Moto Guzzi Eldorado 1400 & Audace 1400 - FIRST RIDE

Two new versions of the Moto Guzzi California 1400 have improved geometry, road manners, and style.

Moto Guzzi Eldorado 1400 cornering action

Moto Guzzi has made excellent progress with its California platform, specifically with regard to style, road manners, and steering response. And the two new variations, the Eldorado 1400 (above photo) and the Audace 1400, have radically different personalities.

The V-twin engine remains at 1380cc, with a claimed 96 horsepower. The only modification is a secondary air supply system that improves the smoothness and quality of combustion at low rpm. Longtime Guzzi fans may know that the Eldorado 1400 is named after the plushest version of the California 850 of some 40-plus years ago.

To create a retro feeling, enhance the ultra-plush image, and separate it from the California Touring, the Eldorado sports 16-inch laced wheels front and rear, shod with doughnut-style white sidewall radials, and a wide, thick bullhorn handlebar, tapered at the grips. The well-contoured seat appears to be pulled from the California Custom version, which is intended as a compliment.

Moto Guzzi California Eldorado 1400 static side view

Moto Guzzi California Eldorado 1400

Moto Guzzi California Audace 1400 static side view

Moto Guzzi California Audace 1400

Both fenders and the taillight have a dedicated design, while the front light and the single, round, all-inclusive instrument cluster comes straight from the California Touring.

Although playing with the same basic components, designer Miguel Galluzzi was able to give the Audace a completely different personality. It’s a more muscular power cruiser, with a touch of darkness gained via the liberal application of matte-black wherever possible, plus carbon fiber, either real or faux.

The front end is totally new, featuring a traditional “naked” version of the 46mm fork that comes with upper shrouds on all other California models and derivatives. New are the elegant 16-in. cast aluminum wheels with thin spokes, adorned with bright red Moto Guzzi logos on the side and shod with some serious looking black-wall radials. New is the round, retro style headlight. On top of that is a matte-black drag bar that gives the Audace a real tough look.

At the rear, most of the components are related to the California Custom: a very similar seat, the same gas-charged shock absorbers, the same rear fender. New are the pegs, shifter, and rear brake lever.

Moto Guzzi Eldorado 1400 and Audace 1400 static

The new Eldorado and Audace models share the largely unchanged 1380cc twin-spark V-twin, and the improvements are found in the chassis setup and in the updated electronics suite. The chassis now allows somewhat more generous lean angles before the footboards make contact with the asphalt, and the message is more direct. Ground clearance is further improved on the Audace thanks to pegs that are narrower and set slightly higher.

The big change is in the steering geometry. For the first time in the Italian motorcycle industry, asymmetrical triple clamps have been adopted to increase the fork rake by 1 degree, to 33 degrees, over that of the steering axis, set at the standard 32 degrees. These are radical geometry changes, but the result is absolutely surprising. On the California Touring (which rolls on an 18-inch front wheel), the 32 degrees of steering axis and fork rake generated 155mm (6.1 in.) of trail. Their wheelbase is 1685mm or 66.3 in.

The extra degree fork rake and the 16-in. front wheel adopted on both the Eldorado and the Audace reduced trail to 144mm (5.7 in.) and stretched the wheelbase 10mm, to 1695mm (66.7 in.). Other vital measurements remained unchanged, like the seat height of 29.1 in. I am a fan of much steeper steering/fork angles, and when I heard that Moto Guzzi had further increased what I already thought was pretty radical steering geometry, I was expecting a very vague front end, at least at speeds up to 15 mph, since the California already showed this tendency.

Moto Guzzi California Audace 1400 cornering action

Ground clearance is further improved on the Audace thanks to pegs that are narrower and set slightly higher.

My ride, however, proved exactly the contrary. Gone is any low-speed vagueness. Both the Eldorado and the Audace sported precise steering that returned sharp feedback, at low speeds and even during aggressive riding. The Eldorado offers a perfect “armchair-tourer” riding posture, friendly and comfortable with the wide handlebar offering plenty of leverage to make the front feel light and agile. I sensed that ground clearance had been increased, or at least it’s much smoother now when footboards touch tarmac. The sliders on the footboards are now made from a harder grade of plastic.

