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2009 Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4V

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The distinctive transverse-mounted V-Twin powers the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport, but this year the 1151cc motor in four-valve instead of two.
The distinctive transverse-mounted V-Twin powers the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport, but this year the 1151cc motor in four-valve instead of two.
We're not used to Guzzi coming up with new models, so when the long established Italian firm unveils something fresh it's big news. But one development that's slipped under the radar has been its significantly reworked for 2009 1200 Sport.

The main difference, aside from some minor detail changes between this and the current model is the 1151cc V-Twin motor, which now has a four-valve head instead of two, which gives the 1200 Sport 4V a bit of extra shove. This is the engine that's also used in Moto Guzzi's Stelvio adventure bike and the Griso 8V cruiser (although why that's called an 8V and not a 4V is not clear).

With its extra valves, revised fuel-injection mapping and new exhaust, which features a new cat and a triangular-section end can, power is taken up 10 hp from 95 hp to 105 hp. Maximum torque is up too, from 74 lb-ft to 77 lb-ft, but it's produced 750rpm higher up the tacho.

Accelerate hard and the best thing about the Guzzi is the sound of thunder from the huge V-Twin engine. It's amplified beautifully by the acoustics of one of the many tunnels that litter our route near the factory on the banks of Lake Como; as the revs build the airbox growls and the exhaust pulses a deep, bass-laden soundtrack. This is music you'll never grow bored of.

Initial acceleration is urgent, but then the Guzzi hits a bit of a flat spot in the midrange until it gets going again above 5000rpm. As the tunnel lights flash by ever faster the Guzzi's speed is impressive and the whole sensation of acceleration and sound is very reminiscent of an early Ducati 916.

The new valve system for the 1200 Sport delivers a claimed 10 horsepower boost, with an extra 3 lb-ft of torque.
The new valve system for the 1200 Sport delivers a claimed 10 horsepower boost, with an extra 3 lb-ft of torque.
Compared to the two-valve Sport 1200, the 4V offers much more get up and go, if you're willing to work the engine hard. But for those who prefer more grunt and fewer revs, the two-valver is still the one to go for and has much more going on below 5000rpm. You'll still find the two-valve 1200 Sport in dealers, so if you want more grunt from your Guzzi, hurry up while stocks last, as they say.

The Guzzi hides its weight well when moving - and it has a lot to hide as it squashes the scales at a hefty 240kg (529 lbs). Flicking the 1200 Sport 4V from side to the takes minimal effort and is helped along by the leverage from its revised wide, upright bars, which wouldn't look out of place on something like a KTM Super Duke or Aprilia Tuono.

The tubular steel chassis and adjustable front and rear suspension give good feedback through the long sweeping bends and offer up plenty of stability. You're rarely troubled by the existence of the maintenance-free shaft drive system, unless you're pushing hard, at which point the Guzzi with pitch and weave on and off the throttle.

Brembo's Gold Series brakes give an impressive amount of bite and feel, especially when you consider the bike's weight. In an attempt to offset the cost of the more expensive engine the wavy brake discs of the two-valve model are replaced by basic round ones. It may have lost some bling in this department, but the 4V is no worse for it from a performance point of view.

Riding position of the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport is roomy and comfortable, although this tester complained of a long reach to the bars.
Riding position of the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport is roomy and comfortable, although this tester complained of a long reach to the bars.
Despite being a heavy bike, riding in heavy rain on roads so glassy you could have a shave in them, I'm actually still enjoying myself. What separates Moto Guzzi's idea of a sportbike from most others is that 'sport' in Guzzi speak doesn't mean a zillion horsepower and riding around at 180mph on hard suspension with your feet around your ears. Their idea of sport is altogether more gentile and well-rounded. Think of Guzzis as the two-wheeled equivalent of the cool and classy Maserati.

The 1200 Sport's ample proportions make it a very roomy and comfortable place to be. One of the biggest criticisms leveled at the two-valve Sport was the bar position, there's too much of a stretch to reach them. New bars for the 4V see them moved backed towards the rider; it's better but they're still a bit too far away for them to be completely comfortable.

