Guzzi set their sights on the States with a big, bold car­bon-clad bag­ger…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By: Roland Brown Pho­tog­ra­phy: Mi­la­gro (Cervetti/zam­poni)

Bruce Wayne's new Moto Guzzi and first test of Har­ley's eight-valve tourist.

MOTO GUZZI’S MAR­KET­ING peo­ple got a shock when they in­ter­viewed V-twin riders in the USA – the firm’s big­gest po­ten­tial mar­ket – and dis­cov­ered that not only had most never rid­den a Guzzi, they didn’t even re­alise Italy’s old­est mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer still ex­isted. Hence the MGX-21 Fly­ing Fortress: a bag­ger fea­tur­ing acres of car­bon­fi­bre with red high­lights plus an über-trendy 21-inch front wheel, also shrouded in car­bon. The Fortress is as loud and Amer­i­can as an Ital­ian bike could ever get: shaped in Cal­i­for­nia (at Pi­ag­gio’s Pasadena de­sign stu­dio), named af­ter the Boe­ing B-17 bomber and con­ceived mainly to boost Guzzi’s pro­file State­side. Be­neath the car­bon – which is also used for the petrol tank and pan­nier cov­ers, belly-pan and front fen­der – the MGX is a de­riv­a­tive of the now dis­con­tin­ued Cal­i­for­nia Tour­ing. It uses the same 1380cc, air-cooled en­gine, which de­spite the sticky out red cylin­der heads is un­changed – the num­bers fo­cus on gen­tle low-rev torque and a max of 96bhp at 6500rpm. All of which means that de­spite its Amer­i­can for­mat and new-worldly look, the MGX feels ev­ery bit a Moto Guzzi, at least in a straight line. As be­fore there are three rid­ing modes, still named in Ital­ian, plus an ad­justable trac­tion con­trol sys­tem. And as be­fore the trans­verse lump’s sweet throt­tle re­sponse and abun­dant midrange torque means you hardly need them, although the slightly sharper pick-up in Ve­loce (Fast) makes the bike feel a touch more lively. The Fortress is en­joy­ably smooth and long-legged at main road speeds, when its stan­dard-fit cruise con­trol is handy. As a tourer it has prom­ise: range should be close to 200 miles, com­fort is good, the sharply styled half-fair­ing gives wel­come pro­tec­tion, and the

pan­niers, which come with in­ner bags, are big enough to be use­ful. But be­ing tall, I found the low screen gen­er­at­ing tur­bu­lence that drowned out the Blue­tooth-en­abled sound sys­tem above 50mph. The Fortress also cor­ners with Guzzi’s tra­di­tional en­thu­si­asm, helped by a steel frame that is strength­ened over the Cal­i­for­nia’s, and by sus­pen­sion that is well con­trolled, and in­cor­po­rates a re­mote preload ad­juster for the twin rear shocks. There’s strong stop­ping power too, from the red-fin­ished Brembo front calipers. But at town speeds that gi­gan­tic car­bon-clad front wheel feels like a fash­ion move too far, be­cause its weight makes the 340kg-plus Fortress about as wieldy as a fully laden bomber. Guzzi have de­vel­oped a spe­cial steer­ing damper that stops the wheel flop­ping by in­creas­ing re­sis­tance as the bars are turned. But this re­sults in a slightly awk­ward slow-speed feel that shorter riders seemed es­pe­cially wary of, de­spite the bike’s ultra-low 740mm seat. Most would prob­a­bly be bet­ter off with Guzzi’s glitzier El­do­rado or less bold Au­dace, both of which are more man­age­able as well as less ex­pen­sive than the £17,336 MGX. Which is just as well, be­cause only a hand­ful will be avail­able, from just four UK deal­ers. Guzzi’s car­bon-clad cre­ation won’t sell in big num­bers in the States, ei­ther, but if it raises the old firm’s pro­file there it will have done its most im­por­tant job.

‘The Fortress is en­joy­ably smooth and long-legged at main road speeds… as a tourer it has prom­ise’

Holy car­bon bag­ger...

Hello Amer­ica: Guzzi re-in­tro­duce them­selves to the Amer­i­cans in some style Clean and clear clocks keep it con­tem­po­rary Born in the USA or Bat out of Hell? The Bat Cy­cle meets Darth Vader

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