Ridemalibu Motorcycle Rentals & Tours – Los Angeles CA
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The allure of Guzzi

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by guzzisti91, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. guzzisti91

    guzzisti91 Tuned and Synch'ed

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    Good evening, ladies, gentlemen, & those who are offended by those terms. I write this post as i bought my first Guzzi a few months ago, but this year i've constantly worked on it, first the exhaust gaskets & left header, second, to replace the rear brake disc & pads before finally turning my attention to the carbies.
    All this prompted almost everyone (specially my landlady) around me to tell me get rid of it & buy something else. But i love my Guzzi, & i actually spent less on this thing than i ever did did the honda's or the camry. I think my carb issues are more to do with the fact that most my past machines were fuel injected, & i'm therefore not too familiar with carbies.

    I have always loved Guzzis, & when i sold that CBR600RR before getting the Nevada the next day, my dreams of owning a Guzzi came true. I've always admired the longitudinal design, their bulletproof construction & the ease of maintainance. Plus i hate chains. The Nevada has proved rewarding. The way it handles through corners, that roar as you throttle up & that unique pur otherwise.
    What is it that made the rest of you choose Guzzi? What is it that makes us Guzzisti?
     
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  2. Trout

    Trout GT Reference

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    I was "introduced" to Guzzi in '69 or '70.
    A friend bought one & rode to my house to show it off but I wasn't impressed.
    At that time I had Jap dirt bikes & English road bikes & a 1945 Harley 45ci but had my sights set on a "big" Harley.

    About a year later I was sitting in a local bar & a another rider comes in & sits down.
    We started talking bikes & before the night was over I had bought his Guzzi: 1970 750 Ambassador.
    The reasons I bought it was: 1) I had been drinking 2) My old BSA was starting to need work 3) I always liked different "stuff".
    That was the start of a long relationship. The Guzzi was so comfortable, reliable & so weird that it checked all my boxes.

    Back then & still today I get many people ask me what kind of bike it is.
    At one point I removed everything that said Moto Guzzi (It was even stamped into the valve covers so I leaded that in).
    When somebody asked what it was I would tell them things like:
    "That? Oh it's a 1948 Honda, first one ever imported into the USA".
    "It's a rare Harley desert model from WWII. They didn't make a lot of them but my dad brought it home".
    "Doesn't have a name we just sort of cobbled it together from old tractors & other bikes, runs ok".

    The more I rode the Guzzi & the more I rode with people riding other brands the more I appreciated the Guzzi.
    Never was the fastest bike but I didn't have to slow up for curves either & in the day it was one of the few bikes that would run 80 mph all day long, day after day after day.
    At one point I realized that my saddlebags carried more American tools than metrics.

    So my love for Guzzi comes from two sources; the practical source & the thrill source because even the old slow Guzzi was more fun to ride than any other bike I could put my butt on.
    I was the local wrench head so I got to work on and ride many bikes and even tho some were fast or some were comfortable or some handled quicker the Guzzi always won the "Best Overall Bike".
     
  3. Raven

    Raven Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    The sound, style and heritage plus I really like having odd/rare/unusual cars and bikes. My DD in the summer is a '97 Subaru SVX.
    It amazes me how many people have never even heard of Moto Guzzi. This includes motor heads.
     
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  4. Bill Hagan

    Bill Hagan GT Reference GT Famiglia

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    Good morning from your second category. Happily (for me, anyway), I do not know anyone in that third set. :giggle:

    No time to respond to the merits of your questions, but will soon.

    In the meantime, welcome to Guzzidom.

    Bill
     
  5. GT-Rx®

    GT-Rx® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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    Even though there are a handful of threads here like this, these are fun. What has turned into my small novel below...

    I grew up riding and racing cheap and affordable Japanese bikes since the age of four, I’ve been told since a very early age that I'm an old soul. I like heritage and evolution when it comes to any machines, though I also really appreciate newer tech.

