I liked it so much I Bought my Own!

Limited resources are commonplace in today’s economy, and our new house in Oak Park, IL also has limited space to put bikes.  Since moving there, I’ve decided to add another bike to my stable, but in agreement with my wife who really didn’t want to look out the window at too many two-wheeled critters, I decided that one had to go.  I had “loved” the Ducati ST2 and ridden the heck out of it over the last 11 months, but I never “fell in love” with it.  I didn’t have a lot of remorse about parting with the bike — now it was time to choose what to replace it with.

The 86 LeMans that I’d looked at last year was still for sale, even cheaper.  My checkbook was out.  Too many subject matter experts said that it was in need of too much work.  Between that and the 2500 miles’ distance, I took a pass.  I looked at SPs, G5s, a couple of gorgeous T3s.  There was an incredibly low-mileage Quota in Joplin. There was a beautiful 1000s.  I was going to get a Guzzi.  Just didn’t know which one.

My spanking new 1200 Sport

My spanking new 1200 Sport

Jim Barron at Rose Farm Classics chimed in.  “Why don’t you buy a new one and start a relationship with something that nobody else has ridden first?” he thoughtfully pitched.  I know Jim wanted to sell me a bike, and he knew which one it was that I had spotted over the espresso machine in his showroom. I trust Jim, but, well, he’s there to sell bikes, too.

I started doing the math. A Guzzi has a two-year warranty.  My financial outlay on a new bike will be minimal.  I already have my “vintage” Guzzi, which isn’t a money-pit but does require a lot of maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape.  Guzzi’s don’t depreciate much, so, if I buy it right, I won’t be out much in three years or so if I want to sell it then.  So I’m already sold.  Jim knew it before I did. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 6 – Time to take ‘er home.

This is the sixth in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi.  The previous one is here.

I knew this day would come…

Ok.  It’s not my bike.  I’ve shared that.  I had less time with it than the Breva 1200 Sport.  I took the Breva back, loving the bike, but I knew that it had to go on, eventually, to a happy owner.  This time it’s different.  The Guzzi got under my skin.  This bike is the “girl you take home to Mom”.  I wasn’t ready to let go.  

I woke up early and decided to take the bike from Northridge down to Newport Beach in Friday Morning Rush Hour to have lunch with a college buddy.  I hadn’t really experienced the center of Los Angeles in very heavy traffic, and I figured that I-5 at 9am would be a perfect crucible.

This isn’t a short trip.  Over 70 miles on LA’s inner city freeway into the heart of Orange County.  I would be traveling across areas that are some of the busiest in the US.  Names like East LA interchange, where the 110, 10, 5 and 60 all meet in a pasta bowl of roads, and further south, the “Orange Crush” near Disneyland beckoned.  I would definitely be doing some lane splittin’ today.  I hoped that the big, police-bike-inspired Guzzi was up to its heritage.

For a Cruiser, the Guzzi isn’t exceptionally wide.  The seat is pretty mellow, really, and the bags don’t stick out further than the handlebars, as far as I could tell.  The mirrors protrude slightly further, but not so much.  Ride height is perfect for heavy traffic.  You sit up high and can look all but the largest SUV drivers right in the eye.  When you’re in the canyons between them, this and a good set of headlights is definitely a plus.

The day started out warm and proceeded to heat up to the typical, Santa-Ana winded Indian Summer day that is famous in the region.  I can’t believe I moved from Phoenix for the cooler temperatures of Southern California only to find this.  If you’re off the beach, you’re in the desert.  Don’t let anyone fool you. A great test for the bike.  Stifling hot, heavy traffic and a big cruiser.  Not as much fun as canyon carving, but if you live in LA or any big city, considering the purchase of this wonderful, big Guzzi, you sure as heck want to know that it can live in traffic in tough conditions.

Off I go.  Once onto the 5 South, I cruise in comfort until I reach the northern reaches of downtown LA.  Traffic is backing up.  I began to weave between the well-spaced cars as they moved along at 45-55 mph.  Absolutely no problem.  If anything the front windscreen was too efficient in that it moved the air around me instead of through the vents in my jacket.  I continued as the traffic deepened and the myriad ramps of the East LA interchange approached, signaling that stopped traffic and real, slow-speed splitting was in my future. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 6 – Time to take 'er home.

This is the sixth in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi.  The previous one is here.

I knew this day would come…

Ok.  It’s not my bike.  I’ve shared that.  I had less time with it than the Breva 1200 Sport.  I took the Breva back, loving the bike, but I knew that it had to go on, eventually, to a happy owner.  This time it’s different.  The Guzzi got under my skin.  This bike is the “girl you take home to Mom”.  I wasn’t ready to let go.  

I woke up early and decided to take the bike from Northridge down to Newport Beach in Friday Morning Rush Hour to have lunch with a college buddy.  I hadn’t really experienced the center of Los Angeles in very heavy traffic, and I figured that I-5 at 9am would be a perfect crucible.

