Here’s a bike that almost didn’t happen. First off, Moto Guzzi was in dire financial straits, and then its new owner and would-be savior Aprilia fell into a fiscal funk as well. At the last moment Piaggio, best known in this country for its Vespa scooters, came to the rescue-and we’re glad. Moto Guzzi has a long and interesting history going back to 1921 and builds robust motorcycles with character and a reputation for long-lasting durability.
This latest fledgling model, the Nevada Classic 750, shares genes with the sporty Moto Guzzi Breva 750 which was introduced a year ago, but has cruiser intentions along with some technical tweaks. Styling mimics Guzzi’s larger California cruiser series with its flowing lines on the gas tank, stepped seat and slightly forward-mounted footpegs (but not footboards). Riding posture is upright with a wide-set handlebar, comfy saddle and relatively low 30-inch seat height.
Among the technical updates, foremost is the change from carburetion to Weber-Marelli fuel injection; Magnetti-Marelli Digiplex 25 electronic ignition lights the fires. Motive power comes from the tried-and-true longitudinal V-twin with cylinder heads sticking out the sides and pushrods actuating two valves per cylinder. Rated horsepower is 46 at 6,600 rpm along with 42 lb-ft of twist peaking at three grand. Power is routed through a single-disc dry clutch to a five-speed gearbox and then to a shaft drive in typical Guzzi fashion.
We had an opportunity to ride in the scenic mountains of north Georgia and stayed overnight at the unique Two Wheels Only motorcycle resort (www.twowheelsonly.com) in Suches, Georgia. Zigzagging up and down through lush forests and tight corners on back roads of this historic mountainous region, we worked our way through a late-afternoon downpour to Huntsville, Alabama, for the second night. By morning the storm had passed and we headed to the fantastic Barber Motorsports track near Birmingham, where we got to wring ’em out on the road course. Like all Guzzis, the Nevada 750 is made at Mandello del Lario beside northern Italy’s Lake Como, within sight of the southern terminus of the Alps. This genealogy really shows on mountain roads or the racetrack, as the bike offers an amazing amount of cornering clearance for a cruiser and tracks steadily through turn after turn.
On twisty roads, peak power is less important than torque, and here the Nevada 750 acquits itself well. Throttle response is smooth and the engine pulls cleanly with a pleasing bass exhaust note until it runs out of breath about 1,000 rpm below its 8,000 redline. The engine can lug down to 30 mph in fifth gear, is turning 4,000 at 60 mph and can cruise comfortable at 65-75 mph-top speed is 100. Low-frequency vibes could be felt through the footpegs and handlebar, although they weren’t strong until above 80 mph.
Clutch effort is moderate and modulation is quite easy, especially for a dry clutch. Shifting is deliberate with a noticeable thunk, but we found it awkward to reach the low-mounted pedal with stiff boots.
A conventional 40mm Marzocchi non-adjustable damper-rod fork and dual rear shocks adjustable for preload and rebound damping handle suspension chores. They coped with small to moderate pavement undulations satisfactorily, but transmit a jolt to the rider on sharp-edged bumps, particularly the rear with its limited 2.9 inches of travel.
Single Brembo rotors are fitted to each wheel, with a four-pot caliper in front and a two-pot unit at the rear. Braking was strong and effective at both ends and with only 48 horses on tap, a second front rotor would be superfluous.
Both a tach and speedo are standard equipment. In addition to the trip-meter and clock you can toggle to a nifty ambient temperature readout that will flash if the temperature dips below 37 degrees F. to warn of the potential for ice formation.
All in all the Nevada 750 is a good, solid machine that is docile enough for a beginner or re-entry rider, yet enough fun to entertain an experienced one. We found the quality, fit and finish to be excellent, though the cost is typically European steep. Perhaps that’s the price you pay for exclusivity.
If you’re interested in the 2004 Moto Guzzi Nevada Classic 750 IE, you may also be interested in Rider‘s 2010 Moto Guzzi V7 Cafe Classic Road Test.