THE BIG CRUISER’S RELATIVELY LOW WEIGHT TRANSLATES TO A NIMBLE BIKE ON THE ROAD
An American-styled cruiser needs two things to make it great — chrome and character. The Moto Guzzi Eldorado has both characteristics in spades.
The third bike in the California family, the Eldorado is inspired by the 850 Eldorado from 1972. Back then the Eldorado was a big hit for Moto Guzzi, especially in the all-important American cruiser market from which much of its styling is drawn.
Fast-forward to 2016 and it is clear Guzzi has repeated the theme of the original for the new Eldorado.
Though the engine has increased in size, from 850cc on the original, to 1380cc on the new bike, the styling remains relatively true to its predecessor.
Whitewall tyres wrap the 16-inch spoked wheels with big, beautiful full-sized fenders in turn wrapping the tyres.
Naturally, being inspired by a true classic, the lines are stunning on the Eldorado. I get the feeling that even with my limited drawing ability I could mimic the simple and elegant shape of the bike with just a few pen strokes. A true feat considering how much is crammed within the Eldorado’s frame.
One of the standout modern features of the Eldorado is the polyellipsoidal front LED headlight (above) which proves you don't have to use old tech on a classic for fear of ruining the vibe. This unit provides great lighting as well as a brilliant focal point to the front end.
The big engine makes up the majority of the bike, with its cylinder heads poking out of the sides just in front of the rider’s legs. These are great for keeping warm on cold rides. The two huge exhaust pipes sweep forward, then aft out of the big twin ignition heads underscoring the lines of the bike.
Producing 71kW and 120Nm of power, the big bore engine definitely doesn’t make you feel the bike is lacking in oomph.
Moto Guzzi has even equipped the Eldorado with three rider modes to make the most out of that power.
Once the bike is running, the starter button becomes the rider mode switch, allowing you to change between Turismo (Touring), Veloce (Fast), and Poiggia (Rain) modes.
It feels quite wrong at first to be hitting the starter button with the bike running, but once I made the mental leap it was one of the easier electronic systems to use on the bike. Each mode has a pronounced alteration to the bike’s personality, with Poiggia being sedate and smooth, and Veloce is a laugh and a half.
The only thing holding you back from absolute tyre-shredding mayhem is the factory traction control. It offers multiple levels of “assistance” to choose from, and you can’t completely turn it off. That’s probably a good thing as I don’t imagine that nice 180 section rear white wall would be cheap to replace every five minutes ...
All this electronic trickery is displayed on the same dash as found on the Audace. A big circular clock with digital display inset, and on the rim of the dash is an easy-to-read analog tachometer.
Flowing back along the top of the frame is the large scalloped main seat, which looks huge when compared to the other bikes the Eldorado shares its frame with. A good-sized pillion seat, with chrome grab handles, rounds off the rider accommodation before the large rear fender follows the rear wheel downward.
Now you may be thinking that with all that extra style and chrome the Eldorado would weigh significantly more than its Audace sibling. I thought exactly that until I saw the spec sheet and read 314kg, only 15kg heavier than the chopped and carbon fibre-clad Audace.
This relatively low weight (for a cruiser) translates to a nimble bike on the road. Though you do feel its weight at very low speeds, as soon as you’re moving it fades away into a very easy-to-ride machine.
Powering away from lights is made easy thanks to the hydraulic clutch and the Eldorado roars up to the legal limit with gusto. I’d love to take one of these to a drag strip to see what it is capable of in a straight line after dumping the clutch and letting the traction control do its thing.
Cornering clearance is good, and the big footboards come equipped with plastic sliders, much like a race suit, which protect the metal boards when you do touch down. After riding my share of cruisers without these attached to their footboards, and grinding them away on the road, I’m amazed more cruisers don’t have them.
Bringing the Eldorado to a halt are dual 320mm brake discs with Brembo four-piston calipers at the front, and a 282mm disc with two-piston Brembo caliper at the rear. ABS is standard which means when you jump on the big brakes you can feel it activate as it pulses away, preventing the brakes locking up.
Priced from $28,990 and available in two colours, Nero Classico (also known as black) and Rosso Pregiato (also known as red), the Moto Guzzi Eldorado is possibly the best bike in the California family when it comes to evoking those American cruiser benchmarks: It has the chrome, and it certainly has the character.