Comparative Harley-Davidson 1690 Road King vs Moto Guzzi 1400 California Touring: Two kings for a crown
On a market of the gravitational custom but largely dominated by Harley-Davidson, of many manufacturers their weapons furbish. It is the case of Moto Guzzi, whose very new Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring plays directly in the court of the American manufacturer. bikescatalog could not miss opposing one of florets of the range Touring Harley 2013, Road King 1690, with this new challenger…
The European market of the custom knows these last years a clearing from which Harley-Davidson profits briskly: 5 customs out of 7 sold in 2011 left the chains of MoCo. One thus understands that the crenel causes the covetousness of the concurrent brands, decided well to reestablish on this segment in vogue. For 2013, Moto Guzzi opens the hostilities by presenting a completely revisited version of its mythical California.
New look, news part-cycle and new V-Twin: completely revisited, Moto Guzzi California 1400 has very to like and we could appreciate it on our first test last December. But will that be enough however to enable him to become caliph instead of caliph? Or rather of the King, since the news Moto Guzzi California 1400 Tourer attacks the reference of the kind frontally: Harley-Davidson 1690 Road King . There was the entire question… before the station takes again in hand the handlebar of these very expected Duelists!
Opposition of styles
Let us enter from the start the sharp one of the subject. Posed on their crutches side, S Road King Classical and California present a similar, massive and affluent gauge, which will not fail to allure the fifty something’s for which they are intended in priority.
Italian clearly draws its inspiration in the past of Mandello, addressing a wink supported to Moto Guzzi Ambassador and El Dorado of the beginning of the Seventies. Modern and dynamic, Moto Guzzi California 1400 is characterized by many small tips stylistics like the beautiful multi branched alloy rims pointing out their counterparts radiated, a Patrol windshield, a long chrome line of exhaust and beautiful rigid side bags.
With front, its headlight is framed chrome additional fires, as on Harley-Davidson Road King 1690 . but California 2013 adopts a polygonal projector with dipped headlights with standard LED DRL. Like American, Italian is equipped with crash landing bars chrome before and back in order to preserving the motorcycle in the event of fall.
More conventional, Harley-Davidson Road King Classic 1690 fact very to preserve its authenticity, going even until dissimulating as much as possible its embarked technology, with the image of the system ABS partly dissimulated in the hub of the nose gear wheel. For as much, its line remains timeless, all in accessible roundness’s and chromium’s with profusion. A true seducer, the King of the Road…
Motorcycles of man
In saddle, Moto Guzzi California 1400 and Road King Classical propose both a position of senatorial control, with a low and comfortable base, a broad handlebar horn of cow and broad footboards driver. More high-tech, Moto Guzzi presents to its driver a ringed chromium instrument panel with rev counter and digital dial very complete, as well as a chrome console of tank with bootable stopper.
Transverse V-Twin explodes literally of each with dimensions of a tank letting sting chrome cylinder head covers. More sober, Harley is satisfied with a single console, without rev counter, with small digital posting gathering essential information, a battery of indicators and a large chrome contactor. Its tank filler cap is not bootable.
Each one of these motorcycles proposes a height of reasonable saddle, which makes it possible the majority of the gauges to flat pose the two feet on the ground with the stop. One and the other requires however a certain effort to be raised of their side crutch. Respectively weighed to 345.4 and 381 kg in functioning order, these motorcycles do not make indeed in the half measures and require of their pilot a minimum of force to be handled.
Engine moving, one feels that one and the other pays a very detailed attention to the sonority of their exhaust. This little game, Road King Classical preserves a small advance with a more raucous and penetrating sonority, characteristic with the brand. The big Italian block is however not remains and delivers about it also an attractive melody, in a register hardly less virile.
Klong and Re-klong: the first report engages on one and the other with a typical noise of locking of report on a gear box of custom.
Not frankly of the pumps
At low speed, in particular in the dense town traffic, the train before Moto Guzzi California 1400 displays a relative lightness but also a small trend fall, which requires to compensate with the handlebar to preserve its course. It is enough to a few km/h moreover so that the phenomenon attenuates, Guzzi then showing an astonishing agility for its gauge, its broad handlebar facilitating the fast changes of management and offering an accurate check of the directional stability.
In the same context, Road King Classical is shown appreciably more neutral, benefitting from a lower centre of gravity and from a shorter footing. It benefits in addition from an engine torque more present at bottom and average modes, which allows him cruiser on a thread of gas and to begin again carefully with the least request of the accelerator, without excessive recourse to the selector.
