Moto Guzzi Makeovers

Moto Guzzi Marrano 1160 by Das Mototec

Moto Guzzi Marrano 1160 by Das Mototec

Italian motorcycles are often recognized for their beautiful styling, but one brand (Ducati) tends to overshadow all of the other smaller marques. When you step outside of the Ducati world and look at the other bikes, there's much to appreciate. Recently, I've been noticing more and more really nice examples of the Moto Guzzi lineup, both current and classic, so I thought I would take a closer look at a few.

Bill Johnson, over at DucCutters, was pointing out another bike on his site, a Ducati of course, but while I was there I spotted this Moto Guzzi, the Marrano 1160 and it just struck me as a beautiful piece of work. It's the blue bike shown above and built by Das Mototec of Germany. It's a really clean makeover.

Moto Guzzi's longitudinal crank V-Twin engine has a unique look. If the styling focuses your attention on the drivetrain, like the one shown above, the bikes look great.

After seeing that I dropped over to Ghezzi Brian, the well known Guzzi aftermarket company, to check out their latest work and they have a couple of kits for modifying your bike, this one is the Sport Monza 1100 for your V11. You can add the parts and pieces in stages, body pieces first, suspension components next and finally, engine parts. It looks lighter and tighter than the stock bike and, as any Guzzi should, it shows off the engine to advantage.

Ghezzi Brian Sport Monza 1100

Ghezzi Brian Sport Monza 1100

One custom shop in Japan that I've mentioned before, Ritmo Sereno, does a variety of bikes, but some of their Moto Guzzis are especially impressive. Browsing their custom Guzzis should give anyone a lot of good ideas for starting their own modifications.

Ritmo Sereno Moto Guzzi LeMans 1000 custom

Ritmo Sereno Moto Guzzi LeMans 1000 custom

Ritmo Sereno Moto Guzzi LeMans 3 custom

Ritmo Sereno Moto Guzzi LeMans 3 custom

Some are quick to point out that these customs can look good because they don't need to meet the restrictions the manufacturer has to consider and it's a valid point but it takes nothing away from what these builders have done. Also, except for the Ghezzi Brian example, the others are modifications to older models no longer produced.

Moto Guzzi DaytonaMoto Guzzi has had a number of interesting models over the years and some that don't get the attention they deserve. The Daytona, originally developed by Moto Guzzi working closely with Dr. John Wittner of Pennsylvania, who campaigned a Guzzi in the USA, the 4 valve sportbike looks good and performs very well, maybe not to the standard of Japanese bikes of early 1990s, but definitely a notch up from any standard Guzzi. Another model, only produced for a few years, the Centauro, which actually evolved from the Daytona, looks good to me and works well as a high performance sport touring machine or an all around ride. Buy one of these and you'll stand out from the crowd on bike night, because there just aren't many around and they have an impressive stance. Occasionally, you'll see one or the other come up for sale, and I think, if you like Guzzis at all, you would be smart to keep your eye out for a well maintained used example. They'll probably appreciate over the years and you'll get a lot of enjoyable riding in the meantime.

Of course, some enthusiasts don't care for Moto Guzzis at all, it's really a matter of personal preference, but to my eye, the engine really makes it. The V-Twin was designed with visual appearance in mind, with cooling fins on the cylinders and ribs cast into the cases, it's a nice piece of mechanical eye candy. The longitudinal mounting allows perfectly symmetrical dual exhausts without any extra curves and bends necessary to get equal length pipes and the shaft drive doesn't require an extra 90 degree turn to get to the rear wheel. Nothing extraordinary in these features but they're a nice little extra compared to conventional V-Twin positioning.

If you're really looking for entertainment, Koehler even makes superchargers for the Moto Guzzi V-Twin which look like a natural fit but they do seem to take up a lot of space so you would need quite a bit of room to install one.

With the new V7 Classic, a retro model bringing back the appeal of the earlier models, a lot of people may get the chance to see why Moto Guzzis are so popular with some owners. I haven't seen any makeovers of this new model yet and some might see no need for it, but there's always room for a little original thinking so we'll have to see what shows up.

If you think a Moto Guzzi might look good in your garage, if you don't already own one, check out the Moto Guzzi for sale page. If you've never really thought about owning one, they're worth considering, a V-Twin that looks better than some, (especially if you're a motorhead that looks at the engine first) sounds good and not on the road everywhere you look, it's a nice combination.


  1. JR says

    Is there a reason more manufacturers don’t take advantage of this engine layout? It seems more ideal for cooling than a conventional V-Twin layout, and easier to package and live with than the boxer twin a la BMW.

    What’s the drawback?

