Fresh air has been blowing through the Moto Guzzi factory in Mandello del Lario ever since Aprilia took over, and owner Ivano Beggio has made sure the entry class wasn't left behind. The company's 750cc Breva is a lot of fun for beginners and old hands alike.
The little beast in front is a tough one to track down. And Christian, pulling its throttle strongly, appears completely relaxed astride it. We're riding over tiny, bumpy roads of asphalt, dirt, and gravel in an Italianate landscape that happens to be the West Virginia m ountains. No wonder Chris is so fast. His bike was made for these kinds of roads - if you can call 'em roads; they're little more than pathways. The bottom line is no one in our group can match Mr. Neuhauser's pace even though the rest of us are very well equipped on a Cagiva Gran Canyon, a Moto Guzzi Le Mans Rosso Corsa, a Triumph Sprint ST, and a Honda ST1100. Impressive.
And surprising, because the 750cc Breva V2 goes way back to the engines of the V35 and V50 that were presented at the IFMA in Cologne in 1976. Moto Guzzi started a second branch in their family tree of models then. But the smaller capacity bikes were never that successful, not like the big V2s were. The last versions came with 750cc and were used in their entry cruiser, the Nevada, which was sold in Europe.
Lately all of this has changed. The new Breva V750i.e., developed under the new Aprilia management, came to the U.S. at the end of 2003 to claim its spot in the midsize class and to garner a slew of new customers for Moto Guzzi.
"Keep it simple," could be the motto of the Guzzi engineers. The basic layout of the engine stayed as it was in the old V35/V50. The crank is mounted lengthwise with the two cylinders showing to the sides. Pushrods and rockers take care of the valve operation, and the heads present a simple but efficient design: The combustion chamber sits in the piston tops and not in the heads; it's called a Heron design. Moto Morini used the same principle for their 350, 500, and later for their 125 and 250 models. Advantages of this design are good torque and high efficiency (low fuel consumption and good mileage). The downside is you can only use parallel valves, and their diameter is limited by the little space that's left. So, you'll never build a high-performance engine with huge horsepower output if you use Heron heads.
But that wasn't the goal of former and current Moto Guzzi engineers. They wanted to build a simple, easy-to-handle bike with acceptable power, an upright seating position and a comfortable but low seat. The bike is meant to perform well in the city or on mixed and tiny roads. And these are the kinds of roads not only found in Italy - but also in West Virginia.
When you pull the throttle on the Breva, it's surprising how responsive the engine is - the old V50 always took a deep breath before accelerating. Part of the improvement comes from the new Weber-Marelli fuel injection with 36mm throttle bodies, which combines good throttle response and power output with good fuel economy. Sipping petrol at 48.5mpg, the bike reminds us of the good old days with 350cc and 500cc single four-strokes.
But the fuel injection isn't the only thing changed - the bike was prepped with catalytic converters and a lot of engine parts were revised. For instance, the Breva gained coated pistons with new piston rings for good mileage and low oil consumption, new cams, an improved lubrication system, and a new air filter.
Most obvious are the changes to the clutch (new plates, tighter tolerances, all parts accurately balanced) and the gearbox (revised mechanical parts, better lubrication system, new shift-linkage, other gear ratios). We can honestly say that no other gearbox in the Moto Guzzi range is as functionally sound and as easy to operate. It's fun to change gears and not just a necessity any more. Lever travel is acceptably long, and the only thing we would have changed is the position of the shift lever - not an easy task to manage since the adjustment sits right behind the left frame-rail covers, close to the swingarm pivot. But a savvy mechanic can do the job.
While we're on the swingarm - the cast aluminum-alloy construction is mounted to the gearbox, exactly like it is on the old V50. The frame is the typical double-cradle design with round tubes detachable at the bottom section. This endows the bike a classic look; it's less expensive, and still a good deal for combining stability with moderate weight. A 40mm Marzocchi front fork and two shocks in the rear provide a surprisingly comfortable ride, even on roads with bumpy surfaces. The shocks can be adjusted in spring preload and rebound damping, which is good for tours with a passenger in the back.
