Guzzi Adventure

I found this draft post on my phone.  It dates from May, 2012, and recounts my first day with the Moto Guzzi Bassa.  A lot led up to this decision and this purchase, and a lot of “adventures” have happened since.


I got up at 6 this morning, broke camp and was leaving at 6:45. My intent was to get breakfast somewhere in Carolina Beach, then head up to Hempstead to buy the bike. I got to the front of the state park and the gate was locked. The sign said it is locked from 10pm to 8am. So I had to wait over an hour, and skipped breakfast, making it to Hempstead on time.



The transaction went fine. The bike was in a little bit worse condition than I thought it would be, and honestly I would have probably passed if it were in Atlanta. But I went to these great length because I was “sold” on it, and it was still a Guzzi.  I will ascribe the rusted bolts and oxidized aluminum to the sea air, it  being coastal.  And it is a 12 year old bike after all.  It also had a ripped seat.   No biggie,  it’s a bike with luggage, a windscreen, aftermarket shocks and springs at both ends,  floorboards with the pegs included,  and a second handlebar  and cheap aftermarket cafe windscreen. The bolts and aluminum are something I can fix, and the seat – I figured I would get a Corbin eventually anyway.   (It turns out to be comfortable enough.)

Taken at camp site, Dreher Island State Park

Taken at camp site, Dreher Island State Park

Stopped in Whiteville for lunch – only about an hour down the road.  A couple of towns later I was stopping at a traffic light when my foot went to the brake and found nothing – right thru the floor and I coasted through the light.  Immediately I pulled over, and walked around the bike expecting to see brake fluid gushing from somewhere.  I didn’t see a  problem, so continued on with the front brake only – which is almost like no brake at all.  (This bike has one of the front disks linked with the rear brake, progressively controlled by the rear brake pedal.  This is the main stopping power of the bike, and very effective.  By itself the remaining front brake is almost useless – or has that classic vintage bike feel.)

A few towns later, outside Marion, SC I decided to pull over again to see if I needed to call AAA or find a shop. This time I spotted the culprit : a bolt had vibrated loose from the left front brake caliper, and it had slipped off the disc and was swinging freely on the fork. I googled a bike shop and found one 10 miles away in Florence. When I arrived, they were closed Mondays.  The next closest one was a Harley shop.  It was 3:15 and they close at 4.  I got there at 3:45.  They were able to help me out by reattaching the caliper and switching the bolt to the other hole so that it would stay put.   But they did not have a metric bolt that size for a replacement.  They directed me to the nearest auto parts store for that.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the fresh oil spots on the floor under the Harley I pulled in next to.   I did note the scale and proportion of both biked were similar, and well as the patina on the aluminum cylinder heads.   The Harleys look so big going down the road, but the Guzzi doesn’t feel as big in person.

I found a  Car Quest for a (bright, hex head) bolt, then a Lowes for a couple of wrenches and a tube of lock tite. By the time I was back on the road it was 5 pm.  I jumped on I-20 and headed east at 80.

Few exits later the bike started to stumble and sputter. The trip odo read 180. It’s a 5 gallon tank but I have no idea if or how the reserve works. Supposedly there is a light on the dash, which did not come on, but I have no idea if there is a petcock.  I coasted in to the next gas station and filled it up with premium. It took 4.2 gallons, which means I was running on fumes. I also checked the manual, and it said to use 97 octane. The premium here is 93, but the Europeans use a different method.  After gassing up it seemed to run fine.IMG_1619

So another few exits later, as I’m going through Columbia during Monday evening rush hour, it again starts to stumble and miss. I pull over and am able to coax I back to life by revving.  I ride for a short while, then pull off.  I add a gallon ( I’ve come 63 miles since the last fillup) and add half a bottle of STP octane booster.  By now it is 7 pm and I am at least 3 hours from home with only 90 minutes of light left. Deciding to throw in the towel rather than ride home in the dark with the bike acting up, I google for a state park. The one I found nearby took a 15 mile roundabout ride to get to, but at least it was scenic. Now I am here, swinging in a hammock on an island in the middle of a lake, surrounded by old people in pop-up campers with tiny dogs.  The last thing – only thing – I had to eat was the steak and cheese omelet for lunch.

A few thoughts in the engine problems. It did stumble and miss a few times on the last leg. Especially at low idle or when lugging at lower revs. Perhaps I fucked something up by letting fuel injectors run on fumes. That was the first time it happened. I thought I remembered someting about not doing that. Or was that diesel?

Or somehow I fowled the spark plugs?  Are the guzziz prone to this? Big block v twins in general? The other Guzzi I looked at had several spare spark plugs on board, as if replacing them on the go was fairly commonplace. nd the guy that sold me this one tossed in a few spares as well.  I’ve never had to do that in either of the Suzukis, only at shop service intervals. But of all the options I hope it’s that – it’s the easiest fix.

Another possibility is some faulty electronics. A bad ECU perhaps. I also noticed the turn signals flashing erratically since the engine missing started.

I just remembered that this bike supposedly has a power commander. It was mentioned in the for sale copy, but the guy did not mention it when I was buying the bike.

More later – I need to post the questions to the forums.


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