Test Moto-Guzzi V 11 Le Mans
At full speed
Bankruptcy, bankruptcy, end, out, done? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that. Under the direction of Aprilia, the burly Moto Guzzi twins come back to life. Above all the sporty V11, which continues the traditional Le Mans series.
The starter throws itself into the gears with a crash, only with effort gets the massive 1100 twin going. A stroke of the piston later, the powerful drive shakes like a wet dog, finds its rhythm – and runs. No, wrong: it trembles. Always a little experience, such a Guzzi. The engine alone: a real combustion engine. Sips greedily for air and fuel, pounds the pistons unmistakably in the work cycle, merrily fires his bass into the landscape. Every thrust of the accelerator gives Ross and Reiter a push to the right – reverse torque is the game in technical jargon and is caused by the longitudinally rotating crankshaft.
Once in motion, the air-cooled two-valve engine shows a completely different side. For an 1100 twin, it hangs almost a little slack on the ropes below 4000 rpm, the Guzzi much prefers to let the bumpers dance, turns loosely from the stool and with a lot of lard into the red area at 8000 rpm. Vibrations in all frequencies are part of it, from the grumpy shaking to the bitter tingling sensation at maximum speed. Captured by the ups and downs of the engine masses, the rearview mirror and paneling tremble like a moderately severe earthquake. Just Guzzi.
In keeping with the lively engine, the gears change their position quickly and precisely, despite the still relatively long shift travel, and idling finds its place without long fiddling. The easy-to-dose and smooth-running dry clutch of the new V11 Le Mans is also great.
Although the gimbal reactions are intercepted by a torque support on the frame, there is still a jolt through the chairs during load changes and gear changes, and the Le Mans sways off track as if tipsy. A circumstance that, as always, requires a fluid, anticipatory driving style. Driving a Guzzi is driving a Guzzi, and that has to be learned. In the cornering area, when riding in a hurry, the gears should be sorted in good time, the gas should be applied as early as possible to stabilize the curve and constantly increased. If you have the hang of it, you will experience the best Guzzi that has ever been produced in series. Tightly coordinated spring elements with a wide usable adjustment range, the significantly improved frame, because the swing arm bearing is stiffened, and the flawless Bridgestone BT 020 tires in the tried and tested 120/180 format on 3.50 and 5.50 inch rims help Le Mans now to amazing qualities in terms of steering precision, cornering stability and feedback. From the tricky U-turn around windy hairpin bends to the low flight through wide terrain, the new Guzzi can do it and finally ties in with the legendary chassis qualities of the original Le Mans of 1975.
Thanks to the new tires and the wheelbase, which is 19 millimeters longer than the old V11 (the steering head has been moved further forward), the new Le Mans can drive over the track with a top speed of at least 2xx km / h without commuting. Only the adjustable Bitubo steering damper gets work at times when the steering starts to kick back significantly on rutted roads and bumpy roads.
Even if the handlebar stubs clamped over the triple clamps and the high, classic-style half-shell rather meet tourist demands, the Le Mans is also not averse to a sporty gallop. A wide, very comfortable seat cushion, the slim, drawn-in plastic tank and well-positioned notches result in a compact, gathered sitting position from which the Guzzi can also be masterfully directed in the artistic hanging-off. But watch out, in left-hand bends the sportsman stumbles too early over the protruding side stand, which acknowledges rigorous turning with a levered out front wheel. What a pity.
On the other hand, Guzzi drivers who are less active in sport get their money’s worth with the new Le Mans. Because the entertaining twin and the reliable chassis, which is free from all deceit, make long stretches more fun. And because the dome of the half-shell, drawn far back, defies wind and weather. In keeping with the good-natured character, the Brembo brakes dispense with any toxicity in the event of panic braking, but require a strong grip to stop the XXX kilogram Italian.
Guzzistis do not have to go without an accompaniment, but the seat bun hidden under the screwed rump is too short, too high and only recommended for well-trained yoga experts.
On the other hand, switch units and levers work on the Japanese standard, which is to say something. The same applies to the instruments encased in chrome and mounted on noble carbon fiber, of which the speedometer is still set in motion in the classic mechanical engineering manner via an angle drive and flexible shaft.
I.In terms of processing, clear progress can be seen. Precisely fitting plastic parts, the seat that snaps into place, neatly laid electrical components and steel-sheathed petrol and oil lines show the will for quality. However, it is questionable whether the black and fine-pored shrink varnish surface applied to the motor, gearbox and cardan housing can be restored to a new condition after extensive driving in the rain. It is also questionable whether the copious use of plastic cladding at the XXXXX mark expensive Le Mans can spark the passion of real Guzzi lovers.
There are moments that you don’t forget. For example when I peeled one of the first Guzzi Le Mans out of its wooden transport box in 1976. Fire red and slim, with knobbly handlebar trim and black step bench – the ultimate sports equipment. The engine sipped the air to breathe through open intake funnels, almost undamped Lafranconi bags disposed of the exhaust gases melodiously but loudly. The 850 Twin hung in a tightly looped and stable double-loop frame, a telescopic fork sprung up at the front – a sensation at the time – closed damper cartridges, at the rear a couple of Konis made the thing perfect. In terms of stability and cornering behavior, the Nippon bikes had no chance and the engine performance was almost on a par with the competition. The Le Mans was followed by the Le Mans II and III with a little more plastic casing. In the mid-80s the Le Mans IV appeared, in which the round cylinders were exchanged for the angular components with the full liter displacement and Nikasil coating. Adapted to the trend, it rolled on a 16-inch wheel at the front, which unfortunately meant that the excellent driving characteristics had disappeared. Quality problems such as leaky oil seals, problems with the electrical system and other little things made the Guzzis difficult to cope with and scared off the customers. Only now can you see the light again at the end of the tunnel.
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