Moto Morini have been rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s since man walked beside the dinosaurs, prospering then going bankrupt in equal parts for decades – possibly as a result of not bothering to participate in the US market for about the last half century. Known for booming V-twins, just like another famous Italian builder from Bologna, Morini never quite achieved Ducati’s level of success in the modern era, but that never seemed to stop them from trying. Last we heard, the company was swallowed up by the Chinese Zhongneng Vehicle Group, in 2018. Ten years on, we mourn the passing of the Morini Granpasso 1200, fully secure in faith that if Morini doesn’t rise again, we’ll eat our cappello. Take it away, Tor.

Adventure in the fast lane

Not many people get to ride a Moto Morini which is a shame as the Granpasso features the most macho V-Twin since Suzuki’s TL1000S. The angry grunt exiting the exhaust placed on the left side gave me an early indication of the fun ahead. Granpasso is fun, fast and comfortable. How did they do that?Moto Morini launched its Bialbero CorsaCorte engine into the adventure segment last year with the Granpasso 1200. Just a year later and Morini has launched an upgraded version. 1200cc V-Twin engines are versatile beasts and the Moto Morini line-up features a naked sport (Corsaro), the Scrambler and now the adventure bike Granpasso.Changes include new Excel wheels capable of rolling with both more weight and knobby tires. Improved ergonomics include a lower seat height and new handlebar that can be adjusted more easily for a wider range of riders. The footpegs are new as well and feature removable rubber inserts making it easier for off-road riders when extra grip is needed for the boot soles. The fuel injection system has received updated software for an even smoother ride and the Lambda sensor has been moved to the front cylinder exhaust. The next generation Moto Morinis will also receive a second Lambda probe for even more efficiency. Morini also added heat protection to the exhaust pipes, protecting the rider’s legs for comfort and the rear shock for performance.

Moto Morini's Granpasso 1200 received a host of improvements for 2010.Moto Morini’s Granpasso 1200 received a host of improvements for 2010.

These are hardly the most exciting changes, but they’re necessary to improve the product and make the Granpasso more user friendly.

Upon first sitting on the roomy and comfortable XL seat typical of these big adventure beasts I didn’t find as much sag as I’d expected. Out on the road there’s no significant rocking chair movement from the suspension, which speaks of a sportier package. While firm the 50mm adjustable Marzocchi fork (190mm travel) and the high quality quick adjust Ohlins rear shock (200mm travel) is soft enough for comfortable touring. The Ohlins shock is mounted laterally like on the Yamaha MT03 and Aprilia Shiver. I can easily apply the double front brakes fairly aggressively with confidence and they don’t bite too forcefully which makes them suitable for the rough roads. The front wheel is a 110/80 R19 and the rear a 150/70 R17 with decent Metzeler Tourance tires fitted. The new tubeless and spoked Excel rims allow for a total weight of 430 kilos (948 lbs) taking care of your pillion and luggage needs.

The handlebar is within easy and comfortable reach. The mechanically adjustable windscreen is tall enough to avoid the worst of the wind turbulence and worked well in conjunction with my off-road helmet. Below the windscreen Moto Morini designed a very peculiar looking lip flanked by two menacing round headlamps. In Morini’s accessory catalogue you’ll find two additional lights to be mounted on each side of the front side that will add lighting similar to a car. Alberto Strada, the Morini vehicle development manager, told me that the design team wanted to achieve the image of an ugly bird from the front end. Perhaps they have achieved that Vulture look but one thing is for certain and that’s that the Granpasso front looks very distinctive. The lip is a design element as there’s a separate mudguard hugging the front wheel.

Moto Morini claims a 210 kilo (463 lbs) wet weight excluding fuel. In the big adventure segment this is very light. That big fuel tank houses 27 litres (7 gal.) of fuel which should be enough for plenty of touring miles in between fill ups.

Due to the wide handlebars and fairly low unsprung weight I can lean and ride the Granpasso almost like a big sportsbike and I have no problems keeping up with my riding mate on the Corsaro Veloce 1200. I really like how the Granpasso drives out of the tight corners as the engine response is immediate and smooth. The Metzeler Tourance rear tire digs in and the front wheel is slightly up in the air almost without me noticing most of the time.

