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

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.

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 Guzzi California Vintage – Day 5 – The Mental Health Day.

This is the fifth in a series of articles about living with and riding a California Vintage from Moto Guzzi.  The previous one is here.

Beautiful day, well-worn leather jacket, full tank of gas.  Buddy, let's ride.
Beautiful day, well-worn leather jacket, full tank of gas.

Some work days are better than others…

I found myself halfway to Santa Barbara from my Northridge home, off Seaward Avenue at the Starbucks where I normally stopped and had a cup of coffee before continuing up the coast.  Some friends that I met in the morning were talking about their day, and I was sitting there thinking that I really didn’t want to go to work, but I knew if I went home, I would be painting, sawing or otherwise saddled with the responsibilities involved in fatherhood, matrimony or the restoration of a mid-century modern home that had already worn out my favorite table saw.

I’m sitting here smelling the ocean breeze, thinking about the ride up north to Santa Barbara and cranky about the fact that I had to turn the California Vintage back to the company in the next day.  This sucks.  I really have come to enjoy this bike and I wanted to take a couple more rides on a favorite stretch…

DUH.  Time for a Mental Health Day.

I said goodbye to my friends and decided to head south and get down to the PCH, and ride until I felt the need to be responsible again.  Would that get me to Ventura?  Who knows, maybe San Diego!  So the journey starts, on the perfect bike for this occasion, the Moto Guzzi California Vintage, with me at home on this wonderful machine and riding down the 101, taking Rice Road South with a full tank of gas, headed to the beach. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Day 5 – The Mental Health Day.

Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Commuting and First Impressions

Initial Impressions

 I Got up at 5 o’clock that Friday morning, knowing that I was going to ride the California Vintage to work. As stated in the last posting, I had to take the Breva in, but then it woujld be three hundred miles of riding on a real, honest-to-goodness sumbitchin made-for-the-long-road cruiser.

My Eldorado probably qualifies as a cruiser, but I think of it more as a “standard” because of the seating position and the usual lack of bags and windscreen.  My usual commuter is a Ducati ST2 Sport tourer since it’s all bagged up and will hold my 17″ Mac laptop. I had been riding around all last week on a Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport and having a blast.  But now it was time to cruise.

While the previous post put the California in context, this one is the “feel” post.  300 miles on the first day gave me a feel for the bike.  What I liked, didn’t like, etc.  Getting to ride through some diverse commuter roads gave me an impression of what the bike would be like when sitting on it day-to-day. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage – Commuting and First Impressions

Moto Guzzi California Vintage Review – Day 1 – Can't get off the bike!

Street Cred without the “wannabe”.

The Moto Guzzi California Vintage -- quintessential.
The Moto Guzzi California Vintage -- quintessential.

Moto Guzzi has more “cruiser street cred” than most people give it credit for. They’ve been around continuously since 1921; longer than anyone but Harley Davidson. But for Harley Davidson, Guzzi’s been building cruisers longer than anyone els — their first cruiser in the incarnation you see above coming out in 1967 with the V700.

Guzzi has always liked building “big” bikes, but we must adjust scale.  Italy, which was Guzzi’s biggest market for most of it’s life, had production street bikes with less than 100cc for decades — a bike above 300cc was considered “big”.  Guzzi was at the top of the heap early on, with production 500cc bikes that were reliable and sporting.  The 500cc Falcone of the 50s is an excellent example of this, a bike with incredible reliability, to the point where an American Guzzi Club member is an original owner of two, both ridden on close to a daily basis for more than 50 years!

The current “cruiser” platform is built around the laterally-mounted V-twin motor (originally 700cc, now 1100), running through an in-line, automobile-type transmission straight through to a drive shaft and bevel-drive final.  After more than 40 years, it’s a highly refined system.  The motor could best be described as a “two cylinder small-block, American V-8”.  This really isn’t a stretch.  The cam is in the vee, there is a conventional sump, it has a hemi-head with pushrods and rockers.  It also makes gobs and gobs of torque, is insanely easy to work on, and is dead-nuts reliable. Continue reading Moto Guzzi California Vintage Review – Day 1 – Can't get off the bike!

