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

The "Danko Special"

If you’re looking for Danko’s Salad Dressing, it’s here.

When I was a young man, I worked at my Father’s Restaurant on the line at nights.  One of the most often-ordered dishes on the menu was the “Danko Special”.  It was a dish that my dad developed — we ate it out our house for as long as I can remember — it consisted of a dish that had some Yugoslavian accents, some 1950’s-60’s-style dining accents, and just a little bit “magic dust “sprinkled on it by our Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Michel Gehin.

The Copper Hills Restaurant Burned down in 2001, and the Danko Special hasn’t been served in any commercial form since 1991. I want to release this recipe to those that remember ordering it, others that wonder just what the heck all the fuss about the Copper Hills might have been about, and finally as a recipe that you’d enjoy. This recipe is for all of you that have ordered it in a some “past life”. This special time for me seems so long ago; I never thought that there would be a Globe Miami without a Copper Hills. You know who you are, and you’re all part of my extended family. Continue reading The "Danko Special"

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…

Danko's Dressing from the Copper Hills, Miami, AZ

If you’re looking for the “Danko Special” Recipe, it’s here.

This is the House Dressing of the Copper Hills Motel in Miami, Arizona

My Dad got his house dressing from Navarre’s in Phoenix. It became Danko’s Salad Dressing in Globe-Miami, and was quite famous in the area.  This popularity was carried up and down Highway 60 by the travelers that stopped at his Best Western Restaurant and Hotel over the 35 years from the time my Dad built it, until he sold it in 1990.  The dressing disappeared after this; Navarre’s was long gone by then and the new owners changed the entire menu.

This salad dressing is Atomic Age stuff.  1950’s/1960’s Steak House Salad Dressing. Red flocked wall paper, dark woods and antique mirrors, with burly middle-aged male waiters. Men with coats and ties, ladies in cocktail dresses, stoles and alligator clutch-purses.  Ashtrays on the table.  Rumaki appetizers. This is no-BS salad dressing that “Mad Men” ordered, followed by “I’ll have a bourbon and water and the lady will have a Vodka Martini, up”.  This dressing has been pretty much a family secret (except I think I’m the only one in the family that’s ever made it besides my Dad, who passed in 2000).  I had friends, girlfriends, girlfriend’s moms and others ask me for this recipe for years. Continue reading Danko's Dressing from the Copper Hills, Miami, AZ

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?

Buy Your Moto Guzzi Locally

Dealer sets up bikes right before he sells them so problems are reduced. If there are problems, dealer deals with them promptly. Customer gets bike that runs great and he is happy, so happy that he tells all his friends how great his bike is. People that ride with him see how many trouble free miles he puts on his bike and how well it goes in the real world. Very easy to imagine that over all these years of a dealer doing business that way, there would be a lot of Guzzi’s in the area.

— an excellent quote from the Wild Goose Chase Moto Guzzi forum about Moto International Moto Guzzi

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

And that’s why you should buy locally if you have the dealer that is of this quality — and Moto International does have some peers across the country.  If you get a good deal on your Guzzi from someone out of town that’s set up quick and dirty, what do you expect the local dealer to tell you when you bring it in?  Are you telling your friends to buy from him?  Are you buying from him?  If you come in with an emergency and he’s got 3 bikes on his lifts from local customers, what can you rightfully expect?
Don’t go cheap up front.  I know very dedicated dealers in Thousand Oaks, Woodstock IL and Phoenix AZ.  I have talked on the phone to dozens of others, notably Mr Field in helping me diagnose some Eldorado problems.  Spend some time doing your research and talk to your local dealer about his services and policies.  Chances are you live in a city, so you might have a choice of vendors.  Take your time, build some trust.

I probably paid more for my 1200 Sport than I would have if I had purchased one from the internet, but I solidified a friendship with a guy that “deserved” to sell me the bike.  It has already paid dividends in the ongoing service and the absolutely flawless set-up of the bike.  I’d rather give my friends money — I know its staying in the community, educating their kids and making my life incrementally richer.

The "Mean Starbucks" on Gloucester Road

Most of you know that I’m a huge fan of Starbucks.  They take care of their customers, their employees and really try to do the right thing with capitalism mixed in.  It probably isn’t completely perfect, but they have great coffee, good bites and great service.  I’ve made many friends at various Starbucks all over the United States, and frequented them in London because you know that you’re going to get good quality quickly.

Oh, but the Starbucks at Gloucester Road Tube Station just turns this on its head.  Three women running the place basically wanted you to get your coffee and get out.  I wanted to order some cookies for my daughter but she just moved on to the next customer. Everything was so abrupt, which was odd because it took forever to get my coffee.

When my wife took the empty half-and-half jar and put it on the counter, they just ignored it.  Didn’t even look at it.  When I put it closer to her she looked at me like I had landed a house on her sister.

We finally got the cream. No wonder the Espresso Bar next door was packed.

Redemption came a few days later at the Starbucks near Green Park Station.  Ah.  Just like home — a relaxing quick bite before the Trooping of the colors.

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!