Pierre Terblanche and Miguel Galluzzi on the future of Moto Guzzi

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Think Moto Guzzi and you probably think more about a past than a future.
It’s current products are overweight, underperforming and yet still
only manage a tenuous connection to an illustrious heritage. That’s a
huge problem, one that Piaggio has enlisted designers Miguel Galluzzi
(original Ducati Monster, Aprilia RSV4) and Pierre Terblanche (Ducati
Supermono, 999, first Multistrada, Hypermotard) to fix. We talked to
them about what last year’s Moto Guzzi V12 concepts mean for the brand
and where they plan to take it. They say you should expect to see the
results of their work on a production motorcycle in two to three years. >

Galluzzi: “Guzzi is a very well known brand, but in the last maybe 10 years it has been treated badly. We have the heritage, we have the history, now we have to work on going into the future. The whole idea behind these prototypes was to show people that Guzzi has the ability to do anything it wants.”

“In 1970, the V7 Sport was the superbike of the time and the layout of the engine became known to everyone as the Guzzi of the modern era. When you’ve got something unique, to change that would not be a good idea. The whole Guzzi brand is based on that [transversely mounted v-twin].”

“We need to work on the brand, so we are fixing a few things – simple things that everyone can understand — and then we’ll work from there. The work we are doing right now is in two phases: make stronger what we have and work towards the future.”

Terblanche: “I think the bikes we showed at EICMA were anything but too much. It was a very conscious choice to do something that was aimed towards the existing customer, but without alienating the customer who likes more modern stuff.”

“The idea was to do something both classic and modern at the same time.”

Galluzzi: The Guzzi crowd is extremely conservative, but if we only concentrate on those, we are going to lose eventually. So these bikes are looking into the future.

“The older crowd is going to go away at some point. A Guzzi should have very wide appeal.”

Terblanche: “When we think about the old Moto Guzzi Le Mans and the V7, if you park them next to a modern bike they are very, very small. They look like a 250 today.”

Galluzzi: “[Moto Guzzi] has bikes today that are extremely heavy and large.”

Terblanche: “There’s no reason for bikes to be as big as they are today, it’s something that sort of happened over the years, but there’s no real technical reason for it.”

“You have to fit the same stuff as you do with a larger bike, so you have to save space. The thing with the rear suspension [on the LeMans concept] is that we’ve put it on the swingarm rather than on the frame. This was done basically for packaging purposes because the bike is fairly small. The ABS unit and electronics are where you’d normally expect to find the shock.”

“Even though we had an engine that wasn’t designed last week, nobody really saw that as being a negative thing, it was a very nice contrast between the very mechanical motor and the very organic chassis and bodywork.”

“The classic forms are the surface treatments on the bike. It’s fairly organic and at the same time quite modern. So the proportions are quite modern and you’ve got a very classic surface treatment. The idea of adding adding a monocoque on top of a very sculptured frame which holds the airbox was something which is perceived to be new, but has actually been around a long time. It’s like songs we know that have been remixed a bit and have come out fresh. Something people can relate to.”

Galluzzi: “The advantage Guzzi has versus Ducati is that Ducati makes sportsbikes, Guzzi can do anything it wants because they’ve been doing it a long time and on all sorts of bikes. We are not in a box, we can do anything we want as long as we are able to make it.

Terblanche: “There’s no technology on the bikes that can’t be done tomorrow. It’s just a matter of investment and a little bit of hard work.”

Galluzzi: “That’s what we are working on right now. The real change will come in two to three years.”

“Guzzi is Italian. The sound when you start the engine, you know that’s a Guzzi, there is nothing like that. Maybe it will become known for design. That’s part of the history of Guzzi, being creative with the design of motorcycles.”

  • http://twowheelsplus.blogspot.com Anders

    Brilliant. This gets me excited about Guzzi again. I think they’re right on. Especially when it comes to size and weight. What I love about the early LM’s is the compact size and lightness, yet they still feel so powerful and mechanical.

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    They have some excellent quotes here. My favorite:

    “The older crowd is going to go away at some point. A Guzzi should have very wide appeal.”

    Guzzi can do anything it wants to, and with these talented guys, there is sure to be some awesome Guzzis.

  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com Case

    2 or 3 years and I might be able to afford one. I’m not a huge fan of the transverse-mounted twin but that green X (strada?) concept they unveiled is completely bad ass. I hope it makes it to the street.

