Back to Motorcycling Part 2 – The Nicest People Ride a Honda, but the Most Eclectic People Ride a Moto Guzzi!

This is the second in a series of articles about getting back into riding after a long hiatus. Part 1 of the series can be found here.

Moto Guzzi

There are a couple of reasons that I will positively own a Moto Guzzi, some practical, some whimsical, and a final emotional reason – Officer Floyd “Skip” Fink of the Arizona Department of 72 Moto Guzzi EldoradoPublic Safety. Skip Fink patrolled in the Globe-Miami area when I was a kid. He and his partner, Russ Fifer, used to ride their big Guzzi Eldorados all over town, and visited my Father’s Restaurant/Hotel almost every day for lunch or dinner.

I made sure I was there when they pulled up. Floyd would wrestle with me, tell me about his job and treat me like a little brother (I had bruises to prove it). I always had the utmost respect for him, and it influenced my opinion of law enforcement for my entire life. Big Guzzis were exotic anywhere, even though a quite a few law enforcement organizations used them. The general public at that time was enamored of the Honda 750 and later the even larger-displacement Kawasakis. I don’t think that anyone in my small town even knew that Italians made motorcycles, yet here they were; big, fast and tank-like. All style and a stamp of approval from Law Enforcement officials that were practically family.Floyd’s career progressed through the ranks for years after. I lost touch with him but knew other Officers and kept track. The Guzzis were long gone at that point, but Dad and I talked about that period often.

Floyd “Skip” FinkOfficer Floyd James Fink Jr.Arizona Department of Public SafetyEnd of Watch: Friday, February 18, 2000

“Officer Floyd Fink was killed when his patrol car was rear-ended while he was stopped behind another vehicle on the shoulder of U.S. 60 near Tempe, Arizona. Officer Fink had been employed with the Arizona Department of Public Safety for 28 years, and is survived by his wife and four adult children. — full story

My dad passed in late 2000 — I remember telling him about Skip’s death, he had helped him get into the Arizona Highway Patrol — he fell silent for quite awhile and cried, probably only saw him shed tears 3 or 4 times in my life.That single impression is not enough to make me want to buy a Guzzi, but thinking about those big bikes through my memories made me start to do my homework. I joined various Yahoo Moto-Guzzi Lists, especially the “Loop Frame” list that concentrated on the Big Guzzis in the late

Team Moto Guzzi, circa 1921 60’s and early 70’s. I found that their advice, attitudes and personalities fit my own. After meeting up with Mark at Moto Guzzi Classics in Long Beach (he’s a “list regular”), I knew that a Big ‘ol Guzzi could very well be a great choice of a bike and a group to share the time with. I found a few wonderful examples of V7s, Ambassadors and Eldorados to chose from.

Still, I needed more research to make “the best decision”. I found a book about Motorcycles – The Perfect Vehicle: What It is about Motorcycles by Melissa Holbrook Pierson. Her bikes were “small block” Guzzis from 500 to 650cc. She also had exactly the same opinion about “Guzzi People”. My decisions were reinforced. I looked hard at the “small block” Moto Guzzi line; after sitting on a “small block” Guzzi, I just didn’t fit, but I knew I was moving in the right direction.I have considered getting a brand new One. The reasoning for this is while I have very adequate Moto Guzzi Breva 750mechanical skills, I also want to ride, and ride safely. A New Guzzi is going to be the safest transportation of the three, albeit the most expensive. Yet I’ll get to ride, have a warranty and still have The Guzzi Experience.At the point of writing this in late October of 2007, I haven’t made the final decision. I’ve resorted to spreadsheets, advice from friends that ride, mailing lists and a few salespeople.

Oh, did I mention that I haven’t actually been on a bike since 1994?

Uh, yeah. That’s an issue. My Motorcycle Safety Foundation Class starts in two weeks. I’m going to spend time with the instructors and talk about what type of riding I want to do, and really dig deep after I’ve actually gotten back on a bike and really given a final assessment. At that point I think I’ll know what to do and move forward. Meanwhile, I’m learning how to pinstripe just in case.

Next article: Part 3 — I get my gear and get an education.

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8 thoughts on “Back to Motorcycling Part 2 – The Nicest People Ride a Honda, but the Most Eclectic People Ride a Moto Guzzi!

  1. Pingback: Honda » Part 2 – The Nicest People Ride a Honda, but the Most Eclectic …

  2. You are going to become hooked on these bikes,mine is a 1974 eldorado Police version,comfortable,strong,handsome,reliable.I could go on and on,but see for yourself then enjoy.

  3. Nice blog. I think it’s great that you can organize your thoughts into a story that makes sense and is easy to read. I understand the decision making process you’re describing but, as I read, I kept thinking that you could have bought a bike, rode some miles and made a change later if it turned out not to be the best choice. All your research questions would have been answered and you’d have the fun of riding! Good luck and ride safe, the Guzzi people are the best.

  4. I ended up taking the approach that I did partly because of my time constraints over the last part of 2007, and partly due to my self-imposed financial constraints — since it was to be an expenditure involving “disposable” income, I didn’t want to get too far away from my desired goal.

    I figured, as described, that I would have a lot of questions answered by “just doing it”, but I wanted to stay within my imposed constraints, make the best decision I could possibly make, and enjoy doing the research, getting the training and making the actual “on boarding” process enjoyable and also not hurrying it.

    I think it’s the “engineer” in me — I want to really enjoy the entire process, not just the result. As I write about how the rest of the story unfolds, I hope it all makes sense to the reader, as this too has been part of my enjoyment, that is, writing about how I did it and hopefully offering a safe and enjoyable process for any other people considering a return to riding to modify and fit into their lives

  5. Dan

    I like your wirting style.

    You are definitely hooked. Disposable income?? This is a health issue. Good mental health propagtes into good overall health. Look at how senior riders there are on the Guzzi list!!

  6. Saw you linked to me on Twitter. I’ve been riding my Ambassador since 1985. Quite a lot of fun. The loop frames are sluggish tho. Try a Lemans III. They are a whole lot of fun, have the comfy, great handling Tonti frame and for a variety of reasons are generous with power. I have 5 guzzis now and 5+ other bikes. I ride the Guzzis regularly & rely on them to get me around. I think that says a lot about what a good product they are (I am undecided about the new bikes tho’). Currently I’m fiddling on two Aermacchi (one is running+registered, the other am just starting) and a Laverda. They’re fun too.

  7. If you ride a loop, I totally recommend that you join the Yahoo group — Loopframe_Guzzi — It is incredibly active and has a ton of wonderful people with lots of information about the bikes, parts, upgrades, etc. Just a really nice bunch, can’t say enough about it!

  8. I am in my 40’s and recently purchased a 2007 Moto Guzzi California Vintage after several years of admiring all things Guzzi. I love this machine. My last bike, 20 years ago, was a Honda 750. So, I do relate to your article. When most people ask me what kind of motorcycle I have, and I say Moto Guzzi, almost always, they just stare at me with a blank look for about 10 seconds and then say “Moto What?”. I actually feel sorry for them and relieved at the same time because not everyone knows about these or has one. A rider safety course is next on my list.

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