Michigan Moto Guzzi Rally Live with the V7 Classic

3:31– packing up, getting ready to leave soon. Too many delays trying to get out of town. I haven’t chosen a route yet. Guess I’ll just wing it, take 94 to the 31, head north and see if I meet up with some other folks.

4:19. On the road. Goodbye pic

6:30- Sawyer, Michigan, for water at a T/A truckstop

8:30-Holland. Got gas-42mpg. Pretty steady 80 mph cruise. Saw a little faster. Decided to take the “easy” way up through Grand Rapids. Checked the mileage to Interlochen, looks like I was about 100 off of my estimate for distance. Don’t know if I’ll make the rally tonight, the Sun’s down.

9:50-Checked into the Holiday Inn in Big Rapids. Temperature had dropped into the 50’s. Saw a couple of ex-deer on the roadside as well. Time change makes it actually an hour later. Beer and burger. I’ll hit the sack and get an early start for tomorrow morning. Continue reading Michigan Moto Guzzi Rally Live with the V7 Classic

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic — Second Week and 800 Miles on the Clock

This is the second review of my ongoing ownership of a 2009 Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. For the first part of the review, click here.

My second week of ownership of my V7 started with a rain day on a Saturday.  It rained so hard that I decided that I wasn’t going to ride until Sunday, where I would make a nice loop going to the Full Moon Cafe on Highway 41, then riding up to the Sly Fox Inn in Wheaton, Wisconsin before taking a bunch of back roads to my home in Oak Park.

It’s a nice loop to make.   The route involved a ride up the 294 towards Milwaukee and then dropping off at Deerfield road for the rest of the ride North on Highway 41.  After hanging out with the other 50-60 riders that show up there on Sundays, I planned a trip up to the Sly Fox where Vintage riders meet for Brunch and tire kicking.  Then the ride home involves skirting the lakes along the Wisconsin/Illinois border and then dropping down into Arlington for a jaunt down the 355/290 and home.  I think it’s about 200 miles or so.

I’ve ridden the bike just close to 800 miles now.    Continue reading Moto Guzzi V7 Classic — Second Week and 800 Miles on the Clock

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic Owner's Review — The First Week and Before

And so it was, upon the demise of my 1200 Sport and State Farm Insurance completely taking care of me, I took a hard look at what and how I would be riding over the next couple of years.  The 1200 was a great bike and I fully expected to replace it.  I purchased it because I wanted it for the long distance tours I had planned to get to this year and the next few.

I realized that my new job and just-outside-the-city lifestyle really meant that for the next couple of years, 99+ percent of my riding would be within a 150mi radius, with many, many days of riding through the streets of Chicago at 30-ish miles per hour.  This is not the venue, mission or best possible circumstances with which to operate a 1200 Sport.  This mustang needs road.  I need a bike that is a better choice for these distances, light on its feet and able to make me grin while I tackle the third-world roads of Chicago and surrounding cities.

You already figured that I’m getting a Guzzi?  Well I looked hard at the Ducati 1000GT, the Triumph Bonneville and even considered a maxi-scoot.  I hit the forums and asked more and more about the V7C.  The more I heard from the people that actually owned it, the more I started warming up to the idea.  Finally, I read a Wall Street Journal Comparison of the Bonneville, Sportster and V7 Classic.

Me and my new V7 Classic 8.11.09
Me and my new V7 Classic 8.11.09

So I now own one  Continue reading Moto Guzzi V7 Classic Owner's Review — The First Week and Before

My Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport is no More…

July 19, 2009

It was a typical Wednesday as I left work just after 6 at WMS. My Birthday was coming up and I was wondering what Sheila had arranged for it, as we make a big deal out of birthdays in our house.  I was traveling one of my usual routes home.  I have about 6 routes that I take on a random basis.  I think  it’s safer to ride this way because you don’t get complacent at intersections and other traffic hazards.

