Is the 2016 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE a sportbike, a cruiser, or an urban assault vehicle? Methinks it can be any of these, based solely upon the rider’s mood and motivation.
Around town, the Moto Guzzi Griso garners many compliments and easily navigates whatever obstacles one may encounter in this environment. Steering is responsive, with plenty of maneuverability in close quarters. The Griso seems smaller than it looks in photos, given its 61-inch wheelbase.In cruiser mode, even though the footpegs are under the pilot’s hips and not forward, the Griso does an admirable job of wasting away the miles to the awesome throb of the 1151cc, 90-degree V-twin. From engine start on, every nuance of experiencing this bike is raw.As is expected, the Griso is all Moto Guzzi, from the transverse air-cooled V-twin right down to the shaft drive. It is elegantly styled in that certain signature Italian look and the use of plastic is limited to the trim under the tank, around the subframe and fenders.[Read our Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress 3,000-Mile Review]The motor has a trademark staccato beat in which one may hear, and feel, every combustion chamber detonation. The sound is accompanied by the unique, and not unpleasant, Moto Guzzi V-twin vibration.Besides being a nice urban machine it feels fabulous at a brisk pace on a long day ride even without any wind protection. As a sportbike, the Griso leverages its claimed 109 horsepower and 81 ft/lbs of torque to propel the 489-pound (claimed dry) weight from corner to corner as few cruisers are able. The bike has a heavy duty feel and requires a firm hand, much like riding a horse that wants to know whether it is the boss or you.The whole bike offers a great deal of feedback, and it brandishes a manly attitude. The ladies like it, too, although I suspect few will ever pilot one. There is nothing subtle about this bike in every aspect of its personality. Depending on the rider, this may or may not be a selling point.When pushed hard on twisty routes, the Moto Guzzi Griso transitions easily in corners and delivers a good hit from the powerplant at the apex. It adores, rather begs, smooth pavement and will bend into a fast sweeper nicely.On smooth surfaces it tips in very quickly for a bike its size, with due credit to the excellent Metzeler Roadtec Z8 Interact rubber. However, that same tendency to willingly change direction also makes it nervous at speed. Still, that 180mm rear tire is a nice width and profile for a bike this size, and they track all the way to the edge for those who abhor chicken strips.However, it does not suffer uneven surfaces well. Under these conditions, the Griso likes to straighten up when it hits bumps and the rider must work the bike a bit to remain on the line. What’s more, it seems the chassis geometry changes quickly, and awkwardly, in the slightest bumpy area. Every time there is a ripple the bike wants to pop up and steer in a slightly new direction. Add the hard acceleration hit of this torque monster, combined with the huge engine braking, this powerplant brings to the equation, and it can be a handful if you’re in a hurry.Fueling is spot on, with no lag or abruptness, yet the nature of the power delivery is such that when riding tight roads at speed it is hard to find a throttle position that allows the bike to simply flow through the apexes. Even though I was seeking to find that certain place in the powerband to just float through the turn, I found, more often, that one is either on the power or getting a lot of braking and no in between.In addition to the engine compression braking, the triple discs with Brembo calipers do a fine job when used hard repeatedly within the scope of this bike’s performance envelope. ABS is not offered.Pushing the Griso anywhere near the edge of its comfort zone must be done with careful precision and firm intention to keep the ride smooth. I found that a modestly quick pace through the tight stuff was all I could expect to do without really careful riding. This is certainly not an easy bike to ride fast but, as stated, to some these attributes may be a selling point.All told, the Moto Guzzi Griso will not keep up with your fast friends on their genuine sportbikes, but will acquit itself well enough and deliver an entertaining and fun experience.Suspension is tight, thanks to fully adjustable 43mm inverted forks and a fully adjustable rear shock that is mounted to a single-sided swingarm. I’m sure more careful adjustment of the suspension might have helped, though I did experiment with settings without achieving a better result.The action of the controls is quite smooth, easy to operate and refined. Due to the nature of the suspension, drive train, and powerplant, riding smoothly requires precision inputs, especially when downshifting. Mismatched revs will have your rear tire chirping and squirming if not precisely executed. There is no slipper clutch, nor back-torque mitigation.The Griso is put together beautifully and components, fit and finish are excellent. So why does it ride the way it does? I would venture to say it is intentional.I’m a six-footer and the cabin ergonomics and seat are quite comfortable on this all-day ride. Its single round instrument cluster handles speed, revs, clock, oil temperature, ambient temperature, battery voltage, MPG, and a chrono timer. What it is really missing is a fuel gauge and a range-to-empty calculation, which most riders will find quite useful. A gear position indicator would also be nice.The Griso is a well-made, good looking and smooth operating machine when ridden within its comfort zone. The action of the clutch is strong and smooth, the six-speed transmission is easy shifting and the gearing is good. The shaft drive system is well developed and does not present any jacking or negative intrusion on the ride. The chassis is stiff and handles the power well but for being pushed more than it likes.The Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE is not Euro 4 certified, so it cannot be sold in the EU past December 31, 2016. Sales will continue in the US, but it begs the question of what the future might hold for this model. At minimum, attaining Euro 4 certification would require ABS brakes as standard, plus some emissions work.I’ve asked Piaggio about what changes we might expect in the future, and have been told that 2017 plans for the Griso are, as yet, unannounced. Perhaps we will see this model continue without sales in the EU. Perhaps Moto Guzzi will decide to pursue a new generation of the Griso, maybe with some variation of the California 1400 powerplant.Certainly, the Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE is a unique motorcycle, with no real equivalent. It would be a shame to lose that individuality from the motorcycle world. Photography by Don WilliamsRiding Style
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