Moto Guzzi motorcycles radiate a certain charm that only the Italian company could offer. They are legendary for their reliability and strength, but easy to work with and maintain. It is the perfect balance of durability and flair that only the exuberant Italians could pull off successfully. The drawbacks of the 2004 Moto Guzzi California, however, might be in the details: specifically, in their weighty linked brakes and less than ergonomic leanings, such as the uncomfortable foot controls. The Moto Guzzi California Touring bike embodies elements that are elegant, yet won’t let the driver down when things get tough. Additionally, the touring bike comes with an assortment of surprisingly nice accessories as a standard upon purchase, like heated grips, a windscreen, and even some amply sized hard saddlebags.
In a road test, it was ascertained that the first few miles on this Italian touring motorcycle can be intimidating and possibly even downright uncomfortable to those not used to Moto Guzzi vehicles. Many drivers find that the foot controls are located in sites on the bike that force the driver into unnatUral positions in order to safely control them. This trouble might also affect the driver’s ability to change gears, which is a pity since the gear-shifts are virtually seamless and smooth. Many drivers do not even bother stopping with the rear brake. The pedal is awkward as well, difficult to reach and a pain to control. Fortunately, adjustment on the 2004 Moto Guzzi California for the driver’s personal height and width preferences is an option, albeit a troublesome one since the adjustments are not the most user-friendly to achieve. However, once the pedals are adjusted to the correct distance and angle, the motorcycle proves far more enjoyable to drive.
In terms of the brakes, Moto Guzzi chooses to use two-piston discs in the front and a single-piston disc in the rear, along with a rear brake. The brakes are linked, which some drivers prefer while others despise it. Those desiring to drive on slippery roads or in the sand, or even in the snow or ice, might prefer a linked brake system for increased safety. However, a driver in an average climate might find the linked brake system cumbersome. Furthermore, the Moto Guzzi California does not include ABS, which might create more problems for drivers who are used to a more sophisticated braking system.
Other than personal preferences and the brake issues found on road tests, most drivers enjoy the driving experience that the California motorcycle has to offer. The 1064cc twin-valve revs readily, and any person sitting in the driver’s seat can tell immediately that it can pull like an ox, especially in the middle gear range. Moreover, the engine maintenance package is top notch. The fuel injection delivery system is of the highest quality as well; Moto Guzzi outdoes itself in putting all of the elements of excellence into this motor. The bike also starts easily and without much aggressive throttling of the handlebars, even in cold weather climates, and the idle is consistent and noiseless, practically purring. The transmission still seems slightly old fashioned, but it shifts easily and still possesses the ability to impede any unwanted gear changes.
Once on the road, the Moto Guzzi California handles well. It is a firm but classy touring bike, akin to many bikes built by well-known competitors such as Aprilia and Ducati. The steering allows for accuracy, adhering to the alignment firmly, but also has a weightless feel that gives the driver the impression of total control. As a cruiser, it is good for driving long distance and along highways. Test drivers mention feeling well planted and stable even at top speeds. Furthermore, the Moto Guzzi California is unusually impermeable to the duress that weather might cause. A small fairing and wind screen, along with foot guards on the pedals, guard the driver from wind and mud, and the heavily valenced fenders add to the driver’s protection from the elements. The heated hand grips certainly don’t hurt, especially in cold climates.
Overall, the 2004 Moto Guzzi California touring motorcycle is a solid, albeit marginally flawed, vehicle, especially for those ready to drive in the face of even the most daunting of inclement weather. For drivers looking to dazzle visually but maintain durability and longevity in their bikes, the Moto Guzzi California might be the perfect option.