Mention Bologna and Italian twins and you will be forgiven if you think of Ducati first. Just a short ride from the Borgo Panigale Planet Red, there is another historic Italian motorcycle manufacturer that produces big bore V-twin engines–Moto Morini.
Its flagship model is the Corsaro 1200, and I have tested the fastest of them all–the Corsaro Veloce 1200.
Alfonso Morini founded Moto Morini in 1937 and the company began building motorcycles in 1946. The first Corsaro was introduced in 1959, and the first Corsaro Veloce in 1961.
1961 was also the year Giacomo Agostini started his long racing career, first as a privateer on a Morini in hill climbing, and then in 1964 for Morini as a factory rider. In 2010, Silvio Berlusconi’s brother Paolo purchased Moto Morini for €2.5 million.
The modern Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce features a mighty in-house engineered 1187cc, 87-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin. Veloce means high speed in Italian and, with 140 horsepower @ 8500 rpm and 91 ft/lbs @ 6500 rpm, the Corsaro is fast indeed.
The midrange is mammoth, and the feel of the engine is as if a big twin Harley met a Ducati superbike slightly above the middle. The torque is hugely impressive, and I think to myself that this is how a 1200cc Suzuki TL would have felt like in a good chassis.
While a Ducati Streetfighter is highly strung in comparison, the Corsaro Veloce features a very meaty rev range. In many modern engines you’ll find a sweet spot somewhere in the rev range–the Corsaro Veloce 1200’s rev range is one big sweet spot throughout. It’s a pure delight to use the throttle both on low and on high revs. Toward 8000 rpm, the front gets seriously light and just a slight blip of throttle lifts the wheel.
The seat is quite high and the riding position on the sporty side. The Corsaro Veloce’s 432 pounds feels slightly heavy, but also immensely solid. With that big 1187cc twin thundering underneath me, some old-fashioned proper V-twin sounds exit the double Termignoni underseat silencers.
Moto Morini’s Bialbero CorsaCorta is nowhere near as technically advanced as Ducati’s Testastretta engine. There’s not enough cash in Moto Morini to compete at the top end, but for the pure feel of that engine, I give it a serious props against superior technology. The big bore cylinders are kept under control by a beautifully crafted Verlicchi tubular steel frame that is connected to a solid cast aluminum swingarm.
The fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi fork and Ohlins rear shock are only found on the Veloce, along with racing rear sets and exhaust silencers. The brakes are Brembo four-piston calipers of the previous generation, but they are still very good. While being powerful enough, the Corsaro would have benefitted from the latest generation of radial Brembo’s. It’s the one detail that makes the Corsaro Veloce 1200 look more dated than it is. Pirelli Diablo tires in sizes 120/70-ZR17 and 180/55-ZR17 are fitted to lightweight Marchesini wheels.
Through the twisty hills surrounding Bologna, I can ride the Veloce nearly like a full on sportbike. It’s only the wide streetfighter-style handlebar that separates the Corsaro Veloce from a full on sportbike in riding style. The beautifully balanced engine doesn’t pass on too much vibration to the handlebars, and the mirrors are mostly clear.
I think the six-speed gearbox had been abused a fair bit before I got a ride on the only test bike available from the factory because it wasn’t always easy to find neutral. Apart from that the gearbox worked fine. The slipper clutch prevented the rear wheel from locking up on downshifts.
The instrument console consists of a digital speed and analogue rev counter is easy to see on a white background. There are cables obstructing the otherwise tidy look.
The Moto Morini Corsaro Veloce is basically a big beautiful brute of an engine surrounded by a gorgeous tubular steel frame. All that torque from very early rpm left me quickly addicted to the 1187cc CorsaCorta 87-degree V-twin.
It feels richer and smoother in a more brutal Neanderthal way than other performance twins. If John Wayne had been alive, he’d be riding a Corsaro Veloce–it is a real man’s bike. Slightly crude and under developed due to Moto Morini’s financial troubles, it is still a lovely motorcycle with dollops of character.
A classic Italian tubular frame is never wrong
Comfortable yet sporty riding position
Features a couple of slightly dated components
Dealership networks practically non-existent