I love the Moto Guzzi Griso

Dailies, Galleries, Reviews -

By

Dear Griso,

We had such a fabulous weekend together that it pains me to think it almost didn’t happen. You see, I need to start this love letter with an admission: Before I met you, I had no idea you were so special. I’d even called you the C word, lumping you in with bikes like the Harley V-Rod. But, now that I’ve ridden you hard and long, I know that’s not true. You’re a truly beautiful, truly unique, special motorcycle. I love you.

Photos: Sean Smith

You’re smoking hot.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I never thought you were anything but attractive. Those lithe, long and low proportions, the minimal panels that expose the black engine underneath. The bronzed colors. You have a body to die for.

No, it was because you look so different that I didn’t know what to make of you. At 61 inches, your wheelbase is a full seven inches longer than that of an R6. That’s just an inch and a half shorter than the Ducati Diavel’s. The low, long, single tubes that make up your frame emphasize that, stretching the distance between swingarm pivot and head stock and making it look like you’re laying down over that huge engine.

You have real character.
It wasn’t your looks that made me reluctant about spending a weekend with you, it was a concern that you’d be boring. I don’t know what was wrong with me, thinking that. Looking at your list of attributes, it really should have been obvious. You’re an exotic Italian. The product of 90 years of selective breeding. Quirky in a world of sameness. Classy at a party where everyone else wears track suits. Taut, athletic and natural where others hide beneath plastic.

But, as soon as I’d put a leg over you, I knew how wrong I’d been. Sliding my hand across your sensuous tank to insert my key was just a tease. Then you began bucking and writhing, twisting underneath me as I thumbed your starter button. Grasping a handful of throttle, your urgency was shocking. Thrilling, even. I’d forgotten that riding a motorcycle could be so emotional.

Sharing is caring.
One of the best things about you is that you do for others what you do for me. Willingly and without reservation. I didn’t need to tell Sean all about your dirty deeds, I just threw him the keys, waited 20 minutes and he came back smiling. Won’t stop talking about it.

You fit in anywhere.
I’ve ridden you next to an R1, next to an FJR, next to vintage BMWs and a modern Bonneville. I rode you to a chopper show and everyone stared. I took you to a party and you were the classiest bike there. I took you to the mountains and you were athletic. I took you downtown and you stayed ahead of all the BMWs and Mercedes. No matter the setting, you made me look good. I never wished for a different partner.

You make other men jealous.
One of my friend’s has a sultry, high-speed, ebony stunner. But she had trouble keeping up with you in the canyons. That’s despite your 72bhp deficit. My roommate spent the weekend pining after you. People on the highway couldn’t stop staring. Everytime we stopped, men jealously complemented you.

You’re all the more appealing for your flaws.
You don’t like turning your signals off. You don’t like being cold. You have a nervous tic, to the right. Your front end is a bit flighty. Your pegs are too low. All of that just endears you to me further.

You have great fashion sense.
Wire wheels. Radial Brembos. Restrained logos. Understated beige pin stripes. LED taillights. Steel brake lines. You’re nothing but a classy lady.

I can change you.
Unlike most other naked bikes, I can bend you to my will completely. Both your USD forks and remote-reservoir shock are fully adjustable. If we were together longer, I would have gotten dirty and tried dropping your forks through your yokes to make you more responsive to my inputs.

You’ll do anything I ask you to.
Typically, I just want my motorcycles to willingly take a spanking. You’ll do that, of course. But you’re there when I just need an easy ride too. Nice and slow? You love it. Quick and hard? You love that too. Between cars? Flat out? On a gravel road? You never ask me to stop. The only problem is, you like doing it in front of cops too.

Griso, I miss you.

  • Dumptruckfoxtrot

    I have a raging motorcycle boner for that bike.

  • Kathy Jo

    I still have my first street bike, a Guzzi Monza 500 and I feel exactly the same about it. One time, a guy in a pickup truck ran into the wall of the Aurora tunnel in Seattle trying to give me a thumbs up when I was riding home one day. Sweet.

