WORLD FIRST TEST ‘A bold Ital­ian take on an Amer­i­can dream’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes -

Moto Guzzi has kept us wait­ing two years for their MGX-21 Fly­ing Fortress – prob­a­bly so they could get the catchy name just right. The con­cept was re­leased at EICMA 2014 and the pro­to­type was re­vealed the fol­low­ing year. And now, fi­nally, we have it: an au­da­cious, bold Ital­ian take on an Amer­i­can dream… and it’s oh so good.

Cruis­ers are typ­i­cally an ex­er­cise in style – fun in straight lines but re­luc­tant cor­ner-carvers with mar­ginal brak­ing abil­ity. But Guzzi have taken that stereo­type and put an Ital­ian twist on it with pow­er­ful Brembo bakes, de­cent ground clear­ance and a mon­strous 1.4 litre V-twin (Guzzi claim it’s the big­gest V-twin in Europe). They have cov­ered it in car­bon fi­bre and slapped on a bang­ing sound sys­tem for good mea­sure. What we have is an Ital­ian prod­uct, gift-wrapped for an Amer­ica mar­ket, like Pizza Hut.

And it re­ally is specif­i­cally built for the US of A. Guzzi have put se­ri­ous ef­fort into get­ting it right for our friends over the pond. The firm say the Amer­i­can cruiser mar­ket is the most prof­itable seg­ment of the mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try and they want in. The bike was de­signed in the Pi­ag­gio Ad­vanced De­sign Cen­tre in Cal­i­for­nia, and Guzzi claim they vis­ited 12 dif­fer­ent cities and spoke to 3000 peo­ple to per­fect the de­sign.

The over­all shape is sleek. The in­te­grated sad­dle bags flow per­fectly and fol­low the lines of the twin ex­hausts. It’s a mix of black and car­bon with a dash of red on the cylin­der head cov­ers and Brembo calipers. The fin­ish­ing touches are sub­lime, like the Moto Guzzi em­blems on the seat, head­lamp and tank.

Fire the big V-twin into life and the bike snaps to the right, in­stantly re­mind­ing you that you’re on a Guzzi. It uses the same 1380cc, air-cooled twin from the pop­u­lar Cal­i­for­nia model, which is es­sen­tially the MGX’S donor ma­chine. Yank in the heavy clutch, click into first, pull away and the thing emits a deep rum­ble.

Vi­bra­tions are min­i­mal thanks to Guzzi’s ‘elas­tic-kine­matic en­gine mount­ing sys­tem’, which ba­si­cally floats the en­gine in the frame. The rid­ing po­si­tion is near per­fect. The bars are a com­fort­able reach, the pegs are for­ward but not far enough that your body is cupped, and the batwing fair­ing does a good job of de­flect­ing head­wind over the hel­met. It makes mo­tor­way rid­ing a cinch, es­pe­cially with the cruise con­trol func­tion.

The pow­er­ful twin pumps out 96.6bhp and this bag­ger’s car­ry­ing loads of low-down shove too. It hits peak torque at just 3000rpm, re­quir­ing con­tin­u­ous quick shifts for spir­ited rid­ing, but has shovel-loads of grunt avail­able for nor­mal rid­ing. There are three throt­tle maps to choose from: Ve­loce, Turismo and Piog­gia, which trans­lated are dy­namic, tour­ing and rain. Turismo proved to be the ideal set­ting for our warm weather rid­ing in Mi­lan, with the smoothest power de­liv­ery, while ve­loce was a lit­tle too sharp for the laid-back cor­ner­ing the MGX pro­motes (the MGX also comes with three-lev­els of trac­tion con­trol; sport, nor­mal, and rain, and the op­tion to switch it off com­pletely).

There are two four-pis­ton Brembo calipers up front and a twin-pot cali- per at the rear. The pow­er­ful set-up, com­ple­mented by ABS, is ex­cep­tion­ally good at bring­ing this freight train of a bike to an im­me­di­ate halt with a firm grab of the lever. And the beefy Kayaba sus­pen­sion does a good enough job of keep­ing the Fortress air­borne and sta­ble over hard bumps. I es­pe­cially like the way rear preload is ad­justable via an easy-to-use turn wheel.

It’s got it all, this Guzzi: power, tech­nol­ogy, flair and an ex­cel­lent chas­sis set-up. The only let down is the big 21in front wheel, which tar­nishes the han­dling and feels like a case of de­sign over func­tion. Guzzi claim they could get away with us­ing a 21in rim be­cause their Steer­ing As­sist mech­a­nism, which sim­ply acts like a steer­ing damper, stops the bars from flop­ping into cor­ners at low speed. But it still makes the steer­ing heavy and at times re­mote, re­quir­ing some mus­cle and a lot of trust when per­form­ing slow speed ma­noeu­vres. For the first half an hour it felt like the front tyre was filled with ce­ment. Thank­fully, as soon as we reached open, flow­ing roads the feel­ing dis­ap­peared.

Over­all, though, the MGX is im­pres­sive. It has more elec­tron­ics and giz­mos than a cruiser should, tonnes of power and torque with the brakes and sus­pen­sion to back it up. And it looks the part too with Ital­ian at­ti­tude. If Guzzi had gone for a smaller front wheel, it would have made the MGX-21 the com­plete pack­age.

‘What we have is a Ital­ian prod­uct, gift wrapped for an Amer­ica mar­ket, like Pizza Hut’

It might not be to every­one’s taste but there’s no doubt the Guzzi will stand out form the crowd

Dis­tinc­tive fair­ing has an air of Bat­mo­bile about it The MGX-21 ex­cels at laid­back cor­ner­ing

ANDY DAVID­SON STAFF WRITER andy.david­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

5 Bril­liant brakes There are two 320mm stain­less steel float­ing discs up front with four-pot Brembo ra­dial calipers. There’s also a twochan­nel ABS sys­tem. 1 Bags of room The MGX-21 Fly­ing Fortress fea­tures in­te­grated rigid bags in the tail. They can hold up to 58 litres worth of lug­gage, but are not big enough to take a full face hel­met. 2 A sound in­vest­ment The Au­dio sys­tem is pretty com­pre­hen­sive and in­cludes two loud­speak­ers, ra­dio, MP3 con­nec­tion, Blue­tooth, and is smart­phone com­pat­i­ble with USB and ipod con­nec­tions. 3 High tech spec The MGX comes with rideby-wire and three en­gine maps; Ve­loce, Turismo and Piog­gia (dy­namic, tour­ing and rain). It also comes with Moto Guzzi’s new cruise con­trol. 4 Car­bon class De­signed by Pi­ag­gio Ad­vanced De­sign Cen­tre in Cal­i­for­nia. It’s cov­ered in car­bon, in­clud­ing the front mud­guard, fuel tank pan­els, side pan­nier cov­ers and en­gine cover.

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