Italy is known for many fine things, including a number of passionately loved motorcycles. Ducati may be the current diva in center stage, but did you know Moto Guzzi was the largest Italian motorcycle manufacturer from the 1930’s until the 60’s?
Low maintenance shafts have been my preferred mode of final drive for quite some time, hence, I have admired the Guzzi line for a few decades. Although I would bet most folks are probably more appreciative of Guzzi’s distinctive, air cooled, transversely-oriented (one cylinder to the left and the other to the right), 90-degree, V-twin engine that has defined the company’s machines for almost 50 years.
Since 1921 Guzzi has been making motorcycles in Northern Italy. In its early days, Guzzi machines were serious competitors in the race world and Guzzi riders are credited with 8 World Championships, 6 Constructor’s Championships and 11 Isle of Man TT victories.
The company hit hard times in the 60’s, was purchased in the 70’s, and re-purchased in the 90’s. In 2000, Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Aprilia, purchased Guzzi. Then in 2004 Piaggio bought Aprilia (making Piaggio the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe). Hence, Piaggio holds the cards to the famous marquee.
Indeed, things have been looking up for Guzzi in recent years, with a number of new models with modernized styling.
I took my first ride on a 2007 Breva V 1100 amidst the trucks, trains, refineries, container ships, warehouses, and all else that comprise the industrial Port of Long Beach, CA. The unique styling caught my eye, and in addition to the shaft drive, I also like the healthy-sized 6.1 gallon fuel tank that accommodates fewer gas stops. The naked Breva was a fun ride, and given a few touring accoutrements, I’d love to take this lady away from the shipyard and way out in the country….