Search Me!


October 03, 2015

A new era

This year I officially became a 'senior', or 65 years old.  So the 60's have been a lot more fun than the 30's, but there are also some indications that things are going to change.  Take last summer, I was riding my KTM 640 Adventure down a quad trail by myself.  The front wheel fell into a deep rut going up hill and down I went.  No biggee, except I couldn't pick the bike up.  This had never happened before.  I have dragged that bike out of mud and sand on its side, and picked it up numerous times.  This time it was staying down, and I was not even sure why.  With the help of a nearby fisherman I was able to get the bike up and out.
So, no more solo off road excursions, the reason I still had the KTM, which truth to say was never the greatest highway bike.
Since I started riding well over 40 years ago, I have always been more interested in performance, not necessarily all out extreme by the numbers performance, but motorcycles that did something very well.  Some of my favorites were my Yamaha RDs and RZs, 400 and 350 cc giant killers with great handling.  But lately I have been contemplating a more laid back experience.  Up till now I have never been much interested in cruisers, but after living with a KTM for 7 years, the kinder gentler cruiser style was beginning to appeal.
I had been on some demo rides, mostly Victory's and Polaris Indians.  Great bikes but waaay too heavy to my thinking of what a proper motorcycle should be.  IMHO a motorcycle should weigh no more than 450 pounds, less being more.
And cruisers are more about style than anything else.  In one corner you have the genuine made in Milwaukee article, and in the other a whole raft of imposter wannabes.  I have never liked obvious knock offs of any kind, but included in the genuine made in Milwaukee camp are a lot wankers who are pretending to be people that I don't want anything to do with.

Within cruiserdom maybe there is a bike that dares to be known by good taste alone.  The Moto Guzzi California has been in production in one form or another since the 1970's.  Originally built for police work in North America at a time when Harley Davidson was having problems building a reliable motorcycle that could handle the rigors of daily patrol work.  So yes, Moto Guzzi, with some help from the LAPD made it look like a Harley cop bike, but mechanically it was a completely different machine, with shaft drive, and a last forever V twin engine that more resembles two cylinders sawed off the back of a small block chevy V8.  The Moto Guzzi was a big hit with the California motor cops for a while, and ever since Moto Guzzi has made a version resembling it for sale to civilians.

In my cruiser contemplation, I had always thought that the best cruiser would be a cop bike,  a practical machine designed to be ridden eight hours daily.

So the KTM was sold, and on the same day I sold it, the exact model Guzzi I wanted (a pre 2013 California Vintage) was offered for sale in Chilliwack BC.   As soon as Valley Moto in Chilliwack opened I was on the phone with shop owner Gord Mitten to tell him the bike is sold, how do you want payment?   This was February, not prime riding season in Alberta or through the Rockie Mountains.  By late April the long range forecast predicted a sunny ride from Chilliwack to Edmonton and so it was.