Moto Guzzi V11 Cafe Sport review

Slight re-vamp for the V11, with better fuel-injection, wider rubber and a better quality finish. If you want something different, it’s worth a look

Ben Cope's picture
By Visordown on Thu, 1 Jan 2004 - 12:01

Details
Manufacturer:
Moto Guzzi
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 8579
Overall
3
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A real motorbike, for real men, the V11 is all metal
Performance is decades behind the marketplace.

I blip the throttle and I’m momentarily confused. A sudden dip to the right with the torque reaction tells me that I’ve got to remember that this machine is very different to the in-line vees I’ve raced before.

On the go, and I’m surprised at just how much power this thing has, is it really just 91bhp? It’s a twin, which should mean lazy torque over frantic power, but this thing loves to be revved, all the way to the redline. The motor is responsive, but you have to be positive, as the torque reaction can unsettle the bike on the downshifts. It took me 20 minutes to get used to it and then I was able to time gearshifts correctly so I wasn’t wagging the V11’s tail out.

That’s another thing, you always feels as if there’s a false neutral hiding between each downshift, so a precise left foot is needed. These aren’t criticisms, just observations. It’s not the latest hi-tech sportster, it’s something which requires more involvement and has more soul.

Once you’ve got engine management sussed, you can enjoy the handling. I was expecting something top heavy, but the handling is very neutral and responsive. It feels like the V11 has quite a steep steering head angle, (25 degrees, same as a FireStorm) which I guess is why Guzzi put a steering damper on the V11. It works.

I was soon grounding out the sidestand on the left and just touching down my Alpinestar on the right. For this bike that’s enough. Brakes are plenty, too. Brembos at the front provide enough power, while the rear has more bite than most of the latest sportsbikes.

With a pint of lager & lime on TWO’s expenses, I can have a good look at the V11. I like the way it looks, a bit like the Le Mans that stirred my loins all those years ago, but with modern touches, like those upside down front forks. And I love those red anodised ends to the frame by the footrest hangers. But it isn’t perfect, perhaps the back end (re-designed this year) would look better if pared down a bit, as from some angles it looks a bit like two bikes joined together in the middle. But it is comfy, although I could hardly see a thing in the mirrors. Too small and vibey.

All of the Moto Guzzi range have benefited from the injection of cash from Aprilia. So, there’s 100 changes in the latest V11 Sport, the most important being mods to the fuel-injection system to make the vee-twin feel smoother at low revs. I’ve not ridden the earlier version, but Bertie reckons fuelling and build quality has improved.

The 2001 model also has a slightly longer wheelbase and a 180-rear section tyre, instead of a 170, just for all you rubber fetishists out there.

Still, we did have one problem. After a day of abuse, the left hand cylinder started to backfire badly when I came off the throttle trickling through sleepy Northants villages. It’s easy to mumble ‘Italian quality,’ but a quick check revealed that it was simply a loose jubilee clip on the hose connecting the fuel-injector to the cylinder head. Perhaps I’m justifying a ‘characterful’ bike, but Guzzi un-crated the bike and then shipped it from a bike show in the back of a van just for us and without a check-over, so I want to give the V11 the benefit of the doubt.

I enjoyed my time on the V11, it was a glance at an object of my desire from my youth, albeit an updated one. And like I said, you buy these bikes for different reasons. A GSX-R1000 owner makes a statement of buying the ultimate sports bike, but you buy a V11 because you’re different and have a certain sense of style, and I say fair play to ya!
I blip the throttle and I’m momentarily confused. A sudden dip to the right with the torque reaction tells me that I’ve got to remember that this machine is very different to the in-line vees I’ve raced before.

On the go, and I’m surprised at just how much power this thing has, is it really just 91bhp? It’s a twin, which should mean lazy torque over frantic power, but this thing loves to be revved, all the way to the redline. The motor is responsive, but you have to be positive, as the torque reaction can unsettle the bike on the downshifts. It took me 20 minutes to get used to it and then I was able to time gearshifts correctly so I wasn’t wagging the V11’s tail out.

