First appearing as a concept at the EICMA show in Milan in 2014, Moto Guzzi's slick MGX-21 cruiser made its formal debut as the Flying Fortress at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota this weekend.

Based on the company's California cruiser model, the bike's original alpha-numeric moniker stood for Moto Guzzi eXperiment, with the 21 denoting both the year (1921) Moto Guzzi began production of its first motorcycle and the size of the Flying Fortress' front wheel.

While that front wheel isn't quite the same as the striking solid number we saw on the MGX-21 prototype, the production version still bears a lot of the sleekness and attitude of the initial design, and has some features that make it decidedly different than the baggers and cruisers made by the likes of Harley Davidson, Indian and Victory.

Moto Guzzi's MGX-21 prototype

The MGX-21 Flying Fortress production model

Let's start with the generous use of carbon fiber, a material that's more traditionally seen on sport bikes. There are eleven carbon fiber components on the Flying Fortress, including the fenders, the front wheel, and the pannier (side bag) covers. Moto Guzzi claims a 16 kg weight savings as a result.

Take a look at the front of the bike and the bat wing fairing looks unlike any stock fairing found on cruisers today, with its unique scalloped windshield and more backward angled design. This cruiser wouldn't look out of place on the streets of Gotham City.

From the side, the bright red cylinder heads and Brembo brake calipers keep this from mimicking the other blacked out bikes that are now becoming fairly standard issue. Add the carbon fiber and the unique design of the wheels and there's no way this Italian stallion could be mistaken for an American cruiser.

Beyond pure design, Moto Guzzi has also added electronic features that would more likely be found on many of today's sport and dual sport bikes.

The Flying Fortress comes with a ride-by-wire electronic management system that includes three ride maps: Veloce to access the most power and torque, Turismo for smoother power delivery on long trips, and Pioggia for rain and slick road conditions.

Buried inside the fairing is a dual instrument cluster providing all of the key information including gear indicator, average and instantaneous fuel consumption, and air temperature.

The entertainment system comes with an AM/FM radio tied to a 25 Watt per channel amplifier connected to a pair of loudspeakers, a Bluetooth module that can host up to five devices, and a USB socket for external devices like a smartphone that can be used as a music player or to manage incoming calls.

The one part of the Flying Fortress that is the same as the California is the 1400 cc, 90-degree transverse V-Twin engine. It's mated to the same six-speed transmission and shaft drive, and kicks out a claimed 97 hp (71 kW) and 89 ft-lbs (121 Nm) of torque.

Two-channel ABS comes standard, with four-piston Brembos up front and two-piston Brembos out back to bring the Flying Fortress to a stop.

Curb weight is listed at 752 lbs (341 kg), which is about average for a similar bagger and fairing set up.

Moto Guzzi indicates fuel tank capacity as 5.4 gallons (20.5 liters), but no fuel consumption figures were made available, so it's hard to say how far you'll be able to take the Flying Fortress between gas stops.

The one nit we might have is that Moto Guzzi is claiming a low seat height at 29 inches (740 mm). Considering many of the cruisers and baggers made today come in at around 25 inches (690 mm), we think low could be stretching the definition a little.

The Flying Fortress is expected in dealer showrooms later this year, but no price has yet been announced. Considering the California lists at US$18,490, we imagine that this new bike from Moto Guzzi will be come in north of that, and that's before taking advantage of the available accessories.

Check out the official MGX-21 Flying Fortress video:

Source: Moto Guzzi

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