Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE | SHORT SHIFT

TIME MACHINES: Now That’s Italian!

They say: Unique and captivating. We say: So it is. And a pretty good performer too.

It wouldn't surprise us to learn that BMW 's introduction of the RnineT brought a swift retort echoing from the shores of Lake Como. Moto Guzzi brass would be right to loudly proclaim, "What the hell? We've made that very bike since 2005."

BMW, meet the Griso.

So you have your 1,200cc twin-cylinder engine, minimalist bodywork, simple round headlight, and spoke wheels? Ja for the RnineT. Si for the Griso. Both are meant to be singular and muscular, a tamer VMAX. But where the RnineT is actually quite compact, the Guzzi is rangy, with a 61-inch wheelbase and a long stretch to the slightly raised, streetfighter-style handlebar. You throw a leg over the Griso aware that you’re balancing a big lump of engine between your shins.

Two jugs, twin cannons. The Griso’s aggressive styling is backed up by actual performance. Bravo!

Precisely what Moto Guzzi wants you to think. And while the latest eight-valve, 1,151cc air- and oil-cooled engine is more refined and substantially more powerful than the four-valve engine the Griso debuted with, its 91 hp trails the BMW’s by 6 hp. And since the Guzzi’s wet weight of 557 pounds is a considerable 69 pounds more than the BMW, performance suffers, relatively.

Still, this is one of Guzzi's two best engines, alongside the California 1400's. It shudders and thuds and twists the bike under you as you blip the throttle. (These are good things, trust us on this.) Get the utterly numb, single-plate clutch engaged and the Griso pulls strongly right from the bottom, through a lean spot at 3,500 rpm, and then fearlessly again to the 8,500-rpm redline, making great if slightly restrained sounds the entire time. A pleasing low-frequency thrum turns to a tingle past 6,000 rpm, but the Griso is geared tall enough and is so amply endowed with torque that you may never have reason to experience it.

Motorcycles of this class tend to be dominated by the engine, and that’s true here. While the Griso chassis is totally competent, it lacks the lightness and agility of the RnineT. Steering is slow initially, but as soon as the bike begins to take up some lean angle, it tends to fall in. Apply some corrective steering or get hard on the throttle and it all works out, but you will change your riding style slightly for the Griso.

In every objective way, the Guzzi meets the expectations of the class; subjectively, it’s a visual knockout. Also, we might add, an impressive value. At $12,990, the Griso undercuts the RnineT by almost $2,000. You can almost hear the chorus from Mandello del Lario: “Ha! We won.”

tech SPEC

New for 2006. Eight-valve engine in 2007.
[BMW RnineT][], [Kawasaki Z1000][], [Triumph Bonneville][]
PRICE $12,990
ENGINE 1151cc, air-/oil-cooled 90° V-twin
MEASURED HORSEPOWER 91.0 hp @ 7,000 rpm
MEASURED TORQUE 71.4 lb-ft @ 6,400 rpm
FRAME Tubular-steel double-backbone
FRONT SUSPENSION Showa 43mm fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Sachs shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.3-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo four-piston calipers, 
320mm discs
REAR BRAKE Brembo two-piston caliper, 
282mm disc
RAKE/TRAIL 26.3º/4.3 in.
WHEELBASE 61.0 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 31.4 in.
MEASURED WEIGHT 557/531 lb. (tank full/empty)
Character joins with performance acceptable for the class and handsome good looks.
Two jugs, twin cannons. The Griso’s aggressive styling is backed up by actual performance. Bravo!