We thought the Ducati Diavel had a lock on Best Cruiser. But then the new Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom loped into our lives. And this Italian gets under your skin in a good way, its air-cooled 1380cc V-Twin winning us over with torque and the starring role it plays in the Art Deco looks of the bike. Though classically styled, the California is modern, with three levels of power delivery and traction control, plus ABS and cruise, none of which detracts from the bike’s mechanically satisfying nature.
Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring ABS—a bull fiddle of a motorcycle, a massive Italian-built custom-cruiser with its crankshaft stuck in the wrong way.
With a honking 1,380-cubic-centimeter V-twin cackling amidships and a long, lurid, more custom-y stance, the California (in Touring and Custom trim, $17,990 and $14,990, respectively) is the big reveal in a $54 million product modernization by corporate owner Piaggio (the California went on sale this week).
This reboot of Moto Guzzi will test the appeal of what has always been an exceedingly niche-y bike, defined by its quirks (6,664 global sales in 2012). If Moto Guzzi were any more of a cult, you’d need a chicken.