Like a lot of bikers, I’m always on the look out for the next interesting or unusual moto-opportunity to either sell on, or alternatively keep for a while, ride it and then sell it, maybe. Anyway, I had spotted an unusual Moto Guzzi in my local Swiss, free selling e-site and had been watching it for sometime because it hadn’t sold. The advert, as usual for sellers on this site, had a crappy and grainy photo of the bike and the description claimed that it had only one female owner, and it had done 91,000 trouble free kilometres. As I didn’t know anything about this particular model, I had done a bit of internet research to the point that I could sound like an Guzzi expert (which I’m clearly not) in a pub, bar, coffee shop, or cafe conversation. This was the highest level of buying interest that I reached. The bike wasn’t over-priced, but it wasn’t a ‘steal-of-a-deal’ either. However, a couple of months had passed and I noticed that the seller had reduced the price of the bike by 25%. This triggered some mild excitement in the wallet region, and some more research was done to see if a) it was a viable purchase and b) to test if I really had enough conviction to buy it. I revisited some of the old 1980’s Moto Guzzi brochures for the bike (below) and noted how bloody basic and obvious they were in their marketing effort to excite buyers to the point of separating them from their cash.
The Moto Guzzi V65 TuttoTerano (TT for short) or all-terrain in non-Italian, was produced in the early to mid-Eighties, in very small numbers, and was a response to BMWs famed GS which at the time, were selling like hot cakes on a cold winter morning (i.e. very well). This meant that the bike had exclusivity. The engine was the reliable 2 valve version of the bored out Guzzi V50 and according to the road tests of the time, it was a good bike, apart from the small petrol tank, a very crap front brake, very firm suspension, and the usual Italian electrics of the time. Some quite critical engine things also broke or cracked if the bike was used too harshly off-road. I went through a week of ‘definitely wanting to buy it before I went to bed‘ and ‘still wanting to buy it when I woke up in the morning‘, which is always a great sign. I contacted the owner, who was away for the weekend but would be back on the Tuesday evening. We agreed to meet at his house at 7pm on the Tuesday.
Excitement arrived on this specific Tuesday, which did turn out to be Guzzi-viewing-Tuesday. The bike was located about an hour away, which meant a great evenings ride on the BMW GS to get there. I got back from work so early that my wife thought I had been fired, then I had a quick Nespresso coffee and I was out again. It was a very hot evening. I was wearing an open-faced helmet and goggles and a t-shirt and jeans. At one point, the BMW’s air tempreture gauge reached 37 degrees C, which meant I was feeling a bit over-dressed in my minimal riding gear. The road there is a perfectly smooth, black ribbon of tarmac and at its most curvy section, is flanked by fields of sunflowers, which are all facing me and almost passing judgement on my cornering accuracy as I lean the big BMW left and right into the bends. The smile on my face is so wide that it doesn’t fit into the round rear-view mirrors on the BMW.
I arrive at the house, park up, remove my ‘hot inside’ helmet, which almost makes a suction noise as the leather lining has stuck to my bald head, and I notice that the Bell logo in the lining has been temporarily embossed on the top of my head. I massage it out quickly. I ring the door bell. No Answer. I walk around the nice garden and nobody is at home. I send a text to the seller. No reply. Bugger! I sit down under a tree in the shade and drink some water from my water bottle and read some work emails on my phone.
About 15 minutes later, a car draws up and out get two retired-age people. We greet warmly and the Guzzi owner goes over to the garage door, which opens electrically and very-Swiss-smoothly, to reveal 3 bikes. One is a 1976 Guzzi California undergoing a restoration, another is a monstrous Harley and in the middle is the Guzzi I’ve come to see. Whilst it looks in good condition, it really needs a wash and a polish, which I find bizarre that it hasn’t been done because it isn’t very Swiss to have a bike in this condition and it would also add value to it. I see through the dirt and ask about it’s history as claimed in the advert. It turns out that the current owner has had it for 12 months and before that, it was the Guzzi dealer in Lausanne whom he bought it off and before that, the ‘one female owner’. Hmmmm, that’s three owners in my book. The current owner has only done 72 kilometres on the bike in 12 months. He tells me that he bought the bike to make a custom cafe scrambler (Doh!). I point out that it is a scrambler already and then he goes into the detailed plans of what he was going to do to it. I gasped at the sacrilege of cutting this Guzzi up, as not many were ever made of this model. I asked about the handbook, toolkit, service information etc. These are everything that Swiss bikers always keep. None of it was present weirdly, and worryingly. I asked when it was last serviced and the current owner wasn’t sure, but he did say that the oil in the engine was new, as was the oil in the drive shaft……….
The seller produces the classic Guzzi folding key of the era and sticks it in the ignition, turns it on so that the neutral and oil lights come on, and then turns the two petrol taps on. He presses the starter button and nothing happens apart from the small lights go a bit dim. Whilst the bike isn’t wildly expensive, it isn’t cheap either and I do expect the bloody thing to start. The seller, who has a workshop that has all of his tools in size and alphabetical order is looking puzzled and says that it has always (in the last 12 months obviously), been a good starter. My enthusiasm is starting to disappear from my soul, and the planet. The seller now starts pulling off the side panels and unbolting the seat, which he clearly hasn’t ever done before, to get to the offending battery. Once the battery has been discovered, the seller connects a jump starter box to it and tries again. The starter box is not charged and has no power in it either. The Guzzi sits silently in the middle of the big, organised garage, half stripped of its clothes, whilst the seller try to coax some energy out of the battery. After closer inspection of the battery, it turns out that there isn’t very much acid in it at all. The situation reminds me of that well known 1980 Sex Pistols album, Flogging a Dead Horse, because that’s what the seller has been doing tonight with this Guzzi and it’s battery.
The seller and I look at each other politely. He says that he’s sorry I’ve travelled over to see it and that he’ll get a battery for it so ‘it will all be fine’. The seller does seem a genuine biker and good bloke who wants to sell his bike the right way, unfortunately, he just hasn’t actually got it ready to sell. Anyway, I tell him that I’ll think about it and will let him know if I’m still interested. We shake hands and I climb back aboard the BMW and set off back home on that amazing road, still in a t-shirt and still smiling.
I get home and put the BMW in the garage and shout up to my wife who’s leaning on the balcony, that ‘we’ don’t own a Moto Guzzi. I sit down with a beer and try to massage out the returned Bell Helmet impression out of the top of my head. On reflection, it would be a great marketing tattoo location for Bell Helmets, but that would mean I would have to work out the cost per square centimetre of the advertising space on the top of my head. I relay the story of the evening to my wife and look at my wallet on the table. It’s a shame the deal never happened but I’m also really pleased that I didn’t buy it. I soon turn my attention to another bike I’ve seen, but hey, that’s another story……….
Footnote: About two days after my trip to see the silent Guzzi, I get a text from the seller containing the video (below) and exclaiming what a good bike it is. The video is a bit bizarre as it show’s the bike still in its stripped down, naked state and with battery charger leads connected to the battery. The engine sounds fine, but with 91,000 kilometres under its belt, no service history, and at the price, this bike isn’t for me. I hope the seller finds another Guzzi lover like me and that the new owner and his/her future together with the TT is great. I’m just really pleased that I didn’t buy it.