Original condition


To assess the original condition of our 1997 Moto Guzzi California 1100i, the cracked windshield, soiled luggage side bags and tired top case were first removed. Then the rear support rack, pitted and rusted, was taken off along with the dirty rear seat and the cheap plastic taillight assembly. For easier access, the left passenger foot peg was also removed.

The condition of parts that will not be incorporated into the cyclecar is, of course, irrelevant except for the impact on resale value. These surplus items include handlebars and related controls, front fork and wheel assembly, fuel tank, mudguards, rear shock absorbers, foot rests and related pedals, trim, frame, and the gauges/indicators which look rather road battered.

Vehicle identification number (VIN)

VIN plate on front column

The Moto Guzzi vehicle identification number, or VIN, is indicated on a metal plate riveted to the front column (it is very difficult to read unless the fuel tank front cover is removed).

A standard 17-character VIN sequence is organized in three sections: 1] manufacturer ID; 2] vehicle descriptor (VDS); and 3] vehicle identifier (VIS).

Moto Guzzi’s manufacturer code is “ZGU”. The VDS describes a California 1100i fuel injected model and includes a checksum verifier in the 9th character (in our case “O”). The model year code “V” designates 1997 and the “M” plant code represents Mandello Del Lario in Italy. The last six digits are a sequential production code, so our bike was the 521st produced for the 1997 model year.

The VIN plate also includes a manufacturing date apart from the VIN itself; our cycle was “born” on December 1, 1996.


The front seat is easy to remove and replace using a key-operated latch on the left side of the frame.

Battery and ECU under the front seat

The Magneti Marelli IAW P8 ECU will be retained to run the Guzzi injection system. The small motorcycle battery may be replaced with a larger unit depending on space limitations on the cyclecar. The ECU case is soiled, but otherwise appears to be in good operating condition.

Frame left side

Removing the left side cover reveals the innards fit behind the triangular frame tubes.

Left side components under left cover

The brake proportioning value operates a 4-way system to balance the front and rear brakes, and puts increasing pressure on the front brake disc as pedals are pressed.

Rubber boots have degraded

Both the air pressure sensor and the power module will be retained as part of the fuel injection system.

Apart from the expected road grit, the most obvious issue is the degraded condition of the protective rubber boots over the twin power module connectors. Replacement boots will need to be refitted as part of a wiring harness restoration; the original part is not available separately.

Frame right side

The master brake cylinder and fuse panel are located under the right side cover.

Master cylinder and fuse panel on the right side

Note that the gearbox and drive shaft that passes through the swing arm is offset to the right side. This means that in a left hand drive cyclecar, the driver side will have somewhat more room than the passenger side (that’s a good thing for North American drivers).

Since the master cylinder and fuse panel will not be retained, the condition of individual components on the right side isn’t critical.


Engine on the left side

Casual inspection of the engine exterior shows expected pitting and grime, but nothing that indicates a significant problem. Of course, the real test is an engine start with corresponding pressure measurements of each cylinder.

The valve covers will be polished; all rusted hex bolts and acorn nuts will be replaced with stainless hardware, including the vulnerable nuts that hold the exhaust headers to the block.

Rusty header hardware needs replacement

Valve covers need polishing

Aluminum fins and other engine parts will be cleaned and polished. The cyclecar mounting displays much more of the V-twin cylinder block design so engine appearance involves more than just having the valve covers polished.

Engine start

The following video shows a cold start of the engine and confirms the normal operation of manifold vacuum, oil pressure, and engine sounds.


Engine ID

Moto Guzzi engine ID

On the lower left side of the engine block, below an embossed “MOTO GUZZI” square logo, is a stamped engine and frame identifier, in our case KD 014881. The KD designates an electronic fuel injection model. The 6-digit suffix is basically a factory sequential numbering that can be helpful in determining part changeovers in the middle of a specific model year.

Note that this ID is different from the VIN number affixed to the front of the frame.

Sport 1100-type variation

California 1100i models from engine KD 014712 have Sport 1100-type connecting rods and a specially-balanced crankshaft. For additional information, see page 130 of Dave Richardson’s Guzziology, Version 9.

Rear Wheel

The rear wheel, together with the bevel gear and swing arm assembly, will be retained in the cyclecar.

Since the rear wheel remains mostly hidden under the cyclecar chassis, the current soiled appearance can be cleaned up enough for our purposes without replacement.