Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4V Test Ride Review

MOTO GUZZI 1200 Sport 4V

We ride Moto Guzzi’s updated 1200 Sport.

More valves. More power.


Moto Guzzi Sport 1200 4 Valve

One of the good things about test riding bikes is you get to ride things you might not otherwise. A few years back we first rode Moto Guzzi’s 1200 Sport, and it was a revelation. Talk about exceeding expectations, the 1200 Sport planted me firmly in the role of Guzzi fan, a role that has grown with each model of the marque I ride.

A common thread in most Moto Guzzi reviews is the “character” of the machine, and this review is no different. The bar shaking idle, the left to right push when revving the engine, and a somewhat crude clutch and gearshift action are traits common to all Guzzi’s. As time has passed these traits have become less noticable with each model, narrowing the gap to less charismatic machines. I hope they never do remove all these traits, as they are the best part of it.


After hearing that Moto Guzzi had upgraded the 1200 Sport to the new Quattro Valvole (4 valve in pleb talk) motor, riding the new model was a must. The new 4 valve version of the 1200 is actually the 1152cc motor found in the Stelvio, and the Griso. Yes, it is called an 8v in the Griso, I guess they counted both sides.

Compared to the older 2 valve engine, as well as 2 extra valves per cylinder, the compression is up – over a full point – to 11:1, and the throttle bodies have grown to 50mm from 45. While this results in an identical Griso spec engine on paper, Moto Guzzi claim the 4V has around 105, a few less than they quote for the Griso.

As we did not dyno either bike, we can’t confirm any of those figures, but we can confirm that at least by seat of the pants, the new  motor has a lot more top end rush, although seems to be a little softer down low than the older model. The abundance of low end torque was one of the original models highlights. While the 4V is not lacking low down, a bit more would have been nice. The upside is that the 1200 4V now has a pretty healthy top end charge.


Other changes in the newer Sport are less noticeable, a new swoopy muffler, handlebars with a bit more bend, and the Braking wave discs of the previous model are gone, replaced by the same size conventional rotors. Fuel capacity remains at a generous 23 litres, the seat is as comfortable as ever, and sitting on it, like most model updates, you can’t tell the difference.

motoguzzi-1200-4v-triDespite being labelled a “Sport” it shouldn’t be compared to a Japanese version of sport, this bike is no tyre melting club racer. Sadly, marketing hype, and the market’s ego has driven the practicality out of a “sports” bike, most delivering double the needed horsepower for road applications. Look elsewhere for racetrack performance.

But for sheer riding enjoyment, more than decent handling, combined with the most comfortable seat in the house, the 1200 Sport delivers. It adds on a pleasing roar, both induction and exhaust, although again, the new muffler has taken off the edge the older model had. The 23 litre tank gives a large range between 3-400kms depending on throttle use.

Which leads to back to the “Sport” issue. Like all Guzzi’s, the shaft drive and tranverse mounted engine can produce both up and down motion in the rear suspension, and left to right torque effect from the motor. While Guzzi’s “CARC” (Compact Reactive Drive) almost eliminates the jacking/lowering effect of the driveshaft, this is a bike that requires a certain smoothness on the throttle in corners.

Of course if you own a Guzzi, you already know this. Overly aggressive riding does upset the flow of things, so the sooner you settle in to the Guzzi way of riding, the sooner you will enjoy.

And like the last 1200 test bike, enjoy it we did. We found on group rides everyone wanted to ride it, and once on it,wouldn’t get off. It does have a few niggles, the lack of a redline on the tacho – it has a flashing light – and the 30km/h spacing of speedo increments. The design of the peg mounts mean bigfoots like myself have a hard time toeing the pegs while the reverse order of the horn and flasher switches remains as well. Most of these issues are forgivable or are things a one bike rider would get used too.

Ignore the “Sport” part of the name. This is not a motorcycle to be compared to a GSX-R or an 1198 Ducati. Perhaps they could have named it the 1200 Fun, or even the 1200 Great. Roadholding, brakes and comfort are all right up there, with more than adequate power.


Out in the real world, it will hang with anyone else you are riding with, and chances are you will be more comfortable doing it. If you haven’t ridden a Moto Guzzi before, I’d recommend a test ride first, preferably long enough to feel at home on it.

Being a machine from a smaller European manufacturer, the exclusivity comes with some premiums, one being initial purchase price at $20,990 plus whatever on roads your local dealer and government inflict. Still, what price happiness?

The sound, sight and feel of the Moto Guzzi do set it apart from all others. Mi piace davvero!


Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport 4V Specifications

Engine: Four-stroke V 90 twin
Cooling system Air and oil cooled with independent cooling pump
Displacement 1,151 cc
Bore and stroke 95 x 81.2 mm
Compression ratio 11 : 1

Maximum power Over 77 kW (105 CV) at 7,000 rpm
Maximum torque Over 105 Nm at 6,750 rpm
Multipoint sequential electronic injection, Magneti Marelli,  50 mm throttle bodies.

Gears 6 speed
Primary drive Helicoidal gears
Secondary drive CA.R.C reactive drive
Clutch Single plate with integrated flexible couplings

Tubular cradle, high tensile steel
Wheelbase 1,495 mm
Trail 120 mm
Rake 25°
Steering angle 32°
Front suspension  preload and rebound damping adjustable.
Rear suspension Single arm suspension with progressive linkage, rear
shock absorber adjustable in rebound and pre-load
Front brake Twin stainless steel floating disc, 320 mm, 4 piston
Rear brake Single steel fixed disc,  282 mm, 2 piston

Front wheel 3.50″ x 17″
Rear wheel 5.50″ x 17″
Front tyre 120/70 ZR17″
Rear tyre 180/55 ZR17″
Length 2,195 mm
Width (handlebars) 840 mm
Height (windshield) 1,160 mm
Seat height 800 mm
Minimum round clearance 185 mm
Dry weight 240 kg
Fuel tank capacity 23 litre
Reserve 4 litre

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