SHEEP IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
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...