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First Ride: 2007 Moto Guzzi 1200S review

A resurgent Moto Guzzi unveils another new model, and at a race track ferchrissakes. Mackenzie rides the new 1200 Sport.




Moto Guzzi has never been a marque I've associated with race tracks so I wasn't sure what to expect at the Franciacorta circuit near Bergamo in Italy for my first ride on the new 1200 Sport. This tiny track, under a mile long, would feel tight on a Vespa, never mind a 229-kilo, 1150cc Italian stallion.

Placed between the sporty Griso and touring Norge, first impressions of the 1200 Sport were, if nothing else, that it looks the business. From every angle it has a stocky, solid appearance, with chrome detailing and white number boards brightening up the appearance. Other nice features are the carbon effect silencer and wavy front discs. The dash disappoints - at first it looks clear and classy but it's surrounded by tacky plastic chrome.

The 95bhp, 90-degree V-twin springs into life with just a touch of the starter button, unlike some big twins with that 'flat battery' feel when you first fire them up. Revving the engine produces the traditional lunge to the right, but otherwise the motor sounds sweet. Maximum power is around 7500rpm marked by a red light appearing on the dash before the rev limiter kicks in at 8250rpm. The six-speed transmission and shaft drive also work in harmony, with smooth and positive cluthless up-changes or more racer like down changes.

On track it was no great surprise to find the suspension soft, especially the front, which dived with the slightest touch of the effective Brembos or even when just closing the throttle. The 43mm Marzzochi forks have compression adjustment on one leg and rebound on the other which, when tweaked, did make a significant difference. For my second session I added three clicks to each side, which helped control weight transfer. The rear shock is preload and rebound adjustable but I left it standard as it seemed fine for my 11-stone mass.

Although the footpegs are slightly rear-set, ground clearance becomes the next limiting factor. This time there's no option for adjustment. And that's fine, as the 1200 Sport was never built to break lap records. My brisk pace also proved the Metzeler Sportecs were more than competent, as I had no moments in either the damp or dry.

The Sport is comfortable too, considering the bars are angled forward and the seat height is relatively low. Among the large range of options (performance and otherwise) there's a 3cm lower seat so even the most vertically challenged could enjoy this bike. You can also add nearly 90 litres of luggage, which means next time you move house you won't need Pickfords.

The famous eagle crest on the Guzzi's tank should remind you of the 85 years of enthusiasm and passion that has gone into the firm's motorcycles. For me the 1200 Sport is second only to the iconic 850 Le Mans, which rates as one of my all-time favourite bikes. I only got to ride the Sport on track, but it longs for Swiss mountain passes or breakfast runs up through Glencoe to Fort William. A quality, individualist all-rounder for not a lot of money.

VERDICT 3/5

Not a sports bike in the full-on GSX-R sense, but an enjoyable, quirky naked bike with a unique Italian style.

SPECS

TYPE - STREETBIKE

PRODUCTION DATE - 2007

PRICE NEW - £7695

ENGINE CAPACITY - 1151cc

POWER - 94bhp@7800rpm

TORQUE - 74lb.ft@6000rpm

WEIGHT - 229kg

SEAT HEIGHT - 800mm

FUEL CAPACITY - 23L

TOP SPEED - N/A

0-60 - n/a

TANK RANGE - N/A

They say: "A perfect blend of incredible performance and the sheer pleasure of riding" Moto Guzzi
We say: "I'll be the judge of that" Niall Mackenzie

Moto Guzzi has never been a marque I've associated with race tracks so I wasn't sure what to expect at the Franciacorta circuit near Bergamo in Italy for my first ride on the new 1200 Sport. This tiny track, under a mile long, would feel tight on a Vespa, never mind a 229-kilo, 1150cc Italian stallion.

Placed between the sporty Griso and touring Norge, first impressions of the 1200 Sport were, if nothing else, that it looks the business. From every angle it has a stocky, solid appearance, with chrome detailing and white number boards brightening up the appearance. Other nice features are the carbon effect silencer and wavy front discs. The dash disappoints - at first it looks clear and classy but it's surrounded by tacky plastic chrome.

The 95bhp, 90-degree V-twin springs into life with just a touch of the starter button, unlike some big twins with that 'flat battery' feel when you first fire them up. Revving the engine produces the traditional lunge to the right, but otherwise the motor sounds sweet. Maximum power is around 7500rpm marked by a red light appearing on the dash before the rev limiter kicks in at 8250rpm. The six-speed transmission and shaft drive also work in harmony, with smooth and positive cluthless up-changes or more racer like down changes.

On track it was no great surprise to find the suspension soft, especially the front, which dived with the slightest touch of the effective Brembos or even when just closing the throttle. The 43mm Marzzochi forks have compression adjustment on one leg and rebound on the other which, when tweaked, did make a significant difference. For my second session I added three clicks to each side, which helped control weight transfer. The rear shock is preload and rebound adjustable but I left it standard as it seemed fine for my 11-stone mass.

Although the footpegs are slightly rear-set, ground clearance becomes the next limiting factor. This time there's no option for adjustment. And that's fine, as the 1200 Sport was never built to break lap records. My brisk pace also proved the Metzeler Sportecs were more than competent, as I had no moments in either the damp or dry.

The Sport is comfortable too, considering the bars are angled forward and the seat height is relatively low. Among the large range of options (performance and otherwise) there's a 3cm lower seat so even the most vertically challenged could enjoy this bike. You can also add nearly 90 litres of luggage, which means next time you move house you won't need Pickfords.

The famous eagle crest on the Guzzi's tank should remind you of the 85 years of enthusiasm and
passion that has gone into the firm's motorcycles. For me the 1200 Sport is second only to the iconic 850 Le Mans, which rates as one of my all-time favourite bikes. I only got to ride the Sport on track, but it longs for Swiss mountain passes or breakfast runs up through Glencoe to Fort William. A quality, individualist all-rounder for not a lot of money.

VERDICT 3/5

Not a sports bike in the full-on GSX-R sense, but an enjoyable, quirky naked bike with a unique Italian style

Moto Guzzi 1200S Specs

TYPE - STREETBIKE
PRODUCTION DATE - 2007
PRICE NEW - £7695
ENGINE CAPACITY - 1151cc
POWER - 94bhp@7800rpm
TORQUE - 74lb.ft@6000rpm   
WEIGHT - 229kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 800mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 23L   
TOP SPEED - N/A
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A