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Italian Thunder: 1997 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100

1997 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 R Side

The story of Guzzi’s 1100 Sport is a bit like the story of Judas Priest and Tim “Ripper” Owens, but with motorcycles. It’s the story of an unlikely amateur being asked to join the big boys on stage, and in this case the “unlikely amateur” was former-dentist-turned-endurance-racing-guru Dr. John Wittner.

Wittner’s heavily-modified Guzzis were very successful in the mid-1980s, running endurance and ProTwins series events in the United States. Asked by Guzzi to develop a new top-of-the-range superbike that incorporated what he’d learned about engines and suspensions during his time in the trenches, Wittner’s Daytona featured the first use of Guzzi’s new-ish four-valve engine and spine-frame that proved a worthy successor to the Tonti-framed bikes that preceded it.

1997 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 L Side Rear

By the mid-90’s the bike was followed by the lower-spec, lower-priced Sport 1100 powered by Guzzi’s 1064cc two-valve engine that I’m going to insist is longitudinal, not transverse, since the crankshaft runs longitudinally. I don’t care what Wikipedia or Guzzi’s own website says.

1997 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 Dash

Often criticized for being “agricultural”, Guzzis can be an acquired taste: if you’re used to clinical precision, you might hate this bike. And while shaft drive is durable and low-maintenance, it contributes to an overall heavy bike. The motor makes a respectable 90hp but, more importantly, a mountain of torque. Which is a good thing, since the gearbox has only 5 speeds and isn’t exactly famed for being pleasant to use…

1997 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 Front and Rear

Best to just stick it in third or fourth and worry about clipping apexes. Excellent suspension components lend confidence and stability, if not agility, and top-of-the line period Brembos give solid, predictable stopping, although weight hampers the overall performance. The shaft-drive torque reaction is a little weird at first if you’re not expecting it, but you quickly get used to the slightly asymmetrical  feeling in corners.

Get a Guzzi into a fast road groove and it can keep up with much lighter, higher-strung machines. With plenty of cornering clearance, stability, and long legs, the Sport 1100 is really more of a GT and less of a race-replica.

1997 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 Front Wheel

From the original eBay listing: 1997 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport for Sale

Here is a very clean 1997 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport. Comes with the original owner’s manual and a clean title ready to go.

The bike has just a little over 31000 miles on it, it is all checked over, and has a brand new battery, fuel pump and fluids. Very nice carbon fiber exhaust sounds excellent as well.

I was used to old Guzzi 850’s before this one and man these 1100’s are fun.  Very high performance oriented, this Guzzi even looks fast. A very good handling machine, tons of life left in her and the value will only increase. This bike is the fuel injected model and is very nice!

I am very busy with all of my vintage builds and have decided to let a pair of these modern 1100’s go to someone who will enjoy them.

I love these bikes, and I love how the half-fairing shows off that hulking engine and transmission. Two-valve Guzzis are very tough bikes, and valve adjustments are a snap, with those cylinder heads sticking out in the breeze! As a bonus, those carbon cans should make a seriously stunning roar: Guzzi twins make a truly epic noise when uncorked. Unfortunately, this example does feature the US-spec headlight. I really love the 1100 Sport, but I’d be scrounging up a trapezoidal Euro unit as soon as possible if I had this in my garage.

Only problem I see here, aside from that headlight, is that Guzzi eagle on the tank: my buddy has a Guzzi, and people keep asking him “what kind of Harley is that?”

-tad

1997 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 R Side Rear

7 Comments

  • I’ve chimed in on these Guzzi’s before…..I love’m.

    I have a few bikes ranging from a ’57 Ariel to a modern day Ducati……and this one sits right in the middle….. I can’t think of any reason I’d ever sell it. Nothing looks, sounds or rides like it in my opinion. There certainly are better bikes but this on has the right combo at speed.

  • I love them too . Never owned one though . I had Japanese Guzzis previously : Honda CX650E s . I like the power delivery but Guzzis look way cooler and are more sporty in my opinion . I know Guzzis aren’t without their imperfections …but hey what bike isn’t ? V-twins baby !

  • These and earlier Guzzi’s just ooze with character (maybe not so much the latest offerings). Always have been a Guzzi fan.

  • Junk

    • Visit Raresportbikesforsale! Come for the cool bikes and photos, stay for the incisive commentary!

  • Why do you say that, Joe?

    Although I’ve never owned one (yet), I have a real soft spot on my bucket list for one of these. It always seemed to be a rational mid-way point between sedate BMW twins and angry quattro-valve Demo Ducatis.

    -Mike

    • Mike, I wouldn’t especially trust a one-word review to tell me much. I haven’t ridden a Sport 1100, but I’ve spent some time on and around a V11, so I can tell you a little about that. They’re heavy, but you don’t really feel it on the move, and you do feel the torque-reaction of the shaft drive, but it’s easy to get used to. The suspension components are quality, and they feel pretty great in the corners, although once again: heavy, so not as “flickable” as a 600. But my buddy owns a V11 Sport and also has an R6 for the track, and he took the Guzzi out again recently after a he put new tires on it and came back VERY excited about the handling, if that tells you anything.

      I’d expect most of this to be true of the Sport 1100: yeah, they’re heavy, but they’re stable and very torquey.

      Guzzi’s v-twin is more vibe-y than my 900 Ducati at low revs, but smooths out as revs build. BMWs have a sort of flat, mellow drone, whereas the Guzzi’s definitely make a more exciting noise. If you like twins, these are some of the best-sounding you’re likely to find.

      It’s about expectations: this is not a track bike, but it is a pretty cool road bike, with character, solid handling, good build-quality, and decent parts availability. Your description of it as “a rational mid-way point” is pretty apt. People put big miles on these and they have a die-hard following, but they definitely aren’t for everyone.

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