We sat down with Piaggio Group's head design guru, Miguel Galluzzi to figure out what's coming and what's working at Moto Guzzi.
When I sat down with Miguel Galluzzi, the International Design Director for Piaggio Group, it was not his larger than life personality, or warm sense of humor that most impressed me. I was most struck by how on point he was about the industry; he has great insight into the future of motorcycling and it was pleasure to get to see his vision.
I met Miguel Galluzzi at the Piaggio Advanced Design Center in historic Old Town Pasadena California for their new cruiser release from Moto Guzzi, The California. With the test ride scheduled for the following day, Miguel would not say too much about it, he didn’t want to sway our opinions before we rode it.
As tight-lipped as he was about the California, he had much to say about the industry and his brands.
“Remember the Love of the Ride?”
Miguel told a story about his son riding a huge bike that was a struggle to ride. It’s a frequent quandary when a new rider jumps on a large, heavy bike that is beyond his skill level. "You can see by the look on his face, the sweat on his forehead, he isn’t enjoying the ride as much as he could be."
“Three-hundred horsepower to do what?” Miguel asked. “Remember the Love of the ride. What is a ‘good’ ride experience?” It's not just more power and less weight. There is so much more to it than that. “That is the problem we have to tackle but not in the way we have before.”
Galluzzi pointed out that the future of the industry cannot be the way its been done before: bigger, faster, lighter. The future lies in bikes being more fun and exciting, not more powerful. Trends for urban living, micro-mobility, electric bikes, this is where Galluzzi sees this future. There is room in the market for smarter vehicles, and he said he was very excited about Harley Davidson’s new electric bike. And speaking of Mission Motors he declared, “There is something there.”
He also is an optimist about the market for bobbers, trackers and café racers. They are buying motorcycles that are old used bikes for a few hundred dollars and then spend $1000 more to make them exactly what they want. To them, it’s more about the style and the heritage with something new, a new twist of color or materials. This is a shift from the mentality that has been especially prevalent in the American motorcycle market.
Galluzzi takes the responsibility of managing four brands under one umbrella very seriously. “In every brand there is a certain baggage that is our responsibility to take care of.” Although he did add, with a laugh, “I really have more than 4 brands but for the next ten years we are just 4 brands.” The four brands in North America are of course Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio and Vespa.
Speaking of brand, he continued: “that is an important element. You have a brand and you”re not trying to fake anybody. You are Guzzi.”
“We are selling Guzzi’s. Why they bought the bike? They bought it just because it looked cool, but after they bought the bike they begin to understand the world the Guzzi comes from. Its not until they start looking into the brand that they realize there is 95 years of history. Moto Guzzi has been doing any kind of bike you can imagine and for a long time. So they discover that it is not just a cool thing, it’s part of a world that is big. And there is a lot of substantive history about it.”
Each brand has a long, wide-ranging heritage, and the challenge is to make sure that the brands don’t compete, that each one has a niche. But he points out that there are some major benefits to having multiple brands. “ doesn’t need to do 350,000 bikes to stay alive like Harley-Davidson. Ducati needs to do a lot of bikes to stay alive. We only need to do 20 or 30 thousand, and that’s the business of Guzzi. We have other brands. Vespa sells 40,000 units in Vietnam. That is one of the advantages of the brand: it will always be exclusive because we are always running short numbers of bikes. We have 4 different brands (in Piaggio) when put it all together we make a strong business. Each brand has its own life. We don’t need to do it like BMW or Harley-Davidson.”
He told me that Moto Guzzi, in his mind, is the traditional Italian woman. “There is no little detail that gets away.” No where is that more clearly illustrated than in the V7, Moto Guzzi’s small, vintage-inspired bike with a modern twist. The V7 sales have consistently grown and it has become a gateway product to the motorcycle market and to the Moto Guzzi brand.
“Yes that what it’s been doing for the last 3 years. Half of production for Motoguzzi is the V7 Racer.” He elaborates: “At the local dealer, here we have Pro Italia, they have Triumph and Moto Guzzi. People go into the dealer because of Triumph and drive out with a V7.” It’s just a better-looking bike, let face it.
So what is he working on for the future? Miguel wouldn’t say too much.
“Next year we are getting in a new gearbox and the year after that… we are getting something else. We are doing a lot of stuff.” But whatever is coming for Miguel Galluzzi, he is confident that there’s a bright future for motorcycling, and that his brands will remain strong. “In the next three years we will do variations on the theme. A good frame allows you to do that.”