Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 17th June 2008

Italian V-twin specialist, Moto Guzzi, have a new twist on their long established California touring model; the California Vintage.

The Vintage version, built to celebrate the most famous Guzzi’s 35th birthday, combines retro 70’s styling with the modern fuel injected
V-twin motor and chassis, to offer a unique laid back type of motorcycling experience.

Chris Moss reports.

Riding the big cruiser round the Guzzi factory in the Italian Alps brought out mixed feelings for me. When I cranked the V-twin into life and clawed back the lampost-length side stand, I was right up for a bit of laid-back cruising. And for that, the fully-dressed and highly charming Cali Vintage is absolutely perfect.

Think of it as a Latin Harley and you’ll understand the Cali perfectly. Its low-tech, low-revving motor might only make 74bhp (developed at a lowly 6400rpm), but it makes good solid grunt from the moment the starter motor gets the crank spinning.

The Guzzi has got five gears, but the broad spread of stomp means just two would probably do. Revving this engine is not really the way forward.

There isn’t much point trying to hurry the handling much either.
The wheelbase feels as long as an articulated truck’s, and with a front end raked out as far as Pete Fonda’s chopper, the Guzzi is a solid as the mountains I rode it through. Just don’t expect too much action flicking it through corners like Mallory’s bus-stop chicane. Canal boats can turn faster than this bike.

With a riding position just up from horizontal, the Cali is as relaxed and comfy as it gets, and shouldn’t be ridden if you’re feeling at all drowsy. Though the massively wide bars would soon wake you up as they try and skewer your ribs when you’re on full lock.

Taking things easy on the California is a real doddle and a right old laugh while you’re at it, as long as you’re in the right environment.

But just don’t try and up the pace, or spend too much time in town. Little things like the slow and agricultural gear-change, the slightly grabby Brembos, supertanker-sized turning circle, and the poor ground clearance would soon start getting on your nerves in the
real world. Riding one across London would soon have you cursing in frustration.

The California Vintage is modelled on an old classic, and rides a bit like one too. It’s for die-hard Guzzi fans who have time on their hands and rely on their bikes having a few quirks to give ‘em plenty of ‘character’. They don’t like modern stuff with all their trickery and technology and want something a bit more solid and traditional for their sunny Sunday afternoon cruises.

I’m old enough to remember the original Calis, and I did enjoy riding this one…well up to a point anyway. But as it did manage to wind me up, and eventually make me dislike it, I’ve realised that maybe I’m not quite as old as I think I am.

Get Moto Guzzi motorcycle insurance for the California Vintage 2006.


Vital Statistics
Engine 90-degree V-twin, OHV, air cooled four stroke
Capacity 1064cc
Peak Power 74bhp @ 6,400rpm
Peak Torque 70lb/ft @ 5,500rpm
Compression 9.8:1
Bore and Stroke 92 x 80mm
Fuelling Magneti Marelli electronic fuel injection, 400mm throttle
Gears 5 speed
Cycle Parts
Chassis Tubular-steel cradle
Front suspension 45mm telescopic forks, adjustable rebound damping
Rear suspension Twin shocks, adjustable preload and rebound damping
Rake/trail 29degrees, 116mm
Front Brakes Twin 320mm discs, 4 piston linked calipers
Rear Brakes Single 282mm disc, 2 piston linked caliper
Wheelbase 1560mm
Wheels/Tyres 110/80 17 inch front, 140/70 17 inch rear
Seat Height 780mm
Dry Weight 263kg
Fuel Capacity 22.7 litres
Est. Top Speed 125mph