This isn’t a short trip.  Over 70 miles on LA’s inner city freeway into the heart of Orange County.  I would be traveling across areas that are some of the busiest in the US.  Names like East LA interchange, where the 110, 10, 5 and 60 all meet in a pasta bowl of roads, and further south, the “Orange Crush” near Disneyland beckoned.  I would definitely be doing some lane splittin’ today.  I hoped that the big, police-bike-inspired Guzzi was up to its heritage.

For a Cruiser, the Guzzi isn’t exceptionally wide.  The seat is pretty mellow, really, and the bags don’t stick out further than the handlebars, as far as I could tell.  The mirrors protrude slightly further, but not so much.  Ride height is perfect for heavy traffic.  You sit up high and can look all but the largest SUV drivers right in the eye.  When you’re in the canyons between them, this and a good set of headlights is definitely a plus.

The day started out warm and proceeded to heat up to the typical, Santa-Ana winded Indian Summer day that is famous in the region.  I can’t believe I moved from Phoenix for the cooler temperatures of Southern California only to find this.  If you’re off the beach, you’re in the desert.  Don’t let anyone fool you. A great test for the bike.  Stifling hot, heavy traffic and a big cruiser.  Not as much fun as canyon carving, but if you live in LA or any big city, considering the purchase of this wonderful, big Guzzi, you sure as heck want to know that it can live in traffic in tough conditions.

Off I go.  Once onto the 5 South, I cruise in comfort until I reach the northern reaches of downtown LA.  Traffic is backing up.  I began to weave between the well-spaced cars as they moved along at 45-55 mph.  Absolutely no problem.  If anything the front windscreen was too efficient in that it moved the air around me instead of through the vents in my jacket.  I continued as the traffic deepened and the myriad ramps of the East LA interchange approached, signaling that stopped traffic and real, slow-speed splitting was in my future. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 4 – Vintage vs Harley Heritage Softail — A BARGAIN!

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.

Taking a mental health day and cruising the PCH -- Malibu.

Taking a mental health day and cruising the PCH -- Malibu.

 

 

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. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Commuting and First Impressions

Initial Impressions

 I Got up at 5 o’clock that Friday morning, knowing that I was going to ride the California Vintage to work. As stated in the last posting, I had to take the Breva in, but then it woujld be three hundred miles of riding on a real, honest-to-goodness sumbitchin made-for-the-long-road cruiser.

My Eldorado probably qualifies as a cruiser, but I think of it more as a “standard” because of the seating position and the usual lack of bags and windscreen.  My usual commuter is a Ducati ST2 Sport tourer since it’s all bagged up and will hold my 17″ Mac laptop. I had been riding around all last week on a Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport and having a blast.  But now it was time to cruise.

While the previous post put the California in context, this one is the “feel” post.  300 miles on the first day gave me a feel for the bike.  What I liked, didn’t like, etc.  Getting to ride through some diverse commuter roads gave me an impression of what the bike would be like when sitting on it day-to-day. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport – Day 8 – Why should I buy a Guzzi?

This is the eighth in a series of posts about the Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport.  The previous posting is here

1000 Miles, 8 days riding:  Do I still like the Breva 1200?

The Breva 1200 Sport, just north of Ventura off the 101, Sunset.

The Breva 1200 Sport, just north of Ventura off the 101, Sunset.

Yes.  Yes I do.  I lost a full day of riding when it rained, and two more when my wife told me to paint the house.  Still managed to get a few miles in though.  The average day of riding put me at about 200 miles each, and I felt like I really got a good idea about what it would be like to live with a Breva over the long-term.

So often one sees a bike advertised or reviewed by a magazine, then goes to their nearest dealer for a trip around the block.  The papers are out on the salesman’s desk at that point, and if you liked what you felt and the deal is right, then you buy.  But what influences really get you to “pull the trigger”?

Continue reading

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport. A Bike for “The Most Interesting Man in the World”

Duende“The meaning of duende as in tener duende (having duende) is a rarely-explained concept in Spanish art, particularly flamenco, having to do with emotion, expression and authenticity. In fact, tener duende can be loosely translated as having soul.” — Wikipedia

I get a kick out of the Dos Equis Beer Commercial with “The Most Interesting Man in the World”.  OK, so maybe it’s tongue and cheek, but I thought I would elaborate on it a little.  What would this guy be all about on two wheels?

He’d be someone with nothing to prove to anyone — every ride is his own. The enjoyment of speed, implementation of technique, the sensations and mental stimulation.  This, in my mind, is howhis (or HER) two-wheeled passion is assembled. This Most Interesting Person would choose a bike with duende; the emotion, expression and authenticity to match their taste and soul.

Moto Guzzi USA was sincerely kind enough to loan me a Breva 1200 Sport for 10 days.  I will be logging my regular routine on the bike, 160 miles per day of riding from Northridge to Santa Barbara and Back, along with a few meet-ups with friends on weekends and some week nights.

The Breva 1200 Sport for 2008

The Breva 1200 Sport for 2008

Continue reading