2006 Moto Guzzi Griso
Leafing through the lavish press kit prepared by Moto Guzzi for the Griso's launch, it was easy to see that the guys from Mandello had a hard time defining what this thing is in the first place.
A power cruiser? Compare it with established members of that niche, V-Max or V-Rod and mmm... well, not really, just not long enough. Muscle Bike? Naahh.... 88 horsies are nice but nowadays fall more into the "nicely developed and athletic" category rather than "steroid augmented hulk". Maybe Tecno Custom? After all that was the name of the concept when it was first presented at the Munich 2002 show. Nope, those who know a thing or two about Kustom Kulture would frown upon the term. Naked streetfighter? Not short, tall and stubby enough. Tough one, yet struggling to define a bike is a nice problem to have. It means that the end result is so innovative that it can't be really cornered into any known nook. Yes, Guzzi's Griso is that fresh a sight.
Although Moto Guzzi lost some of the shock factor gained when the prototype was first shown some three years ago, seeing the thing under natural light rather than show spotlights does leave a huge impression. When you consider that also mighty Yamaha took it's time in getting that MT show bike into production, then it's not a bad effort at all. It's low, long, kind of classic from some angles, ultra modern from others and oozes finely sculpted details without ever falling into the seen-before. The exteriorized frame tubes break up the side view of the bike with their decisive kinks while on top of the tank, the oversized racing fuel cap (which deserves a Guinness world record for sheer diameter), takes command. Looked at from the right side, there's a sophisticated technical overtone with that massive single sided swingarm integrating with the engine and gearbox, creating an imposing, all mechanical block that's enhanced by that side mounted oil radiator. True to the "techno" theme, oil cooler resides now at the right of the bottom end and is enclosed in a tiny ram air cowl to force the airflow through. A classy and smart touch.
Move on to the left side and... oh my god! That muffler! Those snaking exhaust tubes! There's a big show here, crowned by those turbine like blades at the muffler's end. A nice gesture inspired by those Lafranconi mufflers of the first V7 sport of yore who've spotted a similar detail (albeit functional back then). There's nothing subtle about the Griso's left elevation; it's an overdose of sex, drugs and rock & roll. It's then that you notice also the wide handlebars. They are quite flat, mounted on risers and give the Griso a light American open road slant. In any case, when on a mission, be sure to always park your Griso with the left side facing towards that bar full of chicks. It wont hurt to add, that finish quality and care to detail is improved even on the already impressive Breva.
Technically speaking, the complete power unit/transmission, all the way from the tip of the crank to the back axle, is the same re-engineered one found in the new Breva 1100. Look there for the many important updates this mill and 'box went through. Although Guzzi engineers have not touched the internal power producing parts of the engine, the new air box and exhaust system do liberate a couple more horses and a few more lb./ft. of torque which is nice. The one technical change that was made in the Griso's tech spec compared to the Breva's was the shortening of the gearing by some eight percent by changing the primary reduction gears at the gearbox's input shaft, a thick hint regarding the Griso's outgoing and extrovert nature.
Those prominent frame tubes aren't there just for visual impact. The Griso's frame is all new, bears no common parts with any other Guzzis and unlike the Breva's has no silent blocks in the front engine mounts for that extra bit of rigidity. Suspension wise, the Griso retains the fully adjustable rear setup of the Breva, progressive rear link included but a USD Showa fork replaces the right-way-up. The first equipment Metzler Rennsport tires are a strange surprise. They're stuff you'd usually find on all-out supersport mounts. When asked about the extreme tire choice, Guzzi's tech head admitted that these might look like overkill but they wanted the sporty looks of the semi slick tread while the bike (according to him) can handle the extra grip and then some. So there, you can start to see the trend, more rigidity, more grunt, ultra grippy tires, may we say then: very very sporty? While on the other hand, those wide handlebars pull the whole plot towards cruiser zone. Should be an interesting bastard to ride.