    My grandfather, my Mom’s Dad, was a commercial electrician by day at the local steel mill, yet a hard-core rider/wrench on the weekends and any time off he could make. He was a tinkerer and inventor which I’m proud to have in my DNA. He was also a founder of one of the motorcycle clubs in Baltimore (Ramblers), who mostly all rode Harleys of course. Except he (third from the right below) was always a bit different. I admired his style, though he was always quite gruff with me.
    In his youth he rode and raced HDs, but by the time I was on this earth, only had BMWs (and a Wartburg two-stroke car that he was considering being the first dealer in MD). He used to ride with me (in diapers I'm told) on the tank for hours at a time, much to my Mom's upset. I recall holding onto that crossbar on the bottom pic below. I guess I was 2~3 years old. I loved it, and my parents tell me I cried when I had to get off the bike, even when we got home.

    88ECD8AB-22DD-40CD-9621-C91C12665301.jpeg
    BBalsis_BMW-62.jpg
    Godspeed "Grandpop" Bill Balsis. Thanks for smiling down and keeping a hand over me all of these years. I'm sure I'm still frustrating to keep an eye on.

    His riding style is still vivid in my memory. He ran every gear out, often holding higher RPMs at speed, and he enjoyed dragging hard parts on the ground, much to the anger of my Grandmother who used to hit his back when he did, so the story goes. I have great riding memories with him.

    He passed away when I was just ten. But I loved hanging out in his garage torturing him on the weekends, I’m sure, while he worked on his and other people’s "motors" as he and my grandmom called them. He wrenched everything (just a few bikes he owned HERE). He always had engines apart, and I recall him lapping the valves on his BMW often. His wood-framed, slat board tar-roll shingled, dirt-floor garage that he built himself with a small machine shop (mill, lathe, etc), always had everything in it; HDs to Norton, BSA and Triumphs, including choppers, and many others riding in/out on the weekends.
    However, there was one bike that I recall coming in and out and really admiring the look and sound of, and all I retained at the time was the motor layout and an eagle on the tank. Now knowing, that would have been an Ambassador or Eldorado.

    As I grew, my parents who both rode until a few years ago, allowed my relentless passion of two wheels as a religion (on every Sunday!), and my financial upbringing kept me on two wheels only until I bought my first car at 19, a Porsche 924 Turbo. Something my (mostly Italian) Dad didn’t understand as a weekend muscle car illegal street and occasional track drag racer. However, I did ride on back with him on his UJMs, until I got my license. A few of his riding buddies had Guzzis.

    Once I had financial freedom (as a very young home designer/builder), I was able to purchase some unique brands like BMW & Ducatis in the late 80s and early 90s a few HDs. However those were simple distractions as I was racing as well through those periods. Somehow I still managed to log 75k+ miles per year. Ah youth.

    Moto Guzzi really surfaced for me in ‘93 with the Dr. John Daytona 1000. I think it made the Cycle World mag cover when launched. I rode to a Rider Magazine Rally in Pittsburgh, PA to see it. At this Rally I spent most of the afternoon test riding every Guzzi they had there to sample (except the Daytona of course!). Not shockingly, while every other OEM was booked solid, the Guzzi folks were standing around. They were thrilled to go out. Every time we got back, they asked if I wanted to ride another model. I of course obliged, every time until I had ridden them all. My favorite was the green-frame 1000S. While I liked the Daytona 1000 (a LOT), I knew by that point that it was nothing I could own (both financially and) as I felt that "sporting bikes" on the street were too frustrating to enjoy (and still do now) in the numerous "you're in a whole heap of trouble boy" speed-trap tiny towns of the Mid-Atlantic region.

    At any early age, It was ingrained in me of how more standard twin cylinder bikes were so much better on the street, by two of my Dad’s riding friends, that became my street riding mentors. They both owned and introduced me to fun “odd” bikes like Yamaha’s XV920E, Honda VT500 Ascot and the Honda NT650 Hawk, which was my first road-racing bike. One of them, Ray, was an ex-factory Triumph trials rider. In 1986 he bought an FLH HD. I joked with him about buying it, but after one ride with him, I was speechless. He made that FLH do things that didn't seem possible. He put me on it many times at 16 yrs old, swapping mid-rides. I am forever grateful. They both really liked Guzzis, though never owned any.
    Another good friend that I rode and traded bikes with often, Biff, bought a Sport 1100 that he fitted flat-slides too. That ride is burned into my memory bank.

