2002 Moto Guzzi V11 LeMans | Me & My Bike

A Craigslist buy that was a real smokin’ deal…literally!

Name: Frank Yang
Age: 44
Home: Fullerton, California
Occupation: Owner/Architect, Arch Quest

My Guzzi adventures started with a simple Craigslist ad for an '02 LeMans. The bike only had 4,500 miles and the tires were dry-rotted, but she started right up with the original battery! I thought that was a good omen, so I bought it.

Then I discovered the demanding nature of Guzzi ownership. Slogans like "Guzzi: turning enthusiasts into mechanics since 1921" should have been a sign of things to come. The obligatory relays that go pop, the usual IDS ("I Don't Start") symptoms, valves adjusted too tight from the factory… At least you don't need to remove the tank to adjust the valves.

My first real problem was an ejected engine-mounting bolt. Then, on a ride with my wife, I stopped to check for a loose ground wire when my wrench slipped, grounded, and made a mushroom cloud appear before my eyes. I threw that wrench so hard and fast I almost broke a nearby car window! Then my wife helped me push the "thing"—as she often refers to my Guzzi—smoking, all the way home. Priceless!

This all started to make more sense when I attended "Not-a-Rally" at Visalia, California, where I met the rest of my Guzzi Famiglia. Guzzisti like to relax the night before with a toxic collection of whiskies and spirits, which is an enthralling way to start any rally. And what eccentric, unpretentious personalities. You might meet the nicest people on a Honda, but you meet the real characters on a Guzzi.

The Guzzisti I met were all awesome riders, making a fast pace you wouldn't think possible on a vintage machine look so effortless, like poetry in motion—most wearing worn-out leathers with homemade knee sliders and not a Dainese or Alpinestars label in sight. They left me for dead in the canyons of Sequoia National Park, and just when I thought I was lost for good—I was gone so long they even called CHP and asked for reports of downed riders—a Guzzisti on a California cruiser found me and brought me back to the group. We'll never catch up, so we ride at our own pace. Call Guzzis what you will, but boring they're not!

Frank Yang Guzzi
Photo by Sheila Yang.