  • MotoRandom

    I really wish someone at Harley would read this and think very long and serious about how this applies to their product line. It’s good to see that Guzzi can realize they are not stuck in a box and can mix modern with tradition.

    • Richard Gozinya

      I’m not sure HD has to. Apparently they’re now the leader in the U.S. for the 18-34 age bracket. I’m not sure how that happened, Or where these 18-34 Harley riders are, because I’ve never seen them. But there you go. Perhaps a bunch of young Rugged Individualists™ somewhere.

      Guzzi’s still way cooler than Harley could ever hope to be. And you don’t have to dress up like a gay pirate to ride one.

  • StrawberryBalls

    Galluzzi: “The advantage Guzzi has versus Ducati is that Ducati makes sportsbikes, Guzzi can do anything it wants because they’ve been doing it a long time and on all sorts of bikes. We are not in a box, we can do anything we want as long as we are able to make it.

    Ha! Kind of speaks to the Ducati Vyper vitriol from Wes and Grant.

    • Grant Ray

      When have I been vitriolic towards the Vyper?

  • StrawberryBalls

    Wow, it did’nt take long for the HD vitriol to start on a post that has NOTHING to do with HD.

  • StrawberryBalls

    Sorry Grant, maybe guilt by association but you have not exactly been kind to the premise in your postings. My vitriol is too strong.

  • Patrick from Astoria

    “Piaggio has enlisted designers Miguel Galluzzi and Pierre Terblanche to fix [this problem]….”

    Corporate Management Decision of the Year.

  • jaski_sm

    Good news! I hope that Moto Guzzi will win it.

  • vic

    more power less weight

  • Vinicio

    Sometimes I miss my Guzzi and that exhaust note, but I also don’t miss the weight and the constant repairs. I said I’d never have a Guzzi again as my only bike. Maybe by the time these come out I can afford a second bike. I really hope Guzzi’s new golden era is ahead of it.

  • kidchampion

    Well designed 250-500cc bikes, that are stylish city bikes, would be great. And with Piaggio, they could be manufactured inexpensively and compete globally. Invest in the Italian design but manufacture inexpensively.

    • Hayes

      So basically a small displacement Ducati made in China?

      Not opposed.

  • Isaac

    I loved the Concept at the EICMA. That V12 is awesome!

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com Mark Ryan Sallee

    I’m still pretty new to motorcycling, so I can’t really appreciate the nostalgia. Current Guzzis do not appeal to me, they strike me as marketing efforts more than engineering efforts, like Triumph’s Bonneville/Scrambler/Thruxton. Attractive bikes that tug at the nostalgic connections people have with old bikes, but I’d rather ride the originals. And I’d rather ride a Harley.

    I wouldn’t necessarily want Guzzi to become another Ducati, but making bikes to modern, relevant standards is a lot more interesting than faking relics.

    • Hayes

      Huh? You dont like modern classics but you do like Harley? How is that possible?

      • http://www.ninja250blog.com Mark Ryan Sallee

        It’s like the difference between a pair of Red Wing work boots and Armani fashion footwear. The Red Wings are just honest, simple, stone-age leather boots. Armani makes fashionable fakes.

        More to the point (and I hope this makes me relevant enough to the discussion to dodge the fury of Herr Siler), I’d rather ride a Harley because I do have a cultural connection to the bikes. I haven’t been into motorcycles long, but Harleys have been part of culture my entire life. Guzzis are relevant these days to aging aficionados and maybe Italians.

        Guzzi has the same challenge facing the new Norton. Norton plans to go racing because they know a new Commando hits a shrinking market for boutiques. It’s fine to play to heritage, but without worldwide cultural relevance it won’t sell a lot of bikes.

  • Maas

    I smell Michael Lock in the future of Guzzi

  • MotoRandom

    I think the Harley hate is so pointless and short sighted. The more people just rip on them and their customer base, the more they will go into fortress mode, hunker down with what they have and offer nothing but more paint jobs and parts swaps as “new” motorcycles. I keep hoping that someone over there will wander out on to the Internet, poke around in some bike forums and pay attention to what people would like to see them build. That’s really the only reason the XR1200 is in the USA. It was supposed to be a Europe only model. I think if a small company like Guzzi can try to forge out into new territory, there is no reason why HD can’t. Unfortunately, if all the they can find out in the community is this “vitriol” verses a slavish devotion to the norm by the “pirate wannabes” there really is NO incentive for them to develop to new markets. I don’t see how them failing in a few years is going to make the motorcycling world a better place. If there is ever going to be a chance of them building bikes we are interested in (more power, less weight, we all know the mantra) then we are ALL going to have to express this in a more positive tone. So, good on Guzzi for coming up with these funky but cool bikes. Hopefully we can get Harley to come out play on this bandwagon instead slamming the doors the shut because all they can hear is whining.

