Interview: Miguel Galluzzi

Miguel Galluzzi
Miguel Galluzzi is the man who created the Ducati Monster, a bike that started life as a “parts bin special”. It’s now one of the biggest sales hits of the past twenty years. Galluzzi’s signature is also on the Aprilia RSV4 and several Husqvarna bikes, and today he’s in charge of Advanced Design for Piaggio. The company produces over half a million vehicles a year, with a stable of brands including Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Vespa. Born in Argentina but of Italian origin, the 6’6″ (1.98m) Galluzzi has just moved to Pasadena, California after many decades of living in Italy. Just when he thought he could relax, we hit him with the traditional ten questions of the Bike EXIF Interview.

Kreidler Florett

What was the first motorcycle you bought with your own money? My first bike, the one that ignited my lifelong passion, was a 1959 Kreidler 50cc (above). My uncle gave it to my brother and I as a birthday present in the 60s, and it was the fastest 50cc in Buenos Aires. The first bike that I bought with my own money was a very used Zanella 175 MX in 1973—an off-road version of a standard Argentinian-made Ceccatto-engined motorcycle. A piece of crap, but it allowed me to start my motocross “career” while dreaming of Honda Elsinores (below), which still give me goosebumps.

Honda Elsinore
What do you think is the most beautiful production motorcycle ever built? There isn’t one, certain periods have their own beauties. Some of my favorites:

1948 Vincent Black Shadow. Maybe the most?

1977 Harley Davidson XLCR. It’d be easy to pick the Le Mans, the 900ss or the SFC. But at that time, it was both courageous and groundbreaking for Harley to try something like this bike. Its design simplicity makes the XLCR beautiful and pure even today.

Suzuki Katana

1980 Suzuki Katana (above). I remember seeing it in pictures for the first time. It was like a spaceship had landed from another planet, everything else was old! Just awesome.

And last but not least the 1991 Britten V1000 (below). John Britten achieved what all motorcyclists dream of: build your own bike from scratch, and do it in such a way that it kicks ass on the track.

Britten V1000 superbike

What motorcycle do you despise? None in particular. But there was a period when all motorcycles were wrapped in plastic and had funky graphics to give them a modern touch. They were very popular in the 90s. If you see them today, you can’t help but wonder “what were they thinking?” Good examples are GSXRs of the 90s. They went from a game changer like the 1986 GSXR to the pinky/blueish/greenish painted cows of the 90s.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Perfect happiness? That’s not for me. Perfect moments yes, that’s close! Enjoying a homemade meal with my family. Working on my 1974.5 Maico 440. Going for a canyon ride. Getting in touch with old friends. Or just drawing something that gets my creative juices going.

Electric motorcycles: Yes or No? Yes, yes, and yes. That’s where the motorcycle renaissance will come from. We are in the middle of a profound generational change in the business. Electric motorcycles will give us new technology and new layouts. And new thinking that will allow the next generation of riders to entirely reinvent motorcycles. Imagine the day you’ll go canyon riding and come back home to plug in at your solar power home, without ever even going near a gas station! Just cheap fun for all.

What is your favorite journey? Pure pleasure journey? Off-road riding on a lost South American beach. Mental journey? Being challenged by a design problem. Beauty and the beast!

Which ‘everyday’ modern bikes do you think will become future classics? The equivalent of the Honda CB750 or Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, if you like? Classics of the modern era? Maybe the 916, or its inspiration the RC30 (below). But they might not fall in the ‘everyday’ bike category.

Honda RC30

Who are your real-life motorcycling heroes? Claudio Castiglioni (below), the president of Cagiva, MV Agusta and Husqvarna for decades. Starting in 1978, he invented the Italian motorcycle industry as everybody loves it today. And thanks to his limitless passion for everything with two wheels, he masterminded the creation of the most desirable motorcycles of the past 20 years.

Claudio Castiglioni
Are you optimistic for the future of motorcycling? Today, yes. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way. Motorcycles are going through a major overhaul, and something very exciting is brewing. Yes, the market numbers are bad. Yes, bikes are too expensive. Yes, riders are getting old and boring, and yes, there are few new riders getting into it. But what I’ve seen here in LA gives me optimism: young riders get a cheap 1970s/80s used bike, add a little money, parts and love, and end up creating and riding something that’s not only affordable, but also becomes a personal statement. Their own kind of ride!

What is your current state of mind? Accelerated.

With thanks to Bob Berkow of Southern California Italian motorcycle dealer Pro Italia.