1996 Moto Guzzi Centaro

         This ain't no Stock Centauro 992cc Twin Cylinder 4-Valve Roadster 
Set up using new Swan neck adjustable handlebars with gel grips, multi adjustable brake levers. Napoleon bar end mirrors, runs flawlessly with the DAYR11 Will Creedon chip,  Twin PIAA 510 Driving lights poke a whole in any dim driving atmosphere, three seats (GT, Sport, and very cool Yellow stripped Corbin Gunfighter).  Seats are very quickly and easily interchanged for a different look and ride.  Includes the rear seat bullet cowl for that speeding bullet look.  Staintune carbon fiber exhaust system makes this bike lightner, run cleaner, increases HP from the stock 94 HP, and releases that awesome sound.  It has all the best modifications done and has all the inherent quirks worked out of it.  Awesome bike in great shape and extremely well cared for. This bike was NEVER ridden  in the rain!

Centauro-side.jpg (89473 bytes)
  I've always lusted for one of these Centauro's, and if I had the means to keep a collection of motorcycles - this is definitely a collectable motorcycle.  I'm a poormans collector - a poorman has a rotating inventory collection.  I can buy a motorcycle - enjoy the experience of it's Grand Italian  Style, it's ballet integrating function and form, and it's engineering marvel.  For a time.  Eventually a rotating inventory - gets rotated.  And you have to sell it. 
It's okay if nobody buys it for a while - especially if it's riding season.

I love the bike, it is totally awesome. It was an impulse purchase. I had 4 motorcycles - carports but, no garage.  I was motorcycle poor and just had to turn around and sell it. 

I bought Lightnin' (Centauro), in Orange County California from the original owner who had a reputation for being very meticulous about his vehicles and the condition of this Centauro shows it with pride.  There is one imperfection, a tiny scratch where the Corbin seat caused the seat cowl to rub against the paint. It touched up well and isn't noticeable without knowing where to examine.  All in all, it is in near showroom condition. 

Centauro-tpfrnt.jpg (66632 bytes)

Pilot - meet Lightnin'

I have followed the Centauro's since they came out.  Like other Moto Guzzi's from Mandello,  the Centauro is a very "made by hand" motorcycle.  Now that Aprilla has purchased the company things may never quite be the same.  Centauro's did experience several problems and idiosyncrasies.  All the negative aspects of this Centauro had been taken care before I got it.  The original owner mostly rode this bike commuting to work in the Southern California Sunshine.  It's understandable that he would have made sure it was running properly to have put 18,000 miles on it.  His meticulous nature insures that this bike was wonderfully sorted out.  If you purchase a new or used Centauro that has not been "sorted out", plan on spending a couple thousand dollars in modifications and workmanship to make it run efficiently, not to mention the extreme patience and time it will take you. Centauro-side2.jpg (126361 bytes)

Attention getting Eyecandy

Indeed, I had an incredibly wonderful trip on Lightnin' (the Centauro), flashing up the North West Coastline from California to Seattle and I can personally say that this Centauro is in 100% perfect running condition.  Not a bobble, not a hiccup, not a stall at any time.  Uh, well, I did stall it twice while cold one morning - but that was me not the bike. I got to meet some great SoCal Guzzi dudes and ride with them on some famous California roads.

I put on 1,474 miles and had a huge grin "glued" on my face all the time.  This bike handles sooo well I can't describe it. 
I'll make a link here to my quick coastal trip report called Centauro Surfin'

I was most impressed with how "effortlessly" this bike cornered - how smoothly it drank in big wide sweepers at high speeds and how empowering the braking system is.  (Unlinked Brakes ! ;) 

The Centauro's natural performance makes it easy for the rider to experience true Zen of motorcycling.

Centauro-hm1.jpg (119776 bytes)

Back in Seattle after 1,474 miles of GRIN'N from ear to ear

Over and above all the impressions this bike will make on you is the powerful sound of the VTwin 4Valve engine.  It pulls very good in all gears in a w i d e range of rpms.  But the seas part when you get to 5,000 rpms.  Above that and it's more intense than an out of body experience.  No kidding. 

Just look at those gorgeously golden tinted exhaust pipes ! 
I should try to get a sound bite running Lightnin' through the gears.

Ask about Centauro's at:  C.O.G. (Centauro Owners Group)  An elite small group and the envy of all those who don't own a Centauro.  Read the great Articles collected on that site about the Centauro.

Centauro-engine.jpg (99721 bytes)

A stout looking package

Hail the Dr.