I was about a mile away from my office in heavy traffic; I had just turned southbound on Kedzie, just above the Belmont intersection.  Traffic in the northbound lane was bumper-to-bumper.  A silver car was peeking its nose out, trying to turn out from School Street and into my lane. I chopped the throttle and covered my brake.  Just like that it darted out in front of me.  I hit the brakes but it was too late.  There was no place to go, so I added more rear brake and went sideways, laying the bike down and separating from it cleanly. Continue reading My Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport is no More…

Scoot vs Guzzi as a First Bike?

I’m a fan of your blog, from north of the border in cheesehead country. We’re about the same age, though I obviously started the family a little earlier, as my daughters are now 17 and 20.

And, given that, I’m now thinking about getting a 2-wheel vehicle for which I’m not the motor. I’ve be riding bicycles thousands of miles a year for 30 years. I’ve had the itch to get a motorcycle since I was, oh, 12 or so, when my brother had a Yamaha 60. Put it on hold while I either didn’t have the money or had young kids to think of. Now that I have money and pretty-much-grown kids, the motorized 2-wheeler itch is like a bad case of poison ivy.

My tastes run very classical – air cooled twins, round headlights. I’m very small – 5’6, 120 pounds. My riding will mostly be my 10-mile commute to downtown Milwaukee from the north shore, along Lake Drive, but I also plan to get out into the Wisconsin countryside to explore a little farther than I can typically get in a morning of cycling. Ever been to Holy Hill? The roads around it are to die for. I also have in mind riding out to Minnesota, where my older daughter is at college, once in a while.

So, I’m thinking the Vespa gts 250 (or new 300) would be great for commuting, the Breva 750 ideal for fun rides and travel, and maybe the Piaggio BV250 is the compromise.

The x-factor here is that my wife is adamantly opposed to the whole notion. She has a pretty deep, emotional, irrational association with motorcycles, and has stated flat-out she’ll never go near one. On our honeymoon we had a very good time ripping around Nice, France, on a scooter, so I’m not quite sure what happened over the last 23 years. Anyway, it’s possible that a scooter will be less traumatic, and on the motorcycle side, a V7 Classic will prompt less of a visceral response from its classic styling.

I’ve ridden the V7 Classic, Breva 750, and GTS250, and like them all. I like the Breva a little better than the V7, but obviously there’s little to distinguish between them. It’s obvious the scooter is the better commuter. But there’s also the image factor of pulling into the garage at work. The motorcycle has a huge advantage there, I won’t lie.

So, I’m looking for your thoughts on whether you think I’m on the right track, or am I missing something crucial?

Well Ted! Let’s look at the factors involved:

  • You live in Wisconsin and will store the bike in winter.
  • You haven’t really ridden a motorcycle before.  Fooled around, but haven’t gotten a license, etc.
  • You like the classic, retro look.
  • You’re not a huge guy
  • You have a 10 mile commute.
  • You want to ride in the country, possibly make a Minnesota trip, etc.
  • Your wife is not really into the whole thing whatsoever.
  • You’ve ridden Guzzis and Vespas
  • Your friends are gonna put a mark on you whether you ride a scoot or a bike.

I actually have some suggestions that will help you discover which one you might want to go with.  I’ve got my favorites here, but I’m going to go “pro-con” and let you decide. Continue reading Scoot vs Guzzi as a First Bike?

I liked it so much I Bought my Own!

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.

My spanking new 1200 Sport
My spanking new 1200 Sport

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. Continue reading I liked it so much I Bought my Own!

Links to Moto Guzzi V7 Classic Reviews

V7 Classic on Roman Streets
V7 Classic on Roman Streets

I spent some time on the phone with Jim Barron at Rose Farm Classics yesterday.  I’m thinking about buying a bike from him right now (unless the right V7 Sport falls into my lap, which just doesn’t happen), and the subject turned around to the V7 Classic.  I’ve yet to plant my butt on one and ride it, but I know that will be happening in the future.

