The footboards are a nice touch. Featuring a traditional heal-and-toe gear change, they are comfortable and not a huge stretch. The bars are also well-proportioned, and you don’t have to be a gorilla to ride the bike. I may look a bit like a kid who’s nicked his dad’s cruiser, but with such a low seat 740mm (720mm is optional) and a low centre of gravity, it’s easy to move around.
The new Eldorado carries its weight well as the majority of the bulk is low in the chassis. Ground clearance for a bike with footboards isn’t half bad and the huge V-twin has enough torque to plough fields. Peak torque hits at 2750rpm, so you really don’t need to rev; in fact you barely need a gearbox! It will pull from just over 1000rpm in fifth no problem, so just leave it there and enjoy the ride. It will labour a little in top at low speeds as sixth is more like an overdrive.
One press of the starter button and the promise of something special is delivered. The distinctive Guzzi rock from the V-twin is reassuring and quirky. The motor is actually hung in the chassis to reduce vibrations, almost rubber-mounted – Guzzi call it ‘elastic-kinematic mounting system’. But some vibrations have been allowed to surface and it all adds to the experience. You don’t really go for a ride on the Guzzi, it’s more like an episode, a chapter in your biking life. It’s an emotional thing, rather than a functional one.
There’s a lovely balance of chrome, not so much to be garish but enough to keep onlookers interested. The pros list is long, but I’m determined to put something in the cons column. Okay, so I’m slightly clutching at straws, but the chrome detailing on the meaty, 20.5-litre fuel tank worries me… a bit! If I’d handed over £15k I’d be concerned about its ability to withstand wear and tear from leathers or jeans.
At £15,635, the Eldorado – like it's siblings – is neither cheap, nor expensive against a landscape of similar large-capacity cruisers. The biggest benefit of owning one is that you're unlikely to pass another on the road - and that individuality can be very attractive.
But don’t go thinking the Eldorado is all show. Moto Guzzi is leading the way in this category with rider aids and safety. Changeable traction control comes as standard, as does ABS backed by huge radial Brembo stoppers. There are three rider modes, which change the fuelling, power and throttle response. These can be changed on the move with a closed throttle via the starter button. Being a Guzzi it’s not straightforward as there isn’t an
English translation. The three modes are:
Torismo - touring mode, Veloce meaning performance and the enigmatic Pioggia translated as safety, or the rain mode to us Englanders.
Meanwhile a switch on the left bar enables you to scroll through the huge menu with the information displayed on the centrally mounted clock which also shows current and average MPG. You can scroll through to change the display language, too.
Switchable traction control and three rider modes could be seen as little over the top on a cruiser with such a long wheelbase, but the Guzzi does have a huge amount of torque. Although grip wasn’t a problem in Italy in perfect conditions, it might be a different story in the wet or on the cold cobbled city streets late in the evening. The ABS radial Brembo stoppers do an excellent job of hauling down the 317kg cruiser to legal speeds with ease, which is almost unique in this category. A big air-cooled cruiser with efficient brakes and rider aids? Now there’s a thing.