    In the mid 90’s, just before moving to Boston to go back to school for Architecture, I worked at my friend's Moto Shop in Falls Church, VA and did the service on a 1000SP. I offered to buy the bike from the owner, but he said he owned it since new, and would never sell it. Off to Boston I went with only a Buell X1 race bike.

    While in Boston, I rented HDs to explore most of New England, realizing how much I really missed street riding. In ‘98, the Cal EV won Cycle World Mag’s (which I inhaled cover to cover from as long as I can remember) Ten Best for the Sport Touring category. What? A Guzzi took the spot from the Japanese that had held this one forever?! Seems the time had finally come for me to own one. But being 31, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a faired chrome bagger EV, but I had read the bones of the machine ran away and won an AMA Pro race (at my then home track in Loudon, NH) in the 70’s with Mike Baldwin piloting.

    So the quest began. I joined the MGNOC and started bothering the (only local) NH Rep to narrow down my focus. He invited me up to the middle of NH to test ride his carb Sport. He had put handlebars on it, and removed the fairing. Early street fighter. He was way ahead of his time(!). He said to buy as new as I could, and a high-mile daily rider was a best bet, no matter which model it was.

    In my local south shore neighborhood, I randomly stopped by a guitar shop to meet a Buell owner that clearly worked there, as the bike sat parked outside every day I went past. After some small talk, he asked me if I knew about the car dealer across the street, that the owner was a moto collector big into Vincents (another lure I had, because of my grandfather owning one). As I casually mentioned Guzzi, he told me that there was one on the floor there, but he couldn’t recall a model. I immediately went over. Sure enough, in the bikes lining the car showroom, there it sat, a pristine black ‘74 V7 Sport with 953 miles. It had spent it's life living in someone’s living room in NH. He was asking $9500. I went home considering the possibilities, but I really knew I had to buy a 'ride it far and fast immediately' bike... This one would need a lot of work to made roadworthy.
    But then, days later, in an odd stroke of luck and timing, my good friend working at CW Mag, knew I was looking for a Guzzi, emailed me an early release sales ad for new stripped down, de-chromed model called the Jackal with a $8495 price tag and a $500 cash back rebate with a 3-year unlimited mile warranty. I immediately printed it and took it to the dealer in Salem, MA. Three weeks later in September of ‘99, I brought it home... and the rest, as they say, is history.
    I rode it all over New England and even did a group trip to Nova Scotia as the MGNOC Rep for Massachusetts. Then it took me from Boston to my permanent home here in SoCal in late 2000, logging in ~45k miles in the first year of ownership. I will never sell it.

    Fast forward, gulp, ~19 years now, I’ve owned dozens of Guzzis, logging well over 250k+ miles on them. I’ve somehow evolved into building a small business around the brand including the rentals linked at the top of the page.

    When asked why Guzzi, I mostly respond with if you merged BMW, Ducati and HD, you have a Guzzi. They get under your skin like no other, as they do everything just right as a street bike. I’ll never not own one (OK, well many).

    Viva Guzzi!
     
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  6. lucydad

    lucydad Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Famiglia

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    Could be my DNA: 20% Italian. No idea where that Luigi sneaked in.
     
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  7. Mr Pootle

    Mr Pootle Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    My dad bought a Zigolo when I was 14, and told me it would be mine when I was 16. He sold it a few months before my 16th birthday, and bought an NSU Quickly.
    Over the years I’ve had a Vespa, Nortons, Triumphs, Yamahas and a Velocette, all old, and often passed on by my dad. But I always said he owed me a Guzzi. He left me the money....
     
  8. Trout

    Trout GT Reference

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    I had to laugh the other day over on the Victory forum.
    Some of the Vic owners showed interest in the 1400 series & one poster stated that he test rode one.

