Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport. A Bike for "The Most Interesting Man in the World"

Duende“The meaning of duende as in tener duende (having duende) is a rarely-explained concept in Spanish art, particularly flamenco, having to do with emotion, expression and authenticity. In fact, tener duende can be loosely translated as having soul.” — Wikipedia

I get a kick out of the Dos Equis Beer Commercial with “The Most Interesting Man in the World”.  OK, so maybe it’s tongue and cheek, but I thought I would elaborate on it a little.  What would this guy be all about on two wheels?

He’d be someone with nothing to prove to anyone — every ride is his own. The enjoyment of speed, implementation of technique, the sensations and mental stimulation.  This, in my mind, is howhis (or HER) two-wheeled passion is assembled. This Most Interesting Person would choose a bike with duende; the emotion, expression and authenticity to match their taste and soul.

Moto Guzzi USA was sincerely kind enough to loan me a Breva 1200 Sport for 10 days.  I will be logging my regular routine on the bike, 160 miles per day of riding from Northridge to Santa Barbara and Back, along with a few meet-ups with friends on weekends and some week nights.

The Breva 1200 Sport for 2008
The Breva 1200 Sport for 2008

Continue reading Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport. A Bike for "The Most Interesting Man in the World"

Back to Motorcycling Part 4 — 25,000 miles in 9 months

This is the final installment of the series of getting back into motorcycling.  For Part 3 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here, and Part 1 is here.

 

I’ve never done anything half-way.  When I started riding I really wanted to get proficient, safe and comfortable with it as soon as possible. As I began racking up miles under my bikes I found that it gave me pleasures and satisfaction that I had never received in any car.  The complete isolation from the outside world while being immediately in it presented a contrast that I never had driving a cage, where the radio was blaring, the air conditioning was on, the phone would ring, or my passengers would be talking to me.  

The bike gives me the sensations without insulation.  Riding through farmlands I can smell the onions ready for harvest.  The smell of brakes alert me to big trucks ahead on downhill grades.  The vibration of the engine and the road feedback tells me what my machine is doing at any given time.  Where a car is insulated, the forces of cornering, braking, etc., more violent, everything on the motorcycle is there, and movement is smooth and flows with the physics of your motions and body. Continue reading Back to Motorcycling Part 4 — 25,000 miles in 9 months

And the Winner Is…

2001 Ducati ST2

11000 mi — came with all the bags (back one not shown in picture), Corbin Seat, an extended warranty for the next year, and a 14-month service contract from Wilson’s Motorcycle in Fresno (Yes, I have to make the 200 mile trip to Fresno to get the service – but I have family there that I actually like!).

     I spent a great deal of time looking at everything else.  I had decided on the Scura that Encore Performance in Prescott had for sale, but the price quoted me actually went up $250, to $6750, and the ST2 was $4400, with the warranty, service contract and bags.  It just a new timing belt and valve adjust less than 100 mi before I picked it up, and it was a complete drive-away bike with no faults.

I’ve put 1000+ miles on it a week and a half later, and it is really something.  My Guzzi is like a P-47; lumbering, powerful, raw and upright.  The Duc is like an f-18 — just smooth and so performant — it does everything very well but still makes you feel like you’re really talented.  The brakes are marvelous, and I’ve finally gotten over the “rocks in a beer can” sound of the clutch at idle.  I do miss the torque and big flywheel of the Guzzi on it, because it really has nothing but angel-food cake below 3000 rpm.  I’ve stalled it on slow move-aways from a stop countless times.

All told, the mileage is wonderful, seating position is good enough for now, and the storage is amazing.  A little wider than the Goose, it is a little dicier as I split lanes.  The seating position is also in the stratosphere compared to the Eldorado, and I feel like I’m sitting on a couple of phone books in comparison.

Should be a fun bike, and I’m positive that I’ll be able to get my money out of it if/when it comes time to sell.  The build quality is super, and I have a feeling that it isn’t my last Ducati.

Back to Motorcycling Part 3 — Gear and Gear Shifting: Protection and Education

This is the third in a series of articles about getting back into riding after a long hiatus. Part 1 of the series can be found here. The second installment of the series can be found here.

