Let’s be perfectly clear: Don’t try riding Moto Guzzi’s Quota 1100 ES over any triple-jumps or whoop-dee-doos unless your schedule allows for a dirt lunch. As with most other big-bore “adventure bikes,” the Quota is way too portly for serious off-roading. It is, however, a good choice for long street-riding days with some light canyon carving or gravel-road romps in between.
The Quota was one of Moto Guzzi’s famous engineering answers to questions no one asked. The nearly 600-lb. (wet), shaft-driven machine first appeared in 1992 as the Europe-only Quota 1000. Seven years later,it motored onto U.S. shores with fuel-injection and more displacement as the Quota 1100 ES. Guzzisti promptly discovered that the bike’s combination of torquey twin-cylinder engine, large load-carrying capacity and pothole-eating, long-travel suspension made it a capable all-rounder.
The powerplant is a 1064cc version of Guzzis’ venerable air-cooled, two-valve, 90-degree, longitudinal V-twin. Suspension is by Marzocchi with a 42mm fork up front. The stout steel frame is bulky, but rigid. Optional hard side and top cases are equally suited to overnight trips or grocery-getting.
Many Quotas left dealerships without having their EFI systems proper set-up, so throttle response is often poor. A full tune-up will pay dividends. Original computers were recalled, so an updated ECU helps improve running. In desperation, some owners even reverted to carburetors! Watch for driveline and universal joint wear (or failure) after about 50,000 miles. The Excel aluminum rims can crack at the spoke holes, and tip-overs easily damage the plastic bodywork.
Retrofitting an older 7/33 rear drive box (around $500 used on eBay) will lower gearing and benefit acceleration significantly while still allowing a near 100-mph top speed. The long, 2-into-1 exhaust and restrictive muffler cost some top-end power. Install an aftermarket pipe, sort out the fueling and a Quota will dyno at an even 62 bhp and 62 lb.-ft. of torque. Stiffen the soft stock suspension with aftermarket fork springs.
Considering all of its quirks, an owner really has to want to ride a Quota. But a well-sorted 1100 ES is a steadfast, comfortable mile-eater. Just avoid backflips, and stick to the blue roads. MC
Prolific torque, undaunted by potholes.
Unrefined EFI, heavy, ill-suited for off-road use.
Poor throttle response, cracked wheel rims, worn driveline.
Better for paved highways than dirt trails.
2000 | $3635
1995 | $3855
The O.G. adventure bike. Telelever front end soaks up bumps without excessive brake dive and the Boxer twin is good for over 100K miles. Fuel-injection surging is the only flaw keeping it from being böring. 2000 | $3635
2003 | $4620
The 955-powered Tiger was an early high-performance adventurer. Over 100 bhp on a “trailie” makes for effortless roostertails! Watch for electrical issues and defective radiator caps.
Cagiva Gran Canyon
1999 | $3750
Extremely capable, street-biased, Ducati-powered adventure-tourer based on the Elefant 900 rally bike. Most engine parts are available from Ducati dealers. The rest? You’re on your own...