’72 Moto Guzzi Ambassador
Vintage bike touring takes courage and, a little bit of lunacy. I should know, my traveling friends (except one…come on Craig, get with the program) and I, all travel on motorcycles built in the 1970’s. We all have a our reasons why and some of them even sound good. Would I travel on a ’75 Honda CB750? Sure. A ’73 Yamaha XS650? Yeah, that one too. What about a ’76 Triumph Bonneville? A definite…maybe? An AMF Harley Davidson Electra Glide? Highly unlikely. Choosing a vintage touring bike that you are actually going to tour on is tougher than you think. There are a great number of motorcycles that on paper look like they would fit the bill but when you do a bit of research, well, maybe not so much.
When I’m traveling, besides scenery and road side diner menu’s, I look at the motorcycles on the road. I love seeing what others are riding, especially if it’s old. I have been known to rather abruptly turn off into a parking lot in the middle of nowhere just to look at a fully loaded old motorcycle and talk with the guy, or gal, riding it. Ninety percent of the time there is a great story that goes with the motorcycle, and ninety percent of that ninety percent of the time, the rider has an equally interesting story. I love stories, that’s why I’m always the last one to arrive at the campsite or hotel.
When I was deciding on an older bike for traveling, I narrowed the field down to BMW or Moto Guzzi. Both marques have great reputations for solidly built travelers that would get you there in classic style and, more importantly, get you home, still looking classy. Both were big twins that could carry me, the wife and all our gear across any desert, up any mountain, through any weather and without a whimper. These were the two best choices in my mind. BMW, Guzzi? Guzzi, BMW?…decisions,decisions. I started my search for a Moto Guzzi. My traveling friends all ride BMW’s and since I’ve always been the odd duck of the group, I wanted a Goose. Hey, if it’s good enough for the LAPD, it’s good enough for me.
I began where everyone else looking for a cool old bike does, ebay. Sometimes you find what you’re looking for, and other times you find what you weren’t looking for but is better than what you thought you wanted. That makes sense, right? After ebay, you head into the various internet resources…owners groups, dealers, forums and blogs, searching and hoping you’ll find your new traveling companion. You’re also hoping for the deal of a lifetime…somebodys nephew of a distant cousin of your mothers brothers second wife found this old bike stashed in the corner of his grandfathers barn under thirteen blankets and a bag of oats. The ad reads, “old motorcycle, don’t know anything about it, can’t even pronounce the name. Come get it and it’s yours”. Aren’t dreams wonderful?
I did find my new traveling companion, it’s not the barn story but damn close. Everyday though, I still search for old bikes I’d like to see the country on and then stash it in my barn so it will make a story for somebody one day. Today, I found a nice old Moto Guzzi Ambassador that will, with a little love, will be your new best friend on the road.
If you’re looking for a vintage traveler that you don’t have to put thousands of dollars and hours into just to get it road worthy I think I may have the ride for you. This Guzzi was born in 1972, has a little over 40,000 miles on it (not too much by Guzzi standards) and has been gone over some. There are new bits an pieces that are listed and some that are not. I do question the modifications to the front brake that are supposed to ‘improve efficiency and cooling’ however. It looks like the motorcycle has been taken care of but could still use a good going over just to make sure. Overall, this Ambassador might have been the one to find its way into my travel plans if, it had been on ebay a couple of years ago.
If you are going to travel on this Moto Guzzi, which I hope you will, I have a suggestion for you, find a Wixom fairing and saddle bags for it. That set up was very popular at the time and it fits the bike perfectly, style wise and function. Click on the pics for more about this really nice older Goose.
And, if you’re wondering whether I got a Guzzi or a Beemer…it’s a 1976 BMW R90s out of my sons father-in-law’s garage that had been buried for 17 years under a blanket, a piece of carpet and a couple of boxes.