This is Moto Guzzi’s 90th year (at least for another couple weeks), and it was nearly a year ago that my good friend Melissa MacCaull, Senior Marketing Manager at Piaggio, asked me to write a blog in celebration of this milestone. As some may know though, my home burned to the ground on Dec 23, 2010, and recovering from that has dominated most of my attention in 2011. However, having finally moved into our new house on Thanksgiving Day, I can turn my focus to some of the many things I have let slide thru the course of this year. A side benefit of this delay is that I also added another Moto Guzzi to my collection, so I have even more to blog about!
In truth, I have historically been a BMW guy. They’re somewhat out of the ordinary, incredibly reliable and have a long, rich history. I really didn’t know that much about Moto Guzzi until I had the opportunity to visit the factory and museum in Mandello del Lario to shoot a segment for the TV show Corbin’s Ride On in 2006.
I was blown away! The place was absolutely dripping with history, being the site of Moto Guzzi production since their beginning in 1921; two years earlier than BMW! The museum was really impressive too, chronicling a long history of innovation and craftsmanship.
I became hooked on Guzzis tho when I went from the factory down to Catania, Sicily where there was a Breva 1100 waiting for me. There was also a Nevada 750 for my son, Sam, and a Griso for my friend and motorcycle photojournalist, Neale Bayly. We rode Sicily for four days and shot an episode of Trippin’ on Two Wheels. During this time I really grew to love the sound and feel of these bikes; and this from a Beemer guy!
There are actually a lot of similarities between Beemers and Guzzis, but while BMW’s claim to fame is rooted in German left-brained precision, Guzzis really seem to have a soul and the V-twin engine is akin to a beating heart. I knew I had to have one, and I started my search as soon as I got back to the States.
I found what I was looking for on eBay, a beautifully restored ’67 V-7, in North Carolina, and I bought it sight-unseen. We were shooting an episode of My Classic Car in that neck of the woods so we drove there, rather than fly, and after the shoot I went to pick up the bike. I didn’t have a trailer, so the plan was to ride it the 400 miles back to Evansville, IN and have the production van as my support vehicle. In general that’s not a particularly smart thing to do, and I must admit that the first 20 miles were fairly nerve-wracking as I was intensely listening to every sound and analyzing every vibration. However, she seemed so solid that soon I pretty much pinned the throttle, and it was rock & roll the whole way home.
I love this bike, and it gets a lot of attention where ever I go. It’s as bullet-proof as any of my Beemers and even more uncommon. It was so solid that when we decided to shoot the sixth episode of Trippin’ here in the US and do it on vintage bikes, this was one that was chosen to make the trip.
Neale had the honor of riding the Guzzi, which he affectionately referred to as Mother Goose while Sam & I rode a couple of my other Beemers. We covered 1000 miles in four days and shot a television episode; not a small task. The bikes all ran flawlessly and frankly performed better than we did.
The V-7 is great fun, but a bike that I have always lusted for is the Moto Guzzi V10 Centauro. Designed by Italian architect, Luciano Marabese, in honor of Moto Guzzi’s 75th anniversary, I think this is one of the most beautiful motorcycles ever built. I will say that this is a “love-it-or-hate-it” bike, and there are those that don’t share my enthusiasm for the design. But to each his own, and I definitely wanted to make one my own!
After several years of searching, I finally found exactly what I wanted; a low mileage ’98 in yellow & anthracite that was bone-stock except for a performance chip, a set of Mistral carbon fiber pipes and a bikini fairing. Spectacular!
This was actually another eBay find but it was located in New Hampshire. With winter coming on, I felt that was a bit far to attempt to ride back to Evansville so I wisely had it shipped to me. When it arrived, it was even more stunning than I had expected and with a sound that is music to my ears.
I am now up to ten bikes, but my two Guzzis have a special place in my heart. Few companies, especially Italian ones, have stood the test of time as Moto Guzzi has. It is a proud and storied marquee and may its next 90 years be as rich as its first. Moto Guzzi forever!!!
Host, My Classic Car on SPEED
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