At the national launch in Sydney last week, national manager Ezio Forcella acknowledged that the cruiser market was growing rapidly in Australia, driven mainly by Harley-Davidson.
The big American is now the top-selling road bike company, leapfrogging Honda.
“The cruiser market is expanding because people want an escape, but they don’t necessarily all want a Harley,” Ezio says.
“Our customers want something a bit more sports oriented and don’t want to be part of the pack.
“It’s about history, heritage and lifestyle.”
He points out that Moto Guzzi has been in continual production in the same factory in Mandello del Lario, Italy, since 1921 and the California cruiser has been in production since 1971.
“Moto Guzzi has always been an innovator. They built the first swingarms on a motorcycle and the first motorcycle wind tunnel. When they ran the wind tunnel, the lights would go out in town, so they used it in the early hours of the night.
“But they also have an eye to the future,” he says, pointing out that the new California was the first cruiser to have fly-by-wire throttle, three engine maps, cruise control and traction control.
Since the first California was produced to mirror the cop bikes used in California, there have been eight generations and five engines.
The current model features a 1380cc transverse V-twin engine and shaft drive, a combination which has been with the company for nearly 50 years.
For the launch, Moto Guzzi fan Andre Deubel brought in his 1972 850cc California which took three years to restore it.
The beautiful bike’s lines are reflected in the classic-looking Eldorado with its deep-valanced mudguards, spoked wheels, white wall tyres, bullhorn handlebars, acres of chrome, covered shocks and low oversized saddle.
The rear seat cleverly conceals an integrated luggage rack when removed. It comes in black and red.
The Audcae (Italian for audacious) is a more modern and dark version with drag bars, footpegs set back a little instead of forward floorboards, an adjustable rear shock, carbon mudguards and shortened exhaust system.
Both come with a host of accessories.
They join the California Custom ($23,000 ride away) with cruiser handlebars, black mirrors, minimalist colour scheme and a two-seater saddle; the white Touring that adds a “Patrol” windscreen, chrome-plated headlights, 35 litre panniers, engine and pannier guard kit, touring saddle ($26,000); and Touring SE that adds 35-litre panniers, built-in passenger grab handle and back rest and a two tone colour scheme called Marrone Executive ($26,500).
The ultra-mean MGX-21 concept California, unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan last year, could point to even more California model variants in future.