Final: Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans

Final: Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans
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Final: Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans

We have time

Do you dream of the past more and more often, wondering whether annoying hectic pace and high-tech should determine your life? If you prefer thoroughly honest mechanics and fiddling around with a wrench and feeler gauge than diagnosing faults with a laptop, there is something for you: a Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans.

The starter throws itself into the gears with a crash, only with effort gets the massive 1100 twin going. One stroke of the piston later, the powerful drive shakes like a wet dog, finds its rhythm, and … How, isn’t it all yawning boring? Because every, but really every story begins about a Moto Guzzi? Right, there is something to it. But how please, should a Guzzi story begin, if not with this mechanical onomatopoeia?

It is precisely the mechanics that symbolizes the original. The fascination for motorcycles of this kind lives from her. A fascination that spreads and that emanates from some machines. Harley-Davidson, for example, also has a couple of powerfully booming machines in its range. If you are looking for it, you might find it on Ebay or elsewhere. Youngtimers for little money, for example, but with all the more flaws, are a big market. Logical, others also hang on to past times and dreams. But be careful, once the box is on your doorstep, there is usually no way back. And also no guarantee for lasting joy, after all, the many constructive mishaps need to be digested and the spiritual access to be fought for. One quickly realizes that the decision is not made in a panic-like feeling of happiness that comes over the motorcyclist when riding an almost perfect Honda VFR, a greedy Suzuki GSX-R 1000 or the soft Yamaha FJR tourer. A seizure that often goes away as quickly as it came.


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With the sun behind you, the ride on the V11 is coming to an end.

No, the longing for the original motorcycle is creeping up. In some cases even in the form of initial dislike. Especially when the rustic riding iron shows a certain stubbornness. And it is precisely at this stage that the situation is decided. Either you put your great love back to the courtyard as quickly as possible to the nice dealer? or you learn to live with their nonsense. Roughly speaking, that takes a thousand and one kilometers. Why? It’s a long story that we cannot tell here. In any case, a Moto Guzzi V11 was supposed to be tumbled and milked in the relentless MOTORRAD top test in spring 2003. With 1000 points, several braking attempts, slalom wagging ?? the full program. The goblet passed her.

Longing for simple motorcycles


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Get out of the hectic everyday life and let yourself be carried away. A motorcycle like the V11 helps.

Now it is autumn, Intermot autumn. News about news. Glamorous video clips and computer animations celebrate the designers’ latest strokes of genius. This includes electronic gearshifts and even more driving aids so that it doesn’t lock up when braking and doesn‘t slip out of lane when accelerating. Half-naked girls loll on futuristic plastic, martial headlights glare angrily from their disguise. And suddenly you long for a very simple motorcycle. One with a round headlight, fanned out cooling fins and an engine that you can still watch at work. In other words: Is there anything better than a red sausage from the campfire? Lightly charred at the ends, with mustard, fresh farmhouse bread and: pfump, a cold beer from the bottle? Delicious. Just like the last trip with the Guzzi V11.

What an experience. Incomparable is the moment when the huge electric starter snaps into the toothing of the flywheel with a roar and the crankshaft whirls around, the engine ignites for the first time. Even seasoned Guzzisti come to the conclusion that this is the best thing about the mighty chunk. In one fell swoop, unrestrained mass forces shake the earth, so that even the Richter scale, which is open to the top, starts to boil. Technically sensitive people cannot believe that the metallic collision of the gears and the subsequent eruption, that in 2008 after the birth of Christ, such crude processes are planned constructively. With every thrust of the gas, invisible forces and moments shake the Guzzi, pull the massive monument and let it tip over. Reverse torque, the tech-savvy comments casually on this play of elements and means by that the crankshaft rotating in the direction of travel.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the more or less controllable game of mass forces is a fundamental characteristic of all real Guzzis. Perhaps because they were originally intended as stationary engines and are now being mocked as concrete mixers by blasphemous mouths. Ignorants all, because anyone who has experienced the rise of the Brummer from Mandello del Lario knows the ease with which the first Moto Guzzi V7 Sport drove the Japanese establishment to the ground in the early 1970s. The author himself, who was earning his living as a Moto Guzzi mechanic at the time, nailed the rugged V7 Sport along furrowed Black Forest roads at hell’s speed. Japanese chassis took the oath of revelation on them, so that any attempt to follow the Guzzi failed. Koni strut back, Metzeler tires back? there was nothing to be done with a Nippon rocking chair. The Italians were simply playing in a different league at the time.

Modernization down to the last detail


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"Sports guzzis try to breed a classy racer out of a tractor."

Nothing has changed to this day. However, Moto Guzzi no longer plays in the first, but rather in the regional league. While engineers from the Far East sought their happiness in striving for maximum function, the Italians modernized their Thunderbird down to the last detail, but stuck to the original construction principle from the 1960s. Basically, this principle with the longitudinally rotating crankshaft and the directly flange-mounted gearbox with cardan drive is only conditionally suitable for a sports motorcycle. Or, to be completely honest: this is not how you build a sports motorcycle? not today and not in the past either. The sports guzzis were and are all nothing more than the helpless attempt to breed a classy racer from the genetic material of a chubby tractor. But what doesn’t work, doesn’t work.

On the other hand, the cylinders positioned across the wind are good for the incomparable experience of a solid driving machine, which in its worst form can lead to addiction. Even then, five years ago, we got along from the first stroke of the piston, the Guzzi and I. And still today. You can see it in my clothes. Nothing with racing suits, no more knee sliders. In a tourist suit with an airy jet helmet on, the journey goes across the country, over the house route to the favorite spots that can hardly be found on the map. Do not rush. We have time. That is a good thing, because the damp night has disabled the electric starter. It shows no reaction, not even a slight click. Push? Two pistons, the size of beer mugs, balancing against the compression? Pipe lid. A little wiggling, tapping, and shaking always helps. And the starter throws itself with a crash …

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