When Moto Guzzi announced a pair of early-release 2016 models based on the California 1400 platform, the Italian manufacturer created a new model in the Audace and looked to its past for the second. Readers who are familiar with the bikes that have come out of the Mandello del Lario factory over the years will immediately recognize the Eldorado name for the past relationship with the state of California, forging the link to the model line on which this 2016 model is based.
In 1972 Moto Guzzi upgraded the 750cc V7 to create the 850cc California with feedback from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for use on the mean streets of LA. The Eldorado was built from the California’s engine but designed for a more refined purpose. Conceived as a luxury model for riders who enjoyed the finer things in life in addition to the potent powerplant and performance. “If Roman gods had ridden motorcycles,” reads the press materials, “the Moto Guzzi Eldorado would have been chosen by Bacchus.”
Although it may be poor form, today, to associate a motorcycle with a god famous for excessive consumption of wine and loosened inhibitions, the 2016 Moto Guzzi Eldorado seeks to recreate its namesake’s luxurious fit and finish rolled into a “lounge chair” ride. For the most part, the designers at Mandello del Lario succeeded.
From the spoked wheels to the headlight shape to the sculpting of the fenders – or the chrome grab rail surrounding the pillion – the Eldorado cuts an elegant profile. Just a quick look at the detail of the headlight nacelle shows the attention Guzzi lavished on the Eldorado. The projector-beam headlight is flanked by LED daytime running lights (DRL) which can have their intensity controlled by a handlebar-mounted switch. Turning on the DRL increases the output of the LEDs and turns off the projector beam. It also kills the instrument lights – which can be a little disconcerting in the miles-long tunnels around Italy’s Lake Como region. But, hey, it looks really cool! Looking at the sides of the headlight shell, gill-like heat sinks that are required for the high intensity LEDs take a utilitarian feature and turn it into a subtle point of style.
The rest of the Eldorado is of similar elegance and function. The spoked wheels sport tubeless whitewall tires for a combination of past and present. The 5.4-gal. tank receives glossy black paint with white pinstriping and chromed highlights in the tank’s cutouts for the rider’s knees. The juxtaposition of black and chrome (or polished metal) occurs throughout the Eldorado. An example is the polished fins on the black cylinders that lead to the chrome headers back to the angular chrome mufflers. Every component on the Eldorado appears carefully crafted with a premium look and feel in mind – save one. Unfortunately, the plastic rear fender, which looks so sultry at a stop, betrays its lack of metal construction in the form of fender flex when riding over bumpy roads. Seeing the fender and, by extension, the stylish brake light wobble up and down as the Eldorado is followed down the road really detracts from the premium look and feel of the bike.
The riding position of the Eldorado is cruiser classic with an upright seating position and a comfortable reach to the buckhorn-ish pulled-back handlebar. The floorboards are comfortably midships and slightly rearward compared to the Audace’s pegs. When switching from the Eldorado to the Audace, it’s hard to believe that the only differences between these bikes’ riding position are the handlebars and floorboards. Activities that require a bit of work on the Audace, like negotiating switchbacks or banging a U-turn or two in a parking lot, are easy on the Eldorado. The more laid-back riding position made some of the journalists feel that they could ride a given section of road a bit faster, despite the fact that the Eldo will drag floorboards earlier (but cleanly thanks to their folding nature and plastic sliders) than the Audace. Push much further, and the solid floorboard bracketry follows with a jolt. However, the miles pass by with a lot less effort on the Eldorado. One irony of this contrast between the two California-derived bikes is that the more aggressive riding position of the Audace makes it feel more powerful – even faster – than the Eldorado, but there is virtually no difference in the power delivery. Go figure.
Two other areas differentiate the Eldorado from the Audace. First, with the Eldorado remaining Euro 3 emissions certified, the throttle abruptness I felt when testing the California Touring last year is thanks to annual EFI mapping updates but not to the extent as with the Audace, reducing the issue to a niggle instead of a complaint. Otherwise, the 1400 engine is the same enjoyable critter as on the all the other California-based bikes.
Unfortunately, a new complaint has reared its head in the form of the Eldorado’s new, covered rear suspension. When riding smooth pavement, the Eldorado tracks along with the same sporty feel of the remote-reservoired, rebound-damping-adjustable Audace, but when a sharp-edged bump is encountered, in a marked difference with its sibling, the force is directed straight up the rider’s spine. Not a pleasant experience. The high-speed compression damping is a little too aggressive. Unfortunately, the only adjustment on the suspension is preload. So, if this problem rattles your marbles, you’ll have to resort to the aftermarket.
Since the Eldorado is largely an Audace wearing a different uniform, it should come as no surprise that the new Moto Guzzi Multi-Media Platform (MGMP) and its associated iPhone/Android apps are available, too. Just because a cruiser rider prefers a more classically styled bike, s/he shouldn’t have to give up the fun of data acquisition and being able to view all of the recorded information on a corner-by-corner basis in the app. Read more about the MGMP in the Audace review.
After a pair of days sharing seat time with a pair of Moto Guzzi Californias – that both don’t have California in their names – I think the dual spirits of Mandello complement each other nicely. Cruiser fans who like a more relaxed ride while still having good performance on tap when needed will find a willing friend in the Eldorado. The Audace will attract the more Type-A personalities.
The Eldorado is arriving in US dealerships as this story goes live. Available only in Nero Travolgente (black), the 2016 Moto Guzzi Eldorado can be yours for $15,990.
|2016 Moto Guzzi Eldorado Specifications|
|Engine Type||90° V-Twin|
|Cooling||Air and oil with an independent cooling pump; oil radiator with thermostat controlled fan|
|Bore and Stroke||104 x 81.2 mm|
|Compression Ratio||10.5 : 1|
|Valve Train||4 valves per cylinder, DOHC|
|Fuel System||Phased electronic Multipoint sequential injection, Magneti Marelli IAW7SM, “ride by wire”, 52 mm throttle body, IWP 243 Magneti Marelli injectors, double oxygen sensor, integrated management of 3 engine mappings, traction control, cruise control|
|Claimed hp||96 hp @ 6500 rpm|
|Claimed torque||88.5 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm|
|Final Drive||Double cardan joint and fixed bevel gear seat|
|Clutch||single-disc with integrated anti-vibration buffer|
|Exhaust System||stainless steel, 2-in-2 type, 3-way catalytic converter with double oxygen sensor|
|Emissions Compliance||Euro 3|
|Frame||Steel tubing, closed double cradle with elastic-kinematic engine mounting system to isolate vibrations.|
|Front Suspension||Standard fork, 46 mm, 4.7 in. travel|
|Rear Suspension||Double shock absorber with adjustable rebound and spring preload with remote reservoir, 4.7 in. travel|
|Front Brake||Dual 320 mm stainless steel floating discs, Brembo radial callipers with 4 horizontally opposed pistons|
|Rear Brake||282 mm stainless steel fixed disc, Brembo floating calliper with 2 parallel pistons|
|Front Wheel||3.50 x 16 in.|
|Rear Wheel||5.50 x 16 in.|
|Front Tire||130/90 R16|
|Rear Tire||180/65 R16|
|Seat Height||29.1 in. (28.3 in. option)|
|Calculated Curb Weight||738 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity||5.4 gal.|
|Available Colors||Nero Travolgente (black)|
|Warranty||Two years, unlimited mileage|