  2. Oakland Johnny says

    Many hold the image of the old Ambassadors, Eldorados & the like in their heads as their mental exmple/image of a Guzzi. Too oft forgotten are the marque’s sportier models. While they are, admittedly, not up to the performance level of most Japanese sport bikes, Guzzis have proven very fast, capable, reliable & in some cases down right bomb proof. I’ve always wanted one and have recently started saving for what I hope turns out to be a mid-late 70’s Le Mans. I WAS planning on keeping it fully stock but these photos have me thinking…
    Nice work.
    Thanks also, Kneeslider for profiling some of the other awesome Italian bikes. Got anything on Morinis?

  3. Richard Gozinya says

    Guzzis are absolutely beautiful bikes, just wish they’d bring the Bellagio to the states. The only V7 Classic makeover I’ve seen is the V7 Cafe Classic, but that’s a factory custom. Another beautiful makeover is the Griso 8V Special Edition.

  4. says

    I can see no drawbacks with this layout for a streetbike and, based on the success of the MGS-01 in the BoT races, it appears the racetrack is also do-able (although track setup for gearing ratios is much simpler with a chain). Weight of the shaft is offset by ease of maintenance in terms of ownership if you ask me.

    Kneeslider – this is a great post. I’ve been ecstatic with my V11. It not only looks like a hotrod, but it handles the curves remarkably with its power delivery. And the sound!

    I would love to see what the MGS-01 (with a shorter wheelbase and ~ 50 lbs. lighter would do with that torque delivery).

    Oakland Johnny – this post doesn’t have any old Morinis, but does highlight the factory…

    b-t-w…use the Kneeslider search field on the top right to browse any topic that comes to mind….he may have covered it.

  5. todd says

    I’ve always wanted to get myself a 1100 Sport (cheap Daytona). Then the V11’s came out and I want one of those too, like the Sport or the Le Mans (well, the tank cover is a little chintzy). Now there’s the V7 classic. I guess one of each will have to do.


  6. nobody says

    The MGS-01 & 1100 Sport are, as beheld by me, 2 of the best looking bikes ever made.

    The “ottonero” blog is loaded with lovely M-G customs.

  7. FREEMAN says

    @ Dan:
    I agree with you about the bike you have linked there. These M-G’s look so much better without the headlight fairing.

  8. Mark L. says

    Having owned everything from a Harley VR1000 to a black 96 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100, and from an XN85 to a Turbo’ed GS1150ES, and GSXR750LTD’s (2 at once) to VFR’s, Buells. and a bunch of sportbikes, I can honestly say that selling my Sport 1100 was one of the only motorcycle related regrets I have ever had.

    The Guzzi was fast, stable, beautiful, and with the 1/2 turn throttle, made you work for what you got. One of the true great motorcycles of “Character” of all time. I made the mistake of selling the bike in about 1999 with 5,500 miles on it, and have regretted it ever since. (it went to someone in Illinois, so if you have it, I would buy it back!)

    If you do come across a nice Guzzi Sport 1100, (I recommend the 1100i) or a Centauro, buy it. You will absolutely never regret it. They have a certain character that some of the newer Guzzi’s seem to lack, (IMO) and have a substantial boost in performance over the older bikes.

    Anyhow, Guzzi’s are for the “weirdo’s” that have Lotus’s and old Jaguars in the garage and they would never sell, but commute to work in a Taurus.

    And yes, I think that the MGS-01 and 1100I are the two best looking bikes ever built.

    (Sorry Walter!)

    Mark L.

  9. says

    Thanks for the interesting article. I’m passionate about Guzzis and really appreciate it when someone takes the time to write an intelligent, objective, appraisal.

    I’ve just bought a 1979 1000SP…for peanuts. I’m gradually fixing it up and it will look great when finished but in the meantime it is still so rideable. If anyone has been thinking of trying a Guzzi but maybe been put off by reports from their mates or negative press…don’t be.

    Give in, get one, you’ll love it forever, you really will. They aren’t better than other bikes, they’re certainly not worse, but they are different. The motor is smooth, strong, responsive, and has masses of torque….you’ll enjoy it immensely.

    If you’re still in two minds, come and say hello at our online Guzzi group and have a chat :-)

    Thanks Kneeslider for the awesome article!


    PS Here are some more to enjoy:

  10. Larry Hubbard says

    The MGS-01 may well be Guzzis’ most powerful bike to date but it’s styling was a “cue” from
    Guiseppe Ghezzi who gets little to no credit for it. Prior to his employment w/Guzzi he turned out some fine mounts in his small shop,a la, Ghezzi-Brian. Thanks to Arnold Barnhart for bringing this beautiful steed into existence and allowing us Guzzisti to enjoy.

