FROM THE USA TO THE REST OF THE WORLD
On the streets for more than forty years, the Moto Guzzi California is the most famous Italian bike in the world.
Its career began in 1970 when, after a series of stringent tests, the Moto Guzzi V7 Police won the selection to enter the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department). For the first time a foreign bike had been awarded a contract in America to supply the Police, beating out, in addition to the national manufacturer, the best English competition.
News of these stars & stripes uniformed Moto Guzzi bikes generated great interest in Europe as well, strengthening the excellent reputation that the V7 achieved with the 700 and Special versions. From the photographs of LAPD and Highway Patrol officers, however, it is clear that this Moto Guzzi V7 is decidedly different from the ones sold in dealerships: oversized saddle, bullhorn handlebars, platform footrests and an over-abundance of chroming.
These are elements that gave the V7 a popular Americanised style and stimulated a demand so strong that it convinced Moto Guzzi to begin factory production in 1971 with the name California.
Since then seven generations and four engine capacities (750, 850, 1000, 1100) have alternated in more than one hundred thousand units manufactured: a success.
THE LIFE OF A STAR
Well known by all, loved by many and literally revered by long distance riders, during its forty year career the Moto Guzzi California has patrolled the American freeways, escorted monarchs and presidents and been parked in the garages of cinema divas and rock stars becoming a reference point in motorcycle history.
More than any other model manufactured at Mandello del Lario, the California represents the values and strength of the Moto Guzzi brand: style, comfort, reliability and performance.
Success motivated by a rare quality: knowing how to reconcile the comfort and cargo capacity of a custom bike with the dynamic nature and performance of a powerful street bike.
COMPLETELY NEW ALL AROUND
Designing the heir to the most famous Moto Guzzi in the world meant taking on a great technological and economic challenge in order to replicate, like in 1971, the new reference point for the category. An impressive bike, exclusive, capable of enhancing the elements of nobility of a brand which is the symbol of 'made in Italy'.
Starting from the stylistic intuition of an innovative but recognisable design and coherent with the heritage of seven California generations manufactured until today, the main distinctive Moto Guzzi traits were redesigned with the most advanced technologies of the top European motorcycle group, achieving a series of results such as:
• The largest V Twin ever made in Europe, able to produce an explosive torque of 120 Nm at just 2750 rpm.
• The first custom in the world equipped with MGCT traction and multimap Ride by Wire technology, with the possibility of selecting three different power output curves: Turismo, Veloce and Pioggia.
• The first custom in the world with a headlight assembly equipped with LED DRL daylight running lights, like the system used on late model cars.
• A brand new double cradle frame equipped with an elastic support system capable of completely eliminating vibration transfer.
• A new cardan final drive, at the top of the category for smooth and quiet operation.
Even looking closely at any other detail of the new California 1400 Touring, from the wheels to the instrument panel, from the components to the quality of the paint and the assembly, the magnitude of the change is clear: this Moto Guzzi definitely represents a turning point in the history of the brand.
DESIGN: THE MODERN LINES OF A LEGEND
Surprising in the smallest details as well as in its components, the design of the new California Touring maintains a virtual continuity with its ancestors despite not having even one element in common with them.
The stylistic hints are in the saddle profile, the chromium grab handle and the side panels inspired by the T3, as well as a size ratio between the fuel tank and engine which favours the latter, precisely like the style of the V7 and V850 ancestors. This impression is fed above all by the ingenious fuel tank, made of metal, with a 21 litre central body and two side panels, where the Eagle logo is lodged, moulded over the powerful head guards of the new 1400 cc round head engine.
Nestled within the V formed by the twin cylinder engine, the fuel tank contributes to making the side view significantly lower and more slender, also due to the clear lengthening of the wheelbase which is now 1685 mm instead of the 1560 mm from the last California 90.
The impression is further accentuated by the horizontal flow of the shiny silencers which end at the rear mudguard, moulded over the impressive 200 tyre and equipped with a spectacular dual LED taillight assembly which also houses the turn indicators. The front view is no less spectacular with a complex surface headlight that has a polielliptical light equipped with DRL daylight running light illumination, an absolutely exclusive feature, making it immediately recognisable.
