Tag Archive: Guzzi

All the Brits

Photo stops notwithstanding, it was an easy ride from Chamonix to Collonges, and we arrived on site at around 2pm. Other than Phil, a fellow Guzzi riding Brit, we were the first folk there other than the Valais club, who were still setting up. We were warmly greeted by Giorgio and Richard, who we’d been in contact with by email beforehand, and were the first to get our tent up so had our pick of the nice level sports pitch.

Nice inflatable, nice duck!

The rally was being held in the Couvert, a local community facility, like a village hall but with three open sides. It was filled with wooden tables and benches, and had kitchen and a bar which were being run by the club. There were also excellent toilet facilities on site, and even some communal showers. Superb. Party on!

After setting the tent up, the club were also organised and we went to book ourselves in. Richard, an ExPat Brit living in Switzerland, took our 15SF (10 Euros) entry fees, and in exchange gave us each a load of goodies, including a sticker, patch, free beer token, minature bottle of the local schnapps style hooch, and a bit of swiss chocolate. Needless to say that the chocolate and minatures didn’t last long.

Happy smiley people

The club had local beer on tap, but as I have never managed to aquire a taste for beer of any flavour, I asked what else was available. Now I’ve never thought of Switzerland as a wine producing nation, but we couldn’t help but notice the large quantities of grape vines clinging to the mountain sides in pretty little terraces whilst on our way into the valley, and it turns out that they do make wine, and do it rather well. They just tend to drink most of it themselves rather than export it, which seems fair to me! I partook of one of the local whites, a Fendant de Fully, which I liked so much that I partook of a bottle or three more than was good for me. Suffice it to say that a good night was had by all, it’s just a shame that it all gets rather fuzzy for me past about 1 or 2am! I do believe we were amongst the last still standing though, in true Tony and Sarah tradition.

Then there were two...

The next day I was somewhat the worse for wear. Definately too wobbly to go out on a challenging ride on twisty mountain roads, so we declined the offer of the organised run and went back to bed for a while after seeing the rest of the folk off. Saturday night was a much more sober affair, well for me, anyway. We had the opportunity to enjoy a local speciality, the Raclette. This was a simple affair, basically take half of a round of cheese (and they’re big rounds!), stick it under a little grill, and wait untill the top layer has melted and started bubbling. Scrape that on to a plate and add a new potato, a gherkin and a few pickled onions, then eat. Scrummy, but not desparately filling, and after a couple of these we moved on to the main event, a full platter of cheese, salami and walnut bread. A little more civilised than your standard rally burger van! A little more pricey, too, but this was Switzerland. We scoffed what we could manage, and ended up asking for a doggy bag for the substantial leftovers. The nice man at the cheese stall happily re-assembled the sliced cheese and packaged it all up beautifully for us.

Bit posher than your standard burger van!

The wine was going down a tad more slowly for me that night, so of course it was Tony’s turn to get a serious drinking head on. Several bottles of wine later we were chuffed to bits to be given a prize simply for attending the rally from the UK on our honeymoon – a huge bottle of the local brew in a presentation case along with a couple of matched glasses, oh, and a couple of beer mats too, just so we could keep things civilised. Long distance awards went to a lovely Danish chap, Sven, and Val from the UK, who had only passed her test a year and a half previously so was still on a restricted bike. The prizes were a minor challenge to work out how to transport back home, and we always love a challenge!

We managed to be some of the last to retire yet again, and eventually threw in the towel and headed for our tent at around 2am, tired but happy – a good rally indeed. Big thank you to the Moto Guzzi Valais club for making us so welcome and organising such a great event, highly recommended to all of you Guzzi riders out there!

PS This was my first ever non-UK rally, definately not my last!

Proving the Swiss have a sense of humour!

The new bikes are here!

We are very excited, we’ve met our new bikes! We went over to Speedaway Motorcycles on Saturday to go over a few details with them and make sure we were on track to pick up the bikes later this week. We knew the bikes had made it to the importer so were in the country, and were chuffed to bits when they told us they were already with them and in the store. We rushed through, and there they were, all shiny and new, and very nearly ours! Call me sad if you will, but I’ve said hello, and may have stroked my new (and only!) Moto Guzzi just a little bit when no one was looking. My first new motorbike, and the one that I will be spending my life on for the next few years – I’m allowed to be a little sentimental about that, now, aren’t I?

