Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Man Who Designs Moto Guzzis With Jamie Robinson


"As the Vice President of Design for the Piaggio Group, Miguel Galluzzi has been tasked with re-inventing the oldest continuously operating motorcycle company in the world — Italy's Moto Guzzi. But how do you take a brand with a huge history and a thin present into the 21st century? Luckily, it's not the first time Galluzzi has been faced with such a monumental task, back in the early '90s he envisioned a future not just for Ducati, but for practical fun motorcycles as a whole when he conjured up a little bike known as the Monster." - Ride Apart


Miguel Galluzzi
JAMIE ROBINSON: This week I'm here with Miguel Galluzzi, motorcycle designer extraordinaire. And we're going to talk bikes past, present, and also future. Welcome to RideApart.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Oh, I'm excited today. We're here to see Miguel Galluzzi. Now this gentleman, he's responsible for designing the Ducati Monster, the Aprilia Dorsoduro, the Aprilia RSV4. And now he's with Moto Guzzi.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Jamie. JAMIE ROBINSON: How are you? MIGUEL GALLUZZI: How are you?

JAMIE ROBINSON: Fantastic, you?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Yeah.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Wonderful.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Nice to see you.

JAMIE ROBINSON: And you. You've all got beautiful motorcycles here.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Read to ride.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Ready to ride, eh? All motorcycles should be ready to ride.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Absolutely. JAMIE ROBINSON: So your love for motorcycles goes back quite a long way?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Oh, in my case? Oh, yeah. A long, long way. I think I was eight and my brother and I, we are a year apart, so he was born the 25th of October and I was born the 26th. I am older, so there is one day that we are the same age. So the birthday parties were the same day. And I was hoping to get a drum set. Because I wanted to be a drummer. Instead my uncle gave us a motorcycle, a 50cc something there. And we were really disappointed. Because we really wanted drums. And from that moment on, we never stopped. My brother still races bikes in Argentina. And I'm been involved with bikes since then. We grew up racing in the '70s. You know, Motocross was the big thing in '72, '73, '74, until '78. Then from that moment on I wanted to design things, to invent. I just finished the military service in Argentina in the '70s. And it was doing the desaparacidos story there. So I was 18, 19, and I said, I am going to leave this country because it's a mess. And I went to Florida to study mechanical engineering there. And then discovered Art Center. I started reading English and started understanding a little bit more what's the world about. And I discovered this school and then transferred. And that's it.

JAMIE ROBINSON: What a journey. So your first experience with motorcycles really must have touched you deep. Because from there, of not knowing anything about motorcycles, it became part of your entire--

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: No. The problem-- and it was a problem--the day I was born, my father was racing a motorcycle-- four days after, as I discovered on my last trip to Argentina. For days after I was born he won a big motorcycle race. Then with that money he could take me out of the hospital. So this was on November 1, 1959, he won the race. And I was born in a family that my grandfather used to race motorcycles. Harley Davidsons in 1916, 1920s. I have some pictures someplace. But then my father started bicycling and then motorcycling and then racing. So I was born in this family So even though I wanted to be a drummer, a musician, I ended up doing what I was not planning to do. The funny part was, my uncles and father raced road racing. The new thing in the '70s was Motocross. So there was a cultural clash. Because they will be road racers and leather and things. And we will be Motocross, dirt and whatever. So that was the only part that we were separated from what they'd been doing for quite a long time.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Dirt biking, you're always having fun dirk biking. It's not quite the same, is it?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Oh. The good part about Motocross at that time-- and I think it still is like that-- is when you gather with some friends and then you go riding. In our case, we would go to these areas that you can ride. There was not actually a track. But we would just ride, maybe a whole Sunday from morning to night, until you couldn't breathe anymore. But it was the fun part of going and jumping and killing yourself, too. Because you would go down or whatever. Whatever it is, it was the fun part of it.

JAMIE ROBINSON: And that's where you learn skills, as well, on the dirt. And learn how to ride. And it makes it easier for the road.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Yeah. Especially, especially when you are falling down. You start understanding that you can do something and not hit the ground.

JAMIE ROBINSON: What is the message that's being presented now? Because like you said, it seems like all of the fun is being taken out of motorcycling. And motorcycling is one of the most fun things we can do on the planet. So the message is--?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: But that's part of what we have lost in the last 10 years, maybe, or 15. What I say, is we became too intelligent for our own sake. We are so smart that we are doing the wrong stuff. Especially motorcycling, as I said, look at an advertisement today and it doesn't make sense. Even the cover of Cycle World this month, as I was telling you before, if you see the amount of plastic that motorcycle has, plastic means there are some pieces that are covering something else. In the end, do we need all that? No. Because if you want to commute, we can get a scooter and [INAUDIBLE] If we have to ride, maybe travel, where are you're going to go? Maybe you need another type of bike. Are you going to go enjoy the ride, just for the sake of it? You don't need all that stuff.

JAMIE ROBINSON: So how have we gone from the enjoyment of motorcycling, which we saw there back in the '50s and '60s and even into the '70s, to where we are now with plastic-looking motorcycles that look like they can all do 200 miles an hour?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: How did we get there?

