1998-2005 Moto Guzzi V11 Sport - The Italian Hammer - Smart Money

1998-2005 Moto Guzzi V11 Sport

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

Mc Garage
Moto-Guzzi lust is usually somewhere between an acquired taste and outright pathology. None of the bikes minted in Guzzi's Mandello del Lario works over the last 85 years resemble the progeny of any other factory. They aren't for everyone. But if an antidote to the potentially mind-numbing sameness of the archetypical modern Japanese motorcycle is what you seek-an Italian thumb in the eye of four-cylinder, 16-valve conformity-have a look at one of these.

Equipped with an excellent six-speed gearbox and Magneti Marelli fuel injection, the 1064cc invocation of Guzzi's venerable air-cooled pushrod twin sidesteps most of the tribulations that trouble elder versions of a design first introduced in 1967. "It's a 100,000-mile engine," says Ed Milich of www.guzzitech.com. Everything above and below those big 92 x 80mm Nikasil-coated cylinders is dramatically overbuilt. Weighing nearly 550 pounds with a full tank of super-unleaded, some would accuse the V11 of being overweight. And the 80 horses that arrive at the rear wheel at 7750 rpm won't impress the GSX-R contingent. But to committed Guzzisti, such numbers are ephemeral. A Guzzi is forever. OK, almost.

Classic Italian ergonomics allow more room for arms than legs. More important is a torque curve Milich likens to the broad side of a barn. It's no dragster, but any healthy V11 will get from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds.

There's a fair amount of vibration at freeway speeds, but that tends to calm down considerably with mileage. Bikes built before '03 use an external fuel pump and refuse to start when they're hot. If the fuel tank inhales when you pop the gas cap, the tip-over valve beneath the tank isn't plumb. You need to make it so. Watch for flaky crankcase paint on '02 models. Make sure anything built before '01 got the new connecting-rod bolts mandated by the factory. There was a factory gearbox mod for '99-'02 models. A neglected shift linkage will foul up gearbox action. Make sure crack-prone aluminum oil-cooler brackets have been replaced with steel parts.

Most troublesome flaws should have been sorted out in any well-cared-for example, which is why Milich suggests buying one from a Guzzi guy or gal. If your idea of maintenance is checking tire pressure, stay away. Compulsive tweakers and tinkerers, however, love these things. Especially when they're so undervalued in today's used-bike market that you can roll home on a clean example for less than $6000.

Cheers
Engine is bulletproof-once it's sorted-in a rock-solid chassis

Jeers
Questionable quality control leaves a few quirks to iron out

Watch For
Oil leaks, sketchy fuel-tank venting, kinked speedometer cable, sticky shifting

Verdict
Timeless Italian style with a practical, broadband punch

VALUE
1999 - $4050
2001 - $5500
2003 - $6250
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