    His impression was: "I felt like I was doing everything wrong there was nothing I liked about that bike".
    I always say that they are not for everybody but it was the first time I had ever heard anything like that.
     
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  9. guzzisti91

    guzzisti91 Tuned and Synch'ed

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    Yeah, when i swapped the CB400 for a CBR600RR, the fellow said he had a 750 Guzzi. Didn't say what model, but it may have been just before he got the CBR. He said it was the most boring bike he owned, blaming the shaft drive & lack of power, But he dared not go bigger. So, he switched back to chains. He knew i was going to sell the CBR soon after the swap, but he went ahead because he wanted to keep the CB400. I was trying to sell that thing for 6 months before i was offered the CBR, which i sold quite easily. Ironically, when i test rode this machine i found it fun, & it was very capable off road.
     
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  10. Bill Hagan

    Bill Hagan GT Reference GT Famiglia

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    The good news (for you ;)) is that I don't have time to write much.

    There is no bad news. :clap:

    I remember seeing a Guzzi c. 1967 in a Brit m/c mag and thinking it odd. And magic. I had just sold my last of my several Yamaha two-strokes -- Lordy, I miss 'em still. The Guzzi attracted me as would an exotic car or unusual aircraft.

    Shortly thereafter, real life -- think college, law school, marriage, draft, kids, work -- made all thought of motorcycles recede.

    Until 1977. I was in the Army and assigned to a post in Vicenza, Italy. Yes, the things I have done for my country; makes me near embarrassed to take a military discount at stores. :giggle:

    Anyway, one of my jobs was to work with the local police and, especially, the Carabinieri. What a bunch of wonderful bubbas. A couple of them broke the rules and let me ride their Guzzis. 750's, I think, but whatever, I was smitten.

    I was, however, at the time (and despite my present ... erm ... "physique" :tmi:) seriously into pedal bikes. Even rode with a local Italian bunch, Veloce Club Thiene.

    Real life, however, continued to keep me from motorcycles. It was after I retired from the Army that I finally came back to motorcycles and, by happy accident, Moto Guzzis.

    Had decided to buy a Honda 750 ACE. On the way to dealer to put down deposit, I got lost and literally stumbled onto Zen Moto (R.I.P.), the Atlanta Guzzi dealer. A leftover '98 hotdog&mustard EV sat in the window. 102K miles later, it sits in the Moto Grappa, along with three other Guzzis and the memories of the departed Ballabio.

    Trust me ... I could have made this much longer. ;)

    1921!

    Bill
     
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  11. GT-Rx®

    GT-Rx® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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    Please come back and do. Mine above will likely continue to grow. ;)
     
  12. GT-Rx®

    GT-Rx® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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    What does that even mean? Sounds like blatant ignorance and lack of experience. If you want to justify ownership of what you ride, I get it, but “doing everything wrong?” Sounds like a personal problem. Heh.
     
  13. Raven

    Raven Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    Once again, PEBHAS
     
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  14. Godfrey

    Godfrey High Miler GT Famiglia

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    I first got into Moto Guzzi bikes back in 1976 when I bought a barely used 850-T3 from the same dealer friend I'd been buying Norton Atlas parts from and later bought my Ducati 860GT and then 750GT from.

    The first bike I bought myself was a '71 Triumph Bonneville, because my friend had one of the Atlases and I read the specs and pronounced that the Bonnie was better. Boy, was that wrong! It was a serious POS in every way. So I went on a hunt for a Norton Atlas, brought one home (well, "one" being three frames, four tanks, two sets of forks, and boxes and boxes of engine/fork parts, wheels, etc etc). Several months and dozens of trips to The Sport Spot, in Wayne, NJ, and I was a good friend with the parts guys there... and between me and my buddy, we'd built up my Norton Atlas. It was lovely and worked perfectly ... except that riding it was kinda like being strapped onto a paint shaker and not being allowed to turn it off. No matter, it was mine, it was cool, and I blasted around on it learning how to ride and enjoying it.

