Review: 2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V SE

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2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE

One of the best handling street bikes out there? Sitting on the heavy, low 2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V SE for the first time and feeling the huge torque reaction from its agricultural motor might scare you off, but it shouldn’t. This is one of the most charismatic, unique and yes, capable motorcycles available today.

What’s New
Dubbed “Black Devil” in Europe and not called that here for obvious reasons, all that’s new for 2013 is this black/silver paint scheme. That paint is accentuated with blacked-out mechanical components including the frame, motor, suspension and wheel hubs and rims.

2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE
2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE


The Griso was introduced at EICMA way back in 2003, eventually entering production in 2005 with the lumbering old 1100 motor. That bike had promise, but was held back by limited power and a difficult nature. Upon acquiring Guzzi in 2004, revamping the Griso became a top priority and, in 2007, it debuted the mostly new “8V” motor with 110 bhp, 80 lb.-ft. of torque and a revier, more compliant nature.

Reviewing that new bike, England’s MCN wrote, “The striking-looking Griso has been transformed from a lumbering yet evocative old-school roadster into a charging rhino of a motorcycle with true 140 mph potential.”

Looking at the Griso’s specs, you don’t see anything hugely remarkable for a high-end roadster. Like all Guzzi’s up to the new California 1400, the engine is used as a stressed member in the steel tube frame. That’s fitted with decent, if unremarkable fully-adjustable suspension and good brakes in the form of 320mm front discs with radial Brembo calipers. Oddly, the wheels are tubeless spoked wheels, at 17 inches they accept modern performance rubber, but that arrangement increases unsprung weight over the more common alloy design.

Perhaps it’s good, then, that the Griso is a heavy motorcycle — 489 lbs (dry) is 40 more than most superbikes add up to wet and full of fuel. That high weight repairs the sprung-to-unsprung weight ratio.

Rounding out the unpromising spec sheet is the 61-inch wheelbase, a full 5.4 inches longer than superbikes like Piaggio’s own Aprilia RSV4.

Didn’t I say this thing was one of the nicest handling bikes out there? Oh yeah, that’s thanks to one other facet of Guzzi’s awkward design archetype — a longitudinal crank. Because it doesn’t spin forwards, causing the engine reciprocal inertia to interfere with steering speed and feel, the Griso benefits from some of the purest steering feedback out there. Combined with its fat power curve and unflappable stability, that heightened feel transforms the Griso into a real weapon on real-world roads.

Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE
2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE

The Ride
Hop on the Griso in town and you couldn’t be less impressed with it. The high weight, low seat, wide bars and strong torque reaction — it jerks violently to the right when you twist the throttle – lead to significant awkwardness paddling out of your driveway, turning 90 degree corners or trying to fit between cars.

Things get a little better on the highway, but the drastically long reach to the very wide bars splays out your torso and arms in an awkward uncomfortable manner that makes shoulder checks difficult and limits outright distance ability.

It’s not like the Griso is going to win any drag races. 80 lb.-ft. isn’t bad from an air-colled 1,151 cc V-twin, but it’s 13 lb.-ft. behind the latest air/water-cooled BMW parallel-twin and has to motivate a lot of weight for such a basic bike.

Nor does the powertrain lend itself to being thrashed. The two huge pistons feel very heavy and are reluctant to alter their inertia — up or down in speed — the gearbox is clunky, missing gears and jerking heavily if you attempt a clutchless shift and the shaft drive just accentuates those problems with its own heavy inertia and reluctant nature.

No, it’s not until you find yourself on a road with 3rd and 4th gear sweepers that the Griso can reveal its true character. Learn to short shift, riding the engine’s vast torque curve rather than chasing high revs, and everything smooths out. You can leave braking much later than you can on most other performance bikes, trailing them heavily to the apex in confidence, thanks to that abundant feel. The wide bars make cranking the thing over into corners effortless, then the long wheelbase holds your chosen line with utter poise and stability. Right here, in these conditions, there’s no better bike.

2013 Moto Guzzi Griso
2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE

What’s Good
Italian style draws stares and compliments from everyone — non-riding fashionistas, be-chapped road pirates, squids and even café snobs.

Longitudinal crank + good suspension + 17 inch wheels and sport tires = amazing feel.

All the classic Guzzi character in a quality modern package that won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road.

Outstanding finish and build quality, the Griso feels much pricier than its $12,690 price suggests.

2013 Moto Guzzi Griso
2013 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE in action.

What’s Bad
Heavy, large and awkward in traffic.

Strung-out riding position is uncomfortable.

Pegs a little too low for really fast riding.

Torque reaction is severe and can make splitting through tight gaps a hair raising experience.

Ultimately not that fast, but also not applicable anywhere but a good back road.

More on Page 2 >>

  • Telemachus_1

    Still no ABS

  • dg

    Does anyone know what brand/model is of the chunky tires on the action shots? The still studio shots seem to have different tires.

