Under The Radar: Moto Guzzi Daytona 1000

Best bets on tomorrow’s classics: 1992-1995 Moto Guzzi Daytona 1000.

  • Daytona Cobbed
    After his team of modified Moto Guzzis won the 1984 and 1985 U.S. Endurance Championship and the 1987 Pro Twins series, U.S. Moto Guzzi guru Dr. John Wittner was summoned to Italy and asked to help develop a new world-beating superbike.
    Photo Courtesy MC Staff
  • Harley Davidson Buell
    Harley-Davidson’s 200-pound Sportster lump powering a diminutive sportbike? Erik Buell was the one man who could make that unlikely combination work.
    Photo Courtesy MC Staff
  • Ducati 900SS
    Also exuding charisma in 1992 was the new Ducati 900SS.
    Photo Courtesy MC Staff

  • Daytona Cobbed
  • Harley Davidson Buell
  • Ducati 900SS

MG Daytona 1000
Claimed power:
95hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: 145mph
Engine: 992cc air-cooled high-cam 8-valve 90-degree V-twin
Weight: 451lb (dry)
Price then/now: $14,195/$10,000-$12,500

After his team of modified Moto Guzzis won the 1984 and 1985 U.S. Endurance Championship and the 1987 Pro Twins series, U.S. Moto Guzzi guru Dr. John Wittner was made an offer he couldn’t refuse. Summoned to Italy by Guzzi godfather Alejandro de Tomaso, Wittner, a former dentist turned endurance racer, was asked to help develop a new world-beating superbike. Guzzi revealed a prototype at the 1989 Milan show and named it for the famous Florida circuit (where they won the 250-mile endurance race in 1985), but in typical Italian fashion it took until late 1991 for the Daytona to go into production.

Although the hot rod Daytona engine was based around the classic “big block” air-cooled Moto Guzzi transverse V-twin, in the end it retained only the crankshaft and crankcases of the standard engine. Using the 78mm stroke of the 948cc Le Mans 1000 combined with new plated alloy cylinders with a 90mm bore, it displaced 992cc. A bright red sport fairing melded into the gas tank just above the Daytona’s all-new cylinder heads, grandly marked “OHC 4V” for overhead camshaft 4-valve. In truth, the cams were carried high in the cylinder heads, not on top, so the engine could also be considered a high-cam design overhead valve.

From the crankshaft, a reduction geartrain drove a pair of toothed belts, each spinning a single camshaft in each cylinder head, which in turn opened four valves via short pushrods operating rocker shafts. Fueling was by Weber-Marelli electronic injection, and the exhaust system was in stainless steel. The engine drove a revised version of the 5-speed transmission used on most Guzzi twins through a beefed-up clutch (with 10 springs versus eight) and a driveshaft to the rear wheel.

The powertrain hung from a new spine frame based on Dr. John’s race bike design, constructed from 1.5mm chrome-moly tubing with a cantilevered rear swingarm and a fully adjustable Koni (later WP) monoshock under the seat. Marzocchi supplied the “conventional” three-way adjustable fork, and Brembo four-pot calipers with 300mm dual discs (two-pot/260mm rear) provided stopping power. Cast alloy 17-inch wheels ran on 120-section front and 160-section rear tires.

With a claimed 95 horsepower available at 8,000rpm, the Daytona was the most powerful road-going Guzzi to date, returning a top speed of 145mph. “The result is excellent rideability, with big-time low-end and midrange power available whenever you open the throttle,” Cycle World said of the big twin in 1993. On the road, they found that being long and low in Guzzi tradition gave the Daytona reassuring stability at high speeds: “The Daytona proved unflappable, with well-damped suspension, plenty of cornering clearance, premium tires and a relatively flickable yet very stable nature.”

11/1/2013 1:46:07 PM

Note: the pre-'95 straight-cut 5th gear in the Sport/Sporti & Daytona gearboxes [they're the same bikes, really, just the Sport & Sport Inezzione used the regular 2v mill instead of the Daytona's 4v HiCam developed by Wittner & Todero...] is prone to (catastrophic) failure: anyone w/ one of those models who actually rides it [Ride'em don't hide'em!] would be well advised to retrofit the later helical-cut 5th gear from the 95+ models. All this info & more is out there in Guzzi specific forums like WildGoosechase, v11lemans.com (which is also supportive of the precursors of the V11 LeMans from which it takes its name, since those later models were largely just product-improved versions of the Sporti) & others. Anyone who's interested in riding an old Goose really should spend some time noodling around the forums first: the info available there can really save you a lot of heartache & expen$ive mi$take$...

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