The particular polygon shape of the headlight dominates the luxurious front end, enriched in proper California tradition by the indispensable windshield and supplementary lights.
More than thirty years after the T4, lightweight alloy wheels reappear on the California 1400, now with an original ribbed design. The huge cross section of the 200/60-16 rear is striking, while the front mounts a more ordinary 130/70-18 size.
The 46 mm front fork is another reflection of its glorious ancestry: completely sealed by the imposing black “telescopes”, the style replicates the units which equipped the first V7 and V850 models. The riding cockpit is a perfect example of the marriage between design and technology that brings the new California to life. The instrument panel stands out for its attractive style and visibility, enclosed in a circular panel which is an impressive 150 mm in diameter with the analogue RPM indicator scale carved out along the outside of the multifunction, suspended full matrix display at the centre. The covered hand grips are also new, as well as the bullhorn handlebar and the electric blocks where, on the right hand the rider can, for the first time on a Moto Guzzi, engage the cruise control.
An accessory included in the luxurious factory equipment on the California Touring, which also boasts a prestigious two-tone saddle, the “Patrol” windshield, chromium supplementary lights, 35 litre side panniers, engine guard and pannier guard kits, as well as the electronic antitheft system.
Nevertheless, this wealth of standard equipment does not mean that you can't further modify your California Touring in line with your own aesthetic tastes and needs, taking advantage of the most complete accessories catalogue ever produced by Moto Guzzi.
High performance silencers, chromium and billet components, saddles of all types and materials.
Particular attention is given to the chromatic concept, developed on two evocative graphics: the Eldorado, white with dark ornamental lines on the tank, inspired by the California Highway Patrol versions, or Ambassador, which expresses the classic black with white lines similar to its origins, like the V7 and 850 California.
THE "ELASTIC" ENGINE
Moto Guzzi history is marked with ingenious and innovative technical solutions.
From the “elastic frame” designed by engineer Giuseppe Guzzi at the end of the 1920s, to the aerodynamic studies developed in the famous wind tunnel, from the 8 cylinder engine to the first transversal twin cylinder with cardan transmission all the way to the integral braking system.
Today, with the new California 1400, Moto Guzzi develops a new idea applied to the fitting of the powertrain to the frame, introducing the concept of the “Elastic Engine”.
The innovation, introduced to obtain a new standard in terms of riding, consists in fitting the powertrain to the frame by means of an exclusive elastic-kinematic supports system made up of a front rocker, two side rockers and a series of rubber dampeners which allow the engine to shake around its own centre of gravity, filtering out all the vibrations preventing them from being transmitted to the bike and the places where the rider and passenger come into contact with it.
In addition to guaranteeing a new standard of riding comfort, the new California's frame has its strong point in its dynamic performance, obtained by seeking maximum rigidity between an oversized headstock and large diameter swingarm.
Characterised by a high strength steel tubular structure, the California 1400 frame is a closed double cradle with typically custom dimensions: the steering angle is open at 32°, the trail is 155 mm while the wheelbase is that of a true free way cruiser: 1685 mm. These are dimensions that ensure stability and precision in direction changes and also, thanks to the low centre of gravity and the central position of the weight surprisingly agile handling for a bike of this size.
Sitting just 740 mm off the ground, a walking pace is all you have to reach in order to manoeuvre, with the ease and agility of a scooter, the powerful twin cylinder from Mandello, which responds to the slightest touch of the throttle, leaving the vibrations generated by the engine behind as a distant memory for those who rode the California of days gone by.
The more nostalgic rider may feel like something is missing, but all they need to do is leave the bike at idle speed on the stand to see it rock under the powerful action of the two 104 mm pistons, generating vibrations which disappear as soon as the throttle is touched. At a standstill the bike maintains, nay enhances, its "pulsating soul", transforming it into speed without tremors once in motion.
The innovations don't end here. The fork is also new, with 46 mm stanchions which, although in coherence with its custom style and the generous 120 mm travel, betrays its attitude toward high performance with the presence of radial mountings for Brembo four piston callipers.