That’s another thing, you always feels as if there’s a false neutral hiding between each downshift, so a precise left foot is needed. These aren’t criticisms, just observations. It’s not the latest hi-tech sportster, it’s something which requires more involvement and has more soul.

Once you’ve got engine management sussed, you can enjoy the handling. I was expecting something top heavy, but the handling is very neutral and responsive. It feels like the V11 has quite a steep steering head angle, (25 degrees, same as a FireStorm) which I guess is why Guzzi put a steering damper on the V11. It works.

I was soon grounding out the sidestand on the left and just touching down my Alpinestar on the right. For this bike that’s enough. Brakes are plenty, too. Brembos at the front provide enough power, while the rear has more bite than most of the latest sportsbikes.

With a pint of lager & lime on TWO’s expenses, I can have a good look at the V11. I like the way it looks, a bit like the Le Mans that stirred my loins all those years ago, but with modern touches, like those upside down front forks. And I love those red anodised ends to the frame by the footrest hangers. But it isn’t perfect, perhaps the back end (re-designed this year) would look better if pared down a bit, as from some angles it looks a bit like two bikes joined together in the middle. But it is comfy, although I could hardly see a thing in the mirrors. Too small and vibey.

All of the Moto Guzzi range have benefited from the injection of cash from Aprilia. So, there’s 100 changes in the latest V11 Sport, the most important being mods to the fuel-injection system to make the vee-twin feel smoother at low revs. I’ve not ridden the earlier version, but Bertie reckons fuelling and build quality has improved.

The 2001 model also has a slightly longer wheelbase and a 180-rear section tyre, instead of a 170, just for all you rubber fetishists out there.

Still, we did have one problem. After a day of abuse, the left hand cylinder started to backfire badly when I came off the throttle trickling through sleepy Northants villages. It’s easy to mumble ‘Italian quality,’ but a quick check revealed that it was simply a loose jubilee clip on the hose connecting the fuel-injector to the cylinder head. Perhaps I’m justifying a ‘characterful’ bike, but Guzzi un-crated the bike and then shipped it from a bike show in the back of a van just for us and without a check-over, so I want to give the V11 the benefit of the doubt.

I enjoyed my time on the V11, it was a glance at an object of my desire from my youth, albeit an updated one. And like I said, you buy these bikes for different reasons. A GSX-R1000 owner makes a statement of buying the ultimate sports bike, but you buy a V11 because you’re different and have a certain sense of style, and I say fair play to ya!

Length (mm) 2150
Width (mm) 785
Height (mm) 1170
Dryweight (kg) 221
Seats 2
Seat Height (mm) 800
Suspension Front Marzocchi upside-down fork, extension and preload adjustable
Suspension Rear Cantilever swing arm Sachs mono, compression/extension/preload adjustable
Wheels Front 17 inch Brembo spoke light alloy
Wheels Rear 17 inch Brembo spoke light alloy
Tyres Front 120/70-17
Tyres Rear 180/55-17
Brakes Front Two Brembo Oro series stainless steel floating 320mm discs with 4 piston calipers
Brakes Rear Single Brembo stainless steel fixed 282mm disc with 2 piston caliper
Tank Capacity (litres) 20.7
Wheelbase (mm) 1490
Ground Clearance (mm) 178
Trail (mm) 103
Chassis Monobeam frame
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1064
Max Power (bhp) 90
Max Power Peak (rpm) 8200
Torque (ft/lb) 69
Torque Peak (rpm) 5400
Bore (mm) 92
Stroke (mm) 80
Valve Gear DOHC
Compression Ratio 9.8
Ignition Digital electronic
Cooling Air cooled
Fuel Delivery Electric indirect sequential injection
Stroke Type Four Stroke
Drive Shaft
Top Speed
Score Breakdown
Overall
3

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