    Along the way a friend with a new Honda 750 let me ride his bike. Everyone at the time was saying what a magnificent machine that was but omg how much power it had, was it safe, etc etc. I thought it was just great: smooth, easy to start, fast, etc. But a bit too heavy and wide. So I thought a smaller four would be fine. I didn't have much money at that time, but I did have enough to get a new Honda 400-4 from a dealer another friend was working for at the time, if I sold the Atlas. Out with the Norton, in with the Honda, and I was happy. It was incredibly smooth, made a beautiful little howl when I revved it out, and if it was crude and poor handling ... well, in 1975 I was too new at this to notice.

    So one day in early '76 I went out to pick up parts for my friend's Norton (both of them, the one I built and sold, and the one that inspired me to buy one) and Bob at The Sport Spot pointed at this 850T3 and said, "You should ride that. It's really nice." I did, it was, and I loved the big torquey motor that was smooth after the paint-shaker Norton and the smooth but somewhat underpowered Honda. I traded the Honda to him for the Guzzi, with a little cash, and rode it home the next weekend.

    I used that bike for everything for the next year: commuting, trips, etc. I thought it was kind of a bit on the fusty side style wise, but it sure ran great. The seating position was a little to 'sit up' for me, the saddle was so cushy I thought I was riding a couch, etc etc, but I appreciated how it ran. But I didn't really appreciate it enough, and sold it to get my first Ducati twin.

    Roll forward to Easter 1994, after a succession of bikes but mostly Ducatis, and I'm on my first visit to London to test ride the new Triumph motorcycles ... not yet available in the USA. One of my net moto buddies arranged the test ride and put me up at his home when I got there. The Triumphs were cool (just imagine the scenario: my first time ever in the UK, first time ever driving/riding in left hand priority traffic, Dave and his buddies from London with me and another friend from California on brand new Triumph 900 and 1000s, blasting down the backroads at 100+mph, me not knowing one wit about where I am, where we're going, just enjoying that big, fast, heavy beast's power and who cares?...) but when all was said and done, what impressed me most that I took home from that trip was riding on the back of Dave's '89 Guzzi LeMans V. What a magnificent motorcycle that was! I had to have one.

    It took almost a year to find one in the USA. Shortly after that, I found the 850T rotting in someone garage and started the sportify project on it. And I've been mostly a Guzzi maniac ever since... ten years ad probably a couple hundred thousand miles on those two bikes, ending only when my hip hurt so bad I couldn't even sit on a bike.

    Getting back on bikes, that early dalliance with the Ducati Scrambler was such a disaster, and finding Racer such a flip-side utopian fantasy come to life ... Nowadays, there's little else that even gets a look from me.

    It's more than just allure... :D
     
  15. Conanidol

    Conanidol Just got it firing!

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    I remember the day clearly. I was filling my car up at a service station in Essendon (Melbourne Australia) when I heard the sound of engines approaching. Engines that sounded like nothing else I'd ever heard. I looked down the road and saw two bikes headed my way. One red & the other yellow. As they got closer, I saw they were sports bikes. Now, I was vaguely aware of Moto Guzzis, but until that point I'd never really paid much attention to them. But now, I saw their cylinders out in the breeze and recognised the make of bike immediately. Their riders gunned the engines and there is no other way to describe this - I heard God.
    To this day, I tell detractors that God rides a Moto Guzzi...
    Two Sport 1100's gleamed in the low morning sunshine as they roared past me. And I was hooked.....
    My Honda 750/4 K2 never appealed to me from that moment on. I bought every bike magazine that contained Guzzis I could find.
    It was some time later, 2003 in London when I test rode my first Moto Guzzi - a yellow Centauro. Frigging awesome. Rough and mean and very quick in my limited experience. I ended up buying a G5 for its ability to handle my luggage. I rode around England and France and loved every moment on that bike.
    In 2006 I had moved from working on cars to motorcycles. There was a 2001 Cali Stone gathering dust in the showroom where I worked. It was dressed up as a tourer with running boards, panniers and screen etc. and looked UGLY! One quiet day, I thought I'd take it for a run to clear its throat and then, without permission, I put it on my bench & stripped all that excess stuff off until it looked like a motorcycle I'd be happy to own.
    Well, the boss did his nut when he saw what I'd done, so I went to the finance dept, got a loan and bought it.
    I commuted 950 kilometres every week for almost two years and it never ceased to amaze me just how capable it was touring as well as scratching.
    There were a couple of speeding fines and once a country-copper pulled me over for speeding. Bless his cotton socks, for he was happy to look the bike over and let me go with a warning!
    Well, I've still got that bike. It's had a few modifications over the years and now hits an indicated 240kmh. Even allowing for speedo error, that is moving!!!
    Nothing lifts my mood quite like it.

