I recently had the chance to drive the Moto Guzzi Quota before the unforgiving winter set in on Pennsylvania. I must say I have mixed feelings about this bike. I have driven dozens of bikes, but something about this bike makes me ask questions.
Recommend this product?
First its engine...now I own a VMax, an XS 750 Special, a KZ 1000, and my favorite a Honda Transalp. So I know a thing or two about power and dualsports. I have also ridden the famous Honda Africa Twin (which is not sold in this country, sniff), the Aprilia Pegaso, the Honda Dominator, Yamaha Super Tenere (also not sold in this country), the Triumph Tiger, and almost every other dualsports bigger than 500cc. And I love dualsports. Its engine, in typical Moto Guzzi fashion is a vibrating workhorse. Powerful....yes!!! Friendly....NO.
When you start the engine, it feels like itís going to vibrate itself off the frame. It sounds like the valves are actually penetrating the pistons. Very noisy and very loud and very clunky. Now I know the company has been using this engine since Moses roamed the earth and has great history behind it. But aside from an enthusiast wanting this bike, I canít find a reason why anyone else would. The engine needs some major revamping and to be brought to the space age. A nice balancing job, better engine mounts, possibly fuel injection, and a better muffler. Now handling....its obvious as with modern tradition of dual sporting that these are bad for 90% street and 10% off road use.
As a street bike its not all that bad...there are much better, but it is still respectable. The front suspension is on the soft side and the rear is as hard as a rock, leaving the bike very unbalanced, especially in turns. Offroad it is very hard to maneuver due to its large mass, and high center of gravity. Still respectable but again there are better. The brakes are not all that bad. Instrumentation is nice...but there are better. Styling...not bad...not great...there are better.
The only two things this bike has going for itself; first, with the exception of a few other bikes in this class (none which are 1100cc) such as the Triumph Tiger, the Cagiva Canyon, and the DR 650 (the largest of these is 900cc), there are no other bikes sold in this country in this category. The only bikes that come close to its class are sold everywhere else except for the States, such as The Honda Africa Twin XLV750, the new Honda Transalp XL650V, The Yamaha Super Tenere 750, the Suzuki DR800 BIG, and some other smaller versions of the above... The Africa Twin does circles around the "Guzzi" in the Dirt and street handling with far better reliability, street handling, looks, engine design (in this department its rather underpowered but runs smooth as silk), instrumentation (the best in the industry), lights, brakes, wind protection, and everything else a rider wanting a true dualsport could want.
Now in this country we have always had pretty bad luck with large dualsports. And bikes like the Moto Guzzi are part of the problem. Honda brought the Transalp in 1989 and it flopped mostly due to bad marketing and some modifications from its European counterpart to "suite" the American public. As a result it discontinued it in 1990, and despite its record-breaking sales in Europe with many colors and a styling change in 1995 in never saw the States again. Also the Africa Twin because of the Transalp flop never saw the States either. Yamaha followed suite by never sending the Tenere models, Suzuki never sent the DR800 BIG, and Kawasaki never sent over the KLE 500. So we always end up getting the dualsports that are not that good, and if they are they are marketed wrongly by their manufactures, resulting in poor sales. What we do get is heavily modified to conform to manufactures vision (disillusions) of what the consumers want, with bad color schemes (Europeís color schemes make the worst bike look great) and usually have a high price tag.
So in my opinion the Moto Guzzi currently is representing the dual sport market and its not doing a very good job of it, since it is not selling all that much. Be very aware that the rest of the manufactures are looking and will keep their current stand on the import of the big duals from ever reaching the country. So as a result we still continue to get cruisers and crotch-rockets. Bring any of the above bikes into this country with the European color schemes, and sales will rocket through the roof, because they look good, the perform good, they are easy to ride, can take passengers with ease, carry a lot of luggage, have high fuel ranges, and girls love them!!!! So to me the Moto Guzzi is a huge disappointment for a bike in this category. Its power is its only strong point and thatís it, and I guess the fact that itís the only big Dual sport with the exception of the BMW's that are still sold here. The other manufactures need to take a chance and send all their models of this category over to set a new benchmark and to introduce a whole other option for consumers who are tired of spending days of polishing chrome of cruisers and high chiropractor bills caused by crotch-rockets.
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