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