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Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring
Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring

Hell for Leather

When Guzzi launched its updated the California 1400. a month ago of the U.S. motorcycle community the Italians were firmly on track. Even our own Wes Siler, riding the California, felt it a “primal motorcycle experience in an emotive way.”

But were all just enamored by a legendary name and alluring Italian and ignoring some fundamentals must make an average a good motorcycle?

As the Italians say, is the new Moto Guzzi just a case of tutto e niente arrosto? Or in other all smoke and no fire?

What’s New

reviewed the Moto Guzzi 1400 Custom in April but we it was worth revisiting the bike and a look at the more expensive version.

Major differences 10mm less travel on the than the Custom’s suspension but bikes use 46mm telescopic and dual shocks with preload damping on the rear.

The gains some extra with elegantly styled bags that each 1.2 cu.ft of storage, a non-detachable chrome driving lights, an guard, a more comfortable seat and revised, higher that brings everything to the rider.

Throw in a chrome rear grab rail, would look more at on the deck of an Italian Riva than on a motorcycle, and voila you a Moto Guzzi California Touring.

Aside from all the accessories, the touring is technically the motorcycle as the Custom we tested. just heavier with all the kit.

After years in the Moto Guzzi is hoping the 1400 will spearhead the resurgence back into the cruiser market and reignite the of one of motorcycling’s oldest brands.

all part of a much bigger too by the Piaggio Group, which the company and its Mandello del Lario in Como, Italy in 2004 and then has injected more $54 million to bring the Moto brand and its motorcycles back to the market and not be just confined to and the California is just the beginning of a of new bikes we can expect to see.

When news came of the Guzzi California the motorcycle held its breath hoping dubious build quality, engineering (you couldn’t get your toe quite under the lever of the previous California) and a of parts had all been consigned to Guzzi’s past.

Maybe it was the wait as from the outset the California 1400 was shown year at the Milan Motorcycle it was clear this was a different anything we had seen before the Italians.

The only nod to the past is the name that’s adorned Moto Guzzi bikes for the 42 years. The current California are available only in either or black with reverse on the tanks, which the company is reminiscent of the 1968 V7 and 1970s 850 that the California Highway once rode.

The white is a bit too for our taste, so if you’re considering a 1400 Touring go for the more black version. Otherwise, in with a screen and hard people will forever you’re a cop.

Moto claims the California is an all-new Sure there’s a new frame but its transverse engine is still mounted in the distinctive Moto style so that the cylinders like they are jutting out of the tank. The brushed aluminum heads may help with the 1380cc engine but in reality are more for looks as the real heads lie directly beneath

The engine is based on Moto 1151cc air/oil-cooled v-twin has served its time in a number of the marque’s motorcycles, but there are now pistons, making this the biggest that the company has produced. Yet there’s only a shift in torque from the engine up from 80 to 88lb/ft and a 95 hp at 6500rpm.

In the past the motor on a Moto was always the stressed member in the That idea has been for the California 1400 so the frame has heavier as a result and the motor is now to help isolate the inevitable that come with the capacity.

The really good is that, whilst the California may all that Italian style, it has a proper brain. Drawing the resources within the Piaggio (that includes Piaggio and scooters and Gilera and Aprilia the engineers have used the from the SBK Championship winning RSV4 to create in the California a with genuine sporting tone.

Consequently there’s throttle and switchable riding – Turismo, Veloce and Pioggia sports and rain). Pioggia reduces the engines power by 25% in weather, a three-mode traction system and ABS all as standard.

But the California is no lightweight even in Custom it comes in at 701lbs, but in Touring with all of the added kit, another 42lbs to lug around.

So on the of it with the California 1400 you have a big heavyweight Cruiser a massive engine, some styling and a famous name. But is all of sufficient to attract the attention of Davidson or Triumph Thunderbird

The Ride

The California 1400 gets different bars the Custom’s. They move closer to the rider but turn at the ends. Not the best set up for this and we thought the accelerator grip was over large and not that

But the overall riding position the added screen is comfortable and forward and as you would expect to on any good cruiser/tourer.

We were told by Moto to give the California some to warm up before the gearbox start to work well. And true. At first it’s and at idle the motor makes the bike shake and vibrate.