Never before has a Moto Guzzi turned into curves this easily. Little input is needed to prompt the bike about changing directions. In the beginning, you expect more forces necessary and overdo it, so you have to hold the bike off from falling into the turn too far. But the mental adjustment to this easy handling is quickly made and you can enjoy the well-balanced performance of the chassis. With 1,449mm of wheelbase, 62 degrees of steering head angle, and 109mm of trail, the Breva may seem a touch conservative; but if you distribute the 199kg (442lb.) of wet weight at the right places, handling and stability turn out well mixed as they were on our 750. Of course, moderate tire sizes contribute to the easy handling, too. The brakes, with a single disc in the front and without the Guzzi-typical combined brake system (Integral Brake System) are enough on a midsize bike like this. Modulation is easy, even for less experienced riders. Only on longer and fast downhill rides (pass roads for example) do the discs tend to overheat a little bit and show some fading.
True to the nature of standards, the Breva doesn't feature a lot of equipment details. The small windshield protects the upper body somewhat from the wind that blows around the nose of a so-called naked-bike rider. But its best use might be to keep the flies away from the instruments. Still, the Breva has everything you need in all-day traffic and even on smaller tours.
The tank holds almost 4.5 gallons of fuel, good enough for more than 200 miles. The seat cushion and the magic triangle between foot pegs, handlebars and seat are well sorted for an upright and comfortable riding position. Stock seat height is 790mm (31.1in.), which can be lowered to 737mm (29in.) with another seat in the Moto Guzzi accessory line. Control operations are markedly improved over older models and approach the Japanese standards. All of which makes the Breva interesting for a wide range of customers, including short riders of both sexes.
Moto Guzzi has taken a large step forward thanks to Aprilia. The Breva model seems a perfect example of how effective revisions can be if you focus on the right areas. Changes to the carburetion system, some engine/gearbox/clutch internals, operating devices, and chassis parts can make all the difference when converting an older concept into a simple but competitive new bike. In the Breva, this is combined with classic looks and lots of riding fun. Thanks, Mr. Beggio!
MSRP $ 7,490
Warranty Three years, unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule 1,000/6,000/every 6,000 miles (1,600/9,600/every 9,600km)
Importer/Distributor Moto Guzzi North America, Inc.
Type 2-cylinder, V, 4-stroke
Valve Arrangement 2 valves per cyl., ohv, cam chain driven, pushrods and rockers
Bore & Stroke 80 x74mm
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Carburetion electronic fuel injection, ø 36mm (throttle bodies)
Exhaust Emission Control catalytic converter
Clutch dual-plate dry clutch, mechanically operated
Final Drive shaft drive
Frame steel tubular frame, double cradle
Wheelbase 1,449mm (57.04in.)
Rake 62 degree
Trail 109mm (4.29in.)
Front Suspension telescopic fork
Stanchion Diameter 40mm (1.57in.)
Travel 130mm (5.11in.)
Rear Suspension aluminum-alloy swingarm w/single shock
Adjustments link-type, spring preload and rebound damping
Travel 118mm (4.64in.)
Wheels & Tires
Type cast aluminum-alloy wheels
Front 3.00 x 17
Rear 3.50 x 17
Front Tire 110/70-17
Rear Tire 130/80-17
Front Brake 1 disc, 4-piston calipers
Diameter 320mm (12.6in.)
Rear Brake 1 disc, 2-piston caliper
Diameter 260mm (10.2in.)
Dimensions & Capacities
Seat Height 790mm (31.1in., with low profile seat 737mm/29.0in.)
Wet-Weight 199kg (442lb.)
Fuel Capacity 17l (4.47gal.)
Claimed Horsepower (measured at the crank) 48hp at 6,600rpm
Torque 5.87mkp (57.5Nm, 43.5ft.-lbs.) at 3,000rpm
Top Speed 170km/h (106mph)
Acceleration 0-100km/h (0-62.5mph): 5.9s
Fuel Consumption 4.9l/100km (48.5mpg)
Fuel Range 346km (216mls.)
Small windshield, dashboard w/speedo- meter, odometer, tripmeter and tacho- meter, key switch/lock in front of the upper triple clamp, side stand. Available Moto Guzzi Accessories: 30 and 40 liter hard cases and inserts, tank bag, low profile seat, touring windshield, center stand kit, rear shock kit, cover, microfiber cleaning cloth, m/c lock.
RoadRUNNER Test Diagram
Luggage w/accessories 4/5
Bike for the buck 3/5