Moto Guzzi Cal­i­for­nia 1400 El­do­rado

Moto Guzzi Cal­i­for­nia 1400 El­do­rado

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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.

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