  11. says

    It looks like you know as much as I do – that link is from Paul’s Fast Guzzi page, which is where I found out about that project.

    I think this work is from Danish guys who put together a couple of these bikes to race…changed the final drive to chain so they could setup for different racetracks and moved the engine really far forward. I don’t think the engine placement would work with a tele., so they built their own Hossack-style front-end.

    contact Paul – very knowledgeable Guzzi enthusiast

  12. says

    I ride a KLR650 (2005) right now and was sad to see the look of the new models change from the classic offroad look to one more reminiscent of a sportbike. (If I wanted a sportbike I’d probably just get a sportbike). I like bikes that maintain an industrial, sturdy, or functional kind look over ones that are sleek.

    I was in a bike store the other day and came across the Motto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 4V which caught my eye.

    It has a kind of ‘rugged’ ‘look which I really like, and has the option for the hard sidecases which also looked pretty sturdy. Aesthetically this has to be one of my top picks, but alas, I have yet to try it….one day! :)

    Has anyone had an experience with this bike?

  13. Adrian says

    guzzis are beauties, if not the most so. all have an old school look about them, but it has never left the guzzi lineup so its not a fuzzy romantic look back at ‘better times’ like the duc 1000 sport ‘classic’ which while nice just seems wrong next to a futuristic hypermotard. the lime green v11 of 2003 (?) is of particular awesomeness. and the newer griso is near pretty with the slippery long tank. however, the weight has always been a factor in preventing a purchase. the griso is over 500lbs having the momentum of a rhino that must cause trouble in braking. probably darn smooth in all other times. James hguan is my recaptcha is that a guy from hawaii 5-0.

  14. Ruben says

    I love Cafe Racers and Classic racing bikes. All this guzzis are fantastic, but the first one had an unfortunate name, the Marrano??? that means DIRTY PIG in spanish. Is an appropiate name for rat bike not for a cafe racer…

  15. Dash says

    I have two Moto Guzzi’s, a 1970 Ambassador 900, and a modified 1989 Mille GT. I also have 7 other bikes and have owned many others over the years. I consider the Moto Guzzi engine layout to be superior to all other layouts. Maintainance is much much easier. Heck you can change a head gasket without removing the gas tank! Cylinders are in the wind like a BMW but not in the way like on a BMW. Honda’s CX500 & GL500 of the late ’70’s & early ’80’s copied the Moto Guzzi motor configuration and those bikes have a dedicated owner base due largely to the simplicity of maintainance and ease of repairing them when that time comes.

  16. MG DCCL says

    I have a 2008 Moto Guzzi Nevada. It’s my fisrt bike and I am so happy I bought it. It turns heads wherever I go, which I think is due to both it’s rarity, and beauty. It’s a 403 lb.,
    750 cc , highend component, ie., brembos, shaft drive, bespoked wheeled, machine which every road begs for, and handles every road with love makin’ abilities . . .
    Short Version:
    This bike is too cool!!!

  17. Steve Chancey says

    Thanks for the intelligent post!I have two cousins (brothers) one owns a ‘Busa with a turbo,the other runs top end at “The Flying Mile” and holds records at 200mph +.All this is great,I love performance too.But I’m at a point where I appreciate a motorcycle that “MOVES” me.INSIDE ! And for that the Guzzis are hard to beat.I’ve had a thing for them for decades and finally gave in about five years ago and bought a ’86 LeMans (great bike),then came a ’02 LeMans (ditto).I now have a ’76 T3 that I’m cafe-ing,and a ’07 Griso that puts a big grin on my face every time I get on it.I believe many riders out there would love these great,bulletproof,low/easy maintenance bikes if they would check the ego about “ultimate spec sheet performance” (how many people need or use it),”profiling” (who cares).I currently own about fifteen bikes:dirt,street,vintage,and will probably never be without a “Goose” again. Fossilrider

  18. says

    The Cafe styled Moto Guzzi’s really are works of art and this sort of styling sits so well with the fabulous transverse V motor at the centre of the picture.
    I have the 940 Bellagio which is arguably one of the prettiest Guzzi’s ever made, but it’s said that because it’s packaged as a cruiser, it has only limited appeal in the european market. That’s a real shame, as the 940 short stroke unit with the twin spark heads is an absolute peach and it i.m.h.o. would most certainly become a best seller if introduced in a format similar to the Cafe Classic 750 model.
    I’ve lightly modified mine into a “street rod” style and replaced the “Harley-esque” shotgun mufflers with a single Quill race can,
    Take a short ride on her here: