Bella Moto Guzzi! This iconic Italian brand. Over thirty years ago Moto Guzzi made a name for itself with the Moto Guzzi V7 making history by being chosen as bike of choice by the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) and it was back in 1971 Moto Guzzi began to manufacture the ‘California’. The California came in four engine sizes ranging from the 750cc, 850cc, 1000cc and 1100cc models and was not only the choice of the LAPD but the iconic bike was also the bike of choice of many of the rich and famous. A child of the 70’s, I too have fond memories of when I first laid eyes on a California and remember stopping and just gazing at this bike which was like no other, it just oozed style whilst at the time looking so big and let me tell you the California has lost none of its charm, it seemed every time the bike was parked in the street people would just stop and look. Whilst riding you would notice people looking in their revision mirrors and I would often be pulled up and asked about the bike with many of the older punters also having a soft spot for the iconic brand.
I think Moto Guzzi has got it right with the new range by keeping those retro qualities everyone loves whilst using todays most advanced technologies to create a motorcycle with all that is expected of this iconic brand and for a bike around $20,000 it represents extraordinary value for a bike of this pedigree.
The California 1400 boasts the largest twin cylinder engine made in Europe and produces a respectable 120Nm @ 2750rpm and is the first custom in the world to be equipped with MGCT traction and multimap ride by Wire technology. Moto Guzzi has come up with a mapping system that allows the rider to select a power curve for the riding conditions and traction. The rider can choose one of the three option settings either touring, sport or rain by holding the start button on the hand controls. The California is also the world’s first motorcycle fitted LED DRL daylight running lights similar to those used by high end car manufacturers.
The bike is ultra-smooth and it is only when stationary at stop lights do you notice any vibration, but it’s a welcome vibration and only in the front end and through the handle bars, a reminder of the power of the beast. When it comes to travel the bike is very smooth even on the roughest of sealed roads, a trait Moto Guzzi has attributed to the California’s new double cradle frame with elastic support and all new cardan final drive is both quiet and responsive, as with the gear box and gear changing. The Elastic Engine System, this is where the powertrain is fitted to the frame by means of an elastic- kinematic support system which is made up of a front rocker, two side rockers and a series of rubber dampeners which allows the engine to shake around its own centre of gravity, filtering out vibrations.
As mentioned, the overall look of the bike is what one would expect from the Italian manufacturer both stunning and with the Moto Guzzi traditional transversal Vtwin heads protruding each side of the bike, somewhat intriguing to many. The east west displacement of the motor is a well-known identifying signature of Moto Guzzi. Much of the California styling is inherited from many of the bikes ancestors.
The California’s fuel tank holds 21 litres and has two side panels mounted to it with a cut out section that mould themselves over the extruding heads. The California’s wheelbase is now 125mm longer @ 1685 than its predecessor the California 90. The rear guard is fitted with dual LED taillights with indicators. The polygon shaped head light is nice and large and combined with the front end with its black 46mm front forks look solid and sturdy whilst also adding that retro charm also look somewhat menacing and mean. Moto Guzzi has chosen to reintroduce their original ribbed designed light weight alloy rims to the California 1400, 200/60-16 on the rear and 130/70-18. The sitting position on the bike is just right and the memory foam seat is very comfortable. The forward controls are well positioned as are the floor boards. Gear shifting is very quiet and effortless and the gear selection is displayed on one of the best instrument panels on the market, the 150mm circular panel encases an analogue rev tacho and a multifunction speedo display in the centre. The covered hand grips and bullhorn handlebars are a new edition and the electric blocks have been mounted on the right side and cruise control fitted.
The California 1400 frame is made from high strength tubular steel with oversize headstock and large diameter swing arm, steering angle (rake) is open at 32 degrees and the trail 155mm and the 1685mm wheelbase combination is ridged and responsive through the twisty stuff whilst still having the comfort of a cruiser. The 46mm stanchion front forks are another new addition and allow 120mm of wheel travel. On the rear is a pair of adjustable chromium shock absorbers.
The California 1400 broke with its 30 year tradition and has fitted Brembo 4 piston radial callipers, 320mm floating discs on front and a single 282mm disc on the rear and a 2 piston Brembo floating calliper on the rear and ABS.
The California 1380cc transverse 90 degree V Twin power plant is an evolution of the popular Quattrovalvole and uses the same stroke as its 1151cc predecessor but has displacement of 1380cc through a record breaking 104mm bore and is fuel by a single Magneti Marelli 52mm throttle body with motorised action and puts out 96HP (71KW) at 6500RPM. The new four valve heads have an overhead cam in each bank and roller rockers to reduce any friction lost. The transmission is a 6 speed with dry single disc with built in flexible coupling and reduced activation load combined with the Cardan final drive (shaft) gives the California 1400 one of the most fluent, smooth and responsive rides this old biker has ever ridden.