NEW bike launches are normally simple affairs: the manufacturer sends out some photos and specifications, the bike appears at a couple of shows and then a few weeks or months later we get a chance to ride it. Bosh. Sorted.
Moto Guzzi, however, has different ideas. To be honest, it's getting hard to work out whether the firm's new California 1400 has been officially 'revealed' or not. We first saw it in January 2011, with official pictures from a dealer meeting. Then it turned up at the same event this year, with a batch of unofficial phone-camera shots showing a more production-ready version. Another official picture turned up when the bike was shown to American dealers, and throughout it all there's been a distinct lack of detailed information.
So, what should we make of these new spy photos, showing one of the bike's under construction? If nothing else, they reveal a few technical details that were hidden before.
The all-new engine is clearly revealed, shorn of its decorative covers and removed from the bike. Another shot shows how the single round dial incorporates a miniature digital display.
However, even the most complete shot shows a bike that's still missing many of its components. Covers for the transmission and fuel tank sides are absent, as is the rear mudguard and the exhaust covers that made previous versions of the bike look far neater. The air-filled rear shocks of earlier bikes are also missing, replaced with normal coil springs – presumably there will be several versions when the California 1400 reaches production, including baggers, all based on the same frame and engine, to explain some of the specification differences. Let's just hope that at some stage Moto Guzzi simply decides to reveal some proper photos and detailed technical information – plus, perhaps, a release date – to take the California out of its pre-launch, post-teaser limbo.