  • http://Twitter.com/greatistheworld Will

    Makes sense to bring up HD in this discussion– They has a ticking clock on their heads that got brighter and louder with the recession(boomer nostalgia and easy credit). Guzzi also has a set identity with little future outside of Ewan mcGregor’s enthusiasm, and they’re saving themselves by evolving. Harley could do this as easily but won’t.

    Guzzi has the advantage of being small and apparently smart.

    • HootieWho

      HD is has dominant market share in the US and growing market share in Europe. HD sales were down in 09 and the still picked up market share. Harley just announced they regained the top market share for youth riders 18-34. The MoCo is not in the dire straits you guys wish they were in. In fact, the street was ecstatic with their 2nd QTR performance.

      Does HD need to diversify? Of course, but stop with the fallacy that their market is contracting. The evidence is pointing the other direction. Now they do need to HEDGE against things changing and hopefully they do.

      MotoRandom – Your post honestly does not make a ton of sense. HD will change based on shrinking market share. Like it or not, their strategy is working pretty well.

      Hopefully a new 500cc model does not disappoint and also hopefully new models like the XR1200 will continue to be refined and new sport biased models will come.

      Of course no matter what they do you guys will piss and moan.

      • Grant Ray

        HootieWho, I don’t want to rain on your parade, but saying and doing are, well… You might want to read past the PR and give a little closer inspection to those numbers H-D posted. I’m hoping for the best, but I’m still waiting to hear from dealers who aren’t suffering from floor bloat so that Corporate’s books can look good for Wall Street.

  • HootieWho

    Grant – I was primarily quoting 2009 numbers based on new bike registration, not shipments.

    The youth numbers did come from HD but they were based on a Polk market research study, not shipments to dealers.

    I agree the jury is may still out on the true nature of those numbers (and Wes and your theory) but why is only the HD support challenged? The constant hate and hyperbole from the other posters is never challenged.

    • Grant Ray

      HootieWho, I’m not just wary of HD corporate spin, but corporate spin in general, regardless if it’s American, Japanese, British or Italian. And I’m definitely not against supporting Harley, because they’ve made some of the most amazing motorcycles ever. Even several of the new bikes have the potential to be fun and engaging with boatloads of unique character.

      This is where Moto Guzzi and Harley are the same but different, so it’s no shock to me that the comparison came up as quickly as it did. Both are ancient brands now tied to an engine platform that provides the company’s USP. With these concepts, Guzzi seems to shifting towards a blend of foward-thinking tech and that is powered by the brand-defining engine, but still uses the best in suspension. Harley is instead staying consistent in its worship of it’s own past. Both are viable and laudable routes.

      I’ll be the first to admit I’m harsh on Harley, but that’s because I want an American motorcycle I can buy that I’m proud to own without having to change a thing. I don’t want a chopper or tons of rake or chrome, I want a bare-bones, no frills bike that does it all, like the amazing, handmade Ural ST. I know Harley has at least 2 platforms to make that bike right now, but for some reason refrains from doing so. That doesn’t mean HD can’t surprise us all and bring this kind of bike out next year, though. Things are still changing over in Milwaukee.

      As for Moto Guzzi, they also look like they might be doing amazing things very soon, but they’re letting us all have a peek in advance.

  • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

    That’s not true. We remove many of the crazier comments and ban the commenters that leave them, a lot of what is removed is loonie anti-HD stuff.

    I’d also like to make it clear that we don’t have any animosity towards Harley aside from what we have towards its shady management. Sorry, but sub-prime loans, corporate cost reductions and condescending marketing don’t engender much respect.

    Right, Harley discussion over. Any further Harley comments will be promptly removed. Let’s stay on-topic please, this article’s about Moto Guzzi.

