Wednesday, April 20, 2011


“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
Dad quoting John Keats to Mom – seldom with any success

“Don’t knock rationalization. Where would we be without it? I don’t know anyone who can get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex… Ever gone a week without a rationalization?”
Geoff Goldbloom portraying Michael, 
a “People Magazine” stringer, 
in Lawrence Kasdan’s classic 
“The Big Chill”

THERE’S A 2008 MOTO GUZZI BREVA SPORT – brand new – sitting at the Guzzi dealer in Elk Grove, California. (Note – all salespeople of this fabled Italian marque are taught to somehow place a ‘t’ sound in the word Guzzi – making it “GOOT-see” not “GOOZ-ee.” This practice make us lookie-loos feel like neophytes if we let it.) Moto Guzzi has been building motorcycles on the shores of Lake Como in Mandello del Lario, Northern Italy, since 1921. (BMW started in ’22.) Guzzi uses a drive shaft to connect a transverse mounted 90-degree “v” twin engine in a frame. Two wheels are applied and somehow they come up with more than the sum of the parts. Italians do this a lot.

Piaggio SpA
The Breva in question has a rich coat of paint so finely polished that one feels as if something’s going to come away wet if one touches it. The 2008 being the last of the three- or four-year run of the Breva model, the Guzzi factory adorned the front in with a this-year-only bikini fairing said to push a bit of the wind away from the rider’s body, but leaving enough to remind the rider he or she is riding. It sports a broadening white stripe and flying eagle badge harkening back to the original logo of decades past. Moto-journalists commented that at first, the Breva Sport appears to be a rolling piece of art. Guzzi aficionado Danillo Gurovich (his blog: “As the Dude Abides”) says that this bike could be the mount for “the most interesting man in the world” of Dos Equis fame. Having ridden one for an extended test, he tells us “Guzzis are the ‘Saabs of Motorcycles.’ Always respected for conservative yet stout engineering, comfortable and quirky.” Clement Salvadori (Rider Magazine, January 2008) commented that all the factory need do is let the riding public know this bike is out there.

Well it was out there. Its four valve engine has given way to an eight valve engine set in a redesign now known as the Griso – a hot bike in and of itself. Like the last of any run of anything, either they sell out right away at retail and appreciate, or they sit for a while as the price lowers itself to some market-driven floor. That’s what has happened to the Breva. Now three years old but still brand new, the dealer is pushing this model at a five thousand five hundred dollar discount ($5500.00) off of retail. The beast could be mine for a mere eight grand!

THAT’S WHERE THE RATIONALIZATION ENTERS. Readers know that my BMW R1200GS Adventure is considered by many both in and out of the moto-press as the best motorcycle on the planet. It is a comfortable tourer, a competent sporting machine and it does not shy away from gravel roads or the trackless reaches of the most remote places on earth. I like mine a lot. It is as reliable as a Swiss watch, as loyal as a pound puppy and the service I’ve received from my local BMW store has always been top notch, if a bit pricy at times. But many suggest that BMW service is pricy no matter where you go. Something about the excellence of German engineering and the similar excellence one might expect when service is rendered. So, no complaints, just realization about the price of admission. Still, the Guzzi costs less to maintain – or so I’ve read. That would be rationalization number 1.
Number two might be how the folks from Mandello del Lario blended simple function with timeless form. The lines of the Breva seem to flow over the air-cooled engine as if designed by the wind for the wind. The little fairing leads the eye up and over a sculpted tank, dipping into a seat that the press proclaims as most comfortable and an “all-dayer.” Finally there is a luggage rack feathered into the line rather than bolted on. BMW accomplished something similar with their 1996-2001 R1100R roadster, one of which I owned when I reentered motorcycling about ten years ago. Both are bikes one can simply sit next to and look at. I’ve personally wasted hours. From the front, the Guzzi’s V-twin is physically more compact than the engine in the German marque. It gives the impression of being muscular and svelte all at the same time. Like me.

Third might come the riding experience. The GSA does everything very, very well, including protecting the rider from the wind. The Breva won’t address a forest service road and it clearly won’t keep all the wind away, but among the essences of motorcycling is the freedom associated with the wind in one’s face. Think James Dean, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper. Think Egan and McQueen. Think “On Any Sunday.”

I have talked myself into reserving a test ride on this, the last of the Breva breed. My bank account will be very pleased if the bike hurtles and lurches like a piece of space junk about to incinerate upon re-entry into the atmosphere. My heart tells me that the press is probably right about this functional piece of art. My head is struggling with whether or not to bring along the checkbook.



As the Dude Abides
Dan Gurovich maintains an excellent blog called “As the Dude Abides” focusing, in part, on the Guzzi marque. His is an insightful resource for those considering a Goose.  Danilo took this portrait of the 1200 Sport during his week-long extended test.  His work may be accessed at:

© 2011
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. PA: You only live once.....take your checkbook.

  2. The test ride is scheduled for this coming Tuesday at 11:00 AM.