Impression – Moto Guzzi California Touring, Indian Springfield and Harley-Davidson Road King Classic

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Print – Moto Guzzi California Touring, Indian Springfield and Harley-Davidson Road King Classic

Westward

Two days off: switch on fat V2, switch off stress, switch off properly. In the saddle of the three road cruisers Moto Guzzi California Touring, Indian Springfield and Harley-Davidson Road King Classic, everyone becomes the director of their own personal road movie.

Always further west, towards the sunset.

Achim’s buddies had linked him. They hadn’t told him about the fat, three-foot-high apehanger handlebars on the Indian Springfield. Surprise! Achim, the fast sports driver, was of course skeptical, very skeptical in fact. The Indian has a flatter pullback handlebar that is cranked far back as standard. It’s a buffalo horn, similar to Harley-Davidson’s R.oad King Classic and Moto Guzzis California Touring wear for Tom and Gabriel. “Stretch out, Achim! We are now learning to be nonchalant, ”says Tom. "It will be a deeply relaxed tour with the three star cruisers." Chrome, sweet Chrome. Looking for space in front of the front wheel with almost five liters of displacement, distributed over just six cylinders.

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Print – Moto Guzzi California Touring, Indian Springfield and Harley-Davidson Road King Classic
Westward

Moto Guzzi air-cooled, 90-degree V-Zwos installed lengthways. For a long time only. And in this form, with 1380 cubic meters, the largest V2 in Europe.

50 years? Pah. Tom: “Harley-Davidson has been making style-defining V2 engines since 1909.” Since then, their cylinders have been spread at a 45-degree angle to form the Victory symbol. But a lot has happened inside in 2017. Now only a single camshaft rotates deep down in the engine room. In addition, as in the Guzzi, four valves each whiz up and down in the cylinder heads – hence the name of the engine “Milwaukee Eight”. Revolution? No evolution. Because as before, four bumpers and maintenance-free hydraulic valve lifters drive the valves. The whole garnish an honorable 1745 cc, 107 cubic inches. As with the Cali, an oil cooler ensures a healthy thermal household. The Harley engine stomps inimitably at 850, 890 idling speeds.

Just like the Guzzi-V2, it is elastically suspended in the frame. Both engines shake wildly only when the car is stationary. They calm down quite a bit when driving. The Harley is particularly flattering to the driver, massaging the drunk in a charming way despite the cultivating balance shaft. Tom takes off the gas voluntarily: "2500 turns and the day is your friend – I’ve never driven 100 so beautifully." Real highway rock ‘n‘ roll. The Harley locks at 175 anyway. Very confident, this deep-bass blubber sound: "The Harley shoots, but it doesn’t roar, it sounds voluminous and full."

The Road King Classic wears whitewall tires on beautiful wire-spoke wheels. Form follows emotion. The Road King, a rolling cultural heritage, has existed since 1993. It is reminiscent of the Electra Glide from 1965, which is purist by Harley standards. Tom’s belongings are stowed in leather-covered hard cases, they have hidden quick-release fasteners. The Standard Road King has waterproof hard-shell cases and cast wheels, just like Guzzi and Indian, the latter even with central locking! Indian was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1901, two years before Harley-Davidson, 20 before Moto Guzzi. "Except that the two have continuously produced motorcycles since then,"says Tom about the revival of Indian. Harley guys and Indian folks never liked each other.

In theory, the Springfield 200 should run. But what for? Then the load just runs against a wall of air. The feel-good area is elsewhere. The long stroke with an immense 113 millimeters between the dead centers prefers to run at low speed, and thanks to its huge flywheel can easily handle 2000 turns. The 1811-cubic V2 with cylinders the size of a water bucket and only two valves each makes it visually side-controlled, like the historical models. Achim is astonished: "Below this bull engine is almost too smooth for me, with few good vibrations, on top it gets rather tough."

In view of the sheer volume and long translation, it quickly becomes clear that legends of the passage without end were always just such. Achim: "Every 750 is better in the sixth." So what? When idling, the Indian snorkels like a marine diesel from the open accessory air filter. Idle speed 750-800-750. Any Questions? But under load, their exhaust sound is almost tinny. “Sounds rather impotent for such a displacement monster,” Gabriel blasphemed cockily. He’d better be silent. His Italo-V2 only sounds with a really nice, thundering thump when standing. Idle speed: "astronomical" 1250 laps! "What do you want with your tiny, barely visible short-stroke?" Slanders Achim.

