2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom: FIRST RIDE

Alan Cathcart | June 7, 2013

Piaggio Group management has now pulled another trigger on its corporate shotgun, firing the second round in its double-barreled revival of the historic Moto Guzzi marque.

After the debut in global showrooms last December of the born-again 1400 Touring member of its legendary California custom cult, now comes the relatively stripped-down but still pretty sumptuous 1400 Custom cruiser variant. This utilizes exactly the same chassis platform and new 1380cc big-bore engine as the Touring, but it’s clad in leaner, lower and especially lighter styling designed by Piaggio’s Miguel Galluzzi.

At $14,900, the butch-looking Guzzone (big Guzzi!) is $3090 less costly than the full-dress Touring model (Guzzi plans to produce 600 of the Touring models in 2013 and 3000 of the Customs) and is available in two color schemes – gunmetal grey or gleaming black.

We were fortunate enough to have a black one waiting for us outside the front door of Monte Carlo’s Fairmont Hotel, ready for a cruise along France’s Cote d’Azur – starting, of course, with a tour of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix circuit.

It takes less than a single 2.075-mile lap of Monaco’s track to realize that Moto Guzzi’s engineers have subtly transformed the character of this second new model. That’s with more than 20 detail changes compared to the Touring. However, there’s nothing too subtle about the most significant of these – namely the removal of the tourer’s windscreen, hard luggage, spotlights and other such high mileage accoutrements, leaving a bike that’s 48 pounds lighter than its Touring twin, with a kerb weight of exactly 660 pounds complete with a full 5.4-gallon fuel tank.

The much lighter Custom consequently accelerates notably harder, and thanks to its reduced bulk minus the screen and twin non-detachable 9.2-gallon panniers, is significantly more agile in changing direction, swinging from side to side through a series of third-gear curves with much greater abandon than I’d experienced three months earlier on the same roads on the heavier Touring model. That also means the brakes work even better, too – the new Guzzi Custom is a fine dynamic demonstration of the old axiom that less weight equals more performance.


For more Cycle News Standard motorcycle reviews, click HERE.

For more Moto Guzzi motorcycle reviews, click HERE.