Yes, when someone thinks about a Centauro "It's the Twin Cylinder 4 Valve Dr. John engine" that first comes to mind.  It is Awesome.  The Centauro is based on the later model Daytona RS, they both evolved from the early model Daytona and share the same frame & four valve motor. As many of you are well aware, the whole Daytona line originates from the Dr. John Racers built by Dr. John Wittner during the eighties in the USA.  You can read all about Centauro's, see engine diagrams and so much more at the C.O.G. web site I'll just direct you there if you want to learn more. cen6.jpg (59903 bytes)

The Centauro, not unlike other new Y2K fuel injected motorcycles, experienced many problems running smoothly stock.  The engine would stall at idle and sometimes at the most inconvenient times, for no apparent reason.  They had glitchy spots of poor performance through the power band, a cam sensor gap error  from the factory, and poor mapping of the eprom chip.  They  vibrated, had stiff suspension, had bricks for seats, brake rotors that would warp, and various seals and oil line fittings that were extremely challenging for the best of repair shops to get fixed.  There were a host of little idiosyncrasies and issues of concern with the Centauro.  However, you can say the same for other new bikes of the day.  In fact if you think about it, even cars of the day were experiencing massive recalls, and constantly engulfed in legal battles from groups of owners. I believe it is simply the amount of high tech features they are trying to make compatible.  Whatever the reason, the Centauro - despite its problems - was not unusually problematic compared to other new fangled transportation devises.

Centauro-hm2.jpg (92014 bytes)

Looking like a sentry
 on guard duty

Being more used to riding the old loop frame cruisers I like a more upright position than the owner set up for me to ride the 1400 miles home with.  But, I am glad I rode it that way so I do know how it feels.  These Swan Neck clip ons are adjustable so I adjusted the handlebars up as far as they would go and brought them back a bit.  It extended the length of some cables and I can see that some re-routing would be in order if kept in this position or if I wanted a tad bit more.  Boy, that feels much better to me.  I am 6'1" tall, long in leg and arms.  But mostly I think riding position is what you get used to.

I'm glad to say that I was able to adapt my old windshield from the Eldo (windshield is not part of the sale), which was about perfect for punching a hole in the wind from waist up to the eyebrows.  Perfect ! The wind hits about where my full

This was a Memphis Shades windscreen which I "made fit".  The hardware to mount them is not big enough for those Huge front shocks.  I had to hunt up some smaller width hose clamps large enough to go around the 44mm and slip through the hardware mount.  My pictures pretty ugly using that old windscreen w/ stickers and all, but here is a picture of the Memphis Shade I would mount on my Centauro.  I think this one would look rather cool and do the job.  It is called the Pop Top.

 The seat was not comfortable for me on that long journey either. So, I have done some experimentation to the bike - just to see if I could make some improvements if I wanted to.  I had an old seat to fiddle with.   I have 3 seats for this bike. I just took the stock seat, removed the staples and removed the cushion & cover.  It can be re-assembled with ease.  My experiment cover would not fit the seat pan and it is rather cobbled together.  Lets call it the "Frankenstein Seat" for the poor stitching and fitting cover.  Hey, this is just an experiment, not meant to look good - yet.  I inserted 3 types of foam and have 2 patches of Gel Pad inside there.  The pillion section came out to big, and a little too wide.  The driver seat came out Great!  You can't see very well, but originally this was a double bucket.  I flattened the buckets out and it left made a long area up front to slide up close or skooch way back.  It also made a rise for your butt to snug into and hip handles for the driver.  This is going to be extremely comfortable.  Can't wait to try it out!  I'll be putting some miles on the Frankenstein seat this weekend and let you know how it works.
UPDATE 07/16/02  (Current mileage is now 20,900 miles)
Put about 450 miles on the Centauro over the weekend.  Lightnin' ran flawlessly and left me with ear to ear smiles.  The windshield was a big hit. I was much more comfortable with a little wind blockage in front of me.  I went to the Moto Guzzi NorthWest North Fork Campout

I did go through a very "brief and mild" rain shower high up in Mount Rainier.  So, I can't say it has never been ridden in the rain any more, but this little 3 minute mild spitting shower can hardly be called "riding in the rain" - still, the few drops that did get me were wet - you decide.

The Frankenstein seat that I cobbled together was also a big hit.  Even Dulane could ride on the back comfortably!!  I rode on it for hours without the slightest ache or pain.  I'd adjust it here and there a bit more, were I to actually create a new seat for the Centauro.  I also had a great discussion about seats and seating positions while at the rally.  I understand now a bit more, and realize that these sportier seats are designed for the more sporting riding positions and if used as designed will work much better.  For instance, the nice Corbin seat for this bike is quite comfortable when riding in the sport riding position, it is Not comfortable if you try sitting upright in it (I can attest to that).  I have moved the handle bars so I sit much more upright and that is not what this Corbin was designed for. 

Lightnin' has a new owner.  After 48 days and 3,000 great miles I traded titles with a fella named George in Eugene Oregon.  George is a great really loved the Centauro, he rode 650 miles just to see it and test it out..  He has made several suspension modifications, installed new grips and adjusted the ride to fit him more closely.  George later told me he can become one with the Centauro and when that happens he scrapes the kickstand in the tight corners.  I can't fathom that!  Have you seen the position of the kickstand.  George must be quite the rider.  The bike George and I did some wheeling and dealing on as partial trade for the Centauro is a '97 Honda ST1100.  But, that is another story.  As cousin Paul used say:  Tune in later for "The rest of the Story".  RH