So here they are, the black one is Tony’s and the white one is mine – his and hers 🙂

I’m a very happy man. We have just put a deposit down on two new V7 Moto Guzzi’s. Speedaway Motorcycles in Blackheath have done us a good deal, so buying two bikes does have its benefits even if it is quite scary. They are coming with the optional main stand, crash bars and rear luggage rack. Speedaway are going to fit the hand protectors from a KTM, which are available in black as well as orange, together with heated grips. They are also going to see if they can source a re-usable air filter to replace the standard paper one. One less thing to carry.

We have also decided on our luggage. After some discussion we are going with hard panniers made by Stahlkoffer who are based in Stourbridge, West Midlands. The guy behind Stahlkoffer is called Bernie and a nicer, more helpful bloke you couldn’t hope to meet. He drove over to Speedaway to meet us and to show us his very well made aluminium panniers and mounting system. He looked over the V7 and we discussed fitting them to the little Guzzi, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

So all in all a great day and major steps taken forwards, and only a month to wait for them to arrive from Italy!

What bikes are we going to go on?

It’s only a short question. A mere 8 words. But it’s the question that has been zooming around and around in my brain, and the longer that it doesn’t get answered then the more insistent that it is becoming.

We have been racking our and friend’s brains, looking at manufacturer’s web sites, scouring bike magazines and most recently visiting bike shops and arranging test rides.

A friend has a Yamaha Tenere 660 which is a solid proven bike that has the Yamaha lowering kit fitted, but I can still only barely touch the floor so it’s out.

Tony with the BMW Adventure

Benhams BMW in Wolverhampton were very helpful and we test rode their new Gs1200 and Gs1200 Adventure. The Adventure has all of the mods that we could need and has a gigantic petrol tank so fuel range would never be a problem. On the road it felt rock solid and dependable, was great to ride too, but again it’s quite tall. Touratech do make a lowered seat which would address that…however…it’s very heavy – 259kg and that’s without any luggage! Wheeling it around was difficult enough on tarmac. Sarah didn’t know if she could cope with pushing it on grass, let alone mud or sand, and seriously doubted that when fully loaded she could pick it up. I had to agree.

Pure Triumph in Birmingham were also keen to help and answered loads of questions whilst letting us sit on several bikes. We took the Triumph Scrambler out and both liked it, but we both agreed that we would have to change the high level exhaust pipes as they get hot and felt in the way. It has an optional main stand and bash plate, but is still quite heavy at 230kg.

Speedaway motorcycles in Blackheath let us ride the Moto Guzzi V7 classic. Now I have to be honest here, I have a soft spot for Guzzis. I have been riding them for years and, having bought a couple as projects and totally rebuilt them, I know them quite well. I knew that I would love the little 750. Pretty, nimble, sure-footed, practical, low seat height, shaft drive, easy to work on, economical, etcetera….I could go on and on…But I didn’t want to be selfish and push Sarah down the Guzzi route unless she was convinced that she would enjoy riding them too.

She set off and I waited with bated breath. Would she like its character or hate its idiosyncrasies? I waited some more but no Sarah on the little Guzzi. The guy who had booked the next test ride slot turned up a little early and still no Sarah. Then I heard that unmistakable V twin exhaust and there she was,

That was fun!

with a great big grin on her face. She had been enjoying herself so much that she had missed a sign and got lost in an unfamiliar area. I was chuffed to bits. She liked the Guzzi. Big Grin.

We went away and have been thinking about it, after all buying 2 new bikes is not something that either of us has done before. In fact I’ve only ever had one new bike and Sarah has only bought second-hand till now.  However we have decided that we are going to go for the little Moto Guzzi, something that I am very pleased about.

So why the Guzzi then?

It is big enough and powerful enough to cope with big roads, luggage and the miles that we are going to do. It is also small enough that we can get our feet down easily so we will be less likely to drop it when the tarmac runs out. Also the light dry weight of 182kg is going to make picking it up after dropping it, and getting it into things like hotel lobbies for secure parking much easier.

Another major bonus is that I know Guzzi’s quite well and what goes wrong with them. The V7 is very similar to my 30 year old V50 and so I have no worries about doing any mechanical work on them. The V twin design means that you can even adjust the tappets without taking the petrol tank off. Guzzi’s are also quite robust and if anything over-engineered.

As they are road bikes we are going to have to make some modifications, but there is a factory option main stand and the standard fuel tank should be okay – at 17 litres it should give a decent range because the V7 is quite economical.

Lots of thinking, planning and sorting to still do, but I’m really glad that we have picked our bikes, and that it’s the lovely little Moto Guzzi.