We don helmets, hop on the thing and straight away a big change in riding position from the Breva I've tested not long ago is immediately noticed. By seat of the pants, bum center was shifted forward by at least 2" and in theory that would mean that with my long limbs; my knees should be kissing the rocker covers in classic Guzzi fashion. Instead, the sculpted vast tank and the widely spaced top frame tubes actually splay your legs; not unlike while straddling a twin spar framed sport bike. The handlebar doesn't just look wide; it also feels so, though with the forward seating position, reaching it puts you in a slight forward crouch. All things considered, the Griso feels spacious and the lack of a noticed step between the driver and the passenger's seat means that there should be room here for all types of bottoms. Then you lift up your feet up to the footpegs and discover they are quite high and sporty in their position. Told you it's a special mix... We warm the things up while cruising at a moderate pace along Lake Como's promenade and when the going is slow, you might be tempted to believe that this Guzzi is just a fancy boulevard cruiser. The riding position is kinda "see me!" and the lowered gearing is felt right away and lets you pull from stops effortlessly. In fact, you might even leave the thing in sixth when doing 30 and just enjoy the scenery with the engine growling happily underneath. The only thing to spoil the slowly-does-it experience is the slightly abrupt response when reopening the throttle. The on-off backlash is just a bit more noticed than in the Breva because of the shorter gearing I guess. With six of us journos droning along the lake in unison, all of us on black bikes with arms kind of splayed, the scene could have been lifted straight of a Sturgis Rally postcard.
This pastoral mood changes rapidly, as we leave the lake towards the fast highway that runs high on the mountainside. The snaking road climbing up is folded into neat and compressed hairpins with some kinks thrown in but the not so short Griso doesn't seem to mind as I throw it into the tight bends, helped by the leverage of the wide bars. As we grunt out of the slow kinks, that lower gearing is felt again and the Griso picks itself up from these first and second gear turns in a hurry. Tires are warm by now, in perfect timing with us hitting the highway. A good run through the gears and the Griso gets up to 90-100 in a jiffy. I'm riding with a bunch of merry throttle cable stretchers and there's not a chance in the world that anybody is going to run at less than WOT, not on the open highway anyway. So everybody is trying first to establish a new Griso world speed record but at about 100 the wind pressure gets uncomfortable and we settle on 90-ish for "cruising" speed. The engine feels indeed a tad less relaxed than on the Breva but responds more readily to rolling the throttle too. Short bursts shoot the Breva into 110 quite easily. My fears that the wide handlebar will induce a bit of sail effect and high speed weaving is dispelled. At speed, steering feels stable while remaining light thanks to the ample leverage. It's only in the few fast kinks that the Griso doesn't really invite you topush it. We devour the couple dozen miles to the highway exit and head for a loop that I like very much, the Splugen pass between Italy and Switzerland.
After passing the picturesque town of Chiavenna, we are in alpine territory. At the first fast and flowing bit, all hell breaks lose and pushing starts in earnest. Just like in the Breva, the quick steering recipe of steep headstock angle, loads of weight over the front and stiffish frame, means that when the Griso smells the right road, it can really hustle. With the Rennsports in proper working temperature, the low slung Griso becomes a scratcher's tool and there is tons of ground clearance to really make the most out of the sticky tires. We pick a nice 180-degree turn for photo shooting and wide handlebar and all, at the second pass for the camera I'm already dragging my knee pucks with absolute confidence.
Still, something feels not fully sorted about the suspension. In quick side to side switches, the front tucks under just that little bit. In fact, at the lunch break I meet Sandro Amoroso, an Italian journalist that specializes in suspension set-up and his opinion is that all adjustments are too tight. According to his advice, we open everything by a few clicks. We'll see how it works out after lunch.
In the meantime, we are already high up; parked at the last little town before the Splugen pass and the Swiss border and temperatures have already dropped from the 80's down in the valley to only 45°. We all bunch up inside the heated restaurant and smiles abound. Though nobody has come up with a good definition for the Griso, everybody seems to like the interesting mix of low slung attitude and sporting prowess. With a good load of mountain style salami, ravioli and caffeine within, we are ready to roll back to Mandello. I team up with Sandro and keep the revs up. Following a quick ridden Griso from behind is an interesting sight, that big aggressive silencer shouts fat boy but the lean angles that Sandro generates aboard the Guzzi say slim corner carver. In the meantime, softening the Griso's damping rates all around has helped make the steering more precise, especially while setting up the bike to turn and improved bump absorption. Seems like Guzzi's road testers like it setup real hard. The softening has not spoiled at all the perfect poise of the Griso while leaned in mid-turn and with those extra wide bars, dialing in more degrees of lean is no problem at all. Now I can fully trust the front end and start to believe the technician's claims of an almost, full-on-sport, 50-50 weight distribution front to back. By now we are late braking into turns and the normal mount front Brembos supply good anchoring power and feel while the rear is way too strong, tending to lock up early.
