Riding the Moto Guzzi Breva 750 gave us the chance the see why Guzzi fanatics are every bit as loyal to their brand as the Harley riders are to theirs... sans the tattoos.
Riding the Moto Guzzi Breva was a bit of an afterthought for me. I'd never ridden a Guzzi before. I had wanted to, since this famous Italian marque has been around since just after World War I and has a rich history for building sporting motorcycles, and for racing victories all over the world. Plus the small but rabid band of Guzzi fanatics are just as passionate about their Guzzis as any hardcore Harley rider is about The Motor Company, just minus the tattoos. So I thought this would be a good time to find out why.
The Breva 750 is a new model that inherits the charisma of past models and combines it with current technology. Drawing on its heritage, 744cc 90-degree V-Twin motor is mounted longitudinally, or across-the-frame, which gives this Guzzi a unique and peculiar side-to-side throb unlike any motorcycle I've experienced. I suppose it's part of the character and mystique of the brand. It is an interesting feel, and not at all unpleasant. Electronic fuel injection and digital ignition update the power delivery with seamless throttle response, and once off idle the motor purrs like a kitten. The engine is free-revving and feels strong. Low-end torque is its strong suit, making around-town motoring a pleasure, as you've always got a lot of grunt at your right wrist to squirt into traffic voids or to pass when desired.
The Breva's style is typical Italian, with interesting lines and shapes. The tapered shape of the gas tank allows the rider to tuck their knees in close.
The gearbox keeps you in the powerband right up to the 8000 rpm redline. The smooth take-up on the light cable-actuated clutch makes for easy launches and shifts right up through the gears. Highway cruising at 80 miles per hour might make you wish for a 6th gear, as the engine howls while turning nearly 5500 rpm. But even at that speed, the motor feels smooth, the mirrors are steady, and you don't get much buzz through the handlebars or footpegs. The low-maintenance shaft final drive is quiet and unobtrusive.
The Brembo brakes are excellent with a huge single 320mm stainless-steel floating disc with 4-piston calipers. Lever effort is light with a nice progressive feel. The rear has a single 260mm disc that feels strong and won't lock up easily. Together they allow a rider to push the performance envelope with confidence.
Handling is light and quick, owing much to the low (claimed) dry weight of only 401 pounds. Light pressure on the side of the tank with your knees will change the direction of the bike. The Breva turns in easily and feels very stable throughout the turns. The Marzocchi 40mm fork has nearly 6 inches of travel, while the dual dampers in the rear are adjustable for both pre-load and rebound damping, so the ride quality is compliant and smooth even on railroad tracks and broken pavement. It would have been nice to have had more challenging roads to ride, but I know that the Breva would be up to the task in tight twisties. Lean angles are generous, and the handlebars offer good leverage when laid over.
The Breva is best classified as a sporting Standard. The fly-screen doesn't sheild the rider very well, but does protect the handsome dash panel with its easy-to-read speedo and tach.
The Breva isn't meant to be an all-out sportbike. Rather it's a sporting Standard, and works well as such. The riding position is all-day comfortable. The seating position is upright, with just a slight forward lean into the wind and an easy reach to the bars. The one piece seat is very comfortable, sitting only 30 inches high, so it's an easy reach to flat-foot the ground. Even the passenger portion of the seat is roomy and sports a nice grab handle. The mirrors are positioned high and wide to give you a good field of vision behind you and are rock steady at high speeds. The small fly-screen does little to keep the windblast off your torso, but it protects the handsome dash panel well (a mid-size screen is available and recommended for highway cruising). Two round dials for the speedometer and tachometer are easy to read white numerals on black dials. All requisite warning lights are easy to see, even in bright sunlight, and the clock and thermometer are nice touches as well.
Styling-wise, the Breva is traditional Italian sexy, with elegant lines and interesting shapes like the turn signals and the sub-fairing pillar. There are a lot of interesting textured pieces as well. The tapered shape of the gas tank is sleek and allows the rider to keep his knees tucked close to the center of gravity. With upswept chrome mufflers gracing each side, the bike look like it's moving even when sitting on the sidestand. The three-spoke light allow wheels, shod with Bridgestone Battllax BT-45 tires, add to the European style.
If you are looking for entry-level Italian exotica, the Moto Guzzi Breva 750 and the Ducati Monster 620 are your choices. While I enjoyed the Ducati, it is more designed as an entry-level sportbike. It has more performance than the Breva, but that comes at the price of comfortable ergonomics. The Monster forces you into a more aggressive, forward lean, a small reach for the handlebars seating position, and a jockey-like, knees-up stance on the pegs, which is not conducive to long hours in the saddle.
With a starting price of $7,990 the Breva is more expensive than its Ducati or Japanese counterparts... but it's a Guzzi.
he Breva, on the other hand, gives you rewarding performance, light, excellent handling, sleek design and styling, in a low maintenance comfortable package. It is a great choice for re-entry riders and new riders, but it is also a motorcycle that seasoned riders can enjoy without necessarily outgrowing it. And you can outfit the Breva with a set of hard, lockable saddlebags to transform it into a fun touring bike or daily commuter, as well.
I was really quite impressed with this Breva 750 i.e. I have to say that it has a certain charisma that is immediately endearing. At $7,990, it is pricier than the Ducati and other similar Japanese bikes in its class. The extra money buys you the cache of owning a motorcycle with a long proud history, and the exclusivity of owning a bike that you won't see coming and going on the road. Moto Guzzi also has an upcoming 1100cc version, which promises more performance in a similar package, and I look forward to riding that as well.
Who knows, maybe I'm on my way to becoming a Guzzisti!
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