  • GP

    That green colored one, with the brown seat, just looks incredibly nice.

    • dinoSnake

      Regretfully, that’s a 2012 Griso 8V SE in Tenne Green with genuine brown leather seat. That color scheme is now discontinued but the picture mislabeled it as a [current] 2013 model.

      I wanted a 2012 so bad. I have loved Guzzis since 1984 but still don’t own one; I am waiting with baited breath for Guzzi to do 3 things to the Griso:

      1) add ABS (required)

      2) add 1 gallon more tank capacity, because this review doesn’t mention that the Griso 8V only has a 115-125 mile range to ‘reserve’ (low fuel light), (really necessary),

      3) add traction control (optional, but this is *my* wish list :D )

      Yes, I can get a Norge but the size difference is quite major between the two bikes, the Norge loses the ‘sportcruiser’ size and feel and goes into full boat ‘tourer’ mode, quite a bit taller. The Griso is the size I want but just a bit more practicality would REALLY be nice.

      Please, Guzzi, PLEASE??!

    • Unkept Uncaged

      2011 or 2012 Griso models came in Tenni Green. They are occasionally up for sale…

  • Richard Gozinya

    Seems like a more direct competitor would be the R1200R. Cool bike though!

  • Guzzto

    I still have this on my one day list, the second hand price of Griso SE’s is getting a little more nearer what I could live with (without selling my SP) great to see that you get the Guzzi thing, it’s not about the numbers it’s the feeling and handling. Wes I think you should get one : )

    • Wes Siler

      I’d love one, but living in a city, it’s just a little too heavy and cumbersome for my needs.

      • HenryC

        I live in NYC and my 2013 griso 8v SE is my daily driver. My biggest gripe is not the weight or the reach (which at 6’2″ I have never even noticed) it is the fact that it takes a while to warm up the motor and trans. On a cool day it may take 10 minutes before every thing smooths out and stops clunking, grunting, and grinding.

        • Unkept Uncaged

          Look into GuzziDiag and a remap. I bet it really smooths out your cold running issues. :)

  • TP

    Hggnnnnnn. Want.

  • Cory McNair

    If Guzzi would produce a V7 (in any trim) with about 65-70hp at the rear wheel and some better suspension, I would start writing a check. The Griso just has too much of its Centauro ancestor in the design for my tastes.

  • Jeffree

    I rode a used 07 awhile back and haven’t stopped thinking about that bike. I quickly bonded with that bike. True, not the fastest or best handling bike out there and I can confirm its just aweful in traffic. The clutch pull gave me arm pump after a few lights. That said, it left me with a smile for days. It’s full of character and with an aftermarket pipe it sang like Pavarotti in his prime! You can feel this company building momentum quickly which is a little too bad. Some thing are so good you just want to keep them to yourself!

  • Corey Cook

    God I love that motorcycle, just wish they made one in my size.
    Until then…

  • Larry

    Of all the alternative bikes listed above, you missed the most obvious…how does it compare to the BMW R1200R? They’re both retro-styled modern bikes, both air-cooled transverse 1200 twins producing similar numbers. The Guzzi is porkier but has more style and character. There’s only one way to settle it…video comparison ride to Guatamala! Let me know if you need a camera bike, I can be down there in 3 days.

    • Stuki

      The new Nine-T is probably closer to the Griso ergonomically. IOW, utterly horrible, backache inducing and clumsy for any normal kind of riding. I’ll have to take the authors’ word for it that they do work for spirited runs through 3rd and 4th gear sweepers, but man, what a special use bike.

      I spent a fair amount of time trying to get used to a somewhat similarly laid out 1150 Rockster back when, and that thing was also impressive for short stints on flowing roads (Cerro Nordoeste, with generous breaks at each end, for CA riders), but a literal pain between the shoulder blades for everything else.

      • runnermatt

        I had the pain between my shoulder blades when I first started riding. It eventually went away, I assume because those muscles developed more. I imagine it would be the same with the 1150 Rockster.

        • Stuki

          By then, I’d already been riding for very long…….. Cruisers with those silly beach cruiser bars give me similar pain.

          • runnermatt

            Yeah, but a different riding position may stress those muscles more despite a lot of time riding already. Sort of like someone who has been running 5k’s for years suddenly starting to train for a marathon.

  • ThinkingInImages

    It’s a beautiful, classic, motorcycle.

  • Thomas

    It is too bad neither Guzzi nor BMW still makes sport bike using their longitudinal mounted twin. But again, that’s why my R1200S is a keeper.

    • Aakash

      Super lovely. I want one now…in white.

    • Stuki

      The finest BMW boxer ever built. Darned things stopped depreciating at 2/3s of retail, and is already climing.

  • Mr.Paynter

    We often hve the same out here in South Africa. Daylight Robbery!

    **Although a quick check shows me that this bike is reasonably priced here, surprise surprise!

  • Mr.Paynter

    I could live with that!

