Moto Guzzi California actually exists

Big news for Guzzi

IT'S been nearly two years since the first photo of Moto Guzzi's new California emerged from a dealer meeting but finally the firm has decided it's ready to show it to the public.

It's powered by a 1380cc V-twin, using the same bore as the old 1151cc four-vave-per-cylinder Guzzi motor but a longer, 104mm stroke. The firm says it's the largest V-twin made in Europe; a fairly pointless claim since it's dwarfed by some Japanese and American V-twins and also the parallel twin in Triumph's rival Thunderbird. Although its roots lie in Guzzi's older motors, it's virtually all new. While it's 96bhp might not sound impressive, the more important figure is 120Nm of torque at 2750rpm. Three injection maps – touring, fast and wet (well actually 'turismo', 'veloce' and 'bagnato' in Guzzi-speak) – are the sort of thing that made headlines a couple of years ago but fast becoming the accepted standard.

Clever 'elastic' engine mounts comprising a system of rockers and rubber dampers are claimed to eliminate vibrations.

Two versions are offered, the 337kg Touring, complete with panniers and screen, and the stripped-back 300kg Custom.

But it's not the California's technology or performance that really matters, it's the appearance. And on that front Guzzi might be onto a winner. Even if you're no fan of the genre, it's easy to appreciate that cruisers are about detail – one ill-considered piece of black plastic can ruin the wrought-from-solid- impression of their components, hence the proliferation of chrome and cast aluminium parts. It's here that European and Japanese attempts at the cruiser genre often fall down, but the California seems to have been well detailed. With the exception of some scrappy-looking welds on the footrest brackets, the details are neat: braided hoses abound, the lights have multi-faceted lenses that look more glass than plastic.

Will it be enough to tempt the target buyers away from their Harleys? The California stands a better chance than any of its predecessors.