Guzzi is not remains side about it couples, but requires changes of more frequent reports and a more constant attention in dense circulation. Its flexible is delivered higher than on Harley and one has quickly the feeling to be in over speed on the first reports, in particular second and third, which encourages passing the higher report, sometimes prematurely. Even report in deceleration where the knockings and jolts of transmissions are done more sensitive when one is under-mode, forcing the driver to fall a report.
It is in addition advisable to take care of the obstruction superior due to the side bags whose arches of protection exceed clearly, for the risk to make contact with a badly apprehended obstacle. The approval of use proves appreciably better with the handlebar of Harley at low speed, with less significant jolts of transmission in phase of acceleration or deceleration, as well as a more progressive ordering of clutch. One quickly slackens the handle after the passage of report and the important couple ensures the transition, whereas on Guzzi one makes use of the clutch to compensate for and ensure a softer transition.
Calif’ of the Highways…
Launched on the motorway carrying out us towards Normandy, Moto Guzzi California 1400 and Harley Road King Classic 1690 make practically good match in terms of approval of use, in spite of their differences of motorizations and performances. Transverse V-twin with transmission shafting and gimbals joint of Moto Guzzi California indeed develops 96 horses with 6500 tr/min, that is to say 12 horses moreover than longitudinal V-Twin Harley-Davidson with belt drive notched and its 84 ch with 5010 tr/min. On the other hand, Harley asserts a more important maximum couple: 13.4 daN.m with 3500 tr/min, against 120 daN.m with 2750 tr/min for Guzzi.
It is thus enough with the driver to California to open gases into large in Swift mode to outdistance without blow to freer Road King Classical, this with a reactivity and a dash very sport-GT. With this pace one perceives best the work completed by Mandello on the level of the connection engine-frame. And in particular excel it filtering of the vibrations with high modes, although California has only one overdrive report to sit the driving mode at high-speed.
The revivals are not strengthened of it and the answer to very fast acceleration, with a rise in mode frank and powerful.
Conceived for the cruising with American on the interminable ones and rectilinear highways, Harley-Davidson is not remains about it as much as the legal limitations are respected. Equipped with a true box six reports, it follows the rhythm without forcing, while remaining capable of energetic goings beyond, with or without passage in fifth according to the relief. The vibrations are just as easily filtered, but Road King is made all the same outdistance by California when speed increases considerably.
The more so as with this pace Guzzi makes the watch of best directional stability, grace in particular to its wheel before 18 inches, its column steering firmly built and its windshield generating less turbulences. At this speed, the train before Harley indeed induces a small tacking which encourages moderating the pace, certainly due to the rounder and high profile of the pneumatic tires Dunlop D408F and D407 with white sides used, less rigorous than Dunlop D251 of California.
The suspensions work correctly on one and the other in this context, as long as the quality of the coating allows it. It is enough indeed to a marked shock on the way of a projecting connection to remind few 212.4 kg of the rear wheel-axle unit of Harley and to feel hard the shock in the bottom of the back. Shock accentuated by the right position of the driver, as on California besides.
Even report in fast curves where one can also appreciate the total weight in charge of the machine with crew and luggage when a strong constraint is boxed.
Healthier, California also reacts but has a more rigid frame which enables him to remain more precise of trajectory at high-speed in this context. Both can in addition count on sufficiently powerful suspensions in this context, with a compound adjustable back shock absorber in preload of spring by the user on Guzzi, hydraulically in concession on Harley.
The two motorcycles propose an equivalent protection of the driver thanks to their large windshields, like suitable position of control for the pilot and his passenger. That of Guzzi is cherished appreciably more, with a broad bar of maintenance dorsal, a broader base and footrests located less high than on Harley. To summarize, Moto Guzzi 1400 California lends itself better to a fast cruising to European, Harley with travel at the quieter rhythm.
… Against King of the Road
In spite of their orientation custom, California and Road King remain the true road ones, conceived to garner the kilometers on motorway as on road. We thus put them at the test on the small tortuous roads of the regional natural park of French Vexin, around the Guyon Rock. One and the other adapt instantaneously to this new road configuration, showing a beautiful agility in the sequences and benefiting fully from their generous couple with bottom and average modes.
Very quickly, California passed from the Swift mode to the tourism mode in order to offer more approval on the intermediate modes and more engine brake in deceleration, which proposes of origin Harley. A simple order with the left lever is enough to place from a mode of control to the other, this one being obviously transcribed with the instrument panel.
