Moto Guzzi California Vintage – First Ride – Motorcyclist Magazine

6 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Moto Guzzi California Vintage – First Ride – Motorcyclist Magazine


Moto Guzzi California Vintage

La Leggenda Ritorna

They Say: The California is one of those industrial design objects that have left their mark on our history.

We Say: So is the Baldwin 4-4-0 steam locomotive.

They Say: The California is one of those industrial design objects that have left their m

Retro, Metro Euro-Tourer

My past dalliances with Moto Guzzi cruisers have generally been pleasant affairs, so when I got wind of the California Vintage, I was pretty keen to pile on the miles. Based on appearance alone, the new touring mount looked like a blast to ride.

Introduced to the European market in 2006, this touring version of the venerable California custom made its way to the USA last year. The California has been one of Guzzi’s most reliable sellers for decades, and because the long-struggling Italian manufacturer traditionally had only enough resources to gussy up a few models at a time, this one took on the role of Euro-cruiser as much by accident as by design.

Now that Piaggio is signing the checks, however, Guzzi is living large. The California Vintage is shot through with styling cues cribbed from the past, such as the spoked wheels, chromed steel fenders and classic black paint with white pinstripes. Touring accoutrements include the chrome-rimmed saddlebags, luggage rack and medium-height windshield framed by auxiliary fog lights.

The Vintage got some mechanical upgrades as well, not least the 1064cc V-twin swiped from the Breva 1100. Newer bits include a less shaky crankcase, lighter pistons, an upgraded hydraulic valve train and fuel injection, which helps the bike achieve Euro 3 compliancy.

Settling atop the bike’s 30-inch-high saddle, the slightly pulled-back wide bar is well within reach. But beneath the urbane faade lie Marquis de Sade ergos: Awkward floorboards folded my knees nearly to my rib cage (and I’m a stubby guy), while the transverse cylinders stymied any attempt to stretch my legs. Sub-6-footers can probably live with the seating position, but anyone with an inseam over 31 inches will cry uncle.

Guzzi says this arrangement maximizes cornering clearance, but I’m not buying it-the floorboards could easily be an inch lower.

Once underway, the loping 90-degree V-twin ushered me down the road with little drama and minimal shaft effect. The claimed 74 bhp is adequate for casual cruising, and in the twisties the Vintage is much more agile than most other bikes of its ilk. Conservative steering geometry translates into good stability and neutral handling.

The Guzzi’s snazzy bench saddle gets props for touring comfort with a vintage vibe.

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