Yesterday (05/14/00) I rode the new V-11 Sport. Since I currently own a 97 fuel injected 1100 Sport, I had to experience the difference. The bike I tested was on loan from Moto Guzzi North America to the dealer. The bike had a problem which the dealer worked on after I brought it to his attention (after my ride). The problem was in the up-shift to 3rd gear. Generally speaking, I could hardly get it to go into 3rd without double or triple clutching. A few times it went through the gears correctly. I suspect it was linkage or an adjustment of that nature. I didn't get to ride the bike after the dealer made the adjustment, therefore I don't know how the bike performed later. I might add, it would be good to keep in mind the fact that this bike had been flogged by at least 50 people just that day. Who knows how many abused it on preceding days.
With that stated, and while the transmission was suffering the above described problem, I would rate the new six-speed transmission as "very smooth" and substantially better than the old one.
First gear seems to be a lower ratio than the previous five speed. This feature allows the bike to roll away from a stop with very little clutch feathering. The 1100 Sport, on the other hand, requires more rpm and clutch feathering to get the bike moving without stumbling. I really like the new first gear.
All of the gears are much closer in ratio, which allows the rider greater ability to shift in order to stay within the power band. The tach also had problems, so I couldn't do a direct comparison, however it was obvious that the new transmission didn't require such a long pull through each gear as the 1100 Sport.
For those who shoot shotguns, I would give this analogy. The 1100 Sport is like a five shot pump, whereas the V-11 Sport is more like a six shot semi-auto. One bike goes bang click, click, bang; the other bike goes bang, bang, bang.
Yes, the transmission really is that smooth. After I noticed the 3rd gear up-shifting problem, I caught myself wondering if other gears were giving me the same problem. In fact, the transmission shifted so smoothly and the next ratio was so close, I thought the bike had not shifted when it really had.
Having the extra gear also allows the use of more gears at lower speeds. The 1100 Sport is so highly geared that it is sometimes tough to find a good gear for in-town riding. Under 45 mph, there is a constant confusion between 2nd and 3rd.
The new V-11 Sport is much better in this sense because a gear shift only changes engine rpm by a few hundred revs. The 1100 Sport on the other hand is jumping back and forth about 500 rpm between gears. While it is usable, the V-11 Sport is much more user friendly in that sense.
The new hydraulic clutch was good and bad. I really liked the ease of use. This feature makes the clutch much, much ( did I say MUCH, MUCH) easier to hold while waiting at a stop.
The feature I didn't like was the hydraulic clutch engaged way too late. My experience with hydraulic clutches is that most have no adjustment, other than moving the actuator handle in or out. I don't know how the Guzzi system works. Possibly this is adjustable.
As for the riding position, the 1100 Sport and the V-11 Sport are very similar. If you are looking for a substantial change in riding position, the differences are minimal. The riding position for the new V-11 is nowhere near as upright as the Centauro. Yes, it is a compromise, however it leans more to the riding position of the 1100 Sport than it does to a Centauro.
Since I like the 1100 Sport position, I also liked the riding position of the new V-11 Sport. The new adjustable handle bars are a nice feature and will add some comfort for those with longer or shorter than average arm or upper body length. The new bars appear to be adjustable fore and aft, up and down, however the up/down angle doesn't appear to be adjustable. I note this because my 1100 Sport bars are essentially nonadjustable; however, if I could pick one adjustment, it would be the up/down angle in order to adjust the wrist angle properly.
The other permanently set features I can live with. The V-11 Sport has tighter brakes than the 1100 Sport. Many of the 1100 Sports had questionable brakes. While the brakes met the criteria for a modern bike of its caliber, the master cylinders were imprecise and should have been better; the newer model with stainless rotors is/was garbage.
The new V-11 Sport has really smooth, rock hard brakes, at least as good as the best Japanese bikes. As for the brake rotor warping problem plaguing most 1100 Sports, only time will tell if Guzzi cleared this difficulty.
Performance and handling were on par with the latest model injected 1100 Sport (with the correct EPROM mapping). I really could detect no difference other than the six-speed made the power range a little more versatile. To get a clearer performance judgment, I would prefer to ride the new bike after four to five thousand miles. As for now, I will rate it the same.
The general style of the V-11 Sport is good, however for a bike that is directed at the "Sport Bike scene", I prefer the fairing of the 1100 Sport. In my opinion it just looks the part of a true Sport bike - a bullet on wheels look.
Advertising the V-11 Sport as "a chip off the old V-7 Sport" doesn't do the V-11 Sport justice. That's similar comparing the WW-II, P-51 Mustang airplane to the F-16 fighter of today. There is simply no comparison. Rather than advertising it as some throwback to the 60s, the advertisement should show a Buell in the center of the "no parking" slash in the circle, then have the V-11 Sport in the foreground. While not meaning to show disrespect toward the Buell crowd, I think Moto Guzzi needs to turn some heads. They will never garner new patrons by looking to the past, especially when the majority of the riders in the Sport/Hooligan class weren't born when the V-7 Sport was new. Moto Guzzi needs to get bold and brash, that's what will motivate people to really consider a Guzzi.
I really like the way naked look of the V-11 Sport shows off that big V-twin engine. It looks imposing and ready for serious business. I don't like the red frame parts, but that is a small item. Personally, without the fairing of the 1100 Sport, I would have mounted dual headlights, raised the bars and tried to style it a little more toward the hooligan market. That would be one bad motorcycle.
In parting I would like to say I won't be trading off my 1100 Sport anytime soon. I am fully satisfied with the 1100 Sport and like the looks a whole lot better. Admittedly, that is simply personal taste. I would love to have the six-speed transmission. However, it's simply not enough to turn my head. All in all, the V-11 Sport maintains the characteristics of a Moto Guzzi, so it will be a good value and well worth owning.