Wide handlebars and relatively light weight lets the Granpasso lean into turns almost as well as a big sportbike.Wide handlebars and relatively light weight lets the Granpasso lean into turns almost as well as a big sportbike.

Throughout the power range acceleration is hefty to say it mildly for this type of motorcycle. With a set of knobbies the Granpasso should steam through deep sand like a train with all that torque and power. The steering is precise helped by a high strength Verlicchi steel tube trellis frame and lightweight aluminium swingarm. The ground clearance is very good considering the comfortably placed footpegs. The 1.505mm wheelbase causes no problems in the corners and contributes to stability at high speed.

Keep the revs around the 3,000-4,000 rpm mark and you can ride the Granpasso 1200 in sixth gear all day for low fuel consumption and a pleasant ride for the pillion passenger. When you stop for red lights and get going again I’m pretty sure the Granpasso would produce a very decent 0-30 mph time due to all that accessible low torque. The minimalist instrument panel is all digital and shows a graph for the revs and digital speedometer. The LCD features several functions but it is a little on the small side for a big touring bike like this. All in all I’m confident in both the touring and sporting abilities after my day in the saddle.

What impressed me the most is that stonking torque laden 1187cc 87 degree V-Twin engine. The drive and feel is mighty and overpowers all other initial impressions. Moto Morini has produced one of the lightest and most powerful adventure bikes in the world with the Granpasso. The spec sheet tells us about an 118hp @8,500 rpm and 103.6Nm at 7,000 rpm type engine. The CorsaCorta engine is a detuned version of the original full 140hp Corsaro engine where smooth and powerful acceleration is available from as early as 3,000 rpm and all the way up to 8,500 rpm.

The torque curve has been moved down as low as possible in the powerband and it’s a pure delight to control the output with the throttle. The front wheel lifts surprisingly early in a completely natural way with no drama. The Granpasso is a monumental wheelie tool should you be inclined that way (I am) and I must say it really kicks arse in this area. Neither the KTM 990 Adventure, BMW R 1200 GS nor Moto Guzzi Stelvio behaves as natural as the Granpasso in this area. The Granpasso oozes power and the 1200 engine is as macho as they come. I have pleasant flashbacks to the great Suzuki TL1000S engine while riding and I hail Moto Morini for it. There’s no harshness to be felt from the engine like is the case with several modern liquid-cooled V-Twin engines. All I feel is a super smooth drive and all I hear is a fantastic warm burbling Twin sound from the exhaust.

The Corsaro Veloce alongside the Granpasso.The Corsaro Veloce alongside the Granpasso.

During the day I swapped with the Corsaro Veloce 1200 to compare the differences. The two bikes are completely different and as such a comparison is not interesting. I will tell you, though, that I like both engine versions, but the Corsaro Veloce is a naked sportsbike with a highly tuned 140 horsepower version of the CorsaCorta while the Granpasso is a little bit more relaxed. The Corsaro features an oil cooler in addition to the radiator and on the Granpasso Morini removed the cooler as it’s not necessary. Only 10 degrees separate a Granpasso with or without the oil cooler. If you’re an anxious soul an oil cooler can be retro fitted on the Granpasso. Granpasso is a lot more practical and comfortable and the 118hp version of the engine is still massively powerful.


I hadn’t expected the 1187cc Granpasso engine to be as smooth and as powerful as it was. It was a true delight to ride around the Bolognese hills with such a flexible powertrain underneath me. The seat and ergonomics are as comfortable as you like and the bike doesn’t feel too heavy even with a full fuel tank. Uncertainties around the company and whether you’ll be able to get spare parts in five years time or not is pretty much the only minus. Compare the Granpasso to the GS and you’ll also probably find that the GS is the safest option. Apart from that I’d say that the Granpasso is one of the most exciting grand adventures out there and if you can you really should try one.

Bottom line: the Granpasso's ultra smooth V-Twin provides a thrilling ride.Bottom line: the Granpasso’s ultra smooth V-Twin provides a thrilling ride.

Highs: Lows:
  • Mighty powerful and smooth 1200cc engine
  • Lightweight with a chassis that handles corners really well
  • Powerful enough brakes with a Magnum 50mm fork to control it all
  • Minimal instrument panel
  • Uncertainties about the Moto Morini future and dealer network

Related Reading
2008 Moto Morini Corsaro Review
2010 Moto Morini Granpasso 1200 revealed