Moto Guzzi California Motorcycle Owners News, Reviews and More
My Guzzi’s handling has improved tremendously since switching to Bridgestone Battlax BT45 tires. With 11,000 miles on my California Vintage odometer, I had been noticing an intermittent steering wobble occurring mostly during deceleration and acceleration. In the past, this occurred much less often. It was usually a result of my my front tire pressure being a few psi low. I’d top it off and then things would improve.
Lately, that remedy no longer worked. My front and rear tire pressures were good. I thought about tightening up the steering damper, but I could not understand why this nagging wobble was coming around more often on my Guzzi. My registration was up for renewing, which meant I had to take it in for an inspection. Since my tires were fairly worn, I decided to get a new set installed so it would pass inspection.
So, now I’d finally replace my original Metzeler Lasertec tires since tread was very thin along the centers. I had been trying hard to squeeze more miles out of these and delay the cost of a new set. As it turns out, my delaying new tires was penny wise, but pound foolish. I’ll never do that again. I didn’t get hurt or in trouble, but I did make a fool out of myself. No one knew that except me. Here, I want to share my findings to my fellow Guzzi fans to help you to avoid doing what I did.
Why was I a fool? As motorcyclists, we often pride ourselves in being “in tune” or being one with our bikes. Being able to spot trouble as, or better yet, before it happens it the game. We often like to diagnose problems and fix or adjust things to remedy them so that we can ride trouble free. To my embarrassment, I was riding an ill-handling motorcycle (increasing annoying steering wobble during deceleration and acceleration). My bike had also developed a mind of it’s own (steering following every minor deviation in the road surface). It no longer had the smooth comfortable feel (as if the front suspension was misadjusted and I just could not find good settings on the dials anymore).
The really embarrassing part is that I didn’t even realize how bad things really had become. I only realized this after riding on my new Bridgestone Battlax BT45 tires for the first few times. My Moto Guzzi California now rides and handles so excellent that I can hardly believe it! It is like better than new, no joke. I am dumbfounded that I was so foolish in delaying the new tires. This is a perfect example of how things can degrade so slowly over time that we barely can perceive the change. My bike’s quality of ride had degraded sharply over the years and I was barely aware. I was wrongly blaming some of the symptoms on tire pressure, suspension adjustments and the steering damper.
Here in North Carolina, the state requires annual safety inspections for motorcycles. This has to be done before you can renew your annual license plate registration. I’ve always had my Moto Guzzi inspected at Motorcycles of Charlotte because the Moto Guzzi dealer where I bought mine from was unfortunately not a state approved inspection station.
Motorcycles of Charlotte is a dealer for BMW, Ducati, MV Agusta and Triumph motorcycles, and an excellent one at that. Their new 2 story facility, located at Westinghouse Boulevard and I-485 in Charlotte, NC is truly state-of-the-art. It is more of a destination than just a dealership really. If you are ever in the Charlotte area, you really should stop by and check it out, especially on a Saturday around lunch time for a hot dog or hamburger.
It was because of my taking it to Motorcycles of Charlotte for inspections over the years that I began to like and trust them more. They treat me well and are very professional with everything they do. Having them change my tires for me was an easy decision. When I brought it in, a few of the guys there told me mine was the second Guzzi in for service that week. Their waiting area (clubhouse/movie theater/kitchen, etc.) makes waiting easy and relaxing.
Moto Nexus in Hendersonville, NC is the closest Guzzi dealer to me now. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to ride to Hendersonville (2 hours each way), but I do hope to visit them too someday.
The state inspection went well as expected. My new tail light caused no problems. With my new Bridgestone Battlax BT45 tires installed, I rode very carefully home. I was amazed how awesome the bike handled and rode. The ride was smooth, smooth as glass and effortless to direct. No hint of wobbles anymore not matter what I did. It was extremely well behaved and pure joy to ride again! What a relief. I was shocked how much better it felt. Of course, any new tire would probably feel great in comparison to my old ones, but this improvement was huge! I really did not expect that my old Lasertecs were worn and aged that poorly to cause my Guzzi California to develop such bad manners.
Anyway, why did I choose Bridgestone Battlax BT45 tires instead of Metzeler Lasertec tires? I wanted a good sport touring tire at a reasonable cost and with recommendations from others that have had tried them. Both the Lasertec and the BT45 had decent recommendations, but I always felt that maybe the straight center groove on the Lasertec front tire was causing some pulling or grabbing when I was on a crack or some other small defect in the road surface. I preferred the BT45 because the center groove of the front tire (and rear tire) is a zig-zag shape, not straight. Maybe this will help.
I had researched what other riders had experienced in several forums such as WildGuzzi and Advrider, just to name a few. I also met with a Michelin factory rep to learn about their motorcycle tires at an open house I attended at a dealer recently. I read many reviews for the Bridgestone Battlax BT45, and considering their reasonable cost, good reputation, availability, they were near the top of my list. The tread pattern is one that I like too, so that why I decided to give the BT45’s a try.
WOW! I never expected such a huge improvement to the ride and feel of my California Vintage that these new tires has provided. It honestly feels better than new! Well “new” was in 2008 for my last tires, just to be fair, my memory of “new” is probably a little skewed by now and my Lasertecs were wearing pretty thin.
I have to say that with my all new riding experience on my new Bridgestone Battlax BT45 tires, I’m feeling a bit like a fool because I waited so long to have this done. I can clearly see now that my being extra frugal and squeezing an extra several hundred, or maybe a thousand miles out the old tires was simply not worth it!