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Comparative test Moto Guzzi Le Mans against V11 Sport

This other kind

While other brands are always looking for new concepts, a Guzzi always remains a Guzzi. MOTORRAD pays tribute to the different way of driving in a special.

With a loud metallic thud, the magnetic switch slams the starter pinion into the flywheel. Groaning, the huge Bosch starter struggles to push the machine’s pistons against the compression. A quick turn of the throttle lets the accelerator pumps of the 36-series Dellortos inject a little gasoline into the inlet channels. The whole machine staggered from left to right, suddenly it rumbled off, shook itself, choked a little, wants to be kept alive with a few throttles and a powerful flywheel. But it works. And how! This V2 hums peacefully at a maximum of 400 rpm, as if it wanted to take a rest from this exhausting start-up procedure.
It’s hard to believe, but 25 years ago Le Mans was one of the best sports motorcycles ever. Is that supposed to have been this ruffian from Motor? But wait, you have to get involved with a youngtimer. And a Guzzi anyway. Because driving a Guzzi is different, completely different. So away with the number games, away with today’s standards, into a new, old world. A world that begins with the fact that a throttle grip can be incredibly difficult, but that is by no means shorts-stroke operation. A world in which a handbrake only has a supporting effect and the footbrake takes over the main work. A world in which shifting is not simply carried out, but gear changes must be carried out with care, with special consideration of the flywheel mass and the expected speed change. That means you have to double-declutch.
The first few kilometers on a Guzzi are a challenge for "normal" motorcyclists. But soon there is a certain habituation effect. That automatism that lets hands and feet work in a coordinated manner without the driver thinking about it too much. It runs, the Le Mans bubbles at 3000 rpm, all joints massages with good-natured vibrations. Satisfaction sets in. And amazement. Amazing how slim and straight motorcycles could once be built, how moderately sporty the driver was already positioned back then. It is also astonishing how stable and yet easy to handle Guzzi designed undercarriages back in the 1970s.
After a short time, the driver begins to drive more and more vigorously, after all, the narrow-gauge tires claw their way into the asphalt. Although the rear of the 110 is not even as wide as today’s supersport front tire. But please, the knee stays on the tank. And then aim at the next combination of curves in order to get safely to its end like along a beacon.
Driving Le Mans means gliding smoothly without twisting around. Take a deep breath, mix fresh air with gasoline through the open carburetor and convert both into propulsion with combustion. Playfully fall from one incline to the next, enjoy, smile. Does that work with to V11 Sport too?
Without a doubt, a Guzzi is always a Guzzi. The V2 sticks out its two huge, air-cooled cylinders left and right under the tank as ever. The 90-degree V-twin with longitudinal crankshaft is a must for Guzzi, as is the Boxer for BMW or the 45-degree V2 for Harley. And still the starter ruthlessly slams his pinion into the flywheel. 25 years and no progress? Well, the starter hidden behind a cover is much more delicate. Likewise the battery of the V11, which reduces its weight. Instead, the Dellortos have disappeared. These really imposing fuel dispensers are replaced by blandly drawn throttle valve housings, the opening angle of which is measured by a potentiometer and the right amount of fuel is allocated via injection nozzles.
But the injection does its job well. Above all, the V11 throttle is around 23 times easier and its path is 23 times shorter than at Le Mans. Access the power of the magnificent 1100 V2 without any problems. It is hard to imagine that this engine is a simple two-valve engine. Already at 1500 rpm the sport pushes forward, allows itself a breather at 4500 rpm before attacking again. From 6000 rpm, the V11 revs up quickly, mercilessly and mercilessly, it shakes performance from the ancient construction so that it becomes fear and anxiety. Is there a BoT racing engine in there? Don’t these long bumpers bend at 8000 rpm? The whole thing happens with an amazing smoothness.
Compared to the V11, the Le Mans looks sluggish. The larger centrifugal mass allows the 850 to rev up more slowly, and the engine with the smaller displacement of the machine, which has been lovingly built by the XXXXX company, is much more difficult. The 70 hp seemed to be more prospectus than DIN hp. The V11, on the other hand, delivers 95 instead of the 91 specified PS to the cardan shaft. And that via a closely spaced six-speed gearbox, which can also be shifted really well, without throttle artistry, without long shift paths.
The torque support of the gimbal drive is also useful for sporty locomotion. As with BMW, the output shaft has two universal joints. So the V11 stays calm at the rear even when the throttle is turned hectically. The Le Mans, on the other hand, sways alarmingly with the rear when the load changes, which has to be kept in check with short suspension travel and tight coordination. The V11 offers significantly more options for combining sportiness with comfort. On undulating asphalt, it plays out spring and damper reserves, while the Le Mans hits through with insult or unwillingly wriggles with the handlebars. A lot has happened there, even if the V11 is not perfectly coordinated by today’s standards either, damping and suspension at the front could be significantly optimized.
And the sport is worlds more manageable. Almost nervous she gives herself in tight bends, falls immediately into the deepest slopes as if controlled by a power steering, beguiled in alternating curves like carving skis instead of downhill boards. Le Mans can only be astonished with the dignity of its 25th season. And point out that the V11 commutes decently in fast corners. Their delicate central tubular frame looks unstable, no comparison to the stable double loop frame of the Le Mans.
W.So what’s left of the Guzzi feeling? Can the V11 Sport still generate this fascination like a Le Mans? She can. Even though much more cultivated than the old lady, the V11 is still unmistakably a Guzzi with that unique sound. It has lost nothing of its character. Engage sixth gear at 40 km / h, that’s really fun. A pleasure to let this two-cylinder go. Drive up a mountain with 2500 tours and let the power shake the handlebars. At 100 km / h, slowly reduce the gas and feel how the pistons only move very gently up and down. With a cappuccino, let your gaze slide over the brilliantly shimmering light green paintwork in the sunlight, while the silencers tick peacefully. Watch the shimmering air above the mighty bends, which get brown the harder you for the V2. And finally, after 500 kilometers of driving, get off with a smile and understand: Guzzi-moving is that other way of riding a motorcycle.

Moto Guzzi special

Guzzi remains Guzzi. Once you have succumbed to the fascination of these characterful V2 machines, the classic blow of these engines catches you again and again. A V11 Sport differs little from a Le Mans. By today’s standards, the Le Mans is more of a quiet glider than a super sports car. The V11, on the other hand, is a strong cornering star. Handy, fiery and clearly a Guzzi. There is still enough independence left for the friends of this other way of riding a motorcycle. And in MOTORRAD’s opinion, nothing should change that.

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