Since I’ve got a wife and wonderful seven-year-old daughter, and since riding a motorcycle isn’t deemed by the people I know as the safest pastime I can indulge in, I decided early on to do everything that I can possibly do to prevent the separation of me from my motorcycle in an unwanted fashion. Even if this is to occur, I also want to make sure that I have more-than-adequate protection. Lastly and most importantly, I’ve committed myself to getting the best education and training I can, and to continue this training in an ongoing manner as long as I continue to ride.

Time to get some gear and get educated.

I looked into training schools sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and most said that they would provide helmets, but I would need to have gloves, a suitable jacket, pants and boots. I figured that with minimal effort I could cobble together an outfit that would “pass”, but that path didn’t feel right to me. I decided to purchase the equipment that I would begin riding with immediately. I would have plenty to do and think about during my first few thousand miles, and I wanted to have the equipment that I would be using initially. I felt the need for commitment to the process from the time I first threw a leg back over a seat.

Read the book

The first thing I did was purchase a bunch of Motorcycle magazines, and then after perusing the racks at the local Border’s Books, I bought The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles — Third Edition – by Darwin Holmstrom and Charles Everitt. Both of these writers are contributors to Motorcyclist Magazine (which I now subscribe to). I cannot say enough about this book. I have referred to it again and again for advice on gear, schools, riding technique and bike purchasing, and rarely ventured anywhere near the outside limits of their advice.

Continue reading Back to Motorcycling Part 3 — Gear and Gear Shifting: Protection and Education

Back to Motorcycling Part 2 – The Nicest People Ride a Honda, but the Most Eclectic People Ride a Moto Guzzi!

This is the second in a series of articles about getting back into riding after a long hiatus. Part 1 of the series can be found here.

Moto Guzzi

There are a couple of reasons that I will positively own a Moto Guzzi, some practical, some whimsical, and a final emotional reason – Officer Floyd “Skip” Fink of the Arizona Department of 72 Moto Guzzi EldoradoPublic Safety. Skip Fink patrolled in the Globe-Miami area when I was a kid. He and his partner, Russ Fifer, used to ride their big Guzzi Eldorados all over town, and visited my Father’s Restaurant/Hotel almost every day for lunch or dinner.

I made sure I was there when they pulled up. Floyd would wrestle with me, tell me about his job and treat me like a little brother (I had bruises to prove it). I always had the utmost respect for him, and it influenced my opinion of law enforcement for my entire life. Big Guzzis were exotic anywhere, even though a quite a few law enforcement organizations used them. The general public at that time was enamored of the Honda 750 and later the even larger-displacement Kawasakis. I don’t think that anyone in my small town even knew that Italians made motorcycles, yet here they were; big, fast and tank-like. All style and a stamp of approval from Law Enforcement officials that were practically family. Continue reading Back to Motorcycling Part 2 – The Nicest People Ride a Honda, but the Most Eclectic People Ride a Moto Guzzi!

Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1

So I’m 46 years old. I’ve been on hiatus from my “mechanical hobby”; restoring cars, for nearly three years. I’ve been doing this since I was 18, and sold off my last Citroen DS21, on January 18, 2005. On a self-enforced hiatus for two years, it’s been another year because the Ideal Ride that lurked in my head just never materialized.

Modern Triumph Bonneville

Enter “Test Pilot Bill” in Phoenix. I’ve known him for years through my wife, Sheila. He is possibly one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

Last year by happenstance he showed me his newly acquired 2004 Triumph Bonneville that is absolutely perfect, low miles, and an H.G.-Welles-Time-Machine moment (I orginially attributed it to Orwell – forgive me!) with all the wonderful things about British bikes and none of their vices.

As I threw my leg over the Bonnie, something funny hit me. Kind of a “yeah… nice”. It fit not only my butt – it fit into my thoughts. Something deep inside me began eating away two of the four wheels that my Ideal Ride had always possessed. From that moment, I began to think of a motorcycle as The Thing to replace the Car Habit I had nurtured for more than 30 years.

I didn’t know if my search would result in a Triumph like Bill’s, but I knew that I would start on a journey of self-discovery and, as I write this, I couldn’t be more excited about anything I have ever undertaken.

Continue reading Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1