  • vanduc996

    Very sweet bike!
    I have to echo other peoples comment about the lack of ABS. The Griso should have it!
    As should almost any new bike costing more than $10K these days.

  • jonoabq

    I absolutely love it in black/silver. While it’s not got the range or low speed handling I really need, riding the (slightly elevated) pace on big mountain sweepers makes up for a lot. If anything this motorcycle looks like a fantastic platform for a custom project. In a few years when the used prices make them affordable I could see this as a winter project. The biggest contradiction seems to be the poor ergonomics & range for long days in the saddle while dialing it in for big sweepers. Luckily some bars with heated grips, and some hard luggage with a remote gas tank and sending unit hidden away can fix that.

    • John

      I picked up a used 2008 4V Griso in August for $6,500 out the door. Blank canvas. This bike is fun and is only going to be more so as time goes on…

  • Speedo007

    Gorgeous bike, was going to buy one until I sat on it, I have long arms and long legs, and felt the reach to the handlebars were uncomfortable, even for 10 seconds…

    • runnermatt

      Was the reach too long or too short? What is your inseam and arm span so that others will know how it will fit them?

      • Speedo007

        I’m 6’1″ 190lbs, 34″ inseam and long arms like an ape. The reach felt too long. Just looking at the pictures you can see how long the tank is and handlebars are far away unless your sitting on the upward slop crushing your jewels. That said handlebars can be replaced and the concept is still brilliant. For sport riding you probably wont feel it too much as you’ll have an agressive posture anyways, but waiting at red lights in the city should be another story…

        • runnermatt

          So me being 5’8″ 165lbs, 30″ inseam I would be really stretched out. I would wager almost the opposite of a cruiser with forward controls.

  • runnermatt

    I’m not familiar with the NZD currency. Where are you exactly?

    • Paul Elliot

      New Zealand

  • Paul Elliot

    ps: we also hate you :-)

  • HammSammich

    Looking at the bar clamps, it would seem a small riser might help with reach. Wes, do you think the steering feel would be signficantly adversely affected by small (1″ or so) risers?
    I put flat drag bars with a 1″ riser on my Bonnie and it actually improved the steering feel, but the one time I tried to mount the stock bars with the risers it was miserably wobbly feeling.

  • Unkept Uncaged

    Something to think about is import duties and taxes. I believe almost ALL vehicles in Australia and New Zealand cost significantly more there than in the U.S. I am sorry that they cost you so much… but you could also look at the average U.S. citizen’s salary and realize it’s probably not as “unfair” in pricing as you first thought.

  • Unkept Uncaged

    A fair review, but I have one gripe.

    “…feeling the huge torque reaction from its agricultural motor might scare you off, but it shouldn’t.”

    Agricultural? I am tired of how loosely that term is thrown around when it comes to Moto Guzzi’s.

    It stems from the rumor that the first V7 Guzzi’s v twin engine came from a model of farm equipment that Moto Guzzi had produced, and was retrofitted into their motorcycles.

    It really has no grain of truth, as the V700 had a completely new v twin design. The engine in a Guzzi was never used in farm equipment, and it’s technology status for it’s day was on equal footing with any other motorcycle… if not better.

    Today’s 8v Guzzi engine’s are dual oil pump, overhead cam, four valves per cylinder, fuel injected, high revving v twins… what is so “agricultural” about that? If anything it make’s Ducati Monster’s air cooled engines look agricultural… or a Harley mill for goodness sake. ;)

    I think by continuing to use what is often construed as a derogatory term for a product over and over again is a crime to the public, as they are unsubstantiated and offer nothing in terms of actually helping the consumer to decide what is done right, and what is done wrong on the product…

    Sorry, end of rant. :) I really did like the review though I disagreed with a few things.

  • Mykola

    Goodbye lovely green paint/brown leather colorway. I will remember you fondly… and stay vigilant on Craigslist.

  • Wayne

    I just bought a 2014 Griso and aside from a few small quirks I think it is a superb mountain road machine for a true sport aficiando. The high compression engine makes an excellent brake before the triple discs are applied. I have been averaging 130 miles to reserve light and showing about 40 mpg. There is a few areas that could be improved but once you get used to them it’s more driver control. The throttle has small lag areas when taching around 3500 or so. Add that to the driveline lash and it can be jerky in the midrange on throttle response. Guzzies are few and far between around here so it was not a bike I test drove before purchase. Basically I wanted a nice midrange sport bike with a little old school, I mean really…just an engine and two wheels. Well, a BIG engine and two wheels and I could not afford a Diavel. Having owned an old 850-T many years ago i was familiar with the engine characteristics and read quite a bit and thanks to You Tube watched many videos out there. Now the machine shares a stable with my 1975 Kawasaki Z1-900 and given a choice for an ear splitting grin? I like the Griso. Don’t get me wrong, that old A frame Z1 will test your skills in a corner but it also generates tickets without prejudice.