2009 Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE Review
Quattro Valvole collectable
Moto Guzzi launched the Quattro Valvole engine in late 2006. By doing so Guzzi joined the exclusive club populated by BMW, H-D and Buell in having air-cooled 2-cylinder engines producing more than 110 horsepower. These are exactly the companies Moto Guzzi likes to identify itself with and with a history to match. The Griso 8V is Italy’s most stylish Harley killer.
The name Griso comes from Italian literature where Griso was a violent mafia type “tough guy” in The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. We’re talking muscles here and Moto Guzzi’s Griso 8V certainly has plenty of muscles. To do a quick comparison with the top dogs the BMW HP2 Sport is the absolute and unquestionable super dream bike in this segment but it’s highly specialized and expensive. Then you have the lightweight and powerful air-cooled Buells, Bimota DB5 and then the Harley-Davidson XR1200 at the bottom end when all the performance is counted (horsepower, weight, etc). If you are confused, I’ll make it clear now that we are talking about 2-cylinder air-cooled machines only.
The Griso 8V SE is a fairly long motorcycle and styled to be a mix between a performance cruiser and a naked sportbike. Of the two it’s more of a naked sportbike and the thinking behind the design is for the Griso to be Guzzi’s answer to the Harley V-Rod or even Yamaha’s MT-01. The Special Edition features a hand made brown leather seat, “Tenni” (V11 Le Mans Tenni) graphics on the fuel tank and matte green paint. The frame, engine and instrument panel are all in a black finish. The wheels are spoked for a retro touch, but the racing footrests, radial brakes and USD 43mm fork are all modern performance goods.
Sitting on the unique luxury brown leather seat with a slight stretch to the handlebars it feels right straight away. Firing up the 1151cc engine the Griso 8V vibrates a tad more than an air-cooled BMW, but less than a Harley. Blipping the throttle leaves no doubt there’s a powerful engine beneath me. The Griso 8V will power wheelie in first gear with a quick on-off throttle action, which speaks of the most powerful Moto Guzzi in the current model line-up. There’s 110 Italian stallions transmitted through the maintenance free shaft drive to the rear tire. While max horsepower arrives at 7500 rpm, max torque of 108 Nm arrives a little earlier at 6400 rpm which you easily notice on the road. Firing the Griso 8V out from the red lights is the easiest thing in the world.
To match all this power the Griso 8V features a very solid chassis where the steel tubular twin cradle is essential. It keeps it all together with the single sided swingarm, while a high-quality suspension deals with the rest. The 43mm USD fork is a solid triple clamped affair adjustable for preload, compression and rebound. The rear Boge shock is also fully adjustable.
All this comes together and provides a surprisingly sporty package. I’m saying surprisingly because the wheelbase is a longish 61.2 inches, but I was still able to swerve in and out of traffic, between cars and scooters in Rome with the greatest ease. And let me tell you how fun it was doing power slides through the cobble street corners!
The front end and the brakes are both solid and powerful, providing more feel than I had expected. I’ve ridden several Grisos in the past and they continue to get better and better. You get true performance in a Griso 8V and few things look more macho parked outside a café.
The 489-pound dry weight might sound like a bit of a handful to some, but in this segment it’s considered feather light. The 31.5-inch seat height should also be low enough for most and the Griso 8V is balanced and civilized enough to ride very slowly when need be.
This Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE will only be produced to a limited 500 units, which should make it a collector's item of sorts. The riding experience is still the same, but when you do stop there’s something extra special to look at. Of all the current Moto Guzzis the Griso 8V is my firm favorite. Even for the sport part I’d rather get the Griso than the Sport but that’s me. Ground clearance is probably not as good, but that Italian “tough guy” styling and feel definitely got to me - even without a horse’s head in my bed. The Griso 8V SE is simply a very good motorcycle.