It’s in this category where the Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom begins to put some serious distance between itself and the competition. Other manufacturers shouldn’t hate it because it’s beautiful; they should hate it because it pushes the boundaries of what a cruiser should be. And because it’s beautiful
Until the California came along, Traction Control and switchable Rider Modes were found only on sportbikes and expensive adventure-tourers. The California 1400 Custom (and its Touring brother) became the first cruising bikes to offer these functions, thanks mostly to its ride-by-wire throttle
Out of 40 possible points in the Technologies category, the California netted an easy 39. No other bike even reached 30.
The Moto Guzzi was also the clear overall winner in the Handling department, with both Duke and T-Rod anointing it an excellent score of 9.5s. “Its steering is very responsive, despite its lengthy wheelbase,” Duke says.
But the biggest numbers don’t tell the whole story. Follow the yellow line and you’ll see how the Guzzi travels up from the bottom and keeps going when the others fall off, reaching up the dial a full third further than the competition. By the time it falters at 78.9 hp, long after all the other horses have returned to their respective barns, it’s marshaled just three fewer ponies than the massive Star – at a revvy 6600 rpm. Having the least-displacement motor here by more than 200cc, its torque numbers are relatively small, but its max output of just 72.7 ft.-lb. arrives at an amazingly low 2200 rpm, assuring strong responsiveness.
Best Cruiser in the World?
So, which cruiser is the best from this sampling from across the globe? According to our Score Card, the clear winner of our World Cruiser Shootout is the Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom.
The Italian cruiser scored well up and down the list of categories, and across the board of judges, garnering a well-rounded 84.6% overall rating. The Japanese entry nabbed a surprising second place with an 80.0% score, thanks mostly to its elegant style and strong powerplant. The worthy British contestant wasn’t far behind at 77.4%, while the scrappy American rode its trendy curb appeal to a virtual tie for third place, with a 76.8% score.