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."