On the other hand, a traditional solution was chosen for the rear suspension, where a pair of chromium shock absorbers with adjustable spring preload operates, while the choice of wheels goes against the trend for the category. Standing out with their “ribbed” design, the wheels are 18" in diameter on the front and 16" on the rear. The latter, thanks to a 6" cross section rim, mounts a showy “traffic light-burning 200/60” tyre. The California 1400 abandons, after thirty years, the famed integral braking system, definitively surpassed by the advantages of ABS and the power of a braking system which has never been seen before in this motorcycle class: Brembo radial callipers with 4 horizontally opposed pistons that grip a pair of perforated 320 mm floating discs on the front and a 282 mm disc on the rear gripped by a Brembo floating calliper with two parallel pistons.
1380 CC: THE LARGEST V2 IN EUROPE
Before the new California 1400 the record for engine size reached by the transverse 90° V twin engine was 1225 cc on the MGS01, basically a champion racing bike.
The new California engine, an evolution of the popular “Quattrovalvole” (Four Valve) pushes well beyond this and, using the same stroke as the 1151 cc engine, reaches a displacement of 1380 cc through a record breaking bore of 104 mm.
However, this is not a simple act of mechanical hypertrophy, but an engine which has been entirely redesigned from the external layout to the internal components and all the way down to the electronics.
Aesthetically it looks like an aluminium sculpture, essential in its lines, but expressive in its mechanical content: the size of the head guards shows off the impressive displacement, while the shiny, Moto Guzzi silk-screen printed valve cover and the tight finning convey the great attention to construction detail.
After the 750cc small block this 1380cc big bore is also fuelled by a single Magneti Marelli throttle body, in this configuration increased to a 52 mm diameter and equipped with motorised action, which replicates the advantages in terms of fluid-dynamic performance which can be obtained by the single "Y" manifold, now arranged behind new long intake ducts which increase torque at low RPM.
Making its début on a Moto Guzzi and in the custom segment, is the ride by wire
electronic engine management system. This technology allows the rider to choose from three engine management mappings: Turismo (Touring), Veloce (Fast) and Pioggia (Rain).
The different mappings allow the rider to choose from the engine characteristic which best suits his/her riding style, the route or the weather conditions. In fact, modifying the torque output and engine brake management, the ECU is able to give the California engine all the smoothness needed to provide maximum comfort, aggressiveness for those who prefer a sportier ride or the control needed on a wet surface: in the latter situation this is nothing less than providential given the capacity of the engine to unload 120 Nm of torque to the ground at just 2750 RPM and stretch out up to 6500 RPM to reach the last of its ninety-six horses (71KW).
The dynamic nature of the vehicle is kept under control by the presence, for the first time on a custom, of latest generation traction control (MGCT) which can be adjusted to three different levels in order to enhance active safety without sacrificing performance and riding pleasure.
The new heads have four valves per cylinder, driven by an overhead cam in each bank, through a roller rockers system, to reduce friction losses. The modern nature of the engine is also expressed through the presence of the double ignition, in order to guarantee perfect combustion, as well as two oxygen sensors which make the mixture in the cylinders uniform in any operating conditions with a consequent improvement in fuel economy and harmful emissions.
Contributing to the overall general efficiency of the engine is the new larger size finning of the cylinders, enriched by the “brushed” finish of the external edge and the generous sizing of the oil radiator, equipped with a thermostat controlled electric fan, which reduces the average operating temperature, in addition to the new filter box, redesigned to cater to the robust thrust of the twin cylinder from Mandello.
The result is that the California engine, despite the generous increase in displacement improves fuel economy by 15-20%, depending on the conditions of use, compared to the “Quattrovalvole” 1200 cc engine.
On the transmission front there are also important innovations.
The transmission is now a six speed instead of five, while the clutch goes from a twin-disc to a new dry single disc with built in flexible coupling and reduced activation load.
The cardan final drive has been completely redesigned and satisfies the new need to transfer, with maximum fluidity and comfort, the enormous torque of the engine, in addition to boasting an elastic aspect with significantly more modern and technological aesthetics.