Best Cruiser 2013: Moto Guzzi California

December 27, 2013
By Motorcycle USA Staff
Traction control. Variable engine maps. ABS, cruise control, ride-by-wire… These are not terms routinely associated with cruiser motorcycles. Thanks to Moto Guzzi, they are now. Because it is these rider aids and a combination of performance and good looks that makes the 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom the complete package.

Moto Guzzi ups the ante in the cruiser market by equipping its 2013 California 1400 Custom with a host of high-end electronics  including traction control  variable engine maps  ABS  cruise control and a ride-by-wire throttle system.
For three years running MotoUSA’s Cruiser of the Year is from Italia… The selection won’t win us many favors, but it’s an easy decision for anyone who’s ridden the beautiful Guzzi.

Thumb the starter and riders are greeted with familiar Guzzi California character and a right-side twist emanating from the crankshaft, the model’s history stretching back to 1971. But that’s about all it has in common with its forebears. Set the 2013 California 1400 Custom in Veloce mode, crack the throttle, and hold on tight because it’s gonna stretch you out. Standard traction control helps keep the bike composed during these hard launches and upright and steady under hard braking. Brembo stoppers are incredible at shedding speed, while the ABS gets the job done without being too intrusive.

The 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom also looks the part, its 1380cc transverse-mount engine serving as the focal point of its high build quality. The striking powerplant is shrouded by an attractive cut-out tank swathed in deep metal flake paint that pops in full sunlight. A modern-styled headlight leads the way while a stout 200mm rear anchors the rear. Melding the classic with contemporary, the Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom is what you’d expect for a motorcycle designed by Miguel Galluzzi, the man who brought us the Ducati Monster.

Our Memorable Motorcycles man, Frank Melling, was bewitched when he first spied the new Guzzi at last year’s Birmingham Bike Show, stating “The great joy of the bike is that it is cutting edge 21st Century and still has all the anthropomorphic heart and soul of a motorcycle. The California looks and feels like a motorcycle and yet it is as modern as a stealth jet.”

And while nominating the non-traditional Diavel as “Best Of” the last couple of years created quite the furor, this year’s nominee is pure cruiser.

“It’s funny that the two most interesting new cruiser models in recent years are both Italian. But where the Ducati Diavel is only nominally a cruiser, with in its feet-forward stance mated to Superbike performance, the California is a true cruiser in form and function. The Moto Guzzi delivers a refined performance package and will appeal to riders that want an authentic cruiser riding experience,” surmised MotoUSA’s Managing Editor, Bart Madson.

It’s not every day you come across a cruiser with high-end rider aids like traction control, variable engine maps, ABS, cruise control and a ride-by-wire throttle system as standard equipment. The 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom offers this and more at a competitive price point just under $15K. That’s why it earns the title as our 2013 Cruiser of the Year.