionalists like a little sport now and then.
The sideways, air-cooled, 90-degree V-twin and shaft final drive are familiar to anyone who has seen Guzzis of the past, but the Breva 1200 Sport modernizes and spices up the style with white, number-plate-style accents on the flyscreen and the tail section.
The white flyscreen carries through to the styled gauge cluster, which combines white-faced analog tachometer, speedometer and fuel gauge with an LCD screen readout for other info. It looks nice, though the LCD screen can be difficult to read in some lighting conditions.
The 1200 Sport lacks the bronze-colored parts on the engine, reducing the number of colors on the mechanical parts of the motorcycle. Appearance is the most personal of personal preferences, of course, and you’ll make up your own mind, but to me, the styling changes to the base Breva make the 1200 Sport the best-looking Guzzi in the lineup.
Fortunately, Moto Guzzi also made some mechanical upgrades before slapping the Sport designation on the motorcycle.
For the Sport, the Breva 1100 engine was bored and stroked to 1,151cc for even more torque. The intake tract received some work and the electronic fuel injection mapping was changed to provide sportier response.
Time to head out on the highway and try it out. Push the button and fuel injection gives you fuss-free combustion. Hey, you’re a traditionalist, not a masochist.
There’s nothing wrong with modern mechanicals underneath the classic lines.
The torque from the V-twin tugs you forward at just about any engine speed. On the highway, you’ll feel some vibes in the footpegs at low rpm and tingles at high rpm, but in between, where you spend most of your time, the 1200 Sport runs smooth. There’s a red light on the tach that warns you when you’re approaching the rev limiter, but really it’s easier to know when to shift by the feel of the V-twin’s vibes (that’s the traditionalist’s method, you know) than by spotting a little red light.
The slightly leaned-forward riding position is comfortable, and, in addition to looking good, the flyscreen actually works, too. It creates a welcome pocket of calm air, though the wide, forward handlebar keeps the rider’s arms in the wind.
The advantage of that wide bar becomes apparent as soon as you reach the first curve. It provides leverage for tossing the 505-pound (claimed dry weight), 58.5-inch-wheelbase Guzzi into the turns.
Once you’re heeled over in that turn, you’ll be reassured to know both shaft-drive jacking effect and the fuel-injection glitches that plague some competitors are absent. The broad spread of torque and the competent fuel injection mean this is one of those motorcycles you can ride primarily just by rolling on and off the throttle, without having to spend a lot of time with the brakes or gear-shift lever.
Of course sport is a relative term. Ride aggressively and you’ll find that the handsomely styled footpeg brackets prevent you from placing the balls of your feet on the pegs. If you try to slide your feet backwards, the bracket forces your heel outward, meaning you can barely keep even the edge of your foot on the peg.
Two things result, both of which put a crimp in performance riding: Shifting weight from side to side is more difficult, and well before you touch any hard parts, you’re grinding toes against the pavement, even at non-extreme lean angles.
Keep your sporting impulses to a traditionalist level, however, and the 1200 Sport is stable and entertainingly quick. The Brembo, 4-piston calipers up front (left) provide modern stopping power. The rear brake felt a bit grabby and sensitive to me, but other testers didn’t seem to mind.
The 1200 Sport comes with 17-inch wheels, in standard sporting sizes, so you can choose from a wide range of tires. Go for more sporting grip or longer mileage, depending on your preference and riding plans.
While the 1200 Sport adds some oomph to the Breva package (and, to my eyes, improves the styling), its shared components mean you can fit many Breva accessories onto your Sport, from saddlebags to windscreens. That makes it easy to modify the bike to your particular mission. So you can have the friskier Guzzi and still carry the comforts of home.
Is that enough to close the sale?
Let’s be honest. If you’re buying a motorcycle based on cold, hard rationality, deciding by the numbers only (including the numbers on the price tag), you’re not likely to buy this one.
But maybe you’re a traditionalist. Maybe you appreciate classic style, especially Italian style. Maybe you’re a Guzzi kind of rider.
In which case, this might be the best Moto Guzzi yet.
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