On the way down, we pass through the ultra gnarly tunnels that seem to fold onto themselve and as already noticed in the Breva, the new 6 speed gearbox is buttery smooth even while forcing shifts down to first gear for those 15 mph hairpins. I had some comments regarding the Breva's mid range pull but the Griso feels indeed more lively thanks to that shortened gearing. There's a price to everything and the Griso thrives on plenty gear changing when you really start to push, simply because shortening the gearing has also shortened the overall ratio span of the gearbox. For best acceleration, the Griso like to be revved, even up to 8K so count more on dancing on the gear lever than grunting out from 2-3K. Even if in spirit there's some closeness between this Guzzi and Erik Buell's air-cooled big twins, engine character couldn't be more different. Talking about the engine, there is a certain busyness to the unit while bombing back on the highway but with it being a 90° V-twin, it's never gets weary. Last notes before pulling back into the factory? The suspension tweak also helped at those high-speed kinks on the highway, that tad of nervousness I felt before has disappeared. After a few hours on the saddle, no bum numbness has set in but the sporty positioned footpegs haven't been kind to my knees. Last, if this bike was mine, I'd fit narrower and lower bars toget more of a streetfighter look and less leverage. A half hour, $30 job.
So is it so important to be able to say what this Guzzi is? I mean, do you like what you see? Good. If you don't, that's fine too because beyond the flashy left side and the techno right side, there is real substance in this Griso. While some low slung, long mounts can and do flaunt their big c.c. motors to back up their extreme looks, the Griso flaunts its handling prowess via those sticky tires that are meant to be fully explored, its quality suspension and exposed beefy frame tubes. Some said once that power is akin to muscle, handling to brains. There you go then, it's a brainier cruiser. Not less important for most MOrons out there, this Griso might be the most American oriented Guzzi since the V7 Special and California. There's enough show here to make you feel good just parking it in front of your preferred Florida watering hole even if the nearest twisty road is more than a couple hundred miles away. You'll be missing half the fun of course, but hey, people buy Hummers just for the show and never go off-road, don't they?
** Spec Provides by Moto Guzzi **
|Type:||90° V-Twin, 4 stroke|
|Cooling system:||air cooled|
|Bore and stroke:||92 x 80 mm|
|Compression ratio:||9.8 : 1|
|Valve gear:||2 overhead valves operated by light alloy push-rods and rockers; exhaust valve maximum lift: 106° B.T.D.C. of overlap inlet|
|valve maximum lift:||104° A.T.D.C. of overlap|
|*Claimed* Maximum power:||64,8 KW (88.1 HP) a 7,600 rpm|
|*Claimed* Maximum torque:||89 Nm a 6,400 rpm|
|Fuel system:||Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection with stepper motor control|
|Ignition:||inductive discharge, digitally controlled, electronic twin spark ignition|
|Exhaust system:||stainless steel, 2 in 1, with tree ways catalyser and Lambda probe oxygen sensor|
|Internal ratios:||1st 17/38 = 1 : 2.235|
2nd 20/34 = 1 : 1.700
3rd 23/31 = 1 : 1.348
4th 26/29 = 1 : 1.115
5th 31/30 = 1 : 0.968
6th 29/25 = 1 : 0.862
|Primary drive:||helical gears, ratio 24/35 =1:1.458|
|Final drive:||CA.R.C. Compact Reactive Shaft Drive; double universal joint with floating bevel gear, ratio 12/44 =1: 3.667|
|Frame:||double cradle, in high tensile strenght tubular steel|
|Steering head angle:||26°|
|Front suspension:||43 mm upside down fork, fully adjustable in spring preload and compression and rebound damping|
|Front wheel travel:||120 mm|
|Rear suspension:||single sided swingarm with rising rate linkages, monoshock with separate gas reservoir, fully adjustable in spring preload and compression and rebound damping|
|Rear wheel travel:||110 mm|
|Front brake:||Twin 320 mm stainless steel floating discs and two -- calipers with four opposed pistons|
|Rear brake:||Single 282 mm stainless steel fixed disc and floating -- caliper with two parallel pistons|
|Wheels:||Chill cast aluminium alloy, triple hollow spoke|
|Front wheel:||3.50" x 17"|
|Rear wheel:||5.50" x 17"|
|Front tyre:||120/70 ZR17"|
|Rear tyre:||180/55 ZR17"|
|Battery:||12 V Ð 18 Ah|
|Alternator:||12 V Ð 540 W|
|Width (habdlebars):||880 mm|
|Seat height:||800 mm|
|Ground clearance:||185 mm|
|Rider footrest height:||375 mm|
|*Claimed* Dry weight:||227 kg|
|Fuel tank capacity:||17.2 litres|
|Maximum speed:||200 Km/h|
|Technical specifications of Griso 1100 may change without notice.|