But as as you get going it all smoothes out and the six-speed and shaft drives becomes one of the set ups we have found on any cruiser. The big engine pulls well 1500rpm in the higher gears and the tall, overdrive sixth is left for relaxed cruising on the

On a midweek morning we took it for a through the canyons here in County. Normally at the weekends fighting for road space other motorcycle riders but on day we lucked out and had it all to ourselves and the California into its own and it soon started to sense why it has attracted some reviews.

Despite its bulk it well with far more that you would expect it to and you can the California through the curves real confidence as the steering is completely neutral and the bike running wide.

We also it could out handle any other on sale at the moment, with the of the Diavel. It hustles happily sweeping corners but you have to out as the California is eager to lean perhaps a little too much, and the don’t give much when they start to

Yet despite this you feel in control on the California and always how a bike of this weight and achieves such a great, balance in the curves.

It’s quick too, even the power falls away as you to edge closer to the red line. The flat torque band hard reving but it tapers off at It sounds great under charge with a gruff note from those stainless steel 2-in2

However, it does take a bit of to get adjusted to the two 90-degree cylinder that poke out just of your knees. They may be a Moto Guzzi trademark but a while, when they start to warm up, you are constantly of them. In part this is of the massive heat they and the fact your knees of this rider) occasionally against them in the corners.

nothing new about an air-cooled generating heat, but on a hot summer’s day we if the heat coming off those big heads could become during a long road

All of the electronics on the California actually a purpose both from a aspect and from enhancing the experience. The three engine allow you to flick between on the move at the touch of a switch; (sport) gives a sharper and higher engine revs Tourismo (touring), which is the comfortable, smoother option. We get to test the Pioggia (rain) mode as it was dry throughout the test but supposed to reduce power to the wheel by 25% when the roads are and greasy.

You can’t alter control on the move. But there are options depending on your style that increase the intervention depending on how much you want. If you really don’t being told what to do you can opt for the whole thing off and make own decisions.

But we settled for the full on control as it’s good you have a helping hand if and you do something a bit stupid.

Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring
Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring

The California has terrific brakes with 320mm, 4-piston Brembo up front and 282mm 2-piston on the that can bring 742lbs of motorcycle surprisingly fast to a stop. There is good too and the ABS works progressively and smoothly no chattering through the lever under heavy braking.

There is though a question for us over the California’s gas consumption.

Guzzi claim somewhere in the low 40 but even under moderate, not aggressive riding we’d we were seeing an average of just riding around

That means you could be frequent stops to the gas station to up even though this big Guzzi comes with a 4.5-gallon tank.

The Good

The One of motorcycling’s most hallowed and the California 1400 makes it like you’re riding truly special every time you get on it. Its cruiser looks a very good motorcycle that is well sorted and and handles far better than you ever expect. It has a ton of character and is the epitome of what a Moto should be.

And finally for a Moto thanks to its new owners Piaggio, it has the of build quality that’s up there with the competition.

The Bad

The Here in the U.S. most have never heard of Guzzi or even know their nearest dealer is. Guzzi has a lot to do to create a proper network.

Currently there are 75 for the entire U.S. market to Harley-Davidson, which has something 800.

It’s hard to the $3,000 cost difference the California Custom and the California With all of the extra equipment you get a heavier motorcycle that has the inherent qualities of its … The nicely styled hard can’t accommodate a helmet and you a separate key from the ignition key to them.

Heat from the engine is to be expected but on a summer’s day excessive and overall fuel is not that good. We’d liked to see metal fenders on the but due to cost and weight–saving they’re from plastic.

The Price

Italian style and doesn’t come cheap. For the 1400 Custom you have to out $14,990 and if you want all the extra the Touring offers that in at $17,990. You can get a Triumph Thunderbird for a lot at $13,499 or maybe you could something from the Harley Dyna line-up.

But none of would be as individual or as fun as the Moto

What Others Say

“While the Custom is a capable and pleasant roadster, the Touring, with its grips and windshield, would been a better choice in the and wet conditions. If I were forced to between the two models, I would one of my wife’s rings and go for the California Touring.” — Cycle World

“If Guzzi were ever a of its own charisma, the California goes a way to fixing that. This is a modern, effortless-to-ride big cruiser still manages to retain idiosyncrasy, its Latin stubbornness.” — Street Journal

The Verdict

But yourself $3,000 and go for the Custom. the screen, bags, engine and bigger seat are nice to on the Touring you don’t need to experience what a thoroughly Moto Guzzi is all about.

Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring
Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring
Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring
Moto Guzzi California Stone Touring


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