Just add the optional midsize windshield and the Eldorado becomes a great Grand Tourer—safe, solid, precise, and a real pleasure to ride. The electronics suite includes ABS and traction control, plus three throttle actuation modes: Rain, Touring, Veloce (Fast). Among the most attractive options on the Eldorado are heated grips, a lowered seat, foot levers machined from aluminum billet and the handy Moto Guzzi edition of the Piaggio Media Platform that turns your smartphone into a connectivity system with enormous potential and versatility. Multi-function instrumentation and navigation are available at the touch of the screen.

At a claimed 692 lb. (all fluids, no fuel), the Eldorado is not light, but it is beautifully balanced, agile even at very low speeds. And the rider can count on the very powerful Brembo brakes, which feature twin 320mm front rotors and radial-mount four piston calipers. The Audace shares all this, but in a package with a completely different feeling. The leaned- forward riding posture created by the wide dragbar induces an even more precise man-machine interface and a more aggressive riding style is instinctively applied. The few extra degrees of lean angle granted by the pegs replacing the footboards, together with its slightly lighter 659-lb. curb weight, make the Audace more responsive.

Moto Guzzi California Eldorado 1400 instrument panel

Moto Guzzi's edition of the Piaggio Media Platform turns your smartphone into a connectivity system with multi-function instrumentation and navigation.

Suddenly, I found myself speeding at past 100 mph on the fast sweeping bends of the freeway taking me back to Mandello del Lario. That touch of innovative steering geometry (for an Italian make; Harley-Davidson and Erik Buell have been using for years) has extracted the best out of a frame that holds the large 90-degree V-twin via silent blocks that cancel all residual vibrations, together with radius rods that keep the engine aligned on the frame centerline.

The new Moto Guzzi Eldorado and the Audace models are beautifully comfortable and perfectly stable at speed. They don’t weave, even when negotiating fast sweeping bends at high speed, and they feel agile and precise on a twisty road. My preference is the muscular Audace, a very attractive power cruiser.

The Eldorado, in the Nero Classico color, just went on sale in the US, priced at $15,990. Look for the Audace, in Nero Travolgente, to arrive in July, priced at $15,490.

Audace action #1

Audace action #2

Audace action #3

Audace action #4

Audace static #1

Audace static #2

Audace static #3

Audace details: front wheel with Brembo 320mm disc brake

Audace details: classic round headlight

Audace details: instrumentation

Audace details: optional black billet clutch lever

Audace details: optional black billet mirror mount

Audace details: matte black tank and valve cover

Audace details: optional matte red cam cover kit

Audace details: oil cooler

Audace details: rear shock absorber

Audace details: optional billet aluminum pegs

Audace details: rear wheel

Audace details: double stitched seat

Audace details: rear fender

Audace studio # 1

Audace studio # 2

Audace studio # 3

Audace studio # 4

Audace studio # 5

Audace studio # 6

Audace studio # 7

Eldorado action #1

Eldorado action #2

Eldorado action #3

Eldorado action #4

Eldorado static #1

Eldorado static #2

Eldorado static #3

Eldorado details: front wheel

Eldorado details: headlight

Eldorado details: optional billet front brake lever, rear mirror, support grips

Eldorado details: instrumentation

Eldorado details: MG Media platform navigator function

Eldorado details: fuel tank

Eldorado details: front close-up

Eldorado details: optional billet footboard and foot lever

Eldorado details: footboard

Eldorado details: seat

Eldorado details: round-style tail light

Eldorado details: optional bags

Eldorado studio #1

Eldorado studio #2

Eldorado studio #3

Eldorado studio #4

Eldorado studio #5

Eldorado studio #6

Eldorado studio #7

Eldorado studio #8

Eldorado and Audace static group.