This is the fourth in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi. The previous one is here.
A side-by-side comparison…
After riding the California Vintage around, I thought it would be nice to compare it to the “standard” of the group — The Harley Davidson Heritage Softail. I chose the softail because it has similar look and purpose. It is a luxury touring bike with a clear windscreen, bags, etc. It’s purpose is “retro”; cop-like, long miles, touch of retro and, as the name suggests, “Heritage”. I think this is probably an accurate description of the big Guzzi as well.
Price was slightly difficult to figure. Moto Guzzi has a single price, $14,999. There are no “ups” involved. You can buy only three accessories, and they’re all luggage, a trunk bag, tail bag and a cover. That’s it. If you want to add 40lbs of leather and logo items, you’re pretty much out of luck here. Bonus in my opinion, because you’re not going to get sold a whole bunch of stuff you don’t need just so the dealer can load up your out-the-door price. The Guzzi is unique enough as it stands.
The Harley’s base is $17,999. There’s a “freight” charge of $330, Wire wheels are another $500, Emissions in California are another $200, and a security system is $345. So now you’re at $19,199. Oh yeah. Guzzi has that killer Marzocchi fork. Harley’s got that too, but that’s another $1400. Hard bags similar to the Guzzi will be another $800. So now we’re up to about 21,399. That’s an extra $6400 to pack it like the Moto Guzzi California Vintage.
So what do you get for the money? You do get that Harley name plate, so all you’re friends will instantly know that you are part of the crowd and “stayed in the box”. You get the same warranty (2 years), but I didn’t see roadside assistance, which is what is offered by Guzzi.
How about power? Do you get more power for your money? Well, the Guzzi’s 1094cc motor lists it’s horspower as 72hp. Harley doesn’t list it’s horsepower figures anywhere on their site, but after a Google Search I found the highest output listed as 82hp for their 96 c.i. (1570cc) lump. When you factor weight in, I get 9 lbs per horsepower for the Harley, and 8 lbs per horsepower for the Guzzi.
So the $6400 does give you one more pound per horsepower for the Harley, given that the highest figures I could find are accurate (I found lower, too). Harley also delivers an extra 11 ft/lbs of torque, which indeed is nothing to sneeze at. So, dollar-wise, it costs $640 per extra horsepower, and $582 for each extra foot-pound of torque. Of course, Harley will be most happy to put more ponies under your butt for an extra charge. You could also just live with the stock leather soft bags on the Harley and save more money…
I fell in love with the Marzocchi forks. You can take them off the Harley if you want, but the handling will definitely suffer and the Guzzi will just walk away from you in the twisties. Maybe that’s not you’re thing, but frankly, I believe that if you’re considering a Guzzi, you’re probably very interested in how the bike will handle and move. Guzzi doesn’t publish it’s lean angles, but from my experience they are extremely sporting. Harley states their lean angles are 29° or thereabouts, and I’m sure that Guzzi stomps this mercilessly. The big, bad brembos are something else that Guzzi has that Harley doesn’t; I didn’t couldn’t find this available from Harley — I’m sure they are available aftermarket, just pony up the bucks.
I guess it depends on what you want.
Many people find it extremely important to belong, and I appreciate that very much. Harley’s community is very strong and definitely has a long and storied lifestyle. You’re never going to have much of a “bad boy”
image on a California Guzzi, excepting the bad cops from Magnum Force. The Guzzi is pointed directly at riders that want a great handling, comfortable and reliable bagger to soak up long distances. After all, once you’re going 80, ride, comfort, handling and braking become very important.
The Harley will definitely hit the road, soak up the miles, and you get to belong to “the club” — and pay the extra $6400 in “dues”.
I’ve never been much of a “joiner”. I am a Guzzi enthusiast and I will readily admit that I am glad that the Guzzi compares so favorably. I go to many of the Guzzi meets, and the requirement is to “show up”. The Moto Guzzi National Owner’s Club is a great organization that I just haven’t gotten around to joining, and yet my friends in the club still invite me on their rides and treat me like a member when I show up. I think guilt drives membership there. The club is very family-oriented and friendly as all-get-out. The meets definitely have nothing “racy” about them, in fact, they are more anarchic than anything else. I think I’ve met the club’s president, but nobody ever discusses club politics, so I think he got elected by missing a meeting.
I guess it depends on what you want, but I believe that a side-by-side comparison of the Heritage and the California Vintage is a worthy one. The big Guzzi really packs a tremendous value for the money, and it’s a real delight to own and ride, as I rack up the miles, I know that in three days I’ll be turning it in. The parting of ways will be the only thing that will be a disappointing. I need a day to just ride without a care in the world. I need a Mental Health Day.