Moto Guzzi California 1400 Eldorado
Moto Guzzi California 1400 Eldorado
The US Cruiser market, while not exactly what it once was in terms of volume, still accounts for a considerable number of motorcycles each and every year. Moto Guzzi wants its share and the Eldorado is the tool it plans to use. At 1380cc, the 90-degree donk is the largest v-twin manufactured in Europe, with a six-speed gearbox off the back and shaft drive to the rear wheel. The massive, flexibly-mounted power plant is cooled not by water but a combination of oil and air, and shoves out an under-stressed 96hp at 6,500 rpm. There’s an impressive array of gadgetry, including cruise control, 3-stage traction control, with a choice of three engine maps: Tourismo, Veloce, and Pioggia (rain). Chassis-wise, the Eldorado has received a tweak over its stablemates, with asymmetrical triple clamps that produce an extra 1 degree of rake (to 33º). Combined with the 16 inch wheels, this results in 144mm of trail, and Moto Guzzi says this gives a much sharper steering response (over the California Touring model which uses 18 inch wheels). Braking is amply controlled by Brembo 320mm floating discs with 4-piston radial callipers at the front and a 282mm fixed rear disc with Brembo floating 2-piston calliper, both with standard ABS.
In terms of styling, there’s certainly a family resemblance that harks all the way back to the 1972 850 Eldorado, only bigger, much bigger. At 329kg ready to roll, this is no skinny teenager. It’s heavy, and it’s wide. At the front end, a very distinctive head light (Moto Guzzi called it ‘gem-shaped’) provides the illumination, with a big, round instrument that not only gives you the usual information on speed, revs, warning info and so on, but links via Bluetooth to become first best mates with your mobile phone.
So, let’s climb aboard. Actually, flop in would be more accurate, since the seat is only 740mm off the ground, and there’s even a 20mm lower option. I like the seat. It’s wide and very supportive, and the big, swooping handlebars are in the right place to complement not only the seating position, but the cruiser styling. The engine throbs into life, as leisurely as a tug boat, and choofs away from side to side while you pull on your gloves. The 1400 will virtually idle away from standstill and gears are engaged almost inaudibly and smooth as silk once you learn to take your time with the changes. Brakes are excellent, especially given the weight they need to haul down. There were no motorways in my schedule, just plenty of Blue Mountains country roads, which are not noted for their smoothness. The Eldorado goes around corners without complaint and tracks well and true, the front forks seemingly swallowing the ripples without undue fuss. The rear was somewhat of a different proposition. Compression damping, which is not adjustable, is certainly on the stiff side, and the spring pre-load, as received, was too heavy. While this would not be an issue on smooth roads, it certainly is on country stuff. On my second ride, Mrs Editor came along to handle the photography. She’s a seasoned passenger, is Mrs Editor, and I value her opinion, not being much of a pillion myself. Let’s just say she was not entirely thrilled, making the objective comment that the relationship between the fairly meagre seat (pad) and the forward-mounted pillion footrests placed undue load on one’s posterior region. The rather harsh rear suspension, already noted, also came up for comment. Food for thought here, if the Eldorado is to be used two-up for any length of time. I wonder if there is an electrically-adjustable suspension model in the planning?
If cruising is your cup of tea, the Eldorado will certainly stand out from the herd. That big, throbbing twin will gobble up the miles uncomplainingly, and the quality of appointments cannot be faulted. Just watch out for the potholes.