JAMIE ROBINSON: How did we get there?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Not understanding what motorcycling all about.

JAMIE ROBINSON: And what, in your opinion, is motorcycling all about?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: It's to enjoy the ride. That is the simplest, most idiot thing to think about. In any condition, because you can go riding in the desert, you can go riding in the mountains, you can go riding in the city. You can even commute. And when you commute and you understand that the streets are not full of cars and there is a lot of space that is not being used, then you understand that it's more fun to commute when you have two wheels.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Are you trying to get that across in your designs? Bringing back the fun element, and the--

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: To me, as I always said, in my profession as a designer I always try to be simple designs that are strong. Because like we were saying with some friends, there is design and there is design with soul. Soul lasts forever. This friend of mine yesterday night got some pictures of Figoni et Falaschi cars from the '30s. And there are things that you see today and your breath is taken away by something that is 80, 100 years old. And that is good design, because it lasts forever. What we were saying about the plastic part of today's bikes. Plastic is taking the easy way out. So in the end, these pieces of plastic right now-- and this is something we discovered with the Guzzi-- the side panel there is aluminum, it costs less than the same part painted in plastic.

JAMIE ROBINSON: But you see, plastic on motorcycles, for me, only really belonged on dirt bikes. Because I grew up with the influence of a father who had British motorcycles in his garage, a BSA Gold Star and that kind of motorcycle. And I grew up seeing a motorcycle that was beautiful in design, very simple in design as well. But everything on there had a purpose.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: I always remember the guys who used to design Nortons in the '40s and '50s. I read [INAUDIBLE] history that their minds-- and these were craftsmen, they were not designers and engineers, they were people that were really there with the tape-- each piece has to be fast. That's what I remember they were thinking. And every part that they would do has to be fast.

JAMIE ROBINSON: I don't know how you feel, but your wife rides. And there isn't that many bikes that appeal to women, either, are there?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: For example, one good story, success story about the Monster for Ducati there was a lot of women got into motorcycling because of that. And not because it was the fastest or whatever. The 600 Monster was great, because as I said before, they could get into the bike and their two feet were flat on the ground. And that makes a sensation of yeah, I can do this.

JAMIE ROBINSON: And how is it working with the Italians? Because they're very passionate people and you've designed some incredible motorcycles for them.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: My experience, for example, in 18 years in Cagiva we have done maybe 400 bikes. Maybe five went in production. But just to keep the mind working ahead and trying things that maybe you throw away. But not spending a lot of money. That's the point. Maybe we'll do a new form and do something that you throw away. And then you go to something else. That gives you windows that you open. OK, we're going to see this. No, no, this doesn't work, we're going to do that. And then you keep on trying until you find something that is right.

JAMIE ROBINSON: That's evolution also. Everything is moving forwards.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: But it works from the gut. It doesn't work from specific planning. Specific planning works sometimes. But it's more related to products of big production.

JAMIE ROBINSON: And were you really trying to get a Cafe Racer look from this or did it just evolve that way when you were putting pen to paper?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: In Guzzi, the V7 Sport from the '70s, is an icon. And this didn't want to be like that because that was a big bike, big super bike at that time. Even though it was the same size as this. That's what, to me, Guzzi represented in these kind of bikes. Like [INAUDIBLE], the [INAUDIBLE] was really an evolution of the V7. But that was a very simple and it gets you. When you see it today, even today, it gets you. Whoa, that's a nice bike. So trying to get that inspiration in this motorcycle was one of our considerations.

JAMIE ROBINSON: So what about the future? What about motorcycles in the future and were are we going to go?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: The future is bright. Let's go over there. No, that's the fun part, as I said. Because we are thinking everything, all different parts of what the future could be. And to me, it goes through the simple stuff that you can enjoy the ride. It could even be electric, with an electric batter or whatever.

JAMIE ROBINSON: When I ride the motorcycle, an electric motorcycle, I am actually totally enjoying the entire experience. Because I'm still riding a motorcycle, I have handlebars, I am in control. It does what I want it to do. But there's something missing.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: The noise is another type of noise. Which is not the noise I like.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Not for me, I feel--

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Or you like. But that's the change, the big generational change. I mean, these 20-something people have grown up with the PlayStation, with a noise which is not the regular noise. It doesn't make it better, or-- It's just like that. So you're going to still enjoy the ride. You're going to still be able to ride without going into the gas station. And having your bike or whatever it is that you're going to have in a different way.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Fancy going for a ride?

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Yeah, why not? Let's go.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Wow, what a fascinating day. Hasn't it been incredible going into this man's mind? It's been a pleasure.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Oh, thank you. Thank you for coming.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Yeah. It's been absolutely brilliant listening to you and really getting the whole concept of your design and what you feel about motorcycles.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Let's do it again.

JAMIE ROBINSON: Absolutely. Thanks again.

MIGUEL GALLUZZI: Thank you, Jamie. All the best.

JAMIE ROBINSON: And thank you for the espresso.

Ride Apart

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