Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 5 – The Mental Health Day.

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

Beautiful day, well-worn leather jacket, full tank of gas.  Buddy, let's ride.

Beautiful day, well-worn leather jacket, full tank of gas.

Some work days are better than others…

I found myself halfway to Santa Barbara from my Northridge home, off Seaward Avenue at the Starbucks where I normally stopped and had a cup of coffee before continuing up the coast.  Some friends that I met in the morning were talking about their day, and I was sitting there thinking that I really didn’t want to go to work, but I knew if I went home, I would be painting, sawing or otherwise saddled with the responsibilities involved in fatherhood, matrimony or the restoration of a mid-century modern home that had already worn out my favorite table saw.

I’m sitting here smelling the ocean breeze, thinking about the ride up north to Santa Barbara and cranky about the fact that I had to turn the California Vintage back to the company in the next day.  This sucks.  I really have come to enjoy this bike and I wanted to take a couple more rides on a favorite stretch…

DUH.  Time for a Mental Health Day.

I said goodbye to my friends and decided to head south and get down to the PCH, and ride until I felt the need to be responsible again.  Would that get me to Ventura?  Who knows, maybe San Diego!  So the journey starts, on the perfect bike for this occasion, the Moto Guzzi California Vintage, with me at home on this wonderful machine and riding down the 101, taking Rice Road South with a full tank of gas, headed to the beach. Continue reading

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Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

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

Nine Days, 1080 miles

After nine days and more than 1000 miles, I possess a really good idea of what it’s like to live with the Breva 1200 Sport.  I’ve previously given reasons for why someone might want to purchase it, but I’d also like to give my observations with respect to what worked for me and how my riding style altered as I reeled in the miles.

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you're going to get some bugs!

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you

Not a “lean off” bike

On my Ducati ST2, I practice “lean off” turns from time to time as I ride it through some of the more aggressive stretches of roads in my area.  I know these roads well and remember their eccentricities to the point that I can work on my technique.  The big ST2 seat allows for movement of the rider around the bike. 

The Breva’s seat locked me in place.  Lean-offs were complex, and I found that I didn’t like the way that I upset the bike’s stance as I employed this technique.  For me, I made much quicker time by adopting a more “Hailwood” approach, keeping my body smooth and silent through the twisties.

The Breva “wants” to be ridden in it’s own way.  It’s good to know “how” a bike rides to decide if your “personalities” fit. I enjoy the diversity and investigation of different riding styles, so I don’t really have a dog in this hunt — but if you enjoy more focused techniques, I hope this helps you decide if the Breva 1200 Sport is for you.

Brakes and suspension tweaks really make it better

It makes a difference to adjust the brake/clutch levers to your style and hand size. Tweaking the suspension to your style/weight and road conditions makes the Breva a joy to ride.  Spending time reading the manual will make your ride happier.   Continue reading

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

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

Nine Days, 1080 miles

After nine days and more than 1000 miles, I possess a really good idea of what it’s like to live with the Breva 1200 Sport.  I’ve previously given reasons for why someone might want to purchase it, but I’d also like to give my observations with respect to what worked for me and how my riding style altered as I reeled in the miles.

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you're going to get some bugs!

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you

Not a “lean off” bike

On my Ducati ST2, I practice “lean off” turns from time to time as I ride it through some of the more aggressive stretches of roads in my area.  I know these roads well and remember their eccentricities to the point that I can work on my technique.  The big ST2 seat allows for movement of the rider around the bike. 

The Breva’s seat locked me in place.  Lean-offs were complex, and I found that I didn’t like the way that I upset the bike’s stance as I employed this technique.  For me, I made much quicker time by adopting a more “Hailwood” approach, keeping my body smooth and silent through the twisties.

The Breva “wants” to be ridden in it’s own way.  It’s good to know “how” a bike rides to decide if your “personalities” fit. I enjoy the diversity and investigation of different riding styles, so I don’t really have a dog in this hunt — but if you enjoy more focused techniques, I hope this helps you decide if the Breva 1200 Sport is for you.

Brakes and suspension tweaks really make it better

It makes a difference to adjust the brake/clutch levers to your style and hand size. Tweaking the suspension to your style/weight and road conditions makes the Breva a joy to ride.  Spending time reading the manual will make your ride happier.   Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1

So I’m 46 years old. I’ve been on hiatus from my “mechanical hobby”; restoring cars, for nearly three years. I’ve been doing this since I was 18, and sold off my last Citroen DS21, on January 18, 2005. On a self-enforced hiatus for two years, it’s been another year because the Ideal Ride that lurked in my head just never materialized.

Modern Triumph Bonneville

Enter “Test Pilot Bill” in Phoenix. I’ve known him for years through my wife, Sheila. He is possibly one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

Last year by happenstance he showed me his newly acquired 2004 Triumph Bonneville that is absolutely perfect, low miles, and an H.G.-Welles-Time-Machine moment (I orginially attributed it to Orwell – forgive me!) with all the wonderful things about British bikes and none of their vices.

As I threw my leg over the Bonnie, something funny hit me. Kind of a “yeah… nice”. It fit not only my butt – it fit into my thoughts. Something deep inside me began eating away two of the four wheels that my Ideal Ride had always possessed. From that moment, I began to think of a motorcycle as The Thing to replace the Car Habit I had nurtured for more than 30 years.

I didn’t know if my search would result in a Triumph like Bill’s, but I knew that I would start on a journey of self-discovery and, as I write this, I couldn’t be more excited about anything I have ever undertaken.

Continue reading