The Moto Guzzi California Custom is the Touring version's leaner, meaner brother. And we'd like it even better if it had a supercharger strapped on to that V-twin engine...
The new Moto Guzzi California 1400 is one touring bike that we actually quite like. It’s smart, stylish and very contemporary, and has an air of decadent luxury about it which adds to the bike’s charm. We also like the ‘naked’ version – the California Custom – which does away with the windscreen and side panniers for a more stripped-down, bare-basics look that flat out works. “This was a big project, the first completely new Guzzi for many, many years. We were not just doing a new Moto Guzzi, we were doing a new California, which is an icon not just for Guzzi but for the whole of motorcycling. So, it was a lot of pressure,” says Miguel Galluzzi, who heads the Piaggio Group Advanced Design Centre in Pasadena, California, in the US.
“The California 1400 is a balancing point between tradition and the future. The design was intended to be reminiscent of the traditional California design, with the sleek lines of the fuel tank, the curved handlebar, the chromium passenger grab handle on the Touring and the long mudguards. At the same time the new 1400 was to be more modern, more comfortable, more hospitable, richer and more sumptuous than the previous model. So a style was born which tends, I believe in a balanced way, towards tradition, which we did not want to forget on one hand, and on the other to the innovative and advanced spirit that a modern day Moto Guzzi must have if it wants to aim for the top,” says Galluzzi.
“We wanted to exploit the lines of its engine – an engine which is the only one of its kind in the world deserved to be left as visible as possible. The engine, which is so typical of Moto Guzzi, became a true aspect of the California’s design, which explains the choice to trim back the tank side fairings, in order not to cover the cylinder heads. The most attractive view is from behind – the two cylinders can be seen emerging, no, exploding from the fuel tank. This is a clear representation of the bike's character – an ultra-modern cruiser, splendid to ride at low speeds, but also ready for a bit of fun at a moment's notice. On a design level, it catches the eye with its powerful engine, which bulges from under the fuel tank. With its refined details and the style of some of its solutions, such as the light assemblies and the instrument panel, the California 1400 is one of the few bikes that manage to convey the impression of construction quality and truly exceptional attention to detail,” he adds.
“We didn’t just have to have a nice looking bike – it had to have a bit of sporty character, and ride like a Moto Guzzi. We didn’t have to make it ride like an RSV4, but it’s not like a regular cruiser where you just go straight,” concludes Galluzzi.
“The new California is one of the most technologically advanced motorcycles ever built. For the first time on a Moto Guzzi, an electronic Ride-by-Wire accelerator has been used, and it comes to us in a fully mature and reliable state. RbW is a essential for managing and taking the best advantage of modern engines. Dual channel ABS is also standard equipment on the California 1400, as well as performance traction control which can be adjusted to three different levels, and cruise control is also introduced. The new California is the only cruiser in the world with all three of these technologies,” says Romano Albesiano, head of the Piaggio Group Motorcycles Technical Centre.
“What truly sets the California apart from the competition is the absolute riding pleasure it offers. No cruiser in the segment is so much fun to ride, even in turns. 200-section rear tyre, 1685mm wheelbase, 1400cc engine, 46mm fork, weight of about 300kg – this is Moto Guzzi's interpretation of the modern cruiser – sumptuous, rich and exclusive, but also comfortable on long trips and fun in turns,” he adds.
“The Custom is the sportier, more aggressive and muscular interpretation of the California. It was born almost as an afterthought – since the technical foundation allowed for so much fun, we thought we'd make a lighter and sportier version. The result was a beautiful muscle bike, for young riders who use it primarily for one-up riding. And it is just one of the possible interpretations of this bike,” says Albesiano.