    • Gregory

      wow.

  • Glenngineer

    This made me uncomfortable. I’d like to ride one of these back to back with an R1200R. The Griso is better looking by a mile, but the R1200R is a great bike, with no pretense…just fun to ride.

    • Sean Smith

      The Griso looks and feels smaller. I’m pretty sure that it actually steers faster than my mini-bike too, impressive considering it’s long wheelbase. I wanted to raise the front end and add some preload to see if I could get some more tame handling out of it.

      The numbers are in favor of the R1200R. BMW claims 437 pounds and 109 hp. Moto Guzzi says 489 pounds and 110 hp. Still, that’s close enough that things like tires, gearing, rider heft, or fuel load could easily decide the winner of a drag race.

      I’ll be honest here, I’ve never ridden the R1200R. That said, it IS a BMW and the ergonomics and riding experience are likely similar to other BMWs, which is to say well mannered, refined and comfortable. The Guzzi has ergonomics that feel a lot like a short Hypermotard.

      More than just being a really really nice motorcycle, this thing is stupid fun to ride. Even with suspicious looking Pirelli Scorpion Sync tires and too-fast-for-my-taste steering, I had my knees on the ground everywhere. I wasn’t riding super-fast mind you, just having a good time. Ridden like this, at a pace the occasional track rider and weekend canyon junkie would find familiar, the green Guzzi was sublime.

      • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

        A friend spent some time on one of these while visiting SF, and we hit up some of my favorite roads to the North. It handles surprisingly well, and he was very very fast. However, it doesn’t have much to offer for a pillion and his girlfriend was pretty miserable on it, especially on the long descent down from Mt. Tam on Bolinas-Fairfax Rd. Just a heads up for those of you picturing this bike with a matching Italian lady on the back.

      • Andreas

        Sorry to say the R1200R is much better. But the Griso looks so good, its been background on my mothers work laptop for over a year. She is not into bikes, I just put a backshot of this bike and she really likes it. Specially all the comments/stares at work I guess.

        So you guys never tried a touring bike or a R1200R? Seems to me you spend to much of your time on sportbikes, and they aren’t that great streetbikes. Im aware that you spend alot of time to make this magazine, and I love it and you for it. And sportbikes are awesome.

        • sean (the roommate)

          Read farther back than the last 3 days.

      • Wereweazle

        You basically just described the r1200r. I had one for a few weeks as a loaner bike while mine was in the shop. Almost scary light steering, surprisingly quick even though you don’t seem to notice, very original looks, etc. I got more compliments, stares, and stuff like that on the r1200r than I EVER have on any other bike. It’s one of those bikes that looks very strange when just sitting there, but when there is a rider sitting upon it all the lines make sense and it’s beautiful. Plus, looking down and seeing two cylinders poking out in front of your knees is just inexplicably awesome.

  • HammSammich

    This bike looks so good, and your love letter makes it sound even better. I was left thinking, “Wow, this sounds like twice the bike my Bonneville is.” Then I checked the MSRP, and realized that it is roughly twice the cost too. So, you get what you pay for. Maybe I’ll keep an eye on the used market for a Griso when I’m ready to add to my stable.

    Great job writing an innocent bike review that had me looking over my shoulder at work because I felt like I was reading something NSFW! ;)

    • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

      Look up the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. Much more inline with the Bonnie.

      • HammSammich

        Oh, I’m familiar with the V7. Yes, it is definitely more comparable to the Bonnie. My experience with the V7 Cafe was that the fit and finish was superior to the Bonneville, but the performance wasn’t quite on par. I realize the Bonnie and the Griso aren’t really in the same league, but I have to admit to being a bit surprised by the price. I’ll have to go check it out in person.

    • Chris

      Before your write off a new Griso as out of your reach, check out http://www.MotoInternational.com out of Seattle. Specifically, click the “Hot Deals”link at the top of the page. He’s got new ones for less than $10K.

