Norge 1200 meltdown

Reading about Easytiger’s Breva meltdown I’m wondering if anyone has had this experience with a 1200 Norge – apart from myself? Just over two weeks ago, on day two of a trip to Provence, the engine of my 2010 Norge lost power on the autoroute and we came to a halt under a flyover, in an emergency telephone bay (luckily), just outside Béziers. A fantastic woman at Moto Guzzi Assistance told us that a tow truck would be with us in 30 mins. This indeed happened, almost to the minute, and we were brought, initially, to a car park to await a second truck.
My suspicion was that a cylinder had seized, and my first thought was, of course, oil. I had topped up a few days before leaving Dublin and checked the level the evening before actually heading off. Having done similar trips on another Norge, I expected to be able to reach our destination in Provence before topping up. While waiting in the car park I stood the bike upright and checked, to find that the level was about ¼ way up the gauge section of the dipstick, so the indication was that I was correct. The second tow truck guy, a biker himself, pressed the starter button and it sounded to me as if the starter motor was running – if rather noisily – but the engine wasn’t turning. Next day the bike was taken to the nearest, and very helpful, Moto Guzzi dealer in Agde where the engine did in fact start, but ran badly for about 20 seconds before stopping. A second attempt produced the starter motor- like sound again, but noisier this time.
I had actually bought this bike in France and imported it into Ireland, which unfortunately, caused MG to question the validity of the warranty even though it had been confirmed earlier by MG Assistance via Italy . To make a long story painful, I managed, after another two days, to convince them that the warranty was indeed valid and they agreed to pay for the repairs. The bike is still in the dealer’s workshop in Agde, and it is now the Central Warranty section of MG that will supply the necessary parts.
At the moment, back in Ireland myself, I am having difficulty contacting the central MG Warranty section on the phone, so I think it’s back to Assistance for help on that (they are completely separate). Either way, the time to repair will surely depend on the supply of spares.
I have never had a Guzzi engine apart so I would be interested to hear knowledgeable comment from the forum.

You dont say if this os a 4v or 8v umit in your Norge. I rode around europe on my 4v unit 2 yrs ago, and cant remmeber checking the oil level once in nearly 3000 miles.
I did a service just before setting off, and did a service on returning, and in all the mileage the norge didnt drink a drop of oil. Even now with 27000 on the clock it only uses about 1/4 ltr between services.

Any diagnosis yet?

PS: Going only by my own experience, and that with a much older model, seems loss of power equates to loss of compression equates to piston wrecked. (?)

Mike H2012-06-13 17:47:04

PPS: one check is try to get it running again, if it runs, even if for only a bit, pull out dipstick; if this is followed by clouds of smoke out of dipstick hole, it means combustion gasses are blowing past a piston into the crankcase. Piston is FUBAR

Many thanks for the replies guys.
I should indeed have mentioned that
it’s a 2 valve/cyl engine, actually manufactured in 2009.
When I checked the oil level after the
breakdown I had the bike on the center stand. I don’t know how much
difference it makes but I always check it with both wheels on the
round. So I suppose I was just mentioning that I was satisfied that
there was still an adequate amount of oil in it.
The bike is still with the dealer in
the south of France so it’s out of my reach and I’ve had no diagnosis
yet. Certainly seems like a piston plus subsequent damage. I’ll keep
the forum posted.

That’s a PITA still being in France.

could it be the oil pump causing the break down

You know this may be a generalisation BUt the more “modern” bikes get the less reliable they seem to be. Look at the miles older bikes get never had to even look at the oil pump on the V1000 the only things to wear have been consumables , I replaced the pistons/barrles due to a gudgeon pin circlip letting go THAT had I looked at when it first started to rattle on acceleration it wouldn’t have gone but the engine had done 120,000 the rings were the org ones with a spring in the oil scraper ring.

All other parts have been the usual wear items, these new bikes having cam problems, starter motors, oil pumps and speedo sensors are just a product of the modern age. It is NOT just Guzzi either the amount of new cars that fail. Hell our newer Merc Sprinters at work are off the road more than the old ones with 200,000 miles on them.

