It appears I have skipped several blog posts – the ones where I bought a Moto Guzzi, the adventure of riding it back from Wilmington NC after buying it essentially sight unseen, the fixing it up, and the selling of the V-Strom. Maybe later.
Sunday was my first real ride in the mountains since I have the bike set up the way I like. More of a shakedown ride. The stock handlebars had too much sweep which put my hands at a weird angle, were chrome, and had a definite cruiser look. I have since replaced them with bars off of a V-Strom – black, lower, (though not as flat as some others I tried), with less rise and sweep angle. I am going for more of a “roadster” look with a sportier riding position. To that end I added a pair of Triumph Scrambler fork gaiters, and replaced the stock floorboards with footpegs. What a fiasco that was – don’t ask what the price of Original Equipment Manufacturer Piaggio-sourced washers cost.
Chrome mirrors on black bars are goofy looking, in my opinion. So I have been obsessing on the mirrors. Currently I have it equipped with some cheap black Emgo standard rectangles, but also am toying with variations of bar-end mirrors. Seems like bar-ends are the populist choice, of late. Part of the obsession has led me to appreciate the detailing of control clusters of Harleys, including their mirrors. Still trying to find mirrors that I like and look good on the bike, but don’t want to commit in case I change the bars again. [Edit: Currently looking at these – very similar to Harleys and current model Triumphs]
Sunday’s ride: Delightful. This bike certainly does what it needs to do, in the mountains. While my last two bikes rode, sounded and felt like tailor-made apps for twisty-carving, this bike looks, feels and sounds like a mechanical beast. The valve clatter and exhaust note perfectly complement each other. The secret twisty-carving proficiency makes it a sleeper (thanks to the race-derived Tonti frame) – not that it’s a contest. I am still a little tentative about how much speed to throw in to the corners, being a much heavier bike than the 650ies, and trying to rely on engine decel as much as possible. The linked brakes on this bike work like magic glue, but I am unsure how to manage them while throwing through corners.
I managed to hit a sweet spot of nearly no traffic, once north of Helen. The stretch from the US-19/GA-60 split to Woody Gap was perfection, as was the often-forgotten GA-348 over Hogpen Gap. All the best roads in GA cross the Appalachian Trail, it seems.
Parked next to “real American iron” in Helen, this bike looks small and odd. I dare say, on one level the Guzzi is “merely” a Euro-standard disguised as a cruiser via a teardrop tank and flared fenders. Built on what was once a race frame, mind you. It does hold a steady line through the twisties. At one stop, a typical (middle aged, trophy-wifed) Viper driver came up to me and said it was an “awesome bike” and he had not seen one (assuming Guzzi) in 20 years. We were at the Road Atlanta exit, so lots of sports cars, car-buffs and bikes around.
Minuses: Still sorting out the handlebar position. A slight stretch for the reach combined with the slightly higher footpegs make it uncomfortable for the long highway haul, okay for the roads, and perfect for the mountains. I have a set of 1″ x 1″ offset handlebar risers I may try out, but would deduct huge style points on a “custom” bike, even if going for a ratty look. Highway speeds (65+) are also tiring against the wind, having grown used to the V-Strom’s windshield. Road speeds are pleasant. This configuration is an experiment, and I reserve the right to convert it back to full cruiser mode 😉