  • the other larry

    I owned an 850 Eldorado, spent some time with a V-50, built a 1000 G-5 with sidecar, and rode the hell out of a V-7 Sport for 12 years. I’ve maintained for years that “I’m in-between Guzzi’s” hoping to get another. But as much as I have wanted to like the newer Guzzi’s (and do have a certain lust for the Griso)every one I’ve ridden since the V-11 Sport came out has disappointed. The older bikes had a heavy flywheel and gave a lot of the appeal to the motor as a road machine. The newer engines feel to me like two-valve Ducatis with the timing off spec or something. Hopefully they will give the motors as much attention as the styling. I really do hope.

  • the other larry

    And they need a bad-ass streetfighter with “MOTOFUCKINGUZZI” on the tank with Conti’s!!

  • JohninVT

    Terblanche is the Chris Bangle of the motorcycle world. I don’t understand why his comments aren’t generating more critical responses. After all, the man has the 900SS fairing, the 999 and the original Multistrada on his resume. The last beautiful bike he worked on was the Supermono. That was 17 years ago and they only made 65 of them. He is single-handedly responsible for more ugly being unleashed on motorcycling than anyone else in the last 30 years.

    What about the shapes on these concepts is supposed to be “organic”? Angular shapes and “surface treatments” aren’t usually buzzwords for “organic”. Are there smooth, flowing lines? No, there are not. They are abrupt and angular. Sh*tcan the stupid rearview mirrors and atrocious heatsinks. Put a normal headlight on them. How about some fenders?

    I realize that these are concepts but as someone who has owned an Eldorado, a V11 Lemans and a 1200 Sport, I know Guzzi still ships new $15,000 bikes with partial plastic in-tank fuel filters that don’t hold up to Ethanol. The plastic frame Terblanche claims is production ready makes me laugh out loud because dozens of Guzzi owners have been stranded on the side of the road by a 15 dollar fuel filter. You have to get the little things right before you can tackle the big things.

  • SKurj

    You can design whatever you like but it isn’t going to sell without any dealers…

  • schizuki

    “Terblanche is the Chris Bangle of the motorcycle world.”


    My only quibble with this statement is that, IIRC, Bangle designed some two-wheel atrocities as well.

    Terblanche shovels bullshit by the bucketload and motojournos buy it for fear of looking like philistines. Most of his designs could be considered “naked” insofar as the emporer has no clothes.

  • http://danilogurovich.wordpress.com Danilo

    I have to laugh. Half the comments are about HD, half are from people that haven’t owned a new Guzzi in decades. One is from someone that has a 1200 Sport, a bike that I’ve owned until some creep in Chicago put me over the trunk of his car when he pulled out in front of me.

    More power, less weight. More power, less weight. I ride a V7 Classic, which has the least power in the entire Guzzi lineup. I ride it 2000 mi a month, often 3-400 miles at a stretch. I also ride around cities and on what few windy roads that the topographically challenged Midwest has to offer.

    Could the bike use more power? Maybe? Can I cruise at 5000rpm and 80mph for hours at a stretch? Yup. Have I had ANY problems with the bike? Well, my sidestand spring kinda sux and I replaced it. Other than that, 9000 miles in 10 months with 3 of those in Chicago winters, well, the bike gets a lot of use and doesn’t use oil, doesn’t break down, and DOES make me smile constantly.

    Guzzi is on the rise — it had a really rough decade. If you’re looking for more dealers, fuggedaboudit. They make 5000 bikes worldwide. These bikes NEED to be MORE exclusive, or you’ll see them languishing on showroom floors. How many MV Agusta dealers are there? That’s about the right number.

    A Guzzi should be a bike that you buy because you’ve been wanting to do it for a long time, not a bike you can buy instead of a typical Japanese Literbike or BMW. Screw ‘em. Guzzi is for when you’ve grown up and want to be different, and define “cool” not by your checkbook, but the feeling you have in the seat of your pants on a great road.

    • Chris from NZ

      As a V11 Sport owner, I find Danilo’s post is absolutely correct.

  • Scooter

    Uh, Guzzis are in-line V-twins, Harley (& virtually everyone else) makes transverse twins, Wes! It’s all based on the crank axis vs. vehicle axis & has been for ages. Get with the program, dumb@ass!

    Aside from that, the Daytona RS/Sporti 1100 are the best looking bikes in the history of riding. My V11 LeMans is a close 2nd. The concept mules displayed at the last EICMA bring new meaning to the phrase “double-bag fugly” and make the ill-conceived Centauro equivalent to the Mona Lisa by comparison.

  • Supergome

    There’s no such thing as an inline-v-twin. It’s called a longitudinally-mounted twin. And you’re rude.