Thursday, May 9, 2013


That’s Italian for “mojo”

(c) PBS
Constantly on the lookout for a new-to-me riding experience, the idea of a cruiser has winded its way into my thoughts.  The urge jump-started again the other night when PBS introduced a series on the US Constitution featuring Peter Sagal from NPR’s  “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” Sagal cruises the nation’s highways on a custom painted Road King.  This got me to thinking that Harley Davidson, the standard against which all cruiser model bikes are judged, must make a pretty good mount.  Which, of course, they do.

Over time, mine eye has been drawn to Victory’s big V-Twin Cross Roads Classic.  Victory is America’s non-Harley cruiser producer.  The Classic is a beautiful bike you sit in, not on, cuddling your butt in a way that invites day upon day of long-distance adventure.  It’s American, so that’s cool, and it’s not a Harley making it somewhat unique which is also cool.  Plus, people who have ‘em, love ‘em.

Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda all make Vee style cruisers, each of which requires a discerning eye in order to distinguish it from a Milwaukee product although the true Harley guys certainly know a poser when it putters up on them.  These metrics are probably less costly to maintain than the American iron.

I was disappointed when BMW discontinued their outside-the-box boxer 1200C series several years ago.  BMW’s iconic horizontally opposed engine made the “C” one-of-a-kind.

I’ve always liked Triumph’s take on the cruiser format as embodied in the Rocket III.  Big, powerful, much different than a Harley.  It was easy to picture myself visiting far-flung corners of the country on one of these.

Recently, Honda introduced a plastic-and-weight-stripped-away version of the Goldwing.  Hefty, but looking leaner, it proposes a competitive alternative to the Rocket.  Perhaps less temperamental than the Brit – which, I’m told, isn’t temperamental at all – and with a more robust dealer network.

So Harley has some pretty and legitimate competition, each of which I’ve looked at, sat upon and thought about longingly.  But just not longingly enough.

Today, however, I viewed, sat on and barely walked away from a cruiser with the uniqueness many a cruiser rider say he or she cherishes and a visual character – so elusive – most cruisers can only dream about.

(c) Moto Guzzi Americas
Admittedly, my introduction to Guzzi about two years ago shifted my thinking about things Italian.  Always a pleasing design, the “Fix It Again Tony” maxim distanced me from owning anything from Italy that came with wheels.  Then, while waiting for a tire change on my GSA, a BMW salesperson coaxed me into test riding a used Moto Guzzi Breva that had come to them with 9500 miles on it.  Now with nearly 16,000 on it, the B-1100 has become my preferred ride.  Sweet.  Comfortable.  Musical.  Eye-catching.  A bit quirky: Saab-like, someone said.   And most surprisingly to me: rock solid dependable.

Sitting on the Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom, twisting the inert throttle and squeezing various hand levers, I immediately pictured myself cruising life’s many highways on this sculpted example of Italian form, function, and emotion melded into a rolling piece of art.  The distances we would travel.  The vistas we would explore.  The admiring glances we would gather.  The stories we would…

(c) Moto Guzzi Americas
“Do you want me to crank it up?” asked the salesperson. “Maybe take it for a ride?”

“No,” I demurred.  I knew what would likely be the result (including sleeping in the garage with it.)  Still, I sat on the thing for a long, long time.

Eventually, I drove home on my own, paid for, example Italian art: my beloved little Breva.  And I was perfectly satisfied.  Almost.

© 2013
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. Come on Brilliant, take it for a spin. This is one cool ride!
    Btw...damn the recently added captcha

  2. Captcha only exists because A-hats exist. An unfortunate part of our digital age...

  3. That Guzzi isn't a cruiser... Or at least it's not just a cruiser. You had me worried with the Goldwing talk. I wanted to say, "Come on Bumpa, you're not THAT old!" But this, well this is a whole different story.

  4. If I thought I could have survived bring one home, I'da asked for a test ride. This really is an exceptional looking machine, something the motorcycle press has confirmed with some actual seat time.

    And.... It's Italian!