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

This is the ninth in a series of posts about the Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport. The previous posting is here.

Nine Days, 1080 miles

After nine days and more than 1000 miles, I possess a really good idea of what it’s like to live with the Breva 1200 Sport.  I’ve previously given reasons for why someone might want to purchase it, but I’d also like to give my observations with respect to what worked for me and how my riding style altered as I reeled in the miles.

1000 miles in less than 10 days, you're going to get some bugs!
1000 miles in less than 10 days, you

Not a “lean off” bike

On my Ducati ST2, I practice “lean off” turns from time to time as I ride it through some of the more aggressive stretches of roads in my area.  I know these roads well and remember their eccentricities to the point that I can work on my technique.  The big ST2 seat allows for movement of the rider around the bike. 

The Breva’s seat locked me in place.  Lean-offs were complex, and I found that I didn’t like the way that I upset the bike’s stance as I employed this technique.  For me, I made much quicker time by adopting a more “Hailwood” approach, keeping my body smooth and silent through the twisties.

The Breva “wants” to be ridden in it’s own way.  It’s good to know “how” a bike rides to decide if your “personalities” fit. I enjoy the diversity and investigation of different riding styles, so I don’t really have a dog in this hunt — but if you enjoy more focused techniques, I hope this helps you decide if the Breva 1200 Sport is for you.

Brakes and suspension tweaks really make it better

It makes a difference to adjust the brake/clutch levers to your style and hand size. Tweaking the suspension to your style/weight and road conditions makes the Breva a joy to ride.  Spending time reading the manual will make your ride happier.   Continue reading Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 Sport — 1000 plus miles, back to the factory!

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 – Day 4 – Monday Morning Commute

This is the fourth installment in the series.  The previous article is here.

I woke up late Monday Morning, nursing the remnants of a chest cold.  After drowning it with a couple of cups of coffee, I showered and threw my gear on for the 90-mile ride to work.  Bopping out the door and into the garage, the Breva 1200 waited, and I was ready to put my regular commute to the test, comparing this ride to my Ducati ST2, and other days when I take the ’72 Eldorado.  

The cavernous tank of the Breva had served me well, but after 200 miles of weekend jaunts it was on fumes. I hopped over to the Mobile station across the street and stuck some gas in it, cursing that I had forgotten the mileage so I wasn’t able to get an exact MPG value — I’ll do this later I promise.

Off to do battle with the cagers on my Northridge-to-Santa Barbara-run.  First leg of the journey is up Reseda Boulevard to the 118 freeway.  The traffic is backed up and I split lanes between the parked cars for a ways, but the wide stance of the bar/mirrors combined with not-quite-completely-caffienated drivers not paying attention got me thinking that taking it easy might be wise until I’m more at home with this bike.  After a few weeks with it, I estimate that the width of the Breva would be in lockstep with my “space”, and this would no longer be an issue.  Funny how the pulled back bars of my Duc give me a sense of “narrowness” even though I’ve got a full set of Nonfangos on the back. Continue reading Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 – Day 4 – Monday Morning Commute

Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 – Day 3 Tweaks and Tech Specs

This is the third installment in the series.  The previous installment is here.

After two weeks of solid riding every day, one rain storm and a possible job offer that would require a move to Chicago, I capitulated to my wife, Sheila, and stormed our house, cleaning out all the junk and stuff that I would not want to take on a move.  Benefits include a garage with enough room to park the bikes, a happy wife, and some time at the end of the day to tweak the bike’s suspension settings, go through the technical specifications, and jot down some thoughts with respect to what I would want in another bike (and who doesn’t want more bikes!) if it were to be my “go-to daily rider”.
Continue reading Moto Guzzi Breva 1200 – Day 3 Tweaks and Tech Specs