Wednesday, June 8, 2011


First Ride on the Guzzi B-1100

“IF YOU TALK ABOUT IT ENOUGH, pretty soon you’re going to have to do something about it or shut up.” Those, or, at least that sentiment would be echoed by many friends and loved ones since the bug to obtain a “roadster” style bike bit a while back. A roadster is sometimes called a “standard” or a “naked” motorcycle, having no fairing to deflect wind, bugs, ice crystals and whatever else the road might afford. Some folks will put a windshield on a naked bike to modify airflow and to protect from such detritus matter.

I’d been smitten with the Ducati GT 1000 since I rode a Ducati with a similar engine up the coast from the Golden Gate to Jenner a year or so back. The bike handled the two-lanes of Highway 1 with both vigor and grace. Its exhaust system bore a musical roar that seemed both symphonic and powerful. I enjoyed the ride.

Thus, the GT 1000, with a more mature seating position - a little less cramped in the legs - seemed like a nice supplement to my heroic BMW Adventure model. But just as I got the courage and figured I could part with the cash, Ducati discontinued this popular model (why?) and used ones were not coming on the market.

My next affliction was attached to the traditionally styled Triumph Bonneville T-100. Reminiscent of Triumph's flagship of the 1960s, when a model came out with a cream over chocolate paint livery, it was all I could do to not write a check and mail it off to England. One of my riding partners, Sam, has a similar model. Under him, it tackles roads in a nice rhythmic manner with its motor providing a soft staccato background. Hard to imagine a better way to spend an afternoon.

I went to the local Triumph dealer and sitting on the floor was a Moto Guzzi Breva with just less than 10,000 miles on it. The asking ticket would be far less than either the Duc or the Bonne and the thing looked brand new. I’d driven a similar model a month before and was impressed by Guzzi’s ability to build character and personality into something that was simply a collection of metals, plastics and rubber. It sounded Italian, like an aria. It handled as well as my BMW, but its bucketed seating made the ride seem more intimate. Somehow.

THERE ARE NOW TWO EUROPEAN MOTORCYCLES sitting in my garage right now: the Beemer and the Goose. Yesterday’s first ride on the Breva took me on area roads I know well roads but that seemed different as I huddled over the pulsing V-shaped twin. The wind whispered past my helmet and air-conditioned the ventilated summer jacket I wore this day. Having come to me with fresh Metzler tires, the machine seemed to invite sweeping curves, and had I been more fluent in Italian, I would have understood her pleas that I not take I-80 home from up the hill. As I raced down the interstate, I could tell that such doings were not this machine’s forte. But then, they’re not mine either. Good fit.

Night fell. I took out the garbage and detoured past the black beauty to sit on her for a spell. I also did so between innings. And before retiring for the evening.

IT IS HARD TO EXPLAIN - but also unnecessary (bordering on the ridiculous - because "Who cares?") -  to explain why having two or three or a collection of motorcycles is something people do. Each bike, like each person we meet, has its own personality and character. They all go down the road on two wheels, but they all do so with nuanced differences that justify (make that “rationalize”) the urge to have another one sitting there.

I can’t wait for my next multi-day tour on the BMW. But I know that, while out of town, I’ll be looking forward to a quick sprint through the foothills on the Guzzi when I return.

© 2011
Church of the Open Road Press

No comments:

Post a Comment