      He’s even got a fly n ride promotion where he’ll pay your airfare to pick up the bike.

      • HammSammich

        Wow…that seems like an amazing deal…Wes, are you already on a plane to Seattle to be reunited with your love? ;).

  • Josh

    now you not only look like Fabio but now you sound like him. truly like reading a motorcycle romance novel.

    • TMQ

      Anyone read penthouse anymore?

  • sean

    “My roommate spent the weekend pining after you.”

    only because i was waiting on a new shift lever you jackass.

  • Will

    I always had a secret crush on the thing, despite all the riders I ever saw on it being old guys without the supposed sense to buy a Beemer. I knew I liked it for a reason and feel affirmed in a vicarious way.

  • Ola

    Most severe case of Stockholm syndrome ever.

    Just kidding! It’s a breathtaking bike, hope to ride it one day.

  • Kirill

    I’ll say one thing, it sure is dead sexy

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

    Wes and Guzzi, riddin’ past a tree
    H-O-O-N-I-N-G

    • Kirill

      Nice, +1

    • Ari

      nice

  • Johan

    Just picked up a 03 V11 Le Mans a few weeks ago. I see what you mean.

  • Denzel

    Thus begins Wes’ slow descent into cruiser love ;-)

    • sean

      there’s nothing cruiser about this bike.

      • Denzel

        To be fair, there’s a little something cruiser about this bike… this bike that is a 1200cc twin, stretched long, rides smooth, weighs over a quarter ton dry…

        • paul

          have you seen one parked next to a harley, they are so far removed from each other, I find it weird anyone would even use the word cruiser in the same sentence as a Griso

          • Dumptruckfoxtrot

            A Diaval is just as far removed from a Harley as this is, but it is referred to as a cruiser pretty regularly.

            What other current naked has chrome accent turn signals? I don’t know if it’s a cruiser or not and a cool bike is a cool bike. Who cares?

            It kind of reminds me of an Italian Buell. An ancient-looking engine in a sporty chassis.

          • Denzel

            “Before I met you, I had no idea you were so special. I’d even called you the C word, lumping you in with bikes like the Harley V-Rod.”

            Now, let’s change the topic… how ’bout those jugs…

            • Dumptruckfoxtrot

              I like em’.

        • sean

          @ denzel – i rode it. while it may have the specs of a cruiser, it’s basically my bonnie on steroids. didn’t FEEL anything remotely like a cruiser.

          • Denzel

            OK Sean. You’re a trustworthy, credible guy :-)

            Actually, visually it looks like the Speed Triple’s stretched Italian cousin.

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      No Denzel, by HFL’s definition all cruisers suck. So if a cruiser doesn’t suck, then it isn’t a cruiser.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        Exactly.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    Wow, now I’m all hot and bothered.

    Very cool bike. I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of it before.

  • Mr.Performance

    Wes, I know! I married her older sister, the Centauro, and never regretted it. Welcome to the family.

  • Thom

    They are beauties no doubt ( Moto Guzzi Griso ) But errr……. they’re also Italian .

    Which means like an Italian Mistress they are ;

    High Maintenance

    Very Demanding

    Will cost you a fortune to keep

    And in the end will leave you Heartbroken .

    Friend in London has one . At least once a month it requires major repairs .

    But …. they are Beauties . Just have a fat wallet or a large limit on the credit card if you feel the need to pop for one .

    • Ray

      I’ve had my V11 Sport since 2002, ridden it in Texas, several trips NY to Maine, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and it’s never let me down, dependable as a hammer. Both practical and inspiring, no sacrifices. Very manageable quirks, ya know…character.

    • motomoto

      I’ve had more Guzzi’s than the average bear and they are the most maintenance free bikes I have ever owned (ok, the electrics on the older ones can be a bit tricky). Granted, they were all 2 valve head motors and pre Aprilia. The core of beasts remain the same here and hopefully with Aprilia’s money they have only improved upon it.

