SHEEP IN SHEEP’S CLOTH­ING

Real Classic - - Moto Guzzi Sp1000 -

Risk­ing charges of pla­gia­rism, that ‘sheep’ state­ment is lifted di­rectly from Cy­cle mag­a­zine’s SP1000 test from April 1979. The sheep? Moto Guzzi’s V1000 G5 tourer; a mo­tor­cy­cle so ut­terly over­looked it never gained enough pop­u­lar­ity even to be con­sid­ered an af­ter­thought. Among a num­ber of mod­els us­ing the small valve 949cc twin en­gine, the G5 car­ried over spec­i­fi­ca­tions in­tro­duced for 1975’s V1000 au­to­matic. Ex­cept of course, the Con­vert’s juice drive tranny. Flat-top, 9.2 pis­tons (some sourced from Mon­dial) rode in 88mm steel lin­ers and were fed by a pair of square-slide 30mm Dell’Orto VHBs. The ig­ni­tion ad­vance curve of the Con­vert was also stan­dard fare, as was the camshaft pro­file and pres­surised oil fil­ter sys­tem. In­take and ex­haust valves mea­sure 41 and 36mm with the ex­haust ports up­rated with threaded studs and nuts.

These changes greatly in­creased longevity and re­duced wear – that was no doubt aided by the oil fil­ter sump. Act­ing on re­quests made by US deal­ers, im­porters Joe and Michael Ber­liner wanted the big­ger en­gine and they got it, slot­ting it into the frame of not only the G5 and Con­vert au­to­matic, but the SP1000 and Le Mans CX100 too. Post1980 en­gines used Nikasil treated bores, and the last batch of CX100s sported round-slide PHF carbs. All used Guzzi’s patented linked brak­ing sys­tem, the SP up­rated with a true pro­por­tion­ing valve and a larger rear caliper.

Not­ing the tourer’s softer sus­pen­sions and im­proved knee room, Cy­cle’s testers knocked the G5 around some. One para­graph fo­cused on Guzzi’s ridicu­lously dated me­chan­i­cal lay­out, the next prais­ing the G5’s road­hold­ing and qual­ity build. Ten years ear­lier, those shoul­dered Bor­ra­nis and triple discs would have placed the V1000 in rar­efied, clas­sic road­ster air, but favour was cast to the SP’s rims… at nearly dou­ble the weight. Hard to say how many were con­fused by Cy­cle’s un­even ed­i­to­rial, but the re­sult was drip-drop sales. List price for the G5 was $3600, roughly the same as a Honda GL1000 but em­bossed-ny­lon Guzzi jack­ets were much harder to find.

The good news of all this dis­re­spect trans­lated into prices that would em­bar­rass a used 500 Bul­let. That’s chang­ing as it seems as though more café builders are restor­ing than cut­ting these days, and a good SP1000 now brings dou­ble what it did five years ago. Still un­der the radar, re­main­ing G5s float about in var­i­ous guises, some with footrests, lower bars and in­jec­tion­moulded lug­gage, or the po­lice build that mixes foot­boards and a solo seat. This is one from the lat­ter group; cos­met­i­cally re­stored but still run­ning in its un­touched orig­i­nal en­gine. By virtue of its last­ing dura­bil­ity we can con­cluded that Cy­cle’s as­sess­ment that the G5 was tech­ni­cally in­fe­rior as in­ac­cu­rate. Count how many twin-cam cus­toms you see on your next tour and re­port back. The rest you can be­lieve.

The G5 came with Guzzi’s patented brak­ing sys­tem which plainly still raised eye­brows in some cir­cles. Hence the fac­tory felt the need to ex­plain: ‘This ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to mo­tor­cy­cle safety is ac­knowl­edged as the safest mo­tor­cy­cle brak­ing sys­tem by...

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