Southern California Touring, January 2016

Abraham & Maximilian Garweg

It is my opinion that the best presents under the Christmas tree are usually the ones you wrap for yourself. At least in this manner I have yet to be disappointed. This year was no different. My son and I decided to pass on material objects and instead Mr. and (my wife) Mrs. Claus were kind enough to drop two roundtrip tickets to Southern California under the tree.

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While there my son and I would spend a few days renting modified Moto Guzzi’s from renowned customizer Todd Eagen.

Todd is a massive Petrol-head, a great guy, and the owner of Guzzitech. Todd does for Guzzi’s what the M division does for BMW’s. Todd takes a standard Guzzi and turns it into the Supperleggera/sport version.  Really many of you may think that is high praise but if anything it’s an understatement. The way he transforms the bikes is nothing short of staggering.

I know the standard bike very well. My son owns a 2014 V7 Racer. It was actually my son Max who (against my better judgment) got me back into riding. Max fell in love with the Racer, which he bought in early December in Dallas and rode home to NJ in five days.  I always liked Guzzis and have to say the V7 Racer in stock form is a great bike. At least that was my opinion, until I rode one of Todd’s creations.

Basically, Todd has your dream job. He spends his afternoons out in a garage in the hills of Malibu, (overlooking the pacific) where he wrenches on all manner of Guzzi’s. The standard treatment is more power, less weight, and magic suspension that somehow manages to be supple over bumps and perfectly stiff through the bends.

The difference between my sons bike and Todd’s V7 is like kicking off some old wooden clogs and sliding on a new pair of Nikes.

Todd’s V7 is without a shadow of a doubt the best motorbike I have ever ridden. His few thousand dollars (around $3000 on top of a standard bike) gets you a full-bespoke lightweight exhaust, a lighter battery, an ECU tune, and massively improved front and rear suspension.

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We started our trip just north of Santa Monica lost in the hills of Malibu wondering if our GPS was insane.

 

It was telling us that our destination was at the top of a long rocky, dirt road. At the top of the hill are two homes. The one on the left is Todd’s.

Waiting outside in the SoCal sun were our motorbikes. A V7 with all of Todd’s mods and a 1,200cc heavily modified Griso that puts 112 hp to its massive rear tire.

Max wanted to feel what the modifications did to a V7 so I ended up with the hulking Griso. We familiarized ourselves with the bikes through the excellent canyon roads (Becker and Mulholland along with our personal favorite hill climb of Las Flores) in Malibu before taking the Pacific Highway north.

I knew the Pacific Highway from former trips between Hearst castle and Monterrey. The road is very scenic up north and full of fast turns. To our surprise in Southern California it is mainly a highway (101) (not what we had in mind). After nearly running out of fuel with the thirsty Griso (it has a drinking problem) we decided to quit the main highway and took the very scenic Chumash highway to Solvang.

The ride was awesome! The road was fantastic; the landscape before us outstanding, and it was empty in comparison to US-1. We loved every minute of this ride and arrived in Solvang shortly before 9AM.

Solvang is very touristic but if you get there early enough (before the tour buses) it feels less like Epcot and more like a little Northern European town.

We had breakfast in one of the Scandinavian restaurants (it was excellent) and walked from the town to Solvang’s gem of a motorcycle Museum. When the museum opened at 11AM we found ourselves lost in a veritable treasure trove. It may not have been the largest motorcycle museum I’ve been to but I don’t believe it contained a single bike I wouldn’t put in my dream garage. .

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A few of our favorites; A 1932 Brough Superior (never saw one in person), a BMW R12, a like new original R69S, a 1954 BMW Rennsport, A very impressive collection of AJS, MV & Vincent bikes, a 1955 Moto-Guzzi 500cc DOC V8 racing bike, and a 1972 Yamaha XS650 (last bike I owned before buying a BMW R bike this summer). Several NSU racing bikes as well as a 1928 Neander (my favorite uncle used to have one) After wiping the drool from our chins we slipped into our gear and hit the road.

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We headed from Solvang NW to drive some more beautiful canyon roads. My son picked one ‘shortcut’ that turned out to be nothing but packed damp mud that was as slick as ice. We were about to give up and turn around when an old man and his wife tore past us in a gorgeous dark blue Porsche 356 Coupe. We gave chase and let me tell you, this guy really knew how to drive, he pulled ahead on the wetter muddier sections and we reeled him back in on Todd’s masterful machines anytime the road dried up. It was an absolute blast and it is a memory that will never be willingly surrendered.

We eventually took 154 back to Ventura via Santa Barbara. At Ventura Harbor we ate the best Greek food ever and rode further south to Oxnard where we spent the night.

The next morning we got up early and laughed as we gave the hotel courtyard its unwanted 7:30 wake up call. Seriously, the Griso Snorts, snarls, crackles and pops like a bull rushing a matador. It is a bit too loud for my tastes but my son absolutely loved it. Next, we took the pacific highway south, rode through some serious fog, and took an exit north of Malibu to hit the canyons one last time.

Driving in the Malibu Mountains we switched bikes and I got to ride the V7. I fell in love with that bike. The build quality of the smaller bike seemed closer to my BMW’s than the Griso. The V7 handled like a 500 cc bike but had the grunt of a much larger bike. Todd’s ECU re-flash makes it much more rev happy and if you’re a little overzealous it will pick up the front wheel (something my son has not managed on his stock racer). The Griso was a great bike and was extremely fast but the V7 made me smile through those canyon roads like I haven’t in a long time. Swinging around turns like a pro is simple with that V7. It is the definition of confidence inspiring.

I am a diehard BMW motorcycle fan but I can now say if I could only have one bike in my garage it would be one of Todd’s modified V7’s. Blasphemy? Go stop by Todd’s little Malibu sanctuary and ride one for yourself, you may very well end up in the same predicament as my son; who is now suddenly aware that he is wearing wooden clogs and is desperately saving for a pair of Todd Eagan’s Nike’s. What do you have to lose? Worst-case scenario you ride some excellent bikes on some of the worlds best roads for a trip of a lifetime.

We will do this trip again (after saving up a bit) but we have learned a bit as well. Next time we will rent Todd’s guesthouse and spend our days attacking the canyons in and around Malibu. We hope to find more awesome canyon roads and I will be riding a V7. I don’t know what the future holds but I do sincerely hope that it is a garage with a Guzzitech V7.

Thanks for reading.

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