The Moto Guzzi Spada Royale was a limited edition Spada, produced for the United Kingdom market only, by the importers, Coburn & Hughes.
It was a modified Spada 11, which in its turn was an improved Spada 1. As such the Spada 11 was the Spada 1 in the UK….still with me?
Anyway, both the 1 & 11 looked the same, the latter having an improved finish in some parts & accurate instruments. The instrument binnacle of the Spadas, up to the revamped Spada 111 was a notable feature arguably far in advance of any of its contempories. It contained warning lights along the bottom for all the bikes systems a voltmeter & a clock. The whole lot was ideally positioned to be easily read, nice & high.
The Spada was Guzzis answer, as the only viable option producer, to BMWs excellent R100RS & latterly the R100RT. The Spada fell between the two, with some notable design features; however some of the detailed finishing was not on a par with the BMW, such as the chrome on the exhausts and silencers. Luckily they were very cheap to replace & companies, such as Keihan, produced stainless options. Neither was the finish on the inside of the fairing as smooth as the BMW.
The engine was Guzzis 949cm3 pushrod aircooled 90 degree longitudinal V twin, producing a claimed 65- 72 bhp (claimed) with shaft drive. The same engine was in the G5 & Convert (Hydraulic drive).
One of the most notable features of the Spada was its fairing. In truth it was a 3 piece fairing, cleverly styled to look like a one piece fairing. The top was handle bar mounted & therefore turned, allowing the headlight to turn unlike other machines with a full fairing. The headlight, whilst we are there, was an excellent 60 watt quartz halogen Cibie on the Royale, arguably the best that was available at the time. The handlebar fairing also contained the faired in front indicators. The lower fairing was in essence two very neat & compact leg shields. All the items could be removed for access in a matter of minutes. However, the other unique feature was that this fairing was designed in Guzzis famous wind tunnel, with a seated rider in situ.
This made the fairing very effective, although some reports complained that it was a tight fit for those with long legs to get them into the fairing; however as one with very long legs, not only could I get them in, but due to the compact design, I could also leave them out in the breeze on hot days!
Another feature of the Spada & other V twin Guzzis was their famous & very effective linked brake system, where the rear pedal operated one front disc & the rear disc on a 75% 25% split. The front lever operated the other front disc. So good was this system that it was given an award from a German organisation! However, some people thought it would negate choice in braking techniques.
When Guzzi were to introduce the Spada NT, (silencers straighter, larger screen & the best saddle ever to appear on any bike. Ever), the importers were left with some 11s to move on & resprayed some in the gorgeous red & pinstriped livery of the Royale, added a King & Queen saddle (also very comfortable) & top quality Sigma panniers colour coded. The finish was much improved as a consequence, & with fork shrouds, plastic coated rear carrier & suspension units. (Another black /gold version was also produced, called the Black Prince).
All Guzzi V twins were & are known for their mechanical durability & these 80s machines were very simple to maintain & service. It is largely a myth that the electronics were as poor as other Italian manufacturers, as the Guzzi components were largely Bosch.
Their handling was exemplary, although was by modern standards , slow, insomuch you picked your line, & that was it. One thing you didn’t do, was to change down through the box in a corner!
The Royale was & still is a gorgeous & highly effective tourer, & with its 5 ½ gallon tank allied to 50 mpg at cruising speeds up to 90mph & full weather protection, the Spada was the only option to BMW. It was a very capable option.
This article was kindly provided by Laurence Milton.