Gabriel hears little of the exhaust while driving. Instead, the valves ticker in the exposed cylinder heads. In addition, the transmission whines, the cardan whines. Or the other way around? When the car is stationary, the fan hums behind the oil cooler, the tank ventilation whines. Italo acoustics. Cardan reactions are noticeable during load changes, gas-to-gas-to-gas-again-open. And excess grease hurls out of the ring gear housing onto the rim. Both Ami bikes tear themselves on the kevlar reinforced toothed belt. They rotate imperceptibly and very cleanly.

Get off the track and enjoy yourself. On the Cali, the cylinders roast Gabriel’s knees, he can’t move back far enough. Hotter than hell. Achim also suffers from the heat radiation of the rear cylinder on the Indian, more than Tom in the throne of the Road King. American barbecue. Stopover at the vehicle museum in Marxzell, a colorful hodgepodge of technology. This is followed by the first switchbacks. Achim is amazed: "The lever arm of the high handlebars is simply amazing: How easy the Indian turns in!" Hm, he’s talking about 392 kilograms of fighting weight, even more than Harley (379) and Guzzi (352). The whole thing paired with a wheelbase of over 1.70 meters. That should go around the corner?

Oh yes, it does – the Springfield folds out of the vertical easier than the Harley. Your secret? The steepest steering head angle and the shortest caster spice up the handling of this half-ton truck – including the driver. The Guzzi counters and scores with completely different key data. Her fork is so flat, 58 degrees, that Gabriel says: "You could use a hearty burnout against the garage wall." Nevertheless, the Italo-Cruiser sails particularly lively and nimble, almost cheeky through the curves. Because he weighs 30, 40 kilos less? It is more likely due to the lengthways crankshaft: It compensates for part of the gyroscopic forces of the wheels.

One to one implements the Cali steering commands, folds out exactly to the desired extent. Always stable and on track, it stays on course. Class! And this, although only she carries a fat 200-inch rear roller, cruiser-according to 16-inch, and in front an 18-inch model that is not exactly hand-ling. It is 130 millimeters wide, like the two other front tires. Anyway, Gabriel drives a neat boot. Even rough bumps don’t irritate the Italian. Its spring elements respond well, especially the fork that appears soft when standing. The hard plastic sanding blocks (!) Under the running boards touch down quite early.

This is the pre-warning level before it comes to solid metal on the collar. "Ssitt is followed by kkrrkk, "jokes Gabriel.“ First comes soft, then hard, ”says Tom. Then moderation applies to all three, if it is not intended to undermine one. American way of grinding: The running boards of the subjectively slightly understeering Harley are the first to create sparks in the asphalt. Feels like a 30 degree incline. In view of the dimensions and kilos, the three cruisers still roll fairly nimbly. You just have to trust yourself.

Well, the bends down into the valley to Waldprechtsweier are tough: "Here in 1982 American semi-trailers hit the walls of houses, equipped with Pershing 1A nuclear missiles, “Gabriel calls out to the other two.“ Brake failure downhill! ”Will not happen with these steel horses: Today’s cruisers have real braking power, four-piston calipers at the front. The radially hinged saddles of the California are the best to dose. On the other hand, it feels less braking at the rear than the two US irons. The Indian brakes forward as if someone had thrown a thick stick between the cast wheel spokes. But be careful: on the patriotic Dunlop “American Elite” tires, the eight-hundred-pound load rises most violently when braking in an inclined position. It does that even when the asphalt has deep scars, furrowed by longitudinal gullies. Harley and Guzzi, also Dunlop-soled, remain much more neutral. With the Harley, electronic brake force distribution is supposed to “optimally dose the braking forces to the front and rear wheels from 40 km / h ”. In fact, the 2017 Road King brakes more, with less manual force and more stable in the ABS control range than ever before.