    • Allan

      My ’08 Guzzi 1200 Sport has a bit over 20k miles. It’s my 20-minute motorcycle; 20 min to wash it, 20 min to change the oil(s), 20 min to adjust the valves… . It’s redicuously dependable. The only down side is that dealers are few and far between.

    • Scott

      I own a Breva 1100, ride the piss out of it and with 29,000mi. have never had it apart other than valve adjustments. However it took some time getting it sorted with little problems that should not happen on a new motorcycle. You have to really be into Guzzi’s to get the most out of them. Oh yea, I have a Griso SE on order.

  • Robert

    I was lucky enough to be the PR Monkey for Guzzi when the original 2-valve came out. We rode through the red factory gate into the Dolomites well above the tree-line and ate in a hole in the ground cafe near the top. It was a perfect day –

    Love the Griso – it’s a fantastic motorcycle, with great big Italian jugs proudly sticking out for everyone to see.

    • Sean Smith

      I always love it when “great big Italian jugs [are] proudly sticking out for everyone to see.”

  • fodderbox

    I have the weirdest boner right now.
    Yes, I want to ride that.

    • JTourismo

      Guzrection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

    My Z is about to feel awfully jealous.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      But damn. $15k. And damn if the 8V SE doesn’t look drastically better than the standard 8V.

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        The SE is a thing of beauty, but i wouldn’t mind a used standard as a second motorcycle…

        Damn you HFL, i just sold my V11 sport naked and swore i would NOT buy another italian twin as a secondary bike (my primary bike is a corsaro veloce)… but damn, that review is good, gives me an urge to go try a bike i’ve know for years!

  • paul

    Great review I love this bike If I ever get rid of My 1979 Guzzi and went for a new bike this would be the one. I went for a club ride recently and there were several griso’s been ridden hard, they sound bloody nice too.

  • Gregory

    Your writing is awesome. Reminds me of a Russ Meyer movie.

    Griso Griso Griso. Vixen Vixen Vixen.

    To be honest… and don’t tell the KLR this… I don’t think I’d ever write this way about my bike. Mine is more like a reliable grand father; or, perhaps, grandpa’s wheelbarrow.

    This makes me want to go for a Griso for my next bike… or, at least, for the V7 Classic.

    Whatever happened to the California?

    -gceaves
    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

  • Johndo

    I hate how you guys make me want to buy a new bike every year. Man that bike’s hot. Just wish I had a dealer closer to home…

    • Mr.Paynter

      Every year?!? Every few weeks!

      • Johndo

        Just that really…I do buy a new bike every year…

  • Jefferson

    Would this knock a bike off of the summer 2011 list of awesome bikes? Or is the Griso in a different category altogether?

  • Kevin

    No dealer within 45 minutes of me, and that’s with no traffic (I live in Orange County). Guzzi, how could you not have a dealer in the Newport area?

  • Raph

    I have the Griso 1100, love it. Don’t be discouraged by the price tag there is a place in Seattle that specializes in left over Guzzis and Aprilia… You would be amazed with how discounted you can find them.

    • Jefferson

      Any notions on how the 1100 compares with the SE in terms of feel, power, fueling, fun, etc?

    • Denzel

      That Seattle shop is:

      http://www.motointernational.com

      If you buy bike from them, they’ll fly you here to pick it up.

      • Roman

        Wow, no kidding about those discounts. Hmmm, maybe I can combine my next bike purchase with a nice little ride from Seattle to Philly. Oh the temptations of a motorcycle addict…

        • Cheese302

          hmm, i would be riding to philly as well.

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

    So this means that my anti-Guzzi rant a few months ago didn’t make a dent, eh?

    For the record, I like the Griso too. But one bike does not a brand make, and I hear about and smell fear coming from Noale… Buy one before the company is gone.

    M

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      Comming from a guy that bought one of the last moto morini’s sold in france (via dealership that is) i sadly have to agree.

