5 Questions With Miguel Galluzzi

The Monster Designer Is Now Devoted to Moto Guzzi

By Ed Milich, Photography by Ducati, Piaggio USA

Buenos Aires-born designer Miguel Angel Galluzzi was 33 years old when he created the Ducati Monster, one of the most influential motorcycles of the 20th century. A parts-bin special based on the 900 Supersport (another Galluzzi design) but stripped down to the bare essentials, the Monster quickly became Ducati’s best-selling model and single-handedly created the modern “naked bike” category. Galluzzi, a 1986 graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, worked for Cagiva (then Ducati’s parent company) for 17 years before joining Aprilia as Styling Director in 2006, where he was responsible for most modern Aprilias, including the RSV4 superbike. Galluzzi, now based in Pasadena where he leads Aprilia’s new Advanced Design Center, has recently turned his attention to Moto Guzzi. On the 20th anniversary of the Monster’s debut, we caught up with the designer to ask his thoughts on the past and future of motorcycle design.

Motorcyclist: The original Monster was very market-savvy, and instantly successful. Where do you see the motorcycle market headed today?

Miguel Galluzzi: The motorcycle market has changed completely from the 1990s. Sales numbers in mature markets are flat, and we have too many choices available. Saturation! Guzzi has a chance to create unique Italian bikes that anybody can enjoy every day. Uniqueness is important in the market today.

MC: What was your inspiration for the new Moto Guzzi California 1400?

MG: In the shop, we had a photo of Sean Connery on an Eldorado. Everybody remembers James Bond on the police Guzzi. The motor makes the Guzzi. We wanted to do the bike that in such a way that you would know for sure it was a Guzzi, so we featured the cylinders pushing through the tank.

MC: Guzzi has had success with the V7 Classic and V7 Racer models, too.

MG: The V7 Racer was the result of three bike guys in a room talking about what we could do to improve the bike. A small design team is able to respond quickly to the market and get things done. Now 50 percent of Guzzi’s production—around 3500 bikes—is the V7 models.

MC: Where do you see Moto Guzzi in 10 years?

MG: Guzzi will be a top brand. This is the way the motorcycle business is going. If the Japanese sell a few thousand CBRs, it’s a failure. If Guzzi sells 8000 bikes per year, it’s a huge success. This is the modern motorcycle market.

MC: What does the future of motorcycling look like to you?

MG: Three years ago, I was pessimistic about our future. Everybody was saying that kids don’t like motorcycles anymore. We are experiencing a profound generational change, and it’s going to bring about new ways of doing everything. Think about the amount of bicyclists in Los Angeles, or the amount of Vespas in San Francisco. Young riders don’t find something [in the motorcycle market] they are passionate about, because most of them cannot afford what we are offering. My mind is full of new two-wheeled vehicles to go around town in a smarter, more ecological, and simpler way, with fun, passion, and freedom. Now I think the future is really bright.

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