Even on the wet roads of our beginning of course, difficult to say if the control of traction started at one unspecified time to suppress the arrival of the power and to prevent an evasion of the aft wheel, so much its operation is transparent. In any case, we did not feel the need to pass in mode Pioggia (rain), which reduces the Italian engine output clearly and delivers it in a softer and linear way.
On the other hand, with Harley, the incursions on a slipping bitumen tape are immediately felt and it is thus advisable to proportion acceleration in this context well not to be made surprise on a wetland or fatty. Road King Classical on the other hand allows cruiser peacefully on the fourth or the fifth report without needing to play of the selector, which proves particularly appreciable with use.
At the end of a few kilometers one is literally conquered by this facility of use and one adopts a rhythm of cool and relaxed control naturally, benefiting from the extraordinary elasticity of the Harley-Davidson engine and his spellbinding sonority. IEA, one had prevented me… to test it is often to adopt it!
On these roads however tortuous, the ground clearance of these two motorcycles appeared amply sufficient to us. In any case we did not have the occasion to make rub plastic protections of the foot boards of California, as at the time of its official presentation in the South of France. Even report with the Harley Road King Classic, who however has a lower ground clearance (146 mm compared with 165 for Guzzi).
By carrying out many half-turns on road, at the time of a photo meeting, California appeared slightly easier to handle, directing slightly shorter than its rival in spite of her obstruction superior. It is necessary however to use all the width of the road to carry out the operation, with one and the other.
As regards the petrol consumption, the advantage returns to American which, not satisfies to have largest tank the (22.7 liters compared with 20.5 for Italian), appears also most sober with an average consumption of 7.24 l/100 km at the end of our test on mixed course (approximately 500 km downtown, on roads and fast tracks). It thus offers an autonomy of approximately 313 km books included, against nearly 266 km for the Moto Guzzi California 1400, which consumes on average 7.69 l/100 km on the same course.
Braking: Favors in California!
Dimensioned braking, the behaviors are very different. Moto Guzzi 1400 California, which gives up its braking combined while passing with ABS, indeed privileges its double disc of 320 mm before Brembo with radial clamps 4 pistons, supplemented in the back by a disc of 282 mm to clamp simple piston. The essence of braking is thus carried out mainly with the right lever, the back brake with the foot bringing a complement of power just and making it possible to sit the motorcycle as starter of curve if one arrives a little quickly.
Harley-Davidson makes the opposite choice, privileging for its part braking with the foot, with a powerful back disc of 300 mm to clamp 4 pistons. It also lays out of a double disc before 300 mm with clamps 4 pistons, of a power more than satisfactory, but oddly on Harley one instinctively takes the practice to use the brake pedals postpones… At all events, these motorcycles brake with final very correctly.
Guzzi takes however the ascending one on Harley thanks to his system more effective and reactive ABS. It is indeed enough to slow down extremely on tapes of deceleration preceding a stop to trap Road King, which then lengthens exaggeratedly the braking distance. This game, California is shown more effective and powerful by recovering more small phases of braking and while stopping earlier.
Assessment: The price of excellence
At the end of this comparative, force is to recognize that the challenger does not miss assets to allure and try to convince. Moreover, as regards dynamic services, Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring gains this comparative at the points while putting forward serious arguments. Moreover, Italian is proposed with 19,350 €, that is to say 3,340 € of less than one Harley-Davidson Road King Classic Vivid Black.
For as much, few additional technologies and the rise in obvious range of tempting Italian do not manage to eclipse mythical American completely, which preserves an obvious approval of use “in the true life”.
Moreover, if it is a point on which Harley-Davidson prints its brand with red iron: it is obviously the customer service and the dimension in the broad sense of its motorcycles. Vis-a-vis a network equipped with very beautiful signs, a catalogue of thick parts like the Parisian directory, with the famous HOG and – obviously – the chrome image hard of Harley-Davidson near the general public, Moto Guzzi cannot obviously fight, in spite of, inter alia, a history quite as rich.
There does not remain about it less one news Moto Guzzi California 1400 which does not have especially to redden of the dynamic comparison with its inspirer of always, while preserving a character and services typified before very European, thus opposing to approval and brags it of the twin of Milwaukee a level of performances, appreciably higher equipment and a versatility, without forgetting a line quite as sumptuous at a less price. A very difficult choice or the subjective arguments has also their word to say…
Harley-Davidson 1690 Road King Classic
Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring
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