      Here in midweight-naked-landia where italian are not that exotic and ducati’s are a dime a dozen you very rarely see a guzzi on the streets, my v11 used to turn heads but people don’t know what they are (same problem with the morini’s) and people certainly don’t buy them.
      The griso is too expensive and the V7 has not enough power. My dealer didn’t sell a single V7 racer, people like it very much but it’s to damn expensive and performs poorly when compared to modern ducati’s…

      The japanese are upgrading from 600~750 to 800 to adapt to the market here, guzzi killed the v11 and didn’t upgrade the v7. Sells will remain anecdotal in my part of the woods (that is, if they don’t make the terblanche’s v12′s quickly).

    • Raph

      Moto Guzzi… Going out of business since 1921. I agree they NEED to release the Terblanche bikes ASAFP. I heard mumblings of a terblanche stlyed Griso; anyone know if there is any validity to that?

  • moto1337

    There’s a red Griso that parks on my street in West LA every once in a while. I try not to stare.

  • http://theprojectbeta.com/ Anders

    The Griso looks great, but its too expensive. Guzzi is acting like a premium brand but it’s not enough to be expensive. Here in Norway a Griso 1200 8V SE is more expensive than a Hypermotard 1100 EVO, Speed Triple, R1200R etc,

  • GT

    The 1200 8V engine is bulletproof as well as the CARC shaft drive. Maintainance is easy and easily performed and service intervals are generous. This package is sweetness!!

  • Myles

    No fairings = great bike already

    Unique engine configuration, brilliant styling, and a killer exhaust note?

    Would love to own a bike like this.

  • AHA

    The Griso has been top of my ‘next bike’ list since it was first released. Each model update/tweak has reinforced that position. Just a few lingering doubts about the Griso’s practicality as an all-rounder and the fact I am well over 6ft keep me from buying. And the fact my current all-rounder is so damn good(KTM 990 SMT.) Will happen one day though…

    PS I should mention owners complain about the vibes and also driveline shunt.

    • Roman

      I remember really liking the 990 SMT when it came out. Still haven’t seen one out in the wild. Good to see someone is riding and enjoying them. Another one for the list…

  • William

    Thanks for showing the Griso some love – yeah I’m old (53) and could probably afford a BMW if I wanted one . . . but I fell in love with the Griso at a MC show in 2006 (or 2005) and decided it would be the next bike. It was my 50th birthday present to myself.

    Yep, it’s quirky and suffers from the stereotypical faults of low volume Italian bikes. Still, it’s a blast. I’m no puck dragger by a long shot but I do enjoy a spirited ride.

    There is a solid forum for owners with good advice for making the bike run harder and smoother and a small shop that sells flashed ECU’s, Power Commanders/Autotune and pipe setups (along with other items) that enhance the bike’s performance quite nicely.

    One thing that is certain – it does attract attention from the motorcycle AND non motorcycle crowd where ever it shows up.

    With soft bags and a tank bag I’ve done four and five day trips and enjoyed ever minute of it. That’s coming from a guy who owned a sport tourer (which also got some love from HFL recently) before the Griso

    • miles

      Link to the website or the shop? Thanks.

  • Jason

    This bike is beautiful, and like the review says, it’s a blast too ride. Not what you expect when you swing a leg over it. Got me thinking about selling my Duck S4Rs, but the one I really want (the SE, like the one in the review), isn’t available in the states…

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yes it is. I rode this one in LA.

      • Jason

        ??! So, is it available here?

        • Scott

          Yep, I have had one on order since March. Any day now, I hope!

  • Jason

    Nevermind. I just checked the Guzzi website. Looks like the Ducati’s gonna hafta go…

  • Audun

    Love the story and could not say it better myself. I have had mine for three years and it has been totaly dependable and without faults! If you have not tested the new models you should, the difference from the old models are absolutely stunning!

  • Steve

    Was just staring at a red one in the window at the Vespa/Guzzi dealer in Sherman Oaks on Sunday. Also had a $3k discount on it… My Monster is getting seriously jealous.