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.
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.
It was a drizzly day when I got there, and I wasn’t looking forward to the ride back into the city where I had a business meeting at 1pm. My schedule was such that this was THE DAY that I had to make the deal and pick up the bike, so I knew that it wasn’t going to be the best ride that I ever had. We drank a doppio together, yakked about bikes for a bit, and I was off when it cleared. I’ve come to understand that this means absolutely nothing in Illinois.
About 5 miles south of Rose Farm, a torrential downpour ensued and didn’t stop for the rest of the day. The 65 miles back to Roscoe and California were absurdly miserable. I didn’t want to ride fast because of the green tires and fresh engine on a bike with only 6 miles on the ODO, so I took it easy at a relaxed 55, stopping at the Oases on the tollway for coffee to stave off the hypothermia. Two and a half hours later, with 65 miles under the bike, I arrived, soaked to the bone and the red leather of my Joe Rocket jacket bleeding profusely into my white turtleneck. I looked like I had been through a hurricane at a slaughterhouse.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed beautiful weather and 300 more miles last week. The bike just gets better and better. I knew that this was “my bike” back when I reviewed it for a week last October, and the grin just keeps getting wider. I can feel the engine loosening up as the miles increase. The gearbox, smooth from the first moment, just gets more buttery. The tires are now scrubbed in and hold the bike like a scalpel. It rides beautifully. I’ve made a good decision.
And now a long-term test ensues. I like the bike so much I bought one of my own, and I could have had anything that I wanted barring some of the stupidly expensive exotics. This was my choice and I’m thrilled. I’ll report on my experiences throughout my ownership, but my first experience with the dealer, the deal that I made and the quality of the bike on delivery is highly positive. No problems whatsoever barring mother nature. I still heartily recommend the brand and the bike.