The seat is wide, long and plush for rider and pillion alike and is easily comfortable enough to go touring on. Guzzi will sell you the same panniers and top box etc as you'll find on the Stelvio and Norge, heated grips and there's a massive 23-liter (6-gallon) fuel tank for big mileages too. Lazy steering geometry means that straight-line motorway stability is epic, even on typical unbroken Italian surfaces.

The throttle response is perfect, so navigating this big V-Twin is simple and there's plenty of grip from the brilliant Metzeler Sportec M3 tires. Having the more 'top-endy' four-valve motor to use in our wet conditions is a blessing too, as there's less low-down grunt to unhook the rear tire when you get on the gas.

A sporty take on the classic Moto Guzzi style, the aptly named 1200 Sport adds to the classic marque's reputation under new Piaggio ownership.
A sporty take on the classic Moto Guzzi style, the aptly named 1200 Sport adds to the classic marque's reputation under new Piaggio ownership.
Thanks to parent company Piaggio's investment, build quality and reliability is vastly improved over Guzzis of old. The 1200 Sport 4V is a beautiful piece of kit, the paint finish is tip-top and the white number boards and Italian flag stripes lift the sultry glass black paintwork. The motor is smooth as is the new-generation gearbox. Granted, the Guzzi can't slice seductively through its ratios like GSX-R, it likes to take its time a little more, but the gearbox is smooth and light and I never missed a gear all day.

Guzzi seem to be doing a lot right nowadays, and incredibly, the UK is the firm's the fourth-biggest market (behind Italy, Germany and the US). We seem to love Guzzis for their quirky Italian-ness and they seem to suit our roads, too. What better bike to cruise out on a Sunday morning blast on heavily-policed, bumpy roads than a swift, supple, great-sounding Italian sportsbike like the Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4V? It's a superb, characterful all-round, soulful motorcycle with a sporty twist.

What's New?
-The biggest difference between this and the current model is its 1151cc transversely-mounted V-Twin engine, which now features four-valve heads instead of two. It's the same engine as you'll find in the Griso 8v and Stelvio. Power is up from 95 hp@7800rpm to 105 hp@7000rpm and torque up from 74 lb-ft@6000rpm to 77 lb-ft@6750rpm. The 1200 Sport 4V also features different fuel-injection mapping.

-A new exhaust system features a new catalytic converter and triangular-section end can.

-Styling is identical except for a clear lens rear light cluster and Red, white and green Italian stripes on the white number boards.

-New handlebars are swept back more towards the rider.

-New conventional front brake discs replace wavy items of 2v 1200.
2009 Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4V Gallery
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Dealer Locator
Technical Specifications
2009 Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4V
2009 Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4V
105 hp @ 7000rpm
77 lb-ft
Oil/air-cooled, 90 º four-stroke V-Twin, EFI
58.86 in
Rake / Trail:
25º / 120mm
Front Suspension:
45mm fork, adjustable for preload and rebound
Rear Suspension:
Single rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound
2 x 320mm front discs with Brembo four-piston calipers. 282mm rear disc with twin-piston caliper
529 lbs

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Blitztour -millwaukee mike  April 25, 2010 11:37 AM
As an American who has owned 45 motorcycles, not one was ever a Harley. Why? They're overpriced, overweight and way under powered.
I've owned many V twins but only 2 were American. A 42 Indian Chief (bought it with a Springer Front end when I was 19) and a 2001 Victory 92SC, neither of which could out perform( in ANY category) my 2007 Breva 1100.
Last month I was on the Big Island and spent 2 days on a rented a 2009 XR1200 Sportster .
And while it was the most enjoyable Harley I’ve ever ridden, I can assure you that if I were playing tag with someone riding the XR and I was on my Goose, I’d have to give them a picture of my ass from a distance, cause that would be the only way they’d recognize me at the end of the ride.
I have great respect for everyone’s opinion, but the layout of the opposed V that Guzzi incorporated, is brilliant! Have you ever ridden a Guzzi? Try one. It a whole different vibe from an inline V twin but it’s a joy to ride all day long. And the fit and finish of these bikes is the finest I’ve ever seen.
The current crop of Guzzi’s have one major issue. They’re agile enough to get you into trouble but not powerful enough to get you out. All they need to do, is bump the friggin HP up to 120 or 130hp and I’m a Guzzi rider for life!
BTW, I also currently own a 2001 Buell Cyclone that I ride solo (the Breva is my 2 up for the Girlfriend) and that SOB runs like a scalded Cat!