New ones have had a series of:-
Oil leaks
Coolant Leaks
Brake problems
ECU problems there is always one in the garage every week

The worst Merc I ever owned was the newest one and an S class the old E class 3 litres went on forever only being taken out by someone else ploughing into them and writing them off.

The “bean counters” have alot to answer for. Tell you what Johnno get that there T5 sorted and it will go forever mate, crackin’ engine, the electronic ign and round carbs make a Huge difference on my V1000

You must always check the oil, with the bike level. Biggest debate is whether the dip stick should be screwed in before checking or level taken with the dip stick resting on the thread. I believe after looking at many threads on the subject it should be taken after the dip stick has been screwed back in.
As to the piston failure?? the pistons are cooled by oil being sprayed onto the skirts, it would be interesting to know if the failure was due to some issue with the oil cooling.

I know when I was stuck in heavy trafic in Paris, my engine was getting hot, very hot, and started to feel a little rough, but then the rains (monsoon) came, i had instant water cooling. The bike then ran like a dream again.

You’re right Mike H. I’d love to be stripping this engine down myself, or at least be there when it’s being done. I can be a bit of a forensic/control freak about this type of thing. Guzzibear has a good point about old Vs. modern - though, having said that, I remember too well the constant effort to contain oil in bikes in the 60s - untill what we initially referred to as Japscrap came along. We felt they looked good but wouldn’t last. But I suppose they now suffer with mordern gremlins too.
If a piston seizes (which it felt like) it had to be caused by something other than just the heat of a fast autoroute ride, as I agree with Dave that they can get pretty hot and then cool down again with good airflow. I had had a long lunch stop and was only back on the road about fifteen mins before it happened. In fact, 10 mins before, I had been grinnin’ at how well it was running, so it was sudden enough. I got a smell of hot hoses when the bike stopped so the oil sure seemed to be too hot. The freephone no. for Guzzi Warranty doesn’t seem to work from here ( probably because no dealer in the Republic of Ireland) but I spoke to the woman in Assistance and she is checking it out for me, so I might have news this evening. Johnno might turn out to be right about the oil pump.

I would be surprised if it was the oil pump. There were problems with the 06 and early 07 models, but the later models have had no problems reported.
Do you know what grade of oil was in it?

It had an oil change at the 1000km service, carried out where I bought it. He’s steeped in MG so I guess he used 10W 60 fully synthetic. I topped up with a little Castrol 10W 50 FS at about 16250km before leaving.

Sorry - should have said that it had an oil change at 10,000 km.

That’s 3,881 miles. What’s the recommended oil change interval on these?

MG workshop manual sez 2,000 m for the old Tonti big-block, not the same I know but

Appendix: an added 3,881 since last oil change “before leaving” !

10k km is the recommended oil change interval, 6.6 k miles.

Never assume the dealer used the correct grade of oil, I know of some who still don’t. Always worth asking.

Let’s face it most dealerships cars included buy it by the barrel and stick that it all the vehicles that come their way once out of warranty do your own oil changes , That way YOU KNOW it is decent oil in the bike not difficult to do and saves money. Dealers charge alot for oil.

I should just clarify the oil situation.
It had its scheduled oil change at 10k km and was due the next scheduled change at 20k km. I had topped it up at about 16250 km and there was about 17500 km on the clock when it broke down. So there was still 2.5k km (1560 odd miles) to go till the next scheduled change.
I let the dealer do all the servicing for as long as the bike is under waranty. The dealership is owned and run by a motorbike mechanic with 20 years experience of Guzzis, and who builds and races his own. He’s a real enthusiast, so I’d have more faith in him than I would in many others (without being totally naive). If interested you could have a look at him here
Often I take to the mountains when going through France and the engine could be working hard enough. This time though, I used National routes as far as Limoges and took to the autoroute from there. We had stopped overnight in Brive-la-Gaillarde and stopped for a long break near Carcassonne at lunchtime the next day. We were only on the road 15 or 20 minutes after that when thinks went pear shaped. I’ve done similar trips before, a few times on this and a previous Norge as well as on smaller bikes. It all seems reasonable to me vis a vis the oil, but maybe more experienced Guzzi owners think not? Are more frequent oil changes really necessary?