The much more sovereign fork with cartridge damping system has its part in this. It is thickly steamed and offers real reserves. The trio moves to France over the Rhine bridge near Wintersdorf. At the rear, Harley’s 2017 tourers have new struts with adjustable spring preload using a practical handwheel on the left damper. Underdamped used to be. The road king can really put things away, making the most of just under 76 millimeters of rear suspension travel. He takes bumps in an inclined position nonchalantly calmly. Indian’s central spring strut works even better. Your deflection system has a progressive effect and brings the greatest comfort from the longest suspension travel – a full 114 millimeters.

Guzzi’s stereo struts respond a little drier to blunt heels. At Hatten, the cruiser squadron passed the Maginot Line from the run-up to World War II. Today it goes back and forth peacefully, across open borders. The view reaches far. In the evening light, the mountain ranges of the southern Palatinate Forest and northern Black Forest glow. Tom likes it: "Honestly, it’s not nicer in the Rocky Mountains either." At night the trio ends up in Bad Bergzabern. The castle hotel offers a stylish ambience, matching the shiny iron in front of the door. The Harley crackles for a particularly long time after it has been parked. Like a well burned campfire. Can you construct something like that?

The “Reblaus” pub has good wines and authentic Palatinate cuisine, including Saumagen. Pushing and maneuvering are hard work. Achim has learned to park better backwards. And that his arms are almost too short when turning and that turning areas (preferably paved!) Have to be well prepared. For free. After all, the more compact Harley is happy with a five-meter turning circle, the other duo needs half a meter to a meter more. No matter where you stop: instantly every intersection, every street café is transformed into a stage, every shop window into a mirror. “The cavalry is here,” that’s how it feels. You fold out the side stand (needs pressure from the Indian and scares people switching to the Harley) and feel like a US cop.

These machines hit a nerve, act like a magnet in iron filings. You get into conversation with so many nice people. Flair, charm and charisma. Materialism that embodies freedom and longing. They are statements instead of the technical state of the art.

The next morning. Kawumm. The sound of the V-Twins cuts the silence in the beautiful place. Kalonk. Especially with the Indian and with some cutbacks with the Harley, first gear engages with the relentlessness of a railroad signal box. The Guzzi transmission works more smoothly. The clutch is operated hydraulically. With the Road King too. Nevertheless, she needs a lot of hand strength. “Who wants a pussy clutch?” Asks Tom.

Has misunderstood Gabriel, he really wants to go to Bitche in France now. But first he has to activate a small button on the transponder in addition to the ignition key. Needlessly cumbersome. The two US will activate the ignition / alarm more easily. The forest roads in the Northern Vosges are reminiscent of Canada. When accelerating out of the many tight corners, the Road King gets out of hand most energetically. The gear ratio fits perfectly with plenty of steam from below. Less than five seconds from zero to 100. But does anyone care? The main thing is faster than the tin cans. The "little" Guzzi combines the best torque in sixth gear with the highest fuel consumption (at least 5.5 liters / 100 kilometers). Only the Harley also runs with a four to the decimal point.

In return, the Guzzi saves several thousand on the purchase price (“only” just under 21,000 euros). Or are your 10,000 instead of 8,000 maintenance intervals the decisive argument? Or the precisely adjustable traction control, which can be set in three stages, including three motor mappings? The rain mode feels like there is just a V7 engine in the steel frame. Moto Guzzi gave the Cali “a lot of clutter” (Gabriel). Cruisers are lived anachronism, nothing objectively measurable. Tom: “Yes, there are much cheaper motorcycles, as well as many better machines. So what? There are also cruises, vacation packages, and all-inclusive options. So what? This is our film! ”Achim learned a lot. Then the next traffic light turns green again and the Cavalcade rushes off, moving further west.

MOTORCYCLE conclusion

Harley-Davidson Road King Classic
She is the most confident, balanced, best sounding cruiser here. You can feel Harley’s long experience. Thanks to noticeable improvements in the chassis, it is the smoothest Road King ever. A worthy king of the road.

Moto Guzzi California Touring
America first, Italy second? Oh no. The best character actor in this top-class field struggles a little with his role. As a cruiser it is almost too technocratic, as a tourer too much of a road cruiser.

Indian Springfield
More show is not possible. Not much more displacement and weight either. The Indian is not only the most exclusive cruiser because of its low price and immense weight. Mass meets class with this exclamation mark on wheels. Even without an apehanger.

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