David -Buell  January 19, 2010 01:13 PM
What are ya talking about Buell has gone bust
Ken -guzzi's  March 19, 2009 05:19 PM
I love guzzi's , what a sound they make just like music. If we had a better deal network here for them I would be riding one, but we don't. So I have a Buell a very nice sond for it to and it can handle and go fast.
al ---  March 19, 2009 08:04 AM
yes, i know. Indian had an inline four, Henderson as well, and Harley had a boxer army bike for a short while. (and some sort of scooter?) But you know what i mean...
al -V-Twin conservatism and brainwash ;)  March 19, 2009 08:02 AM
@Millwaukee Mike That's just sad. Just because you guys have been brainwashed with 100 years of exactly the same bikes and engine layouts over and over again, doesn't mean we Europeans can't do (and want) things differently. You're narrow minded for making that statement. You have two existing motorcompanies (victory and harley) and they both have been making the same V-Twin engine for as long as they exist. (as did Indian) Their consumers would throw a fit if they came up with another type of bike; it's just ridiculous. Only cruisers, only V-twin, the end. So conservative. I bet you believe Harley is the only 'real motorcycle'? Because it makes a farting noise and gets half the horsepower anyone else can get from a 1580cc engine. Give me some variation and a bike with a strong identity every day of the week. And what about boxers in your opinion? Just think of guzzi's like bmw boxers but with their cylinders tilted upwards. I just wonder how the upcomming triumph thunderbird (100ci cruiser) with parallel v-twin is going to sell on US soil. I hope it's going to do well.
Jason -Guzzi has the V the right way  February 22, 2009 09:36 PM
Milwaukee Mike, if Guzzi turned the motor 90 degrees, halved the horsepower, doubled the vibration and weight, I guess Guzzi would have a chance of poaching Harley sales? Thankfully the Italians do it differently, combining tradition AND some semblance of performance.
mrcrs -guzzi v-twin  February 16, 2009 04:03 PM
The V the way its meant to be.Air cooled road bikes like the jugs in the wind.Guzzi engines last and age gracefully in traffic and travel for that reason.Honda cx500 was liquid cooled .I feel Honda took the tech further and moved to the st1100 v4.
Rick Kolk -Change jugs  February 11, 2009 08:29 AM
Milwaukee Mike with all due respect if you turn the jugs 90deg its no longer a Guzzi. They have been making bike as long as HD. And they sell pretty well in their primary market in Europe.
millwaukee mike -Guzzi vee twin motors  February 4, 2009 02:19 PM
You'd see more of them bikes on the road if MG just turned the motor around 90 degrees. Vee Twins are suposed to be inline with the tires. Remember the honda silverwing? It couldn't sell well enough to stay on production. Then honda came out with the shadows and vtx and these bikes are all over.
DFH -Suspension confusion  January 18, 2009 03:27 PM
Check the website before publishing guys ( www.motoguzzi.it ). Not the US satellite site but the factory home site in Italy. The 1200sport4V has hydraulic handwheel adjustable preload & adjustable rebound on the rear shock. The forks are preload adjustable with adjusters on the tops of both legs with rebound adjustment on the top of one leg and compression adjustment on the top of the other leg.
Edits -Weight and Suspension  January 15, 2009 10:58 AM
Moto Guzzi press materials place the Dry Weight at 240 kg (529 lbs) and the fork and shock are adjustable for rebound and pre-load.
Bill -Question on weight  January 15, 2009 06:12 AM
The article mentions a heavy Guzzi at 529 lbs., (squashes the scales at a hefty 240kg), but the side bar shows a very light big twin at 416 lbs. I'll take the 416lb one thank you.
Garry -Suspension Confusion  January 14, 2009 02:34 PM
The article text says "fully adjustable front and rear suspension". The sidebar specs say "upside down fork", but adjustable for preload (no mention of damping adjustments). The photo clearly shows conventional forks. What's the truth on preload/damping adjustments?