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Tech Specs

744cc air cooled V-twin. 2 valves per cylinder, fuel injection, 3-way catalytic converter.

46bhp @ 6,800 rpm
54Nm @ 3,600 rpm

Steel tubular duplex double cradle frame. Non-adjustable Marzocchi front forks and twin rear damper/ spring units.
Brembo 4-pot caliper at front on single 320mm disc, 1-pot caliper at rear on single 260mm disc.

110/70 HR front tyre
130/80 HR rear tyre

Length: 2170mm
Wheelbase: 1449mm
Dry weight: 182kg
Seat height: 790mm
Fuel tank: 17litres

Price: £5329




Moto Guzzi Breva 750

Road test by Dick Henneman

The Breva 750ie was one of the first new bikes to emerge from the Mandello factory on the shores of Lake Como, following the take over of the ailing Moto Guzzi company by the Aprilia Group a couple of years ago. Launched in the UK at the beginning of 2003, the Breva was a new type of Guzzi that maintained the company's traditional values in a package that had design cues that were aimed at a younger market. At its heart is the "trade mark" 90-degree air-cooled V-twin engine that first appeared way back in 1967 in the Guzzi V7, although it's been much refined and updated since then, but the 2-valve head is still pushrod operated although the fueling is now done by a Magnetti-Marelli injection system. Also retained is the shaft drive to the rear wheel and the double cradle tubular frame. All of these visual clues leave you in no doubt that this is a Moto Guzzi, but the whole package has very contemporary look to it.

The model that I had on test was fitted with two optional extras, a plexiglas windshield that replaced the standard small bikini fairing, and the "Lady Seat" that lowered the seat height from 790mm to 760mm. The larger windshield did an excellent job of keeping the worst of the weather off me and deflecting the airstream over my helmet, but at the same time created some extra wind noise. The lowered seat would be an excellent addition for those of a shortened leg measurement, but being just under 6 feet tall myself and having a fairly normal leg length, I found the riding position a bit like sitting in an armchair, and my knees were well-bent with both feet flat on the ground!

The whole package looked very well finished and put together, and considering the bike was first registered nearly 12 months previously, there were no signs of corrosion on the fasteners and fittings and everything looked to be in almost showroom condition. But it's also worth pointing out that the bike had only done 1,100 miles since new so it hadn't really had a very busy life.

It's an easy swing of the leg over the low well-padded saddle, and when you turn the ignition key all the lights come on and the analogue dials swing round to the stops to let you know everything's OK. A quick prod of the starter button and the V-twin rumbles into life. The twin chrome exhausts look impressive, but they and the 3-way catalyst are far too efficient at meeting the euro-noise limits, and the whole thing sounds a little strangled. Don't worry too much though, as this is a bike that you can "feel" through every part of your body and you don't really need a noisy pipe to release its character. Get the bike on the move and the engine gently throbs through the frame, leaving you in no doubt that this is a V-twin. The wide bars on the Breva give it great maneuverability and all the controls operate easily and without fuss. The bar-mounted mirrors give an excellent view to the rear and are clear and sharp at all speeds.

click for larger imageGuzzi's have a bit of reputation when it comes to gearboxes, and the one on the Breva is no exception. However, instead of being plagued by false neutrals as is usually the case, this one had a false first. On too many occasions, selecting first from neutral when stationary simply extinguishes the neutral light. Release the smooth and light clutch - and nothing happens. Try again - zero movement. Through trial and error I found the best method was to blip the throttle in neutral and while the revs were dropping, pull in the clutch and bang it into first. This nearly always worked, but a couple of times it popped out of gear almost as soon as it started moving. The whole thing was a bit of pain, which was a shame because as soon as you got into second the gearchange was a dream - clutchless upchanges were smooth and slick and traveling up and down the ratios was a pleasure. Not that you needed to play with the box that much as this engine develops so much torque right across the rev-range that it will pull well no matter what the speed and gear. And the injection system was flawless.

Assuming that you can get it into first gear, the Breva has an impressive "party trick" up its sleeve. Find some level ground, put your right hand behind back (or in your pocket), gently release the clutch and the bike will move off with only a small dip in the tickover revs. Now release the clutch fully and the Breva will chug along quite happily at about 5 or 6 mph on tickover. Cool!

click for larger imageTraveling a bit faster, the ride is pretty good as long as the road surface is reasonably smooth, but if the going gets a bit bumpy and/or you up the pace, then the weaknesses of the budget non-adjustable suspension are exposed. The front is far too soft and under-damped while the rear is the exact opposite. Small bumps will really jar the backside without warning as the front wheel has ridden over them without a murmur. Not a real problem, as the well-padded saddle will soak up a lot of the impact. However if you catch a bump mid-corner with the bike well leant over, then the front gets real shakey and on one occasion almost tore the bars out of my hands. This isn't too clever, especially as the most likely purchaser of the Breva is a rider without a great deal of riding experience. The soft front forks also mean that the front dives quite dramatically under braking, as the four pot Brembo caliper grips the single front disc well. However this is easily cured by sharing the braking load with the powerful and progressive rear brake.

For a 'modern' design, the Breva is fitted with strangely narrow section rubber, 110 at the front and 130 at the rear. The test bike came with Bridgestone BT45s, and while they never gave any worries as far as grip was concerned, they did have a tendency to "tramline" over imperfections and joins in the road surface. I can't help thinking that 120 fronts and 160 rears would cure this problem and at the same time improve the appearance of the bike.

But the real solution is not to ride the Breva as if it was a sports bike, something that it quite obviously isn't. This is a bike that 's designed for relaxed and easy-going travel between A and B, although with it's light handling, low centre of gravity, good steering lock and smooth, seemless torque, it would also make an excellent commuter. It's a shame that there are only two bungee points on the bike, although Moto Guzzi can supply hard panniers if you want to go touring. The Breva 750 will cruise quite happily, effortlessly, and comfortably all day long at 85-90 mph, and if you really screw the throttle wide open then the bike will get into low three-figure speeds. But the Breva isn't really happy at these kind of speeds, so back it off and get back to more licence-friendly rates of progress.

The single round headlamp gives a wide, bright beam when on dip, and the main beam is good enough for 60-80 mph night time travel. I took the Breva for an overnight run down to north Devon along a lot of unlit roads during this test, and I had no problems in seeing where I was going. However, the blood-red instrument illumination took some getting used to though, and the "idiot lights" on the dash were a little too bright for nighttime use. Especially annoying was the bright red hazard warning light button in the middle.

click for larger imageMuch less annoying, in fact positively welcomed was the fuel consumption. I'll admit that I didn't pootle along on the Breva during the test and yet in spite of this I still managed to get 57 mpg. With a 17-litre tank this means a very respectable 160 miles before the reserve light comes on, and then you've still got a further 50 miles to find a petrol station.

I'll admit that this is the first time that I've ridden a Guzzi, and I approached the test with a degree of scepticism that had largely been fueled by apocryphal tales of "ancient bikes powered by tractor engines that were ridden by old pipe-smoking duffers". The Breva 750 puts this preconception well and truly into touch. This is a modern Moto Guzzi for the 21st century.

I can honestly say that I really enjoyed riding the Breva. OK, it's not perfect and if I had one then I'd get the front forks revalved and resprung, and I'd change the rear dampers as well (Moto Guzzi can supply uprated units), but that V-twin engine is a real gem and the whole package is a very good ride for the less "press-on" style of progress. Having said that, I can't wait to get my hands on the Breva 1100 when it comes out later this year.

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