As we talked about the V7, we also talked about how much we liked Maxi Scooters.  The thing is, in Chicago, there are pot hole that will swallow you up.  I barely missed one last Saturday on Wacker that was more than 2 feet wide and at least as deep.  Had I hit that on the Eldorado I was riding, let alone a scooter, I do believe that would have made a spectacular mess.  Maxi-Scoots also aren’t getting any lighter, either.  Still love the scoots, and I’ve even looked at a couple recently for my jaunts around Oak Park.

So the question came up.  Maxi-Scoot or V7 Classic?  The Maxi-Scoot gives a lot of storage and weather protection, park-ability and style.  They are reliable, get great mileage and allow you to zoom just about anywhere you want, including freeways, with ease. How does it compare with the lightweight Guzzi?

The V7 has style all over it, since Guzzi basically pulled every classic goodie out of their refrigerator and made a perfect Dagwood Sandwich of style with this bike. Even the white color just fits it.  This bike is all style and all bike, without having a sinister bone in it’s body.

Is it reliable?  Reliability is a Guzzi hallmark.  I think there were a few years, pre-Piaggio, that might have been troubling, but I also believe that time is long past.  Even the latest recall on the Stelvio/Grisos was more for caution and getting things absolutely right for the customer, instead of fixing a potential disaster in the field.  A couple of the new V7 owners on the mailing lists that I subscribe to have had some niggling issues, but this bike is built on a well-evolved, solid platform.

I keep hearing that the V7 is “under-powered”.  My Eldorado has about the same amount with at least an extra hundred pounds to haul around.  I’m just buying that argument unless you’re comparing it to a 750cc hot-rod bike.  This bike doesn’t fill that role.  This bike is about enough of everything — a typical Guzzi with nothing to prove to anyone — the right-minded owner will bond with this bike completely.  It’s a great first bike, a great retro-bike, and I predict that it’s a great “Eastern City” bike, where there’s lots of stop-and-go, potholes, and openings that must be quickly exploited.

I have no dog in the hunt.  I haven’t ridden the V7 Classic yet.  I’ve been on a bunch of scooters, thanks to Piaggio, and I believe them to be superior products that are a blast to ride.  I think for me the V7 Classic would edge out the Maxi Scoot on three things:

  • I ride mostly with motorcyclists at the moment since I haven’t had a scoot in Chicago.
  • I take a lot of rides out in the wilderness.
  • I ride at night, and the potholes in this city come out of nowhere in the pitch.
  • Jim thinks the Guzzi is lighter than the biggest Maxis
  • Jim sells only Guzzi, and I’m pretty much of a completely biased homer in that department.
  • I would love a scooter, seriously love one, but I don’t have enough Motorcycles yet for the amount of money that I currently have to spend.  The sad fact is that if I had a scooter, I would probably ride it more than the bikes.  I’m just not ready to be so damned pragmatic in my life.

While I’m waiting for my V7 to test and ride around, I’ve been reading the reviews, and in doing so, I’ve decided to give out the links that I’ve found and share them.  Please feel free to comment with your experiences on the V7, good or bad,  if you have one and if you find more reviews feel free to add them to your comments:

(There’s a lot of UK in here, simply because the bike was available for almost a year in Europe before they were brought into the US).

Moto Guzi on Cycle World Radio

Cycle World Radio interviewed one of our favorite guzzisti, Steve Rossi, as well as the Brand Manager for the US, Rick Panettieri.  He discusses the factory shutdown last December as well as the new model line in wonderful detail.  I have new respect for Rick, he seems to really “get it” with the Guzzi brand.  Here’s the link to the broadcast:

http://feeds.radioamerica.org/CycleWorld/SHOWS/CycleWorld_Hr1.mp3

Steve Natt, the host, spent some time on a new Griso before going to air, and he talks about his experiences with it. I get a kick out of the amount of time they talk about the heads banging knees.  Just hasn’t happened to me on any of the Guzzis I’ve ridden, and they spend time talking about the torque impulses in turns.  Hmm…  I never notice the torque moving me around in the turns.  They do a very admirable job of explaining who the Guzzi Rider is, and what they are about.

There is also a nice quick blurb about the V7 Classic.  It’s now the best-selling Guzzi this year, with all Guzzi sales up 11%.  Nice news that.

The Backup Bike.

I’m an avid reader and sometimes responder to the “Wild Guzzi” forums — one of the truly fun forums for Guzzi enthusiasts.  Thank God for my MacIntosh Mail client — I just add the RSS feed from the forums and can sift through them at my leisure.

A post came up recently asking people to name their “backup bikes” — it turned out that the average was three bikes total.  My response was:

“Ducati ST2.  It gets ridden about as much as the Eldorado, but I’m thinking about selling it and getting a 1200 Sport or Griso or maybe even a Paul Smart 1000 or???    Dunno.  The ST2 is as reliable as a sewing machine, fast, comfortable, big bags and a blast to drive.  I’m just not that ‘into’ it.”

I received a message back from one of the other members —

Gosh Dan,  I thought you’d have a Cal Vintage instead of a Griso or Stelvio…….After reading your report on the Cal Vin, I was ready to take a test ride and trade my Quota in.  I must of took you wrong, huh? — The Kid”

It’s actually killing me.  I think the Cal Vintage is the best bike that Guzzi Makes, but I have an Eldorado now.  I sat and thought long and hard about parting with the Eldo, but I just can’t do it.  The Vintage and the Eldo serve similar functionality, so I can’t justify to my wife to have two bikes that do “roughly” the same thing.  I also loved the 1200 Sport — another insanely wonderful bike, so my problems increase dramatically in deciding which way to move.

I’m not a dual-sport guy.  I’m actually having trouble getting “into” the looks of the Stelvio — I think the current range of dual-sports, led by KTM are the most butt-ugly bikes I’ve ever seen — the Stelvio isn’t really ugly, kind of like the Ducati Multistrada isn’t ugly, they both “challenge” my sense of what a bike is supposed to look like.  Still, I’ve talked to so many people that say the Stelvio is a truly great bike (like my Duc buddies rave about Multistradas) that it’s on my list to Review.

I ruminated for months before picking out a Guzzi to return to biking with, and I spent probably as much time picking out the “right” Eldo.  I’ll spend at least a few more months picking something else out — Since I’m new to Chicago, I’m really trying to understand how my riding habits, style and distances will change and pursue the bike to fit that role.  Guzzi’s got a ton of great bikes for different missions — I just need to get my arms around that. And yes, my ST2 is a tremendous bike, but it’s just a “friend with benefits” and not “someone I want to marry”.

If I had to pick only one bike from Guzzi — getting rid of the Eldo, and even throwing in some of the “great” older rides — I’d still pick the Cal Vintage.  It’s the best bike Guzzi’s [i]ever[/i] produced for the mission it’s intended to fulfill — an all around big bore bike that can handle city and highway, cruise with the hogs and then dust them in the twisties.  It’s safe, reliable and in surprisingly nimble in all conditions.

Oh hell, now I’m thinking about getting one again.  Damn you Guzzikid!

A Trip to Rose Farm Classics

Jim Barron of Rose Farm Classics
Jim Barron of Rose Farm Classics

Just a few weeks after my arrival in Chicago, I received an email invitation from Jim Barron, owner of Rose Farm Classics, one of the Moto Guzzi Dealers in the Chicago area.

Man, I needed some conversation. Being away from “home”, and my family two time zones away there is practically nothing really to break the monotony when I’m not working.  Any activity that didn’t involve watching TV, eating, drinking or dealing with real estate agents was more than welcome.  Dudes with Moto Guzzis, wrenches, compressors and associated “man-bling” and the accompanying manspeak is definitely needed.

I decided that as soon I got a break in the action and needed a Guzzi fix, I’d make the trek out to Woodstock, and see what his operation was all about.  After surfing his website, I got the true Guzzisti vibe– a real show room with a wide selection of new bikes, a full service department and a real clean operation.  Now, I just knew I was going to like him.

Continue reading A Trip to Rose Farm Classics