1980 Moto Guzzi V50 Monza | The Bike That Changed My Life

Rider: Billy Joel
Then: The Piano Man
Now: Piano-playing owner of 20th Century Cycles

“This is the bike that made me fall in love with Moto Guzzi motorcycles. I needed a bike because I was living in New York City, and I went into a place called Ghost Motorcycles over in Port Washington and saw this bike. I took it for a little test drive and that was it—I fell in love! I used it in the city for years.

“It’s a little scary riding in the city, but this bike handles great. It’s very maneuverable, lightweight, and the brakes work, which is a plus—brakes were still a little dicey back then. You can’t really get up a whole lot of speed in Manhattan, but from corner to corner, it does pretty well.

“I got interested in Moto Guzzis, and café racers in general, in the late ’70s. They’re Italian, nice, kinda sexy-looking. The new ones I like are the smaller 750s: the V7 Classic, Café Classic and Racer. Sometimes, the smaller motorcycles are fun—they’re just so easy to handle.

"I also like the California Vintage. I tend to like retro styling. I like the way new things work, and the way old things look. Whenever that’s combined, that’s very appealing to me.

“Moto Guzzis are just great bikes. They’re sexy. The Italians build sex into things. And the transverse vibration is a great sensation. The transverse vibration is a great sensation—hey, I think I just wrote a song!”

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