    I'll never sell it.
     
  16. Mr Pootle

    Mr Pootle Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    An alternative way of putting it could be that everything about the bike felt wrong to him. I’ve found that when I’ve ridden Harleys. Nothing is where it should be, and it doesn’t feel natural. Likewise with a BMWR9T Pure.When I first rode a V7 everything felt right.
     
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  17. Godfrey

    Godfrey High Miler GT Famiglia

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    You remind me of a moment long ago, probably about 1996 or 1997, when a friend from the internet came to town and I'd offered that we could all go for a ride ... I'd loan him my 850T for the event. He was a smallish guy, and his bike at the time was a Honda NSR250R racer replica; I thought he'd be uncomfortable on my Ducati 907ie because (due to my custom seat on it) it would be very tall for him and the bodywork was quite wide. Not the best bike for a smallish person. So we set off, him on my sportified 850T which always felt small and compact to me the way I had it set up. I remember going up the wigglies, another friend in the lead, him in the middle, and me following, and laughing to myself at how awkward he looked trying to make the 850T handle the way his Honda did—it just didn't, couldn't possibly work that way. We got to a rest stop were I pulled him and my other friend together.

    "Robert, Al is struggling with the 850T. I think he needs a different bike. You've ridden my 907ie and liked it ... why don't you take that one, I'll take the 850T, and he can take you 750SS?" Robert agreed, we swapped bikes, and sped off down the next segment of the ride. Al was immediately FAR more comfortable and had a grand time working the Duc 750SS: it was much like his Honda in overall dynamics. Robert had a blast on the 907ie, again. And I slipped into the rhythm of the sportified 850T as if it was a pair of comfortable old shoes that you know perfectly. Despite that both the 907ie and 750SS could blow it away in a moment on power, handling, braking, whatever, I knew that bike so well and was so in tune with it that neither of them could catch me at all—I arrived at the next stopping point a solid five minutes before either of them did.

    Al pulls up, parks, pulls off his helmet. He looks at the T and looks at me. "I simply can't believe how fast you go on that heavy, slow steering, floppy, brakeless, gutless lump of a motorcycle! I thought you were trying to kill me with it! I am amazed!" and grinned.

    We had a grand time the rest of the day. Both of them got more comfortable on the bikes they were riding and, yes, rode the wheels off me. There were times I had to ride like a maniac to keep them in sight. But I didn't mind: I loved that old lumpkin and enjoyed the hell out of every moment I rode it. :D
     
    MOLT, fireflyr, GT-Rx® and 3 others like this.
  18. Giuseppe

    Giuseppe Just got it firing!

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Roma
    A Guzzi melts together passion, adventure, pure beauty, history, mechanical wonder and love.
    It is its sound, its handling, the perfect balance of the "bicilindrico" the just gives you joy and plasure.
    And for me, full Italian, it is also the pride in being Made in Italy, Mandello, since 1921..wow..
     
  19. Bill Hagan

    Bill Hagan GT Reference GT Famiglia

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Above Pott's Camp along Braddock's route, Virginia
    ^^^^^^

    Perfetto! :clap:

    Bill
     
  20. Trout

    Trout GT Reference

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
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    Location:
    Gainesville
    WELL SAID!!!
     

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