Specifications

Engine: V-twin, four-stroke 1064cc.

Max power: 65kW at 7500rpm.

Gears: Six.

Price (UK): £6 999 (R81 000), available in: red, black, metallic grey

Price (SA): Under R100 000.

Availability in SA: End 2005.

Do you walk into the showroom, like many a biker before you, and say that you are looking for something with which to commute, take out of town at weekends for a bit of run and, naturally, trundle on to the ferry once a year for a two-week tour of Europe?

It is, of course, an impossibility to get one bike that combines all that: it's like looking for a sports car that will pull the opposite sex yet also take the family to the seaside.

But still the manufacturers persist in trying to sell an all-in-one, the latest being Moto Guzzi with the Breva V 1100. The company describes it as "an unexaggerated sports motorcycle, a tourer by heritage and a 'naked' by choice".

That means it can go fast, is comfortable on long trips and hasn't got much of a fairing.

Or, to put it another way, you can go fast enough without being bent over the handlebars like a demented boy racer, but don't forget that you're going to get blown off because there is no fairing to protect you and you'll get wet if it rains.

This may not be a problem around Lake Como, where Moto Guzzis are made - and where Breva is the name of the southerly wind that blows over the lake to bring good weather - but it certainly is on a wet day on London's North Circular Road.

The bike is definitely fast and powerful enough. The distinctive Guzzi 90-degree V-Twin, 1 064cc engine not only looks lovely but also creates the tireless growl that many riders find irresistible.

It will also cruise comfortably at 160km/h (and probably higher, officer). The riding position is sit-up but the piddly screen means you get buffeted. You can't get away from the fact that you are sitting on a naked bike - there's nothing around you.

And then there is the curious noise, more like a rattle, that you get when you pull in the clutch. I thought at first that the bike was about to disintegrate but when I rang the people at Moto Guzzi they told me not to be so silly; the noise was more than likely the dry clutch.

They said: "All Moto Guzzis have this, as do Ducatis and racing bikes. When you pull in the clutch lever to put it in first gear it is normal for it to make a noticeable rattling sound."

As a rider in recent years of a Harley Road King, a Triumph Thunderbird and a BMW R1150RT (you will gather that I am over 21), this was all news to me. I would be put off by any bike with this added extra.

Then there is another difference between this bike and the great tourers such as the Harley and BMW mentioned above - price.The Breva costs £1 less than £7 000 , which is £3 000 (R34 800) cheaper than the BMW and £7 000 (R81 000) cheaper than the Harley.

That's how it should be. You're getting what you pay for.

Let's examine the bike again:

  • Sit up straight and ride a beautifully engineered machine? Yes.

  • Ride through traffic? My feet got hot from the exhaust and I felt this was not the Breva